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ONLINE Associate of Science Degree in Sustainable Food and Farming

SSA Logo -- blue on white with UMASSThe UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture has offered Associate of Science degrees in “practical agriculture” since 1918.  Beginning in September 2016, we will welcome our first online class to Stockbridge by offering a fully online 60-credit Associate of Science degree in Sustainable Food and Farming!

certprogramThis program will expand upon the successful 15-credit Certificate Program in Sustainable Food and Farming which currently has more than 750 students from all over the world.  Unlike other agricultural certificate programs, students in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture may select from a diverse array of online classes from the “basics” of Soil Science and Botany to more specialized courses in Backyard Homesteading, Global Food Systems, and Urban Agriculture, just to name a few.  The full list of courses currently offered online may be found here:

Online Sustainable Food and Farming Classes

The requirements for the online degree will be comparable to the on campus A.S. program in Sustainable Food and Farming.  Students will earn academic credit toward their degree by taking high quality academic courses as well as gaining experience farming and marketing, working for non-profit organizations in food advocacy and community development, or agricultural education for example.

Applications will be available in January 2016.  To be put on a mailing list to be kept informed, sign up here: ONLINE CLASSES.


sustagSustainable farming and marketing is a rapidly growing sector of the U.S. economy. Opportunities for new farmers as well as affiliated careers in public policy, advocacy, community development and education continue to grow.

The increasing demand for local and sustainably grown food has created opportunities for college graduates who understand the unique production, processing, and marketing approaches used in sustainable agriculture today. Some people entering the field will go back to their family farms.  Many pursue specific interest in local or organic agriculture. Others will create their own opportunities in food marketing, processing, non-profit organizations, food and agricultural associations, or cooperative businesses.  Some graduates plan on homesteading while pursuing employment in other fields.

massaggieThe University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture has been at the heart of training and education in this broad network of food and farming systems since the establishment of “Mass Aggie” over 150 years ago. More recently, Stockbridge has experienced an increased demand among residential students at UMass in the Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainable Food and Farming.

SFFoverYearsIncreasing numbers of mid-career professionals and returning Veterans have found the 15-credit Certificate Program in Sustainable Food and Farming to be an attractive means of gaining education while earning a college credential. These students have turned to the online environment to develop knowledge and skills applicable to the diverse array of work experiences that are part of the food chain – from production, processing, and delivery to policy, regulation, and education.

The Online Associate of Science Degree in Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate provides a reasonable option for those who wish to study sustainable food and farming but are not ready or able to make a commitment to an on campus degree program.  Students will acquire a basic knowledge of plant and soil sciences along with training in agricultural techniques, community development, public policy, and education. The major offers flexibility in designing a personal program of study, allowing students to focus on specific career objectives.


The Online Associate of Science Degree in Sustainable Food and Farming is an academic program of the UMass Division of Continuing and Professional Education and the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.   All students pursuing the degree must be admitted to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Information on the application process will be released in January 2016.  Students interested in pursuing the online certificate, but not a degree may simply register with a simple form here: Register for the Online Certificate.

Tuition and Fees

All online classes are offered through the University of Massachusetts Division of Continuing and Professional Education. Most classes cost $472 per credit. In addition, there is a $45 per semester registration fee.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

collegemoneyInvesting in your education is a significant financial decision. Our Continuing and Professional Education Financial Aid Office can help make that investment a little easier through:

For more information, please contact our CPE Financial Aid Office here: Financial Aid.

And if you have question about using veterans benefits, please contact UMass Office of Veteran’s Services at vetbenefits@umass.edu or 413-545-5792 or see: http://www.umass.edu/veterans/


Online Associate of Science students will be assigned an adviser to help select courses and make progress toward graduation.  If you have questions in advance, you may contact the A.S. Online Program Coordinator, Renee Ciulla.

Online Course Delivery

Courses taken online are equivalent to the same courses taken at the UMass campus in almost every way including: assignments, learning objectives, discussions, projects, exams, and the degree of rigor. The online learning environment provides opportunities to interact with other students from around the world as well as the course instructor. The “classroom” environment is engaging and dynamic and a community of learners often emerges during the class.  Technical support for online education is available “24/7”, when you need it!  As an online student you can “go to class” anytime, check out the course readings, chat with fellow classmates post comments to a threaded discussion board, submit assignments, and work on projects. Instructors make every effort to provide a meaningful educational experience using the online format and do so in a way that works for busy adults.

