Degree Programs in Food Systems

There are many approaches to getting a college degree that will give you the tools and credentials you need to be an agriculture and food system development practitioner. As they relate to this emerging field, some of the academic approaches you can take include:

  • Sustainable agriculture: Focuses on growing techniques and livestock management.
  • Environmental science: Focuses on healthy soils and watersheds; also energy issues.
  • City and regional planning: Urban planners tend to focus on community food security, while rural planners tend to focus on farmland protection.
  • Plant science or horticulture: Focuses on plant breeding, pest and disease control.
  • Agricultural economics: Focuses on financial viability, economic impacts, marketing.
  • Nutritional sciences: Focuses on food security, hunger, nutrition education.
  • Sociology and anthropology: Focuses on human values, community development strategies, organizational structure.

There are a number of sustainable agriculture programs at U.S. universities. There are fewer (but a growing number of) interdisciplinary degree programs in food systems and/or food studies that integrate social, physical, and life sciences and even the liberal arts; they blend sustainable agriculture, food security, value-chain development, food service, and other topics.

These programs are much broader than any one of the above degrees alone. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have new information to add to this list. Another source of listings is at the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association.

Featured Listings  

University of British Columbia, Land and Food Systems (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

Program(s) offered: Bachelor of Science

The UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems (LFS) uses student-centered learning to educate new generations of scientists equipped to solve the most fundamental issues faced by society — those focused around human health, a sustainable food supply and the responsible use of finite land and water resources. One of UBC’s three founding faculties, LFS (formerly Agricultural Sciences) changed its name in 2005 to better reflect its interdisciplinary research and focus on sustainability. The importance of healthy and sustainable land and food systems cannot be underestimated as the foundation that touches almost every area of our lives and the lives of our local and global communities. We are educating students to be global citizens, capable of creating change and critically considering issues vital to the sustainability and advancement of local and global communities. Using an integrated approach that unites scientific knowledge and interdisciplinary studies, our graduates use an international perspective to address pressing societal issues. Students are encouraged to direct their own education and bring classroom theories to life through problem-based learning, co-op and exchange programs, community service learning and new learning technologies.

West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Sustainable Food Systems Management

Program(s) offered: Bachelor of Science, concentration

The Sustainable Food Systems Management program is an undergrad track in the Nutrition Department at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, part of the PA higher education system. 
Students in Sustainable Food Systems Management train for jobs in food management, while promoting values for nutrition and public health, the environment, and fair food systems. Using ecological approaches and systems-based thinking, students develop understandings of local, regional, national, and international food systems and how food businesses and organizations function within them. Food systems training will focus on the community level and on consumer and post-harvest dimensions of the food chain. Courses engage students in critical issues in food management and sustainability as they learn best practices in creating solutions to challenges. Students in this major learn to be leaders and advocates for managing sustainable community food systems, using their skills in institutions, small businesses, and other organizations.

University of California-Davis, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems (Davis, California)

Program(s) offered: Bachelor of Science

UC Davis faculty and students are developing a new undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture and food systems. The major will include several innovative features designed to help students acquire the knowledge, skills, and understanding needed to develop and work in more ecologically, economically, and socially viable food and farming systems. 

University of California–Santa Cruz, Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (Santa Cruz, California)

Program(s) offered: Apprenticeships, Research, Education

The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems is a research, education, and public service program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, dedicated to increasing ecological sustainability and social justice in the food and agriculture system. On the UCSC campus, the Center operates the 2-acre Alan Chadwick Garden and the 25-acre Farm. Both sites are managed using organic production methods and serve as research, teaching, and training facilities for students, staff, and faculty.

College of the Atlantic, Sustainable Food Systems (Bar Harbor, Maine)

Program(s) offered: Human Ecology B.A. and M.Phil.

According to the COA, understanding food and its production requires insights from history, anthropology, economics, politics, ecology, botany, and chemistry. Accordingly, they have a diverse and interdisciplinary set of classes in the area of farming and food systems, such as Agroecology, Edible Botany, The Art and Science of Fermentation, and Agriculture and Biotechnology. 

