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Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management (In-Person)

1.5 - 2
Years to Earn Your Masters
96%
CSU Grad Students have Plans Related to their Career
90%
Of Grad Students Rated Experience as Excellent or Good
$72K
Average Starting Salary for CSU Grad Students
Degree Overview Open Accordion

Learn to strengthen local food systems and global agribusiness while you advance as an entrepreneur or innovator.

Drive innovation and development of new enterprises in today’s agricultural and food industries

Shape your professional identity with strategic and design thinking as you solve problems face-to-face with experts in the industry at the new CSU Spur campus in Denver.

As the global population grows, companies, governments, and other organizations seek scalable solutions to ensure a sustainable food supply. As a student in this master's program, you will expand your understanding of how people produce, access, and consume food. You will also develop skills that enable value creation and help empower social and cultural change.

Learn in an innovative environment

Learning at the CSU Spur campus is a new adventure in education. CSU Spur brings learning to life in its three buildings focused on water, food, and health. More than a physical location, CSU Spur is a hub, the heart of a network to connect people across the state, region, and world.

Earn a degree that sets you apart. Study with expert faculty in agribusiness from CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, an academic entity that has thrived since the University’s founding in 1870. The College has produced, and continues to produce, science and business leaders capable of solving local and global challenges in agriculture and the natural environment.

In your first semester you will:

  • Get immersed in the agribusiness and food system
  • Form your professional identity as an entrepreneur and change maker
  • Develop a skillset and mindset for strategic and design-thinking
  • Learn to approach old problems in new ways

Hands-on experience

After completing your first semester, you will spend the next year engaging with innovators and companies in a venture practicum project. Working in a team-based model, gain hands-on experience as you determine the viability of a new business idea, take it through initial development, and potentially help launch the business.

Upon completion of the program, you will be able to:

  • Evaluate the potential of a business idea
  • Describe the agriculture value chain and identify business opportunities
  • Apply your business training in finance, marketing, economics, and law
  • Work with others in a team
  • Deliver business proposals and obtain buy in
  • Draw upon your growing professional network to assist you through your career
  • Leverage intellectual property to create value
Learning Experience Open Accordion

The structure of this program begins with intensive coursework designed to provide a thorough overview of the agribusiness and food system. You will then start to develop and refine your entrepreneurial capabilities through the collaborative learning process, supported by faculty and industry professionals.

Learn and develop your skills in a team environment

At the end of the first semester, program faculty and incubator staff will undertake a screening process, assembling student teams from the new cohort, and guiding them through a selection process to match each team with a recently solicited idea. The student teams then take up the challenge of becoming “surrogate entrepreneurs,” exploring the market potential of an innovative business concept; reaching out to build a network of partners, customers, and funders; and developing a detailed business plan.

About practicum tracks

Practicum projects can fall under one of two tracks. Student teams in the “Venture Launch” practicum track will be matched with an idea suited to commercialization through creation of a startup company. Student teams in the “Corporate Partnership” practicum track are matched with a partner company on a question or innovation within that company’s existing lines of business, similar to an internship or consultancy relationship.

In both practicum tracks, student teams take on ideas solicited from external providers or partners. The business and legal terms of those relationships, along with the financial and legal commitments of the teams, are overseen by the Agribusiness Innovation Center.

Opportunities for further professional development

Projects with established market potential, as demonstrated by student teams in the Venture Launch practicum, may result in new companies being launched by the students in partnership with the Agribusiness Innovation Center and external partners. Similarly, marketable projects developed by student teams in the Corporate Partnership track may result in significant innovations being implemented by those company partners, with those students potentially being hired (either on a contract or full-time basis) by the company to help with continued development and implementation.

Explore Careers Open Accordion

Opportunities have never been so abundant for creative innovation and transformation in the agriculture and food industries. Learn to solve problems in this environment with a creative, interdisciplinary, and collaborative approach.