Technical Requirements

onlinelearnIn general, to be successful accessing an online class you must:

  • have access to a personal computer (Mac or Windows) with at least 128MB RAM (256MB preferred)
  • be familiar with basic computer skills
  • be connected to the internet
  • have an e-mail program and account (provided)
  • have at least a 56 kbps modem (DSL or Broadband Cable recommended)
  • have a Java capable browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari)
  • have an up to date antivirus program

For details on accessibility and software suggestions, see: Technical Requirements

Proposed Graduation Requirements

    Sustainable Food and Farming – A.S. Degree Proposal
A. General Requirements
MATH 104 (3) or MATH 101/102 (4)
ENGLWRIT 111 or 112 (3)
STOCKSCH 105 – Soils (4)
STOCKSCH 108 – Botany (4)
B. Agriculture Requirements
Two Plant and Animal Production Systems Courses (6-8)*
Two Economic and Social Systems Courses (6-8)*
Three from either category (9-11)
No more than 6 credits at the 100 level
*Must be at 200 level or higher
STOCKSCH 198F – Sustainable Food & Farming Internship (3)
C. Professional Electives
Select from the approved lists below or request alternatives
Minimum of four Plant & Animal Production Classes
with at least one of the four being a pest course
Mimimum of one Economic & Social Systems Course
Minimum total = additional credits to total 60

Approved Courses

Plant & Animal Production Systems
STOCKSCH 117 – Agricultural Chemistry (3)
STOCKSCH 119 – Homesteading (3)
STOCKSCH 120 – Organic Gardening & Farming (4)
STOCKSCH 186 – Introduction to Permaculture (3)
STOCKSCH 265 – Sustainable Agriculture (3)
STOCKSCH 286 – Permaculture Design and Practice (3)
STOCKSCH 297R – Raising Dairy Goats Sustainably (3)
STOCKSCH 320 – Organic Vegetable Production (3)
STOCKSCH 397 ES – Exploring Sustainability (3)
STOCKSCH – Integrated Pest Managment (3) to be developed
Economic & Social Systems
ACCOUNTG 221 – Intro to Accounting (3)
MANAGMNT 301 – Intro to Management (3)
MARKETNG 301 – Fundamentals of Marketing (3)
STOCKSCH 258 – Urban Agriculture (3)
STOCKSCH 288 – Land Use Policies and Sustaianble Farming (3)
STOCKSCH 287 – Farm Planning, Marketing & Mgt. (3)
STOCKSCH 355 – Community Food Systems (3)
STOCKSCH 386 – Sustainable Site Planning and Design (3)
STOCKSCH 387 – Global Food Systems (3)
STOCKSCH 397 NP – Nonprofit Mgt of Comm. Food Programs (3)
STOCKSCH 397 SP – Social Permaculture for Food Justice (3)
STOCKSCH 397 FV – Postharvest Handling Fruits/Vegetables (3)
Practica and Related Experiences
STOCKSCH 196 – Independent Study (1-6)
STOCKSCH 298 – Practicum (1-6)
STOCKSCH 397 ES – Exploring Success (3)
STOCKSCH 398B – Agricultural Practicum (1-6)

High school students explore the world of farming, food at UMass

By Diane Lederman | dlederman@repub.com 
The Republican – August 04, 2015
AMHERST – In recent years, the University of Massachusetts has offered a number of summer programs, but until this year a program in sustainable agriculture was missing.

Ten students from around the country came to campus to the one-week program the last week of July. Their only regret was it wasn’t two weeks long.

UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture instructor Sarah Berquist taught the program on sustainability and food systems.

She said the summer is perfect for a program like this because “harvest is abundant.” And she said the program “is a great opportunity to spread the word about our great program.”

Students learned how the food system in the country operates. They worked with on the UMass student farm in South Deerfield and got the chance to talk to the student farmers.

They worked in the Food for All Garden at UMass, a garden that provides organic produce to places such as the Amherst Survival Center and Not Bread Alone soup kitchen.

On the last day, they were learning about permaculture with a tour of the five-year-old Franklin Dining Commons garden.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Stone came from New York City already aware about poverty and the struggles for food seeing the myriad homeless in the streets.

