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Book of Majors 2012 (College Board Book of Majors) Paperback – July 5, 2011

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The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board is composed of more than 5,700 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations. Each year, the College Board serves 7 million students and their parents, 23,000 high schools, and 3,800 colleges through major programs and services in college readiness, college admission, guidance, assessment, financial aid, and enrollment. Among its widely recognized programs are the SAT®, the PSAT/NMSQT®, the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®), SpringBoard® and ACCUPLACER®.  The College Board is committed to the principles of excellence and equity, and that commitment is embodied in all of its programs, services, activities, and concerns.

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2012 BOOK OF MAJORS (Chapter One)Agriculture

Agriculture is an ancient practice that has become a cutting-edge science and industry. It's all about the production of crops, livestock, feed, and fiber. People need agriculture for the basics like food and clothing.

"The things that we do have a major impact on everyone--everyone must eat," says Bonita A. Glatz, a food science professor at Iowa State University.

Farmers and ranchers have gotten pretty good at growing and raising crops and food. The big push in agriculture now is to increase the quality and quantity of plant and animal products, while preserving the ecology of our systems. Things are really getting technical. In many majors, agricultural study is a type of applied biology or applied chemistry. It's a science. So if you study agriculture in a four-year program, you're likely to get a solid science background followed by an in-depth exploration of chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, pathology (study of diseases), meteorology (weather), economics, or education.

Is agriculture for you? People who study and work in farming represent a wide variety of skills and interests. If you care about people, animals, or planet Earth, you might consider an agricultural major. Do you have a passion for vegetable gardening or horseback riding? Maybe you love nature, plants, or the outdoors. Perhaps you want to protect the environment or help developing countries that are struggling with poverty and malnutrition. Many students bring experience in farming and ranching with them to college. During college, they gain an interest in economics and business or a particular branch of agriscience. You don't have to come from a farming background or plan to work on a farm to be an ag major. But you will need quantitative skills--math and statistics--to study this field.

What about job prospects? We all need agricultural products, but the industry is so efficient that we don't need as many farms and traditional farm jobs as we did in the past. Farms are merging so that we have fewer and larger farms now. Agriculture is big business. That means a smaller number of jobs for farmers and ranchers. On the other hand, the business of farming and the global scale of food distribution expand the role of other things like agribusiness and agricultural economics. In fact, students in these two majors will take many of the same classes. The difference is that agribusiness students will probably have a career path toward management in a food company. Agricultural economics is more analytical and good preparation for either research or business. Your choice of major and level of degree affect your job prospects.

What's hot in the field

If you're thinking that agriculture is just plants and soil, no way. Computers, telecommunications, and other high-tech tools play a huge role. "Precision agriculture guided by geographic information systems, satellite guidance, and computer-equipped tractors increases production and conserves natural resources," explains Professor Douglas L. Young of Washington State University.

What else is happening? You've probably seen news stories about environmental regulations or about real estate development in what were once rural areas. These trends may require agriculture students to learn more about the environment and resource economics. "The sustainability of the way we produce food is becoming more important as fuel, transportation and food safety issues are intensifying," says Professor Marianne Sarrantonio, who coordinates the sustainable agriculture program at the University of Maine. She sees increasing demand for graduates in that field.

Another new area of study is the economics of biotechnology. The job picture is also bright for students in food science, partly because people's tastes change and consumers are learning more about nutrition, health, and wellness. And don't forget food safety and biosecurity. They couldn't be more important. Other hot jobs are in plant breeding and genetics, financial management, information systems, and teaching.

From field to table, from the plant to the planet, agriculture requires more knowledge and education than ever before. Today's agricultural professionals have business, economic, scientific, and technical skills and expertise.

It's no surprise that during graduate-level studies, students focus on a very specific area. For example, in agronomy, grad students zoom in on things like crop production and physiology; or soil sciences including soil chemistry, microbiology, and biochemistry. If you're interested in a business track, keep in mind that nearly all agribusiness professions require advanced degrees; grad studies veer toward agricultural marketing or agricultural trade.

But not all colleges and universities define majors in the same way. Colleges vary in the areas of study they emphasize. The differences could stem from the regional climate and its specific crop or soil suitability, or even a college's size and priorities. In college catalogs and on the Internet, look under agricultural sciences, biological sciences, environmental sciences, and natural resources. And be sure to go to the Web sites of the land-grant universities and the big state schools, which dominate agricultural education. Another section in this book related to agriculture is Natural resources and conservation. There you'll find majors in forestry, fisheries, and environmental studies.

Here are some Web sites to get you started thinking about your future in agriculture: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (, the National FFA Organization (, and the American Farm Bureau (

Agricultural business

Also known as:


What it's about:

Agricultural business deals with the management, marketing, and financing of food and fiber, "from the field to the table." You study principles from agricultural sciences, economics, business, and statistics in preparation for a career in agribusiness, farming, natural resources, government, and related areas.

Is this for you?

You might like this major if you also like: 4-H projects and competitions; debating; organizing or leading a club or other group activity; solving problems; sports. A concern for the problems of developing countries that are struggling with poverty and malnutrition might also lead you to this major.

Consider this major if you are good at: attention to detail; critical reading/thinking; leadership; organizing; persuading/influencing; quantitative analysis; teamwork ...or have... initiative; verbal skills; writing skills.

