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Special Projects: Agricultural Education and Career Data Programs

NIFA partners with Purdue and the National Science Foundation to track doctorates earned and jobs available in agriculture. 

What are the trends in agricultural education and employment?  When students achieve advanced degrees in agriculture, forestry or consumer science do they lean towards ag-economics or genetics?  What kinds of jobs can these new graduates expect to have after they earn their diploma? What do faculty in the food, forestry, and consumer sciences earn? NIFA and the greater agri-science community have a vested interest in knowing the answer to these questions. That why NIFA provides funding to top-level analysts in academia and industry to stay on top of these issues. NIFA shares the resulting data free to the public.

Survey of Earned Doctorates

NIFA partners with the National Science Foundation to obtain data on the number and characteristics of individuals receiving research doctoral degrees from U.S. institutions. The results are used to assess trends in Ph.D. production. This information is used frequently by educational and labor force planners within the federal government and in academia.

Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in the U.S. Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Systems

The latest study covers the years 2010 through 2015 and is conducted as a result of Congressional action taken in 1977 when Congress designated the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as the lead federal agency for higher education in the food and agricultural sciences. The study identified graduates with baccalaureate or higher degrees in agriculture, natural resources, veterinary medicine, or closely allied specializations. This study examines those graduates who qualify for and generally enter scientific and professional occupations within the broadly defined careers of the food and agricultural sciences.

Beginning in 1980 and continuing every 5 years, this study has used the most recent annual Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System surveys data to determine the supply of graduates in agriculture, natural resources, and veterinary sciences. The demand for employment is generated using the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics projections.

This year’s study identifies 54,400 annual job openings for new graduates from 2010 through 2015. To fill these openings, an average of 29,300 graduates is expected annually from colleges of agriculture and life sciences, forestry and natural resources, and veterinary medicine. In addition, approximately 24,200 qualified graduates each year from allied fields, including biological sciences, engineering, health sciences, business, and communication will compete for these positions. Four major factors will define the market for graduates in the next 5 years: macroeconomic conditions and retirements; consumer preferences for nutritious and safe foods; food, energy, and environment public policy choices; and global market shifts in population, income, food, and energy.

Food and Agricultural Education Information System

FAEIS compiles nationwide higher education data for the life, food, veterinary, human, natural resource, and agricultural sciences. These data include Student enrollment and faculty counts and salaries. Visitors to the FAEIS website can use it conduct analysis or have custom data searches made for them. This is a NIFA partnership with Virgina Tech.


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