Achieve practical outcomes and move forward in your career with new relationships, skills, and knowledge to become a competitive innovator, entrepreneur, and leader in a variety of industries including:

  • Agriculture
  • Agribusiness
  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Food Systems
  • Food Retailers and Wholesalers
  • Restaurants and Food Businesses
  • Computer Science and Software
  • Biological Science
  • Engineering
  • Business Development and Entrepreneurship
  • Seed, Genetics and Biotech Companies
  • Local, State, or Federal Government

Potential job titles include:

  • Agribusiness Founder
  • Agribusiness Consultant
  • Agribusiness Development
  • Agribusiness Manager
  • Business Entrepreneur
  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Crop and Livestock Manager
  • Food Consultant – General
  • Direct-to-Market Business Owner/Manager
  • Cooperative Extension Specialist
  • General or Operations Manager
  • Food System Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Research Analyst
  • Restaurateur
  • Systems Analyst
  • Venture Capitalist
Faculty Open Accordion

Greg Graff

Gregory Graff, professor of the economics of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, is a globally recognized expert on intellectual property rights, technology transfer, and innovation in agriculture. His work has been widely published in the economics literature as well as leading scientific journals such as Science and Nature Biotechnology. At CSU, Dr. Graff teaches courses on the global agricultural and food system, agricultural policy, high tech entrepreneurship, and technological change in agricultural production. Most recently, Dr. Graff has worked with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). He has also advised a number of startups and venture capital investors in the agricultural industry.

In 2016 Dr. Graff took a sabbatical at the Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship, at Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg, Sweden, which inspired the program design for launching CSU’s new master’s program in Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management at the new CSU Spur campus in Denver in 2022.

Dr. Graff received a bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from Cornell University in 1992, a master’s from Ohio State University in 1995, and a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California Berkeley in 2002. Since 2007, Dr. Graff and his family have owned, operated, and resided at Laughing Buck Farm, just outside of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Greg Perry

Greg Perry, professor in agricultural and resource economics, received a PhD in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University, with focuses in farm management, agricultural finance and agricultural policy. He has taught classes in agricultural finance, mathematical optimization, farm appraisal, farm management, entrepreneurship and human resource management. He served for nearly a decade as a department head at Oregon State University and came to Colorado State University in 2011.

Dr. Perry has two decades of experience as a real estate investor, developer, and has built or remodeled several houses. He and his wife co-owned a motorsports store in Idaho for 3 ½ years, taking a failing business and turning it around before selling it in 2021. They currently own a small cattle ranch in Wyoming and continue to look for interesting business opportunities. He has been married to his wife Patricia for 44 years and they are parents to 6 children and grandparents to 24. Dr. Perry is a native of Oregon and has been a faculty member at a land grant university since 1986.

FAQ Open Accordion

What other types of graduate degrees is the Master of Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management program like? What degrees could be considered comparable?

This master’s level training in innovation and entrepreneurship, with an industry-specific focus in agriculture and food, is a highly attractive and competitive new option. It is distinctive in its structure, objectives, and educational outcomes: one of the first of its kind in the world.

Yet, the design of this degree program is based on trends we observe in several related areas of study:

  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees focusing on entrepreneurship: MBA programs have been a standard preparation for corporate careers, but some have begun equipping students to start new businesses by creating centers for entrepreneurship and business plan competitions. Many have introduced formal tracks of study focusing on entrepreneurship. A handful have specialized as degrees in entrepreneurship.
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a focus on agribusiness: A few business schools located at universities with strong programs in agricultural science offer an “Agribusiness MBA”. These also tend to focus on managing established businesses, rather than launching new ones.
  • Master in Agribusiness Management: This degree, offered by some universities with strong programs in agricultural sciences and economics, tends to focus on improving farm management, rural business, or large corporate agribusiness operations, again rather than launching new agtech or foodtech startups or reinventing strategies to serve mature markets.
  • Agribusiness entrepreneurship programs at the undergraduate level: Some undergraduate agribusiness management majors have introduced entrepreneurship coursework or minors, along with business planning clinics, pitch competitions, internships, and other related activities.
  • Entrepreneurship training within engineering, science, or other technical graduate degree programs: Some enterprising engineering and technical schools have addressed the need for basic business skills, whether to enable graduates to launch tech startups or to advance into management within their current employers.

Is this program offered online or in-person?

Courses and practicum work for this program are conducted in-person at the new CSU Spur campus in Denver.

The program is not offered online at this time. However, enrollment in this program is managed through the CSU Online/Extended Campus division of CSU’s main campus in Fort Collins.

What is the CSU Spur center? What resources are available there for students?

CSU Spur is a new set of facilities located just north of downtown and the RiNo district of Denver, at the interchange of I-70 and I-25. CSU Spur is part of the National Western Center, a world class events center and home to Denver’s historic National Western Stock Show.

CSU Spur is just that. It is an offshoot of the main CSU campus in Fort Collins, but also spurring on of new approaches to publicly accessible and engaged research and education. The campus houses programs in agriculture and food, animal health, and water resources, with the masters in Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management as its first degree-granting program.

Students in the program will have access to state-of-the-art office and classroom facilities at Spur, as well as opportunities to integrate and collaborate with other ag and food innovation initiatives, as well as a range of professional networking events and activities anchored at Spur and the neighboring National Western Center.

