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