Agronomy Major

Golden and green rows of a crop.


Why study agronomy?

As a student in agronomy, you can learn how to find answers to the important challenges facing agriculture. Whether you’re interested in plant biology, ecology, genetics, biotechnology, crop management and protection, or other aspects of crop production systems, an education in agronomy offers many learning opportunities and career options. In agronomy, you can interact with professors and students in small class settings. Your professors will also be your advisors, helping you to learn both inside and outside the classroom, as well as make important education and career decisions.

What is agronomy?

Worldwide, the number of mouths to feed is growing, but food production creates great stress on the environment and climate. It’s the job of agronomists to find ways to provide people with a nutritious diet, while improving the environment and mitigating climate change. It’s a big challenge! Agronomy is the science and practice of growing plants that feed the world and doing it in a way that improves the planet. Our students, staff, and faculty do research, teaching, and Extension on ways to produce crops that feed the world, while promoting biodiversity, building soil, improving water resources and sequestering carbon. Agronomy brings together biological sciences, ecology, and soil, water, and atmospheric sciences. We strive to create an inclusive and diverse environment and encourage you to join us as we create a better world.

Why study agronomy at UW-Madison?

Our diverse undergraduate program offers exciting possibilities for study and experience. It allows undergraduates to concentrate in plant breeding and genetics, plant biotechnology, plant protection or sustainable agriculture. We offer one curriculum option: the Bachelor of Science degree with a major in agronomy. The curriculum offers plenty of flexibility for students to tailor their education to their specific interests.

All of our courses are taught by professors who also actively conduct research in the field in which they teach. These world-recognized experts are highly qualified to teach the most current concepts. In fact, our professors can teach some of the newest, unpublished information because they developed it themselves – often in collaboration with undergraduate researchers. Yet professors still work one-on-one with students through the undergraduate advising system.

The Department of Agronomy has 24 faculty members who are active researchers. Since these professors employ over 50 undergraduates in departmental research programs throughout the year, every undergraduate major has the opportunity to get hands-on experience in research areas ranging from plant breeding to crop protection to biotechnology. Students often move from program to program, sampling various career opportunities and better preparing themselves for specific career goals. Most agronomy students also work with Wisconsin’s farmers, crop production specialists or the agribusiness community.

Examples of learning experiences:

  • Plant science research opportunities are available both on and off campus. These can be field or laboratory experiences. Many students gain experience in both areas.
  • Summer internships provide both a learning opportunity and work experience that is invaluable when seeking employment. Most interns are paid and receive degree credit.
  • Independent research can be done under the direction of leading researchers.
  • The junior-year semester-abroad programs provide the challenges and rewards of experiencing another culture.
  • The Badger Crops Club, a student group that organizes social activities, seminars and informal discussions that provide insight into current research and agricultural issues.

Career opportunities

The current demand for agronomy graduates exceeds supply, and we expect the demand to increase. Agronomy majors with B.S. degrees can choose from careers in agricultural research and teaching, agribusiness, resource conservation and crop management. Agronomists provide technical and support services for seed production and crop protection industries and for biotechnology and conservation organizations. They are also employed as extension advisors, vocational agriculture instructors and farm managers. You will be well prepared for any of these careers by the agronomy curriculum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For more information, see the Careers section of this page.


Prospective UW-Madison students

Attend a virtual or in-person event to learn more about what UW-Madison has to offer. You can learn about upcoming events here: Specific events that might be of interest are: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) Information Sessions, Admissions Information Session AND Campus Tour, Transfer Visit Day and University Housing Tour.

Disability-related accommodations can be requested within the registration for each event. Please register and submit at least two weeks prior to an in-person event or three business days prior to a virtual event.

Current UW-Madison students

Bill smiles. Bill wears a hat, glasses, and a white button up.

If you would like more information about the agronomy major or would like to declare the agronomy major please contact Professor Bill Tracy

Careers in agronomy

A major in agronomy offers diverse opportunities for careers in many fields. An agronomy major also provides an excellent foundation for graduate study in the biological sciences. Agronomy graduates find jobs and successful careers in many areas:

  • Biotechnology
  • Environmental protection
  • Resource conservation
  • Plant breeding and genetics
  • Sales, marketing, and international agribusiness
  • Crop consulting
  • Crop management and protection
  • Farm management
  • Agricultural research and teaching
  • Agricultural extension

Academics tailored to career goals

As an agronomy student, you have the opportunity to tailor your academic program by choosing specific courses to complete your major requirements. Specifically, in the Foundation section of the agronomy major requirements, you have the ability to choose courses in different areas of study. These areas include:

  • Ag Social Science
  • Animal Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Biological Systems Engineering
  • Food Science
  • Management
  • Nutritional Science
  • Soil Science
  • Bacteriology, Biochemistry, Genetics
  • Ecological Sciences


We also place strong emphasis on real-world experiences through the CALS Internship Program. This program allows students to earn college credits while working in areas related to their major. More importantly, it allows students the opportunity to sample various careers before completing their undergraduate program. Nearly all agronomy majors do at least one internship as part of their undergraduate experience. In short, there are many opportunities for students interested in plant science, and our faculty are eager to help prepare you for them.