Master's Degrees


The Agricultural and Extension Education graduate program offers two types of Master's degrees. You can select the one tailored to meet your needs. The following is an overview of these degrees.

Master's of Agricultural and Extension Education - This degree program is for students who want to gain an in-depth knowledge of school-based agricultural education or non-formal education that is focused on extension, youth development, rural development, international education, and family and consumer science. This degree requires a minimum of 36 semester hours. This degree does not require the writing of a thesis; however, all students must complete some type of Master's project.  Upon completion of this degree, the student may qualify for a Master's level (M) teaching license if they have a teaching emphasis and already have an "A" teaching license or may apply for an initial teaching license (A) if they also complete the LEAP requirements in the Master's program. This degree can be completed on campus or through distance education. .

Master of Science in Agricultural and Extension Education - This on-campus degree program is for students who want to gain an in depth knowledge of school-based agricultural education or extension education and gain experience in conducting research. This degree requires a minimum of 36 semester hours and does require the writing of a thesis. Students received 6 hours of credit for writing a thesis. Upon completion of this degree, the student may qualify for a Master's level (M) teaching license if they have a teaching emphasis.

A table comparing the Master's degree programs is located at this link [see Masters_Requirements.docx]

What is Agricultural Education and Extension Education?

Not everyone is familiar with Agricultural Education or Extension Education as practiced in America. The following table contains a brief overview of both Agricultural Education and Extension Education as practiced in the United States.

Agricultural Education Extension Education

Image of an agriculture teacherIn America agriculture is taught in the middle and high schools as an academic subject just as one would teach history or mathematics. It is estimated there are 12,000 teachers teaching agriculture in 7,000 schools in the United States. In North Carolina we have 400+ teachers found in 300+ middle and high schools. Specific courses such as Horticulture, Animal Science, Agricultural Mechanics, Forestry and Natural Resources, and Biotechnology are commonly taught. The agriculture teacher is also the advisor to the FFA student organization. Because of the structure of the program, agricultural education as taught in the schools is identified as formal education. Even though some agriculture was being taught in schools in the early 1900's, it was not until Congress passed the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 that the teaching of agriculture in public schools became a wide-spread practice. 

Image of an Extension agentIn the early 1900s farmers needed help. The scientific farming methods being perfected at the agriculture colleges were not making it out to the farmers. To rectify this situation, Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act in 1914. This act created the Cooperative Extension Service which provided a vehicle for agricultural colleges to place agricultural advisors out in the counties to work with farmers. These " agricultural agents" were soon followed by Home Economics (now known as Family and Consumers Science agents) and Youth (4-H) agents. It is not unusual to find three or more "county agents" working in a county today to provide advice to farmers, homemakers and youth. Over the years the terminology, methods used and audiences have changed somewhat, but the basic mission is the same - to bring scientific information out to the people. This is a joint effort of the federal, state and local government - thus the name cooperative. Today in North Carolina there are 400+ agents and they are found in every county of the state. Because these agents work one-on-one with their clients and use a number of approaches to educating the population, this is known as non-formal education.

It should be noted that the courses and emphasis of the program is how to educate people about agriculture in both formal and non-formal settings. We do not teach courses that deal with soils, growing plants, breeding livestock, food science, etc. Those courses are taught in other departments on this campus. We are all about working with people and education.

Our Students

We currently have about 30 students enrolled in our Distance Education Master’s degree and about 10 in the campus-based Master’s program (and we have over 25 students in our doctoral program). During the past five years we have had students from the following states complete their graduate degrees with us: Connecticut, Georgia, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, Tennessee, South Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Maryland, Indiana, Florida, and of course North Carolina.

About 1/3 of the students are currently employed by the Cooperative Extension Service or are preparing themselves for employment in the Extension Service. About 1/3 of the students are currently teaching agriculture at the middle, high school, or postsecondary level or are working on certification to allow them to teach. Then there is the other 1/3. These students have a variety of career goals and like that fact that our degree program has 15-18 semester hours of free electives. You can take courses in Horticulture, Food Science, Crop Science, Animal Science or whatever you desire as a minor. The core of your studies will be in agricultural and extension education but you can have a strong minor in such areas as youth development, horticulture, sustainable agriculture, animal science, rural and community development, etc. While most of the graduates of our program are teaching agriculture or working in extension, we do have graduates who work as agricultural museum curators, environmental educators, agricultural missionaries, in agricultural public relations, congressional staffers with agricultural responsibilities, sustainable agriculturalists, farmers, etc. There is a considerable amount of flexibility in our graduate program.

Why Should You Enroll in Our Graduate Program?

When it comes to graduate study, there are a number of universities that offer graduate programs in agricultural and extension education. So what makes NCSU special? Our department is recognized as one of the top Departments of Agricultural and Extension Education in the nation. We have a nationally recognized cadre of faculty and offer an impressive array of graduate courses every semester. But the most impressive facet of our program are the graduate students themselves. The graduates of our program are providing leadership to the profession all across the nation. We are proud of their accomplishments.  We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you about joining us.

1. Field Tested Experienced Professors! The faculty have been there and done that! We have taught agriculture at the high school and middle school levels or worked at the county, area and state levels in extension. We know the realities of agricultural and extension education. Our teaching reflects this experience.

2. National Leaders. The faculty is recognized nationally as leaders in the field. Members of our faculty have been national presidents of various professional organization including:

  •  Alpha Tau Alpha (National Agr. Educ. Honorary)
  •  American Association for Agricultural Education
  •  Association for Career and Technical Education
  •  Association for Career and Technical Education Research
  •  Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education
  •  Association of Leadership Educators
  •  National Association of Agricultural Educators
  •  Omicron Tau Theta (National Career & Technical Education Honorary)

3. Award Winning Teachers. Our faculty members have been recognized by the university, the profession, the United States Department of Agriculture, and other organizations for excellence in teaching.
4. Leading Researchers. Our faculty know what is going on in Agricultural & Extension Education because we are active researchers and are involved in discovering, creating and disseminating the new knowledge in the field.

5. Top 10 Rating. The Agricultural and Extension Education Department at NCSU is rated as one of the top 10 programs in the nation. Why not study at a top 10 program?

6. Online and Live Degree Program. You have the option of completing your Master's program completely by distance education or by attending live classes, or by a combination of both delivery methods.

7. Access to other Agricultural & Extension Education Courses. NCSU is a member of the AG*IDEA graduate consortium. Thus you have access to graduate courses from 9 other leading universities.  

8. Robust Array of Course Offerings. Every semester you have 6-9 graduate courses from which to choose. You are not limited to choose from just 1-2 courses.

9. Respected Degree/Mark of Distinction. An Ag Ed degree from NCSU is highly respected nationally and internationally. You will be well prepared for a career or advanced graduate work.  You will want to proudly display your NCSU graduate diploma. Not everyone has a degree from NCSU. It is a mark of distinction.

10. Responsive Faculty. We respond in a timely manner to your phone calls and e-mails. If you have a question, you can get an answer.


If you have questions about the Master's program contact the Director of Graduate Programs:

Dr. Mark Kistler

Box 7607 NCSU
Room 210-C Ricks Hall
1 Lampe Drive
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695 - 7607

Office phone (919) 513-2349
Fax (919) 513-1169