The Best Online Agriculture Classes

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Young farmer holding lamb against pasture with herd of sheep

 Chalabala / Twenty20

The 5 Best Online Agriculture Classes of 2021

If you’re thinking about going back to school for a degree in agriculture—or are just interested in picking it up as a hobby—online courses are a great way to learn something new without breaking the bank. In addition, many of the best online agriculture classes are available on flexible schedules and offer a wide selection of course topics. 

To help you choose the best classes to fit your needs, we rounded up the top options for everyone from hobbyists to prospective graduate students.

Best Overall: Colorado State University

Colorado State University

 Colorado State University

Why We Chose It: Colorado State University’s online agriculture programs are our top choice because the university offers everything from training programs and certificates to individual agriculture courses and undergraduate and graduate degrees. 

What We Like:

- Offers both credit and non-credit agricultural courses

- Several undergraduate and graduate programs to choose from

- Multiple tracks of study

What We Don’t Like:

- Credits are more expensive than other options on our list

Founded in 1870 as Colorado Agricultural College, Colorado State University (CSU) offers both undergraduate and graduate online degrees with credits ranging from about $476 to $624, depending on the degree and program. Available degrees include Agriculture, Agricultural Business, Extension Education, and Horticulture; courses cover topics like animal sciences, nutrition, and economics. 

In addition to online degree programs, CSU offers a wide selection of non-credit classes that can be completed online, and most classes are available for about $40 or $60 each.

Available courses include topics like irrigation management, plant diseases, lawn care, and houseplants. CSU also offers several training courses for irrigation technicians.

Best for Bachelor’s Degree: Oregon State University

Oregon State University

 Oregon State University

Why We Chose It: We chose Oregon State University as the best option for readers seeking an online bachelor’s degree in agriculture due to the school’s multiple online undergraduate programs related to the agricultural industry. 

What We Like:

- Courses are fully online, and students receive the same degree as on-campus learners

- Has high ranking as online education provider

- Credits are less expensive than many other online degrees

What We Don’t Like:

- Does not offer an online graduate degree in agriculture

- Only four start dates offered per year

Ranked a top 10 online bachelor’s program by U.S. News & World Report, Oregon State University offers a totally online Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Sciences.

Course topics are extremely diverse with options like organic farming and gardening, Native American agriculture, world food crops, and animal sciences. Ultimately, the B.S. in Agricultural Sciences will prepare students for careers in science, government, and agribusiness. 

Students can choose from one of four start dates each year and the program takes 180 credits to complete as part of a quarter-term system—equivalent to 120 credits in a semester system. Credits are about $331 each, but students will also have to cover fees, textbooks, and other course materials.

The university also offers online B.S. degrees in related fields like crop and soil science, horticulture, and rangeland science.

Best Free: FutureLearn

FutureLearn

 FutureLearn

Why We Chose It: FutureLearn stands out as the best option for free, online agriculture classes because the platform lets students learn about unlimited topics without having to pay for lessons. 

What We Like:

- Courses can be taken for free

- Flexible scheduling

- Classes are taught by experts in the U.S. and abroad

What We Don’t Like:

- Course offerings are more theoretical and less practical

- Students cannot earn a degree

FutureLearn is an online platform that provides short, accessible online courses in subjects related to agriculture. Classes are available in areas like sustainable food systems, agricultural technology, and soil science, and are offered through institutions like the University of Cambridge and the University of Exeter. 

Beyond strictly agricultural topics, you can also explore subject areas like sustainability, food tech, and climate change. This includes more advanced options like programs with academic accreditation and micro-credentials that may let you get independently certified or earn academic credit. 

And, while students can opt for roughly a $79 upgrade that includes a certificate of achievement, classes are otherwise free for six weeks of access. Students who spend three hours on a lesson each week typically take three to four weeks to complete it—meaning you shouldn’t have to pay for extended access unless you specifically want a certificate.

Best Online Certificates: Coursera

Coursera

 Coursera

Why We Chose It: Coursera is the top choice for students who want to earn certificates in agriculture-related topics because the platform’s certificates are well-regarded and easy to add to LinkedIn. 

What We Like:

- Flexible course schedules

- Classes are extremely well-reviewed

- Certificates are easy to share with your network on LinkedIn

What We Don’t Like:

- Course offerings are more theoretical and less practical

Coursera is a top online learning platform that collaborates with more than 200 universities and companies to offer a range of courses that cover several agricultural topics. Like FutureLearn, many of Coursera’s courses can be audited for free. That said, the platform’s certificate stands out because the platform is well-recognized and credentials are easy to add to your LinkedIn profile. 

Agriculture classes on Coursera include options like Sustainable Agricultural Land Management offered through the University of Florida and Agriculture, Economics, and Nature through the University of Western Australia. Before signing up for a course, prospective students can see how long the class will take to complete by reviewing the syllabus to ensure they’re interested in the topics.

Best for Hobbyists: Skillshare

Skillshare

 Skillshare

Why We Chose It: Students who want to learn agricultural skills they can apply in their own backyards should choose Skillshare because of the platform’s selection of quick, entertaining, and free courses. 

What We Like:

- Classes are designed to teach skills related to agriculture

- Short courses are easy to fit into your schedule

- Users can take introductory lessons for free

What We Don’t Like:

- Free membership only includes introductory videos

Most of the other courses on our list cover the theories and science of agriculture. However, Skillshare is an excellent option for hobbyists because it offers lessons that teach you how to get started with small scale agriculture—in your backyard.

Courses are designed to be short and digestible so they're easier to fit into your schedule. And, depending on your interests, you can choose from agriculture-related courses like Create a Small-Space Edible Garden, Gardening to Attract Beneficial Insects, and How to Make Your Own Natural Compost.

You can take certain introductory classes for free but must purchase a Premium membership for about $19 per month or roughly $99 annually (about $8 per month) to access more advanced ad-free lessons. 

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to sign up for online agriculture classes, take some time to consider your goals. Are you planning to pursue a certificate or degree, or are you more interested in how to grow food in your backyard? The best online agriculture class will depend on what you want out of the program and how much time you have to commit to coursework. 

Colorado State University is our top pick for the best online agriculture classes because it offers the most extensive range of online courses of the options we considered. Not only can you get a bachelor's degree or a master’s degree, but there are also a number of non-credit courses available at more accessible price points—and with less of a time commitment.

What Topics Do Agriculture Classes Cover?

Agriculture classes typically cover topics like soil health, crop science, irrigation, botany, and food systems. That said, agriculture is a complex industry and the best universities and other learning platforms offer a wide range of courses covering more specific topics like Native American agriculture and various areas of agribusiness. 

How Much Do Online Agriculture Classes Cost?

The cost of online agriculture classes varies depending on the subject and the type of class. For example, several online learning platforms offer free courses for students who don’t need a certificate. Paid online learning platforms generally cost around $10 per month for unlimited courses or about $50 for a certificate course. Alternatively, students who want to pursue an online agriculture degree should expect to pay between approximately $300 and $500 per credit.

Do You Need a Degree to Farm?

Although there are a number of excellent online and traditional degrees in agriculture, you don’t need a degree to farm. In fact, many farmers learn the industry through experience—no degree necessary. 

How We Chose the Best Online Agriculture Classes

We reviewed 15 universities and online learning platforms and compared them based on available agriculture programs and course topics. We also evaluated the cost of each course or program, customer reviews, and the overall user-friendliness of each platform.