Skip to Main Content

The University of Tennessee

Undergraduate Academic Programs

Frequently Used Tools:


Food and Agricultural Business Major Guide for 2008-2009

What is Food and Agricultural Business

Please note this major replaces Agricultural Economics and Business which was dropped effective with the 2008-2009 catalog.

Students majoring in food and agricultural business study the functioning of the agri-food sector of the global economic system and principles for decision making by business managers, consumers, policy makers, and others within that system.  Students complete a curriculum designed to provide them with a broad-based education and the specialized skills necessary for a successful career in the food and agribusiness industry or with a related organization or public agency.  Students have ample opportunity to develop strong microcomputer skills and gain practical real-world experience through case study analyses, the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) marketing team, internships and extracurricular activities.

Within the major, students may choose a specialized concentration in agricultural equipment systems management, which draws heavily on courses from biosystems engineering technology.

A minor in food and agricultural business is available to students pursuing other majors.  The requirements include 15 hours of prescribed courses in the department in addition to introductory economics and accounting.

Career Opportunities in Food and Agricultural Business

Students graduating with a major in food and agricultural business are prepared for a wide variety of career options.  However, most graduates go in one of five directions.

One common career path involves management positions with farm input supply businesses, commodity processors, or with food distributors or retailers.  Another common entry-level position is in marketing or customer relations with large manufacturers of farm input supplies or food products.  Quite a number of our graduates work in one of the closely related areas of finance, insurance, and real estate.  Within the finance area, some work as loan specialists in private banks, others in government agencies.  Also, it is not uncommon for graduates to obtain positions with companies outside the food and agricultural industry.  Finally, an increasing percentage of our graduates are continuing their education in graduate or professional programs, including law.

Salary Trends in Food and Agricultural Business

Because Food and Agricultural Business graduates pursue careers in a variety of directions, the salary range for entry-level positions is fairly wide.  Depending upon the type of employer and position responsibilities, beginning salaries range from about $30,000 to $45,000.  Starting salaries generally increase over time at slightly above the rate of inflation.  Potential for advancement in both responsibilities and salary depends on both the type of employer and the performance of the employee.

High School Preparation

High school students who wish to major in food and agricultural business should take college-preparatory mathematics courses.  Completion of electives in accounting or other areas of business, microcomputer applications, oral and written communication, and social sciences such as psychology and sociology could also prove helpful.  Participation in extracurricular activities to develop leadership, interpersonal, and entrepreneurial skills is also advised.

How to Major in Food and Agricultural Business

Students wishing to major in food and agricultural business simply declare this intent once they have gained admission to the University.  The department has no enrollment restrictions or association requirements beyond the Unversity-wide minimum 2.0 GPA required to remain in good academic standing.

Students who plan to transfer into food and agricultural business at UT after one or two years at a community college should consult the current articulation agreement between the community college and UT to choose appropriate courses.  The flexibility of the food and agricultural business curriculum works to the advantage of transfer students, in most cases allowing for all credits taken from up to two years of sutdy elsewhere to apply toward requirements of the program.

Requirements for Food and Agricultural Business

To complete a bachelor's degree with a major in food and agricultural business, students must complete 120 semester hours of course work.  This includes 42 hours in general education courses in the areas of English, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, cultues and civilizations, and arts and humanities.  Nine hours of additional course work is required in oral communication, written communication and microcomputer applications.  Students take 13 hours of business courses in economics, accounting, and statistics.  At least 12 hours of courses outside the department but within the college are required.  The heart of the curriculum includes 24 hours of required departmental courses and 12 hours of directed electives within the department.  And finally, 8 hours of general electives can be used by students to pursue a minor or special interests.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

Internships with food and agribusiness companies, industry organizations, or government agencies can be an exceptionally valuable component of a student's academic program.  Approximately one-third of the students who graduate in food and agricultural business complete an internship, typically during the summer between their junior and senior years.

Three hours of academic credit can be received for a three-month internship.  Students must submit periodic progress reports, complete a special project and receive satisfactory ratings from their supervisor.  During the following semester, students must also complete a written report and make an oral presentation summarizing their internship experience. 

Listed below are companies and other organizations with which food and agricultural business majors have interned since 1996:
Center for Profitable Agriculture (UT), Ameican Cyanamid, Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill-Nutrena Feeds, Ducks Unlimited, Elanco Animal Health, Farm Credit Services, John Deere, Monsanto, Murphy Farms, Syngenta, SYSCO, Office Depot, Target, TN Agricultural Statistics Service, TN Dept. of Agriculture-Marketing Div., TN Farmers Cooperative, TN Farm Bureau-Legislative Div., TN Farmers Insurance, Tyson Foods

Highlights of Food and Agricultural Business

NAMA Marketing Team:  This student team competes with teams from other universities around the country at the NAMA Annual Conference by identifying a potential new product and developing a marketing plan that is summarized in a 20-minute group presentation.  The 2008 Team placed third nationally out of more than 30 competitors.

Small class sizes: All departmental classes have relatively small enrollments.

Personalized advising by faculty: Academic advising for majors is handled by a dedicated team of faculty members who assist students in course selection and career planning.

Scholarship availability:  Majors in food and agricultural business are eligible for a large number of scholarships available through the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

The agri-food system is truly global in nature.  Students are exposed to the importance of international trade and policies in various courses within the curriculum.  Students are also encouraged to participate in faculty-led study abroad programs sponsored by the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) which include Thailand and Jamaica.  Other UT faculty-led and semester abroad programs are offered through the Center for International Education.  CASNR does offer some scholarships for students participating in study abroad programs. Students, faculty and staff participate in the annual Unity through Diversity Dinner held each fall. Some students select a minor in Modern Foreign Languages and Literature.

Learn more about UT's Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today's world.

Sample Curriculum

Freshman Year Credit Hours
Humankind in the Biotic World  4
Introductory Nutrition  3
English Composition  6
Finite Math, Basic Calculus  6
Cultures and Civilizations Electives  6
Social Science Elective  3
Opportunities in Food and Agricultural Business  1
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
The Agribusiness Firm  3
Introductory Economics  4
Foundations of Accounting  3
Introduction to Statistics  3
Business Ethics  3
Computer Applications to Problem Solving  3
Food Science Elective  3
Physical Science Electives 8
Junior Year Credit Hours
The Agricultural Employment Process  1
Intermediate Agricultural Economics  3
Farm Business Management  3
The Food and Agricultural Marketing System  3
Agricultural Finance  3
Quantitative Methods in Agricultural Economics  3
Agricultural/Natural Resource Electives  9
Speech Elective  3
Writing Elective  3
Senior Year Credit Hours
Agribusiness Management  3
Senior Seminar  1
Agricultural Economics Electives  12
Economics Elective  3
Arts and Humanities Elective  3
General Electives  8

For More Information

Department of Agricultural Economics
321A Morgan Hall
Knoxville, TN  37996-4518
Phone: 865-974-7473



The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.