Master of International Agriculture program on the rise
The Master of International Agriculture program at Oklahoma State University began in 2008 with nine Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources’ students.
There are now 57 enrolled, and another 64 graduates from the Master of International Agriculture program at Oklahoma State University.
Shida Henneberry, Regents professor and director of the program chalks up its success to its flexibility for students and the four-week International Experience required to graduate.
“The program is growing, there is no doubt about that,” she said. “Students can select from a wide range of focus areas or pull courses and make their own focus area. That’s why they succeed. They can use their comparative advantage to their own benefit.”
The MIAP degree is a 32 credit hour program, which can be completed within a year. However, most students do not choose that option.
“Not many do it that way because they have such a positive experience and they want to stay longer,” Henneberry said.
Students are expected to choose four courses to support their chosen focus areas, which include sustainability, disaster planning and management, commercial crops, food animals, business and trade, education and communication outreach, agritourism and hospitality, agricultural extension, rural entrepreneurship and agricultural engineering technology.
However, if students cannot find a preferred focus area within the multi-disciplinary options, they can pick from a variety to find their own.
“Most of our students are very independent,” Henneberry said. “When you see students building themselves, it is very rewarding. You see them grow in this program.”
Much of that growth comes from the minimum four-week International Experience, where students find themselves immersed in unfamiliar cultures. Elly Drain, a second year graduate student from Michigan, just got back from Kenya, where she worked with a non-governmental organization to establish organic farming practices for women in the Rift Valley of Kenya.
“I came to OSU for this program, and the International Experience opportunity was a major selling point,” Drain said.
She is hopeful her experience in Africa will allow her to work abroad for a few years before returning to the states to work in agricultural education and Extension. MIAP has a successful track record of placing graduates in jobs.
Recent graduates have found employment at places such as the Royal Bank of Canada; the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association; Extension in Ohio, Colorado and Oklahoma; the United States Agency for International Development in Baghdad; and the Banana Grower’s Association in Belize.
“It’s very rewarding to work in this program,” Henneberry said. “Every day it’s rewarding when a student emails me to tell me they got a job, or they love this program.”
MIAP also is part of the Peace Corps Master’s International Program, which offers the opportunity to integrate a master’s degree with overseas service. Students get credit for their International Experience of serving overseas, and have the opportunity take online classes through OSU.
MIAP also has a double degree program with UPAEP in Puebla, Mexico, where students from both countries spend one year in MIAP at OSU and another year at UPAEP and earn two master’s degrees—one from OSU and one from UPAEP.
“I love the flexibility and choices that this program offers our students,” Henneberry said.