Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management (In-Person)
1.5 - 2
Years to Earn Your Masters
CSU Grad Students have Plans Related to their Career
Of Grad Students Rated Experience as Excellent or Good
Average Starting Salary for CSU Grad Students
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 in the Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management Program at 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
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
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:
Food Retailers and Wholesalers
Restaurants and Food Businesses
Computer Science and Software
Business Development and Entrepreneurship
Seed, Genetics and Biotech Companies
Local, State, or Federal Government
Potential job titles include:
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
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
The health insurance requirements for graduate students enrolled in the Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management program at CSU Spur is as follows:
International graduate students enrolled via CSU Online and studying at CSU Spur, and thus living in the U.S., are subject to CSU’s Health Insurance Policy, and will be auto enrolled in the CSU Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) at the beginning of each semester or may submit a waiver by demonstrating comparable health insurance. The international waiver form can be found on this page under Quick Links.
Domestic graduate students enrolled via CSU Online and studying at CSU Spur are not subject to CSU’s Health Insurance Policy and thus do not need to demonstrate health insurance coverage. However, domestic graduate students may voluntarily enroll in the CSU Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP).
Note: Students in this program will not be eligible for the Assistantship Health Insurance Contribution, as CSU Online Credits do not meet the Resident Instruction enrollment criteria for this policy.
How to enroll in SHIP:
Complete the online enrollment form for “CSU Online students enrolled in 6 or more credits” at the CSU Student Insurance Office by the University Add/Drop date (approximately two weeks after classes begin).
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com if the secure service requires an email address.
Mail (if necessary)
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062