Master of science in natural resources University of Missouri-Columbia
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Master of science

Our world has finite resources. As the Earth’s population continues to increase, multiple overlapping concerns have emerged: how does society feed and support everyone and also preserve the environment with the amount of land and water present? To provide an answer and adapt to the growing need for sustainable business practices, agroforestry has taken off in the United States and overseas. The University of Missouri-Columbia’s (Mizzou) unique master of science in agroforestry degree program trains individuals with a background in agriculture, natural resources, urban planning, engineering, education, environmental science or a similar field on key practices and strategies for implementing these efforts.

Mizzou currently offers two formats: the on-campus program pairs this scope with a thesis, and the fully online, non-thesis degree accommodates working professionals interested in enhancing their knowledge and switching careers. As an alternative, consider supplementing your current job or degree with Mizzou’s 12-credit, online agroforestry graduate certificate, which can serve as a pathway to the master’s program.

Quick facts

Official name

Master of science in natural resources with an emphasis in agroforestry


University of Missouri-Columbia

Program type

Master's degree

Academic home

College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources | School of Natural Resources

Delivery mode

100% online


Higher Learning Commission

Credit hours


Estimated cost


*This cost is for illustrative purposes only. Your hours and costs will differ, depending on your transfer hours, your course choices and your academic progress. See more about tuition and financial aid.

Why earn a master’s degree in agroforestry?

As a practice gradually picking up steam, agroforestry involves integrating trees and shrubs into agricultural environments, including horticulture, crop growing and livestock management, to take advantage of their benefits, economically use the land and preserve it for future generations. Trees help manage carbon, draw in nutrients from deep in the soil, support pollination and provide shade for livestock. At the same time, they additionally offer a source of fruit and timber.

The online master’s in agroforestry trains you to design and implement such landscapes. You’ll be instructed in practices like forest farming, alley cropping, silvopastures, riparian buffers, urban food forests and windbreaks. You’ll also examine agroforestry in broader economic, societal and land management contexts, with the long-term goals of preserving our world, its habitats and biodiversity, and creating more sustainable, resilient civilizations.

This interdisciplinary program also builds off Mizzou’s history of pioneering agroforestry research. Our Center for Agroforestry opened in 1998 to advance and study these land practices. Today, faculty continue to spearhead related research or are involved in education, outreach and economic development efforts. The master’s in agroforestry stands on this foundation and collaboration within the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. The online version allows professionals around the world access to this information to implement in their local communities.  

As a student enrolled in the online master’s in agroforestry, you’ll:

  • Learn more about sustainable land use, focusing related research and ecological principles to apply these practices 
  • Explore the latest topics and technologies in crop and farm systems
  • Understand how to integrate trees, crops and livestock to design multifunctional landscapes with specific products or services in mind
  • Acquire the technical competencies to consult and guide landowners, businesses and other organizations to create multifunctional, working landscapes based on diverse products, markets and farm income
  • Gain the skills to develop agricultural landscapes that improve soil, water and air quality, reduce carbon emissions, uphold biodiversity and conserve land and water habitats
A person in a field holding a plant.

Career prospects

Between 2020 and 2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts steady demand for conservation scientists and foresters. Through positions in federal, state, local and private agencies and organizations, these professionals strive to preserve and better use land, water and natural resources, with sustainable practices increasingly shaping these approaches.

Potential job titles include:

  • Agriculture or food scientist
  • Conservation scientist
  • Environmental engineer
  • Environmental specialist
  • Geoscientist
  • Forester
Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
Employment growth
Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
Median salary

Program structure

The online master’s in agroforestry is a 30-credit-hour, non-thesis program. Courses are divided among a 16-credit-hour core, a professional paper, electives and advanced subjects, and an optional three-credit-hour field internship.

Core courses focus on agroforestry theories, practices, adoption strategies and ecological principles, and explore where the field intersects with economics, policy and watershed restoration. You can then learn about an agroforestry discipline in more detail through courses covering conservation, biodiversity, water quality, livestock systems, statistics and more areas. 

The program is 100% online: no campus visits are required. Students with full-time jobs typically take one class each semester and finish the program in about three years. Students who take two classes each semester typically finish in two years.

Course work covers

Core and advanced courses introduce you to:

  • The biophysical, ecological, social and economic aspects of agroforestry
  • Designing, planning and implementing multifunctional agricultural landscapes based on data and other research
  • Hydrological processes for watershed management
  • Watershed restoration practices for improving water and soil quality
  • Addressing environmental issues with agroforestry
  • Using geographic information systems
  • Urban biodiversity and approaches to conservation and planning
  • Biodiversity in a commercial context
  • Quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Leadership skills for agricultural education
  • Where economic and financial principles intersect with agroforestry

Review all courses for the online master’s in agroforestry


100% online

Calendar system


Typical program length

2 years

Typical course load

2 classes per semester


The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States.

Learn more about this program

This program is administered by the School of Natural Resources