Chatham University, Food Studies Program (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Program(s) offered: Master of Arts in Food Studies (MAFS)

Chatham's M.A. in Food Studies emphasizes a holistic approach to food systems, from agriculture and food production to cuisines and consumption, providing intellectual and practical experience from field to table. One of the greatest attributes a food studies education can supply is understanding. Understanding of how food is grown, treated, harvested, sold, purchased, consumed, shared, and disposed of. Understanding of the impact it has on its suppliers, consumers, and environment. And understanding of how it affects us all.

Iowa State University, Sustainable Agriculture Graduate Program (Ames, Iowa)

Program(s) offered: Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy

The Sustainable Agriculture major is designed to provide students with an interdisciplinary education emphasizing experiential learning opportunities. Our program builds on a solid foundation of agricultural science, while providing courses and professional development opportunities in the biological, social, and economic elements of sustainability.

Kansas State University, M.S. in Horticulture with an emphasis in Urban Food Systems (Manhattan, Kansas)

Program(s) offered: Master of Science

The aim of this program is to study the potential an urban food system has in community building and economic development, educating youth and others about nutrition and wise food choices, and providing a source for nutritious food grown locally or regionally with the participation of urban residents. The specialization places an emphasis on sustainable agriculture, project management, and grant writing, in addition to having a solid foundation in urban food production.

University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Sustainable Food & Farming (Amherst, Massachusetts)

Program(s) offered: Associate of Science, Bachelor of Science, Certificate

All programs are offered online and is designed for those who are intrigued by sustainable agriculture and possible careers in this field.  The major offers flexibility in designing a personal program of study, allowing students to focus on vegetable, fruit and animal systems, permaculture, whole farm production and marketing, agricultural education, public policy, advocacy and community development.  The self-designed, hands-on internship is an enjoyable experiential component of this program that is optional, but highly recommended.

Michigan State University, Department of Community Sustainability (East Lansing, Michigan)

Program(s) offered: Certificate, B.A. in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, M.S.c and Ph.D. in Ecological food and Farming Systems

Consistent with its mission to assist in the development of sustainable communities, the department offers three undergraduate majors linked by a common core in community sustainability. These three majors - Environmental Studies and Sustainability (ESS); Sustainable Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SPRT); and Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education (AFNRE) – share a set of courses centered on community sustainability. The CSUS graduate program offers two graduate majors: Community Sustainability (MS and PhD) and Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas Management (MS and PhD). In both undergraduate and graduate programs, CSUS embraces international as well as domestic applications, engagement, and opportunities.

Montana State University, Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems Program (Bozeman, Montana)

Program(s) offered: Bachelor of Science

The Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems (SFBS) B.S. degree program is an innovative interdisciplinary program from Montana State University that promotes the sustainable production, distribution, and consumption of food and bioenergy. Experiences include collaborative learning, directed coursework, and hands-on training as while progressing through one of four program options:

  1. Sustainable Food Systems (Department of Health and Human Development);
  2. Sustainable Crop Production (Department of Plant Science and Plant Pathology).
  3. Agroecology (Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences); and
  4. Sustainable Livestock Production Option  
Prescott College, Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems (Prescott, AZ)

Program offered: Master of Science

Prescott College’s Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems is a 36-credit program that is designed to support the strengthening of communities and their members by helping people re(build) healthy, just, and sustainable food systems. In today’s world of complex food, nutrition, and agriculture systems, we need leaders with a deep knowledge of the economic, ecological, and social forces driving food systems. The program prepares you for a graduate-level interdisciplinary understanding of sustainable agriculture and diets and includes three distinct optional concentrations: (1) Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity: Designed for students who work in nutrition, culinary nutrition, public health, and other sustainable food system fields where knowledge about diverse diets with low environmental impacts can play an important role in ensuring food and nutrition security; (2) Food Justice: Designed for students who seek to shift global, industrial food systems towards more equitable, just, and sustainable foodways; and (3) Food Entrepreneurship: Designed for students who have a vision for impacting food system change through self-employment or another entrepreneurial endeavor who are seeking knowledge about how businesses can play an important role in ensuring food and nutrition security.

