Master of Agricultural and Extension Education (Non-thesis)

The Master's of Agricultural and Extension Education is designed primarily for people who currently teach agriculture at the middle school, high school and/or post-secondary level or who are currently working or desire to work with the Cooperative Extension Service.  Student's gain an in-depth knowledge of the context and content of school-based agricultural education or extension education. It should be noted that completion of this degree does NOT result in certification to teach high school or middle school agriculture. We offer a program known as LEAP (Licensure in Education for Agricultural Professionals) for those who desire to be certified to teach agriculture in the public schools. It is possible to combine the two programs together and work on both simultaneously.

Program Requirements

This degree program is 36 semester hours in length. This program is designed to be completed on-campus or entirely by distance education.

The requirements for the Master's of Agricultural and Extension Education degree are as follows. Where there are choices one should select courses appropriate for their concentration - either agricultural education or extension education:

1. Complete the core required courses (15 hours).

  • AEE 501 Foundations of Agricultural and Extension Education (3 hours)
  • AEE 578 Scientific Inquiry in Agricultural and Extension Education (3 hours)
  • Curriculum/Program Planning (3 hours). Choose one of the following:
    • AEE 521 Program Planning in Agricultural & Extension Education
    • AEE 524 Coordinating the High School Agric. Educ. Program
    • AEE 529 Curriculum Development in Agric. & Ext. Educ.
  • Instructional Methodology (3 hours). Choose one of the following:
    • AEE 523 Adult Education in Agriculture
    • AEE 535 Teaching Agriculture. in Secondary Schools (recommended for those with no teaching experience)
    • AEE 735 Effective Teaching in Agriculture & Life Sciences (recommended for those who desire to teacher in higher education)
  • Culminating Master's Project  (3 hours). Choose on of the following:
    • AEE 620 Special Problems in Agricultural and Extension Education
    • AEE 693 Master's Supervised Research

2. Complete 21 hours of electives.

The student is allowed to take 21 hours of elective courses. These can be in AEE or can be in disciplines such as Animal Science, Crop Science, Horticulture,  Entomology, Forestry, Youth Development and Family Life Education, etc. At the Master's level one can declare a minor but does not have to. Typically. declaring a minor means the student will take 9-12  hours in a specialty and work with a professor from that area.

3. Complete a culminating project.  

To demonstrate an understanding and mastery of the theories, principles, and practice of agricultural and extension education each student is required to complete a major self-directed creative or research based project. The student will sign up for either AEE 693 or AEE 620 for 3 hours of credit. The student will present the results of their project to the AEE 601 seminar class (however the student does not have to be enrolled in AEE 601 to do this. The student will  be scheduled to make a presentation in the same manner that outside guest speakers are scheduled). Or the student can make a presentation at a professional conference such as the summer agriculture teacher conference or at an extension meeting. Students at a distance will either use distance education technology to make the presentation or upload a video file to a file-sharing web site so that the culminating activity can be shown to the class. The culminating activity should utilize and demonstrate the knowledge gained across the spectrum of courses completed in the Master’s program.
Examples of possible culminating projects activities could include (but are not limited to the following):

Action Research. Teachers select an aspect of their teaching to systematically investigate, such as their wait time during questioning. They record data and consider theories from the research literature, drawing conclusions about how teaching is influencing learning and vice versa, and informing future instructional decisions. The primary intent of action research is to improve the teachers’ immediate classroom teaching; secondarily, if applicable, the intent is to generalize it across other contexts in the school or beyond. Students seeking “M” teaching licensure are required to complete this type of culminating product. More information about the action research project is found below.
Course/Curriculum Development. The individual will develop a teaching unit or course that includes lesson plans, instructional materials (handouts, PowerPoints, etc.) group activities, and assessment instruments. A supporting web site might be created. Some or all of the instructional materials/activities will then be implemented in an actual setting and evaluated. The student will reflect on the process and outcomes of the project.
Research Inquiry. The student will conduct a small-scale research project. This could be a descriptive or correlation research study that focuses on areas of concern for the profession such as job satisfaction, teacher turnover, needs assessment, etc. Standard research procedures and protocols will be used.
Coaching or Mentoring - The student will formally coach or mentor a beginning teacher or agent. A plan will be developed for the mentoring/coaching activity. An instructional coach provides ongoing consistent follow-up by way of demonstrations, observations, and conversations with new professionals as they implement new strategies and knowledge.

Before one starts the culminating project, this form is to be completed and signed by your advisor.


Student's in the Master's of Agricultural and Extension Education program will be assigned a temporary advisor when they are admitted to the program. After one semester of study, the student will then select a permanent advisor from among the faculty. The advisor will help the student develop a plan of work/study and will guide the culminating project. There is not a graduate committee (the MS degree program have graduate committees).