Recommended high school prep:

English 4, math 3 (including precalculus), lab science 3 (including biology and chemistry), social studies 3, and a foreign language 2-3. If available, take a computer course covering basic office applications and spreadsheets.

Did you know...

...that to be successful in agricultural business, you must know math and statistics? Many students are surprised by the idea, as well as by the need for excellent writing and speaking skills.

Typical courses in this major:

Introduction to agribusiness

Managerial accounting

Economics (micro and macro)


Farming technologies

Production management

Farm and ranch management

Human resources management

Agricultural marketing

International trade

Agricultural finance

Farm management laboratory

Agricultural history and law

Agricultural policy

Business/environmental law

Management information systems


In college: agricultural economics; agricultural marketing; farm and ranch management; agricultural finance; environmental economics; crop or animal production; international agriculture and trade.

If you go on to grad school: econometrics; agricultural policy; rural and community economic development.

What the study of this major is like:

The agricultural business major prepares you to apply business and economic principles to the production and marketing of food and other agricultural products and to the management of natural resources. In order to make economically and environmentally sound decisions in this field, you need to understand accounting, economics, finance, labor, marketing, management, and public policy, as you analyze and deal with business and environmental risk; identify and respond to changes in the demand for food products and services; and improve profitability.

You learn principles associated with best practices for product development, profit maximization, and investment planning. You become familiar with accounting tools like balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. You are taught to use quantitative tools such as statistics, accounting methods, computer programs, and investment analysis to solve management and planning problems.

You also learn the importance of risk management in an industry in which prices can zigzag (because of the uncertainties of worldwide markets) and production is at the mercy of weather, pests, and natural disasters. To thrive despite the risks, you must make smart use of futures markets, insurance, contracting, machinery maintenance, emerging technologies, and labor management. You also take supporting courses in data analysis, international studies, biological sciences, social sciences, and written and oral communication. A number of agribusinesses offer internships that give you a chance to get some real business experience.

Many majors are challenged by such requirements as calculus and courses in the humanities and social sciences. Third- and fourth-year team and individual projects--which can sometimes conflict with off-campus employment or other activities--require long hours of work. But problem-centered assignments help...


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Product Details

  • Series: College Board Book of Majors
  • Paperback: 1300 pages
  • Publisher: College Board; 6 edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874479681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874479683
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 2.1 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #664,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Shane Maldonado on March 20, 2012
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This book is ESSENTIAL if you work with college bound youth. I've ordered a copy for every organization I work with through my Education Consulting work. It is much more comprehensive than the website and is very easy to use. The descriptions of majors have helped many of my "undecided" students decide what they want to pursue. The comprehensive college listings in the back of the book make it much easier for students to narrow down their college choices by state and highest degree offered in their field of study. A must have hands-down!!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By L. A. Ito on November 10, 2011
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While every college in the country has a website, you have to have a clue they exist before you can hunt for them in most cases. This compilation gives an excellent snapshot of 2 and 4 year colleges across the country. College is a time to learn about your community, your country and yourself. You can only broaden your horizons if you have some notion of how far they stretch. This book is an excellent starting place. Each one of my grandchildren has gotten or will get a copy at the appropriate time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Emily on January 26, 2012
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This book helped me develop a further idea of what a career in my major interest would be like, and introduced me to other possible majors and career paths.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dennis A. Brennan on November 8, 2011
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The Book of Majors 2012 is a great resource given you quick access to the many
majors that are offered by all the colleges in the United States. This way I can
see what is offered at the colleges and get more details about that particular
college by visiting their web-site. This gives me detailed and up to date information
at the turn of a page.
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I've got a college bound kid who's casting about for what would be an appropriate major. This book has been a huge help. It is organized logically into 2 sections of descriptions of majors and colleges that offer those majors. The information that's given comes from the real world and is presented clearly and realistically. I'm a web designer and checked Computer Science and Web Development listings first as a litmus test of usefulness. The description of work skills needed and type of jobs and careers that are available from this avenue of study hit the nail right on the head. They gave pros and cons and a feel for "a day in the life" of someone performing this job. Any other major I looked at that I was at all familiar with was just as on the money. This is a fantastic resource!
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This wasn't all that helpful because of the fact that Majors and colleges are always changing. This book was okay at the time, but it was a waste of money, it's a huge book that you're not really going to look through entirely and it ends up collecting dust somewhere in your house. This was an unnecessary purchase that I regret. If you want information of majors, call or go in person to the colleges and ask them about their majors, they can tell you more in depth and in detail about it than this book can. This book basically gives the generalization of each major that exists and which colleges offer them. You can do that online. Don't make the same mistake in wasting your money.
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I chose 3 stars only because it is a reference book, and I only bought it because I didn't believe it was available at the library. I hadn't realized it was only reference. It doesn't have explanations about how/why to choose careers, although it does explain what 'majors/minors, etc.' are. It is a good reference. It has how to pick a college based on major, how to get more info, etc. I didn't see info on market trends, salaries which again is probably for a 'career' type book. This book is for finding a college once you know your major. And for that, since this particular one is 2012, is not a good buy. I wound up finding 2014 in my local library.
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