University of New Hampshire, Dual Major in EcoGastronomy (Durham, New Hampshire)

Program(s) offered: Dual Major

Are you interested in growing food, cooking food, and eating healthfully? Do you want to learn about the complex and holistic nature of our food community? If you answered yes, then get ready to enhance your primary major and expand your professional opportunities with a dual major in EcoGastronomy. Integrating UNH strengths in sustainable agriculture, hospitality management, and nutrition, EcoGastronomy offers a unique academic program emphasizing the interdisciplinary, international, and experiential knowledge that connects all three fields. And as a dual major, the program provides a complement to any primary major. The dual major is:

  • Experiential: Real world experiences on farms, in kitchens, in labs, and in the community.
  • Interdisciplinary: Cross-cutting curriculum including studies in sustainable agriculture, hospitality management, and nutrition.
  • International: Foreign experience at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. 
The New School, Food Studies Program (New York, New York)

Program(s) offered: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science

The Food Studies BA/BS degree is offered through The New School's Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students. Led by our expert faculty, you'll explore subjects ranging from food-growing practices and food marketing to global food security and public health issues like obesity and malnutrition. Partnerships with advocacy organizations and culinary schools enable you to supplement your classroom learning with hands-on experience.

Drawing on a number of disciplines, including anthropology, economics, gastronomy, systems design, and public policy analysis, the program prepares you to implement positive changes in food systems by engaging with processes of production, distribution, consumption, and regulation.

New York University (NYU), Food Studies Program (New York, New York)

Program(s) offered: Master of Arts

One of the first master’s degree programs in the US devoted to food scholarship, Food Studies at NYU employs approaches from the humanities and social sciences and prepares you to analyze the current American food system, its global connections, and local alternatives. Examines cultural, political, economic, environmental, and geographic approaches to food within local, urban, and global contexts.

North Carolina State University, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

Program(s) offered: Bachelor of Science

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems is a cross-departmental program offered through the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and Horticultural Science. The program, which will admit its first students in fall 2018, is directed by Dr. Michelle Schroeder-Moreno, Professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and Assistant Director of Educational Programs for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS). The program offers students three concentration areas: Agroecology Research and Production, Community Food Systems, and Urban Horticulture.

Oregon Health & Science University, M.S. in Food Systems and Society (Portland, Oregon) 

Program(s) offered: Master of Science

The M.S. in Food Systems and Society at Oregon Health and Science University combines in-person and online learning about food systems and social change. Our low-residency, cohort-based structure combines online courses with short residencies in Portland, Oregon. 

University of the Pacific, Master of Arts in Food Studies (San Francisco, California)

Program(s) offered: Master of Arts

University of the Pacific is pleased to announce the first Food Studies master's degree program on the West Coast, a course of study designed for working professionals with a career or personal interest in food and the ways that people have grown, prepared and profited from it through history and across cultures. The multidisciplinary program will prepare students for success in food-related professions, from food writing to food history, food advocacy, policymaking, sustainability, and business related fields. The program will be offered at Pacific's new state-of-the-art campus in the SoMa (South of Market) district of San Francisco.

University of Rhode Island, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems (SAFS) Specialization (South Kingstown, Rhode Island)  

Program(s) offered: Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy

SAFS is a graduate specialization takes a systems-based, interdisciplinary approach to the biological and environmental sciences as applied to agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, nutrition, and food safety. Our diverse group of faculty, with contributors from both the natural and social sciences, use a broad array of approaches to help achieve economically and ecologically sustainable production, management, consumption, and utilization of plants and animals for the development of healthy communities.

Sterling College, Sustainable Food Systems (Craftsbury, Vermont)

Program(s) offered: Bachelor of Arts

Studying sustainable food systems means taking an ecological approach to the future of food and food production. Students will examine the social, cultural, and ecological impacts of the way food is produced, consumed, and regarded.

Students will start with an immersion in the food systems of this region of Vermont, with hands-on culinary experiences, field visits to the region's artisanal food producers, seminars in food writing, and intensives in small-scale value-added products such as cheese, meat, and lacto-fermentation.