Program Costs

There is an old saying "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." It is true that education is expensive.  However, the Princeton Review recently ranked NCSU as the 4th best value in America for public universities. We make every effort to keep tuition and fees low. Our tuition and fees for out-of-state students are often lower than student's would pay at their in-state land-grant institution. Since tuition and fees constantly change we just provide a link to our cashier's office so you can see what the current cost is. You need to remember the cost for summer school is different (typically lower) than a regular semester course and distance education courses typically cost even less; so you may need to look in several places for the right figures. . If you take a course through our AG*IDEA consortium there is flat rate of $1,500 for a 3 hour course. 

Teacher Licensure

Upon completion of the program, the student will receive the Master's degree and can also apply for the Master's (M) teaching license from the state of North Carolina (one has to apply for the teaching license-it does not automatically happen).  It should be noted that one has to first have the initial teaching license (the "A") before  applying for the "M". If one does not have the "A" license it is possible to work on that license while in the graduate program. This is done by enrolling simultaneously in the NCSU LEAP program.

Individuals who plan to apply for a “M” (Master’s level) Teaching License in the state of North Carolina are required to conduct an Action Research project and disseminate the results as part of their graduate program. This requirement is to meet the standards established by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. 

What is Action Research?

Action research is conducted by one or more individuals or groups for the purpose of solving a problem or obtaining information in order to inform local practice. It is typically done in a school setting. It is designed and conducted by practitioners who analyze the data to improve their own practice. Action research can be done by individuals or by teams of colleagues.

In the context of this requirement action research is conducted by a teacher in his/her classroom in order to enhance student learning. Those involved in action research generally want to solve some kind of day-to-day immediate problem, such as how to decrease absenteeism or incidents of vandalism, motivate apathetic students, figure out ways to use technology to improve teaching, etc. (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2006).

What are some examples of Action Research Projects?

Here are three examples of recent action research projects completed in our department.

Teacher 1 was teaching a horticulture class and some students were struggling with plant identification. So the teacher decided to ask those who were struggling to be teaching assistants. These teaching assistants then had to prepare a PowerPoint presentation on future plants to be studied and then had to present that information to the class. The teacher then looked at plant id test scores of these students prior to their teaching assistant experience and after their experience.

Teacher 2 wondered if students who watched videos of their sales presentation while practicing for the FFA Sales Career Development Event (CDE) would perform better in the Sales CDE than students who did not do this. She took half of the students from her junior and senior Sales team and videotaped their practice presentations and then had the students watch the videos and critique themselves. The other half of the team received the normal feedback from the teacher. The teacher then compared the performance of the two groups of students in the Sales CDE.

Teacher 3 wanted to see the impact of using a game for review purposes before exams. She compared two animal science classes on two different tests to see if a review game increased their test scores.

What should be the finished product of an Action Research Project and what is to be done with it?

The finished project will be a formal research report. It will probably be in the neighborhood of 15-20 or so pages including references. As a minimum, here are the sections that should be in the report:

  • An Introduction to the problem being studied
  • A justification as to why this is an important issue; in other words, the need for the study.
  • The objectives to be accomplished in the study
  • The specific research questions to be answered
  • A brief review of the literature to see what other people have learned or have to say about the problem. Note: You should use the APA (American Psychological Association) style to document your information sources. A brief introduction to APA can be found at The OWL at Purdue University.
  • A detailed description of what was done in your research.
  • The findings – what were the results of your study?
  • Your conclusions, implications and recommendations for practice
  • Bibliography – A complete list of references used
An example of an action research project report can be found here.

In addition to the research report, one should also prepare a PowerPoint presentation on the research and should present it to an audience. The audience could be the teachers in your school, a meeting of the CTE teachers in your district, at a professional conference or to the AEE 601 seminar class. Here is an example of a presentation made by an out-of-state student that was shown to the AEE 601 class.  

The research report and PowerPoint is to be sent to your advisor who will post it on the Google Drive where we keep these documents.

Can one receive academic credit for doing this project?

Yes. One normally signs up for 3 credit hours of AEE 620 Special Problems of AEE 693 Master’s Supervised Research for doing this project. There is a form that one needs to compete and get approved before starting the project.
How does one do this project if he or she is not currently a classroom teacher??

The AEE faculty can put you in touch with a teacher who is willing to let you use one or more of his/her classes for the project.

Are there avenues for publishing my Action Research Project?

There are several journals that specialize in publishing action research. If you do a good job with your research, you could consider publishing your research in one of the following journals. You might want to read some of the articles in these journals to get ideas for action research projects.


What Resources are available to help me conduct the Action Research Project??

In the AEE 578 “Scientific Inquiry in Agricultural and Extension Education” one lesson is devoted to action research. The College of Education offers a course ED 570 Classroom Action Research. AEE student can take this course as an elective.

Other Resources:

Admission Process and Requirements

Please click on the How to Apply link to the left to learn how to apply and to see the admission requirements.