cals-foodsystems-cert

Created in 2007, the Agroecology M.S. program at UW–Madison trains students to research and analyze agricultural systems within a broader environmental and socioeconomic context. Key to this endeavor is interdisciplinary expertise, which the agroecology program achieves through working with affiliated faculty members from nearly 20 departments across campus.

A typical cohort consists of 8–12 incoming students with diverse backgrounds and undergraduate majors. Agroecology M.S. students work with faculty on focused projects across a wide range of the traditional departments of the academy. Our core curriculum brings together these students for a multidisciplinary, agroecological, analysis of agricultural systems in a broadened context.

The agroecology program is supported by the interdisciplinary agroecology cluster, which hired three faculty members in 2002: Michael Bell in community and environmental sociology, Claudio Gratton in entomology, and Randall Jackson in agronomy. These faculty, all still active in the program, were the catalyst for what is now a group of more than 50 faculty affiliates who advise agroecology students and participate in program governance.

The cluster concept is an innovation of the University of Wisconsin in which a core group of faculty is hired into an interdisciplinary area, but have tenure homes in traditional departments.

Program Tracks

  • The professional practice track trains facilitators to enable broader discussion and negotiation at the interfaces of agriculture and other sectors of society. The goal of this "action-in-society" track is to train analysts to increase understanding about the roles of agricultural systems in multi-functional landscapes, and the public policy that shapes these roles.
  • The research track addresses the need for continued research and scholarship in order that discussions and negotiations are well informed. Students will have the opportunity to obtain experience in the scholarship of original research, culminating in the writing of a thesis.

Admissions and Frequently Asked Questions

The agroecology program accepts students from a wide range of undergraduate majors, not limited to the social and natural sciences. Because the admissions process is highly competitive, applicants should have a record of strong grades and GRE scores, agroecology-relevant interests and experience, and a commitment to learning in a multidisciplinary program. The deadline for fall semester applications is December 15. Inquiries at other times may be considered.

The initial application process is outlined below. Prospective students should keep in mind, however, that this document-based application is only the first step in the admissions process. Students who are deemed admissible on the merits of these documents must then identify an academic advisor and a plan for funding to be fully admitted. The agroecology program will assist students in this endeavor. More information on the process of seeking out funding and an advisor is available in the program's Student Handbook. Students who are interested in applying should contact the program administrator.

Submit the following to the UW–Madison Graduate School:

  • Online application and application fee.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. International applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or IELTS. All test scores must be submitted electronically by the Educational Testing Service to UW–Madison (ETS code 1846). Copies or faxes cannot be accepted.
  • Three letters of recommendation. When completing the online application, submit the names and email addresses of three people who will provide letters of recommendation. They will receive instructions on how to upload their letters.

Submit the following to the agroecology program administrator:

  • Electronically, a one-page Statement of Purpose. In the statement, students should describe their interests and goals and which UW–Madison faculty members they would like to work with. In addition, students should identify which program track they plan to pursue—Research or Public Practice—and state why they are interested in this option. Knowing students' intentions will help the program better understand their academic and career goals. Finally, students should indicate if they intend to pursue a Ph.D. degree after completing the master's in agroecology. Although funding isn't guaranteed, some fellowships require that students intend to continue at the Ph.D. level.
  • Electronically, a curriculum vitae.
  • Two official copies of  transcripts for all undergraduate work (and graduate, if relevant). Many schools are able to send electronic versions of official transcripts directly to the program administrator. Electronic versions are preferred. Please do not send transcripts to the Graduate School.

Frequently asked questions regarding the graduate program are available on the agroecology website.

Graduate School Admissions

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic degree programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet requirements of both the program(s) and the Graduate School. Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.  

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

MODE OF INSTRUCTION

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

 Mode of Instruction Definitions

CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

Minimum Credit Requirement 34 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 23 out of 34 total credits must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (https://public.my.wisc.edu/web/expanded). Please refer to Agroecology Learning Plans.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Students must earn a B or above in all core curriculum coursework.
Assessments and Examinations The research track requires a formal thesis and public defense; the public practice track requires a comprehensive report and public presentation.
Language Requirements No language requirements.