Syracuse University, Food Studies Program (Syracuse, New York)

Program(s) offered: Bachelor of Science, Minor, Master of Science, Certificate 

Falk's Food Studies programs include a bachelor of science (B.S.), minor, M.S., and Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS). Students learn about the Food industry in areas including food science, organic production, local food movement, genetic modification of food and nanotechnology and food access in the U.S.

Tufts University, Agriculture, Food and Environment (AFE) Program (Boston, Massachusetts)

Program(s) offered: Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy, Combined Degree Programs

To educate future leaders at the nexus of agriculture, food, and environmental science and policy, and empower them by providing rigorous training, an ethic of social change, and an intellectual community generating visions and models of alternative systems. The Agriculture, Food and Environment (AFE) program within the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy fuses the disciplines of nutrition, agricultural science, environmental studies, and public policy. It offers M.S., Ph.D. and combined degree programs, diverse community service and internship placements, and opportunities to participate in research on sustainable agriculture, local food systems, and consumer behavior related to food and the environment. Students in the AFE degree program learn to evaluate the ecological, political, economic and social aspects of food production and distribution. Faculty members come from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Unity College, Agriculture, Food, and Sustainability (Unity, Maine)

Program(s) offered: Bachelor of Science

Agriculture, Food, and Sustainability majors are farm-focused and community-minded. They are interested in the ways in which local farmers and food enterprises contribute to a healthy food supply — from growing crops and raising animals, all the way through to distribution and fair access to food. They are keenly interested in where their food comes from. They have an innate respect for the land, what it provides, and the people who work it. They are both naturalists and business people.

University of Vermont, Food Systems Program (Burlington, Vermont)

Program(s) offered: Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy, Minor

Over the past several decades, the University of Vermont (UVM) has established its leadership in food systems research, teaching, and outreach. UVM faculty, staff, and students have developed and maintained this position by embracing transdisciplinary approaches and fostering strong partnerships within the university, state, and beyond that contribute to a culture of collaboration and innovation. Given its strong systems orientation, UVM food systems scholarship encompasses a wide range of topics such as innovative production systems, environmental quality, entrepreneurship, human health and wellbeing, and nutrition. UVM is an academic pioneer in food systems, as the first university in the country to offer undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in Food Systems. UVM’s scale, as a land-grant university in a small state, provides students, staff, and faculty access to both diverse resources and an approachable campus community. This setting sustains relationships that integrate distinct disciplines in the natural and social sciences, as well as the humanities

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Civic Agriculture and Food Systems (Blacksburg, Virginia)

Program(s) offered: Minor

The minor in Civic Agriculture and Food Systems embodies a commitment to developing and strengthening an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable system of agriculture and food systems that relies on local resources and serves local markets and citizens. The minor is committed to serving the needs of all students and is designed to promote academic enhancement, personal growth, and civic engagement while strengthening student's capacity to learn about civic agriculture and food systems through reflection and experiential practice to solve real- world problem.

Washington State University, Agricultural and Food Systems (Pullman, Washington)

Program(s) offered: Bachelor of Science, Graduate Certificate

The Agricultural and Food Systems degree program is an exciting, college-wide, interdisciplinary program that offers a Bachelor of Science degree with five majors from which to choose: Agricultural Technology and Production Management, Agricultural Education, Organic Agriculture Systems, Agricultural and Food Business Economics, Agriculture and Food Security. In each major, emphasis is placed on gaining a solid background in the agricultural sciences, including learning to work with and in the complexity of agriculture and food systems. All students take a core set of classes in order to develop a broad interdisciplinary background while also studying specific subjects that prepare graduates for their chosen fields. An internship related to the students focus area is included in these requirements.

University of Washington, School of Public Health, Nutritional Sciences Program

Program(s) offered: Bachelor of Arts

In the Bachelor of Arts in Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health, students are exposed to the complex intersections and relationships among food, policy, labor, social justice, economics, the environment, culture, and population health. Graduates will have competency in food systems, nutrition, public health, social and economic equity, and sustainability, as well as strong liberal arts preparation in intellectual and practical skills like inquiry, analysis, communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving, all of which enables them to address issues such as domestic and global food and nutrition  security.

Last updated: August 20, 2019