Will it be possible to continue working while earning this degree?

Yes, this program is open to both full-time and part-time students, with evening course offerings available.

What topics of study are covered in the Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management degree program?

Coursework introduces you to:

  • The scope of the agricultural and food system and how it operates
  • Core concepts of innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Processes for identifying and evaluating new business ideas
  • Strategic and design-thinking principles and tools
  • Accounting and finance concepts and tools
  • Marketing concepts and tools
  • Business economics as a framework to analyze business, including cost and revenue, consumer demand, business organization and interactions
  • Fostering your identity as entrepreneur
  • Team formation and interdependence
  • Business valuation and sources of capital investment
  • Effective business communications, including both oral presentations and written business plans
  • Intellectual property management through patents, trademarks, and contractual mechanisms
  • Ethical, legal, and regulatory issues, with emphasis on agriculture and food issues.

Practicum projects give students hands on opportunity to:

  • Explore and validate the value proposition of a new business idea
  • Communicate, design, and iterate the business idea, write the business plan, model the financials, and perfecting the pitch
  • Evaluate and make the case, present it to funders, and, if there is buy-in, take the next step

What is “agribusiness”?

The term “agribusiness” was coined at Harvard Business School to holistically describe the many complex and overlapping systems of agricultural business, including facilities, equipment, production, processing and manufacturing, storage, sales, and distribution. The larger system of “agribusiness and food” encompasses the entire value chain, including the land, water, and other natural resources utilized by agricultural producers through to consumers, and beyond. While agribusinesses – such as farms, ranches, and food enterprises – are the core of the value chain, they are also embedded within broader communities and the natural environment.

Can I really launch a new business in the process of earning my master's?

Yes, you can. In fact, the venture-creation track of the practicum facilitates the startup process.

What does innovation look like in the agribusiness industry?

Innovation in agribusiness includes the practical implementation of new ideas, strategies, or technologies that result in new products and services, or better ways of providing or distributing them. Innovation can take place anywhere within the food system, from the way we manage natural resources to the design of complex distribution networks. Innovation can be driven by new technology, such as blockchain or biotech, or it can focus on improving existing systems, such as modifying farming practices to sustain soil health and sequester carbon.

Some current areas of agribusiness innovation include:

  • Regenerative agriculture
  • On-farm alternative energy
  • Modern water-management and irrigation technologies
  • Agricultural biotechnology and chemistry
  • New agribusiness marketplaces, such as equipment leasing and sharing, commodity trading platforms, and labor efficiencies
  • Financial innovations, such as carbon and conservation Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
  • Farm management systems that incorporate data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Farm equipment and automation, including robotics, drones, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
  • Bioenergy, biomaterials, biofuel, and biorefinery transportation and production technologies
  • New farming systems, e.g. vertical farming, algae production, and insect farming
  • Farm-to-table marketing and online platforms for direct-to-consumer sales
  • New supply chain technologies, logistics, and transportation optimization
  • New food ingredients, e.g. plant-based proteins, cultured meats, and fungi-based ingredients
  • Experimental food and beverage manufacturing technologies
  • Wholesale, retail, and food-service technologies, including inventory management, warehouse automation, and product packaging
  • eGrocery, online restaurant marketplaces, and food delivery

What are some potential careers in agribusiness and food innovation?

As the global population continues to expand and demand increases, the field of agribusiness and food innovation will continue to grow and evolve. Here are just a few career possibilities:

  • Agribusiness or food entrepreneur
  • Founder and/or CEO of an agribusiness or food startup
  • Director of research and development (R&D)
  • Business manager
  • Account manager
  • Marketing manager
  • Production manager
  • Retail manager
  • Distribution manager
  • County planning manager
  • Market analyst
  • Investor or fund manager
  • Agricultural extension agent specializing in agribusiness
  • Agribusiness or food industry consultant
  • Business owner
  • Farm or ranch manager
Requirements and Curriculum Open Accordion

Note: This program will begin in Fall 2022

This unique master’s program offers an intensive, immersive experience that strengthens both the creative and business skills needed to drive innovation and development of new enterprises in today’s highly competitive agricultural and food industries.

Engage in a combination of coursework, collaborative development, active networking, and practical experience, pursuing either a Venture Creation or Corporate Partnership track. During that time, CSU’s program will provide the in-depth training and hands-on experience you need to develop and launch new products, technologies, and businesses. Build practical knowledge and start moving forward in your career with valuable skills that make you a highly competitive innovator, entrepreneur, and leader.