REQUIRED Courses

Research Track1

Core Curriculum
AGROECOL 720 Agroecology Field Study1
AGROECOL/​AGRONOMY/​ENVIR ST  724 Agroecosystems and Global Change 23
AGROECOL 702 The Multifunctionality of Agriculture3
AGROECOL 710 Agroecology Seminar 33
Cross Training Electives 412
Students will select courses to fulfill their cross-training electives in the categories below. Per Graduate School requirements, at least 5 of the 12 cross training electives must be from UW-Madison at the 700 level or above OR from UW-Madison courses in the 300-699 range that have the “graduate attribute.” By time of graduation, the student will have taken courses in:
Ecology
The following are examples of courses in this category:
General Ecology
Patterns in Biological Design: An Introduction to Systems Biology
Modeling and Analysis of Environmental Systems
Grassland Ecology
Social Science
The following are examples of courses in this category:
C&E SOC or A A E courses on food systems, agricultural technology, the agricultural environment, or agricultural policy
Data Analysis
The following are examples of courses in this category:
Graduate-level GIS, statistics, or qualitative methods course
Agricultural Science
The following are examples of courses in this category:
Cropping Systems
General Soil Science
Research and Thesis
AGROECOL 990 Research12
Total Credits34

Public Practice Track1

Core Curriculum
AGROECOL 720 Agroecology Field Study1
AGROECOL/​AGRONOMY/​ENVIR ST  724 Agroecosystems and Global Change 23
AGROECOL 702 The Multifunctionality of Agriculture3
AGROECOL 710 Agroecology Seminar 33
Cross Training Electives18
Students will select courses to fulfill their cross-training electives in each of the four categories below. Per Graduate School requirements, at least 11 of the 18 cross-training electives must be UW–Madison courses at the 700 level or above OR from UW–Madison courses in the 300–699 range that have the “graduate attribute.” By time of graduation, the student will have taken courses in:
Ecology
The following are examples of courses in this category:
General Ecology
Patterns in Biological Design: An Introduction to Systems Biology
Modeling and Analysis of Environmental Systems
Grassland Ecology
Social Science
The following are examples of courses in this category:
C&E SOC or A A E courses on food systems, agricultural technology, the agricultural environment, or agricultural policy
Community Process
The following are examples of courses in this category:
Policy-Making Process
Community Economic Analysis
Environmental and Alternative Dispute Resolution in Planning
Agricultural Science
The following are examples of courses in this category:
Cropping Systems
General Soil Science
Project
AGROECOL 990 Research6
Total Credits34

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

 

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, up to 7 credits from UW–Madison numbered 300 or above are allowed to count toward the degree. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Probation

The status of a student can be one of three options:

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status.
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).

ADVISOR / COMMITTEE

All students are required to submit a learning plan, signed by their advisor, by the end of their second semester. Note: there are separate learning plans for public practice and research tracks.

CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED

15 credits

Time Constraints

Master's degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Other

All students must have full funding. Please contact the program administrator.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

1. Analyze tradeoffs of different agricultural systems embedded within the greater complexity of socio-ecological systems.

2. Consider and synthesize concepts of systems, ecology, and public process.

3. Learn to engage in careful consideration of the social, economic, and environmental outcomes of different industrial and biological processes.

4. Understand the potential of inclusive participatory processes in research and analysis of agroecological systems.

5. Recognize and apply principles of ethical and professional conduct in their coursework, research, and communications in the field of agroecology.

Faculty: Alatout, Albrecht, Ane, Arriaga, Barak, Bart, Bell, Bland, Bussan, Casler, Collins, Colquhoun, Cox, Cullen, Davis, Dawson, Dennis, Feinstein, Genskow, Gilbert, Gratton, Groves, Harrington, Hogg, Hueth, Jackson (chair), Kucharik, Luschei, MacGuidwin, Mitchell, Morales,  Norman, Ozdogan, Patterson, Picasso, Reinemann, Renz, Rickenbach, Rissman, Ruark, Silva, Steffan, Stoltenberg, Thompson, Tracy, Treves, Ventura, Wattiaux