Just where does Texas Tech’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, CASNR for short, rank among the nation’s leading agriculture universities? It’s 30th in terms of size with the second largest undergraduate student enrollment in the country for non-land grant agricultural and natural resources programs. It offers 12 bachelors, 15 masters and seven doctoral programs. CASNR generated $12.8 million in sponsored research funding in 2010 with only about 75 faculty, making it the largest non-land grant agricultural and natural resources research program in the United States.

Faculty are involved in cutting-edge research in a variety of areas including sustainable agriculture; biotechnology; genomics; food safety, security and quality; natural resources management and planning; agricultural policy analysis; and technology transfer.

As our state’s urban population grows and our priorities broaden to include aerospace, defense, and information and computer technology, some mistakenly believe demand for agriculture education will decline. 

Not so. Nationwide, the USDA estimates that enrollment in agriculture degree programs increased by 22 percent between 2005 and 2008, from 58,300 students to nearly 71,000. In CASNR, enrollment has increased by 20 percent as well between 2005 and 2009.

New Career Opportunities

 So what’s the big draw to agriculture? In a word: Jobs. Agriculture schools are now attracting students from rural as well as urban areas, with and without traditional farming background. Non-traditional students from urban areas are now drawn to agriculture studies because they know that modern agriculture has become a high-tech sector, and its level of innovation is second only to aviation and space technology.

Whether it’s increasing productivity for growing food, or conservation of natural resources, or discovering new and better products through genomics and biotechnology, career opportunities for agriculture professionals often exceed the number of qualified graduates currently in the pipeline. We anticipate that, in addition to serving in roles as industry and university researchers, CASNR students will also take on larger leadership roles in government and industry, where professionals with agricultural knowledge will be needed to address science, policy and regulatory questions.