After reviewing the curriculum, be sure to explore the details of this program’s unique, in-person learning experience, including details about practicum projects and learning tracks.

Required Courses:

  • BUS 620 - Leadership and Teams (2 cr.)
  • BUS 646 - Building Value Thru Creativity and Innovation {online} (2 cr.)
  • BUS 660 - Ethical, Legal, and Regulatory Issues* (2 cr.)
  • AREC 511 - Opportunities in the Agricultural Value Chain (2 cr.)
  • AREC 513 - Idea Evaluation in Agricultural Value Chains (2 cr.)
  • AREC 514 - Entrepreneurial Accounting and Finance (2 cr.)
  • AREC 515 - Assessing Agricultural and Food Markets (2 cr.)
  • AREC 517 - Entrepreneurial Identity and Team Formation (2 cr.)
  • AREC 516 - Business Economics for the Entrepreneur (2 cr.)
  • AREC 518 - Raising Capital in the Agricultural Sector (2 cr.)
  • AREC 519A - Communicating with Partners (1 cr.)
  • AREC 586A - New Venture Launch Practicum: Explore and Validate Value Proposition (2 cr.)
  • AREC 520 - Intellectual Property in Food and Agriculture (2 cr.)
  • AREC 521 - New Food Product Development (2 cr.)
  • AREC 586B - New Venture Launch Practicum: Communicate, Design, and Iterate (2 cr.)
  • AREC 519B - Communicating with Investors (1 cr.)
  • AREC 586C - New Venture Launch Practicum: Final Evaluation, Presentation, and Launch (5 cr.)

Total Credits: 35

Choose either a full-time or part-time course of study:

Full-Time Course of Study

First Year – Fall

Total Credits: 12

First Year – Spring

Total Credits: 11

First Year – Summer (Semester compressed to 10 weeks)

  • AREC 520 - Intellectual Property in Food and Agriculture (2 cr.)
  • AREC 521 - New Food Product Development (2 cr.)
  • AREC 586B - New Venture Launch Practicum: Communicate, Design, and Iterate (2 cr.)

Total Credits: 6

Second Year – Fall

  • AREC 519B - Communicating with Investors (1 cr.)
  • AREC 586C - New Venture Launch Practicum: Final Evaluation, Presentation, and Launch (5 cr.)

Total Credits: 6

Part-Time Course of Study

First Year – Fall

One of the following:

Total Credits: 6

First Year – Spring

  • AREC 516 - Business Economics for the Entrepreneur (2 cr.)

Two of the following:

Total Credits: 6

First Year – Summer (Semester compressed to 10 weeks)

  • AREC 520 - Intellectual Property in Food and Agriculture (2 cr.)
  • AREC 521 - New Food Product Development (2 cr.)

Total Credits: 6

Second Year – Fall

  • AREC 517 - Entrepreneurial Identity and Team Formation (2 cr.)
  • AREC 513 - Idea Evaluation in Agricultural Value Chains (2 cr.)

One of the following:

Total Credits: 6

Second Year – Spring

  • AREC 519A - New Venture Communication: Interpersonal Interactions (1 cr.)
  • AREC 586A - New Venture Launch Practicum: Explore and Validate Value Proposition (2 cr.)

One of the following:

Second Year – Summer

  • AREC 586B - New Venture Launch Practicum: Communicate, Design, and Iterate (2 cr.)

Third Year – Fall

  • AREC 519B - Communicating with Investors (1 cr.)
  • AREC 586C - New Venture Launch Practicum: Final Evaluation, Presentation, and Launch (5 cr.)

Projected class schedule for Fall 2022:

How to Apply Open Accordion

Application Deadlines

Fall semester June 1

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Apply Now

1Review Admission Requirements

Applicants to the Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management program must meet or exceed the following criteria:

  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution

2 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application form and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). As soon as you have completed the required information, please submit your application. Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete and all required materials have been received.

  • Select “Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management master's degree - Distance” when choosing the Program of Study.

3Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from all institutions attended. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or gradadmissions@colostate.edu if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary)
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

4Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Questions?

We love learning about your goals and answering any questions to help you on your journey.

Nicole Schmidt
Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management (In-Person)
Prospective Student Support Coach
Schedule Time to Talk

Program Details

Courses
In-person at the CSU Spur campus in Denver
Credits
35
Tuition
$750 per credit
Degree Awarded
Master of Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management
Time Frame
1.5 - 2 years

Application Deadlines

Fall semester
December 1 (early decision)
May 1 (final)

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