She is interested in “revitalizing poor communities through urban farms.”

She was learning more about the farm bill and farm systems and the agricultural industry.

UMass permaculture garden manager at UMass talks to students taking part in a one-week campus program.

“I hadn’t studied permaculture.

“I want to bring those techniques back,” she said.

Brett Koslowsky, 17, from Cambridge was also enjoying the “overview, the states of a different areas.”

She too is interested in agriculture and is a member of the Belmont High School’s Garden and Food Justice Club. She attends that school.

Both said they might be interested in coming to the UMass sustainable agricultural program now that they know about.

Jenna Carellini, 18, of Fishkill New York, wants to study nutrition and took a nutrition program last year but that was in the lab.

She wanted “a hands on approach” and was enjoying that with the week.

Berquist said they capped the program at 10 and had a few more applicants than spaces. She said they’d like to bring it back next summer and perhaps extend it and open it up to more people.

“Their passion for the topic is incredible,” she said of her students. She was impressed “to see people (their age) with that much interest and knowledge.”

She said they want to be “ambassadors for change.”

Original Post

Visit the UMass Pollinator Garden

You are invited to stop by the UMass Pollinator Garden at the Agricultural Learning Center to see several beautiful plantings that provide habitat and feed for both native and honey bees.  11750779_10102933155145462_1765256323_oThe garden was sponsored by the Massachusetts State Grange and is manged by Professor Stephen Herbert, a faculty member in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.  Among the many types of plantings on display, I think the butterfly and hummingbird hedgerow is my favorite.


The red flower is Bee Balm, also known as “patriots tea” because it was used as a tea-substitute after the American Colonists dumped British tea in Boston Harbor!

Bees and other pollinators will also be attracted to productive fruit plantings.

11760627_10102933154935882_696450353_o11747510_10102933153748262_892624253_o11721023_10102933152725312_77192501_oIf you have the space, the butterfly and hummingbird seed mix makes a nice looking pasture of wildflowers.

Below is short video of Professor Herbert, welcoming you to the garden!

The garden is located behind the Wysocki House at 911 North Pleasant St. in North Amherst, MA.  You may park in the Wysocki parking lot and walk back toward the field.  Be sure and say hello and ask questions from the students and faculty who are often working on the site!


Special Opportunity for Sustaianble Food and Farming Majors

This opportunity is being offered only to Sustainable Food and Farming majors in the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture. 


In a special arrangement with the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, The Farm School in Athol, Massachusetts, is offering students the opportunity to attend its year–long Learn to Farm training program while receiving college credit.

harvestNow in its 13th year, the Learn to Farm program is a licensed, full time, 5 day/week, live-in, tuition-based training program that packs a tremendous amount of experience into a year and turns out graduates who go on to farm successfully.

Forestry, animal husbandry, carpentry, mechanics, business planning, marketing and organic vegetable production are among the practical skills that are introduced and then practiced over all four seasons in the context of a commercial operation that includes a working forest, a 200 member vegetable CSA and a 50 member meat CSA.


farmschoolUnder this special arrangement, The Farm School will provide scholarship assistance so that each accepted student will pay no more than what he or she currently pays for tuition + room + board at UMass while receiving 12 credits for each of the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters from UMass.  If you are interested, first check with John Gerber to make sure you can fulfill the minimum requirements for the Sustainable Food and Farming major with this plan.  You must continue to be enrolled in UMass to take advantage of this opportunity.

Credits may be earned as:

Fall Semester

  • STOCKSCH 498 E – Student Farming Enterprise (6 credits)
  • STOCKSCH 396 – Independent Study (6 credits)

Spring Semester

  • STOCKSCH 398 E – Student Farming Enterprise (6 credits)
  • STOCKSCH 496 – Independent Study (6 credits)

Amanda Brown will supervise the Student Farming Enterprise class and John Gerber will supervise the Independent Study.


Please visit The Farm School for a detailed program description and stories from some of its over 100 graduates.  And feel free to contact Patrick Connors at The Farm School with questions about the program.

If interested, you must apply directly to The Farm School online.  You will remain enrolled as a full time UMass student during the fall and spring semesters but your classes will all be part of your Farm School experience.  Please note that you should list at least one UMass faculty member or instructor as a reference. Rolling admissions will be capped at 5 accepted students.

If you are interested, please apply soon!