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About the Program

Online Master of Agricultural and Life Sciences

The Master of Agricultural and Life Sciences is offered by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as a completely online degree program for working professionals.

Within the food, agricultural, environmental, and human sciences, the OMALS program will:

  • Provide an integrated advanced interdisciplinary education.
  • Develop effective multi-dimensional communication skills.
  • Foster critical thinking and develop research skills to address complex issues.
  • Develop ethical and inclusive leaders.

Students should identify a concentration during the application process from one of the following areas:

  • Agribusiness:  prepares individuals to analyze, assess, and contribute to the ever-evolving, broadly-defined agribusiness industry by developing skills in management, marketing, economics, finance, policy, and quantitative analysis. 
  • Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare: An evidence-based approach to animal behavior and welfare in applied settings, drawing strongly from the fields of applied behavior analysis and ethology, with a focus on critical inquiry into the causes of behavior and solutions to behavior and training issues, problem solving in applied settings, ethical training methods and professional interactions, and leadership in the field of applied animal behavior.  
  • Applied Nutrition and Physical Activity:  An evidence-based perspective on applied nutrition, exercise and health across the healthspan with a focus on critical inquiry, problem solving, leadership, and successful business practices in nutrition and physical activity.
  • Education: preparation of educators for success in professions that include formal and non-formal teaching and learning in agriculture.
  • Environmental Science: the study of processes functions involving living organisms to improve environmental quality and human health and livelihoods.
  • Food Safety and Biosecurity: the study of basic scientific approaches to food production and processing in order to produce safe, high quality, and economic products.
  • Leadership Studies: multidisciplinary study of leadership processes and human capital development in community and non-profit organizations.
  • Plant Science and Pest Management: the study of connections between the basic interactions of molecular science and applied pest management.

Applicants should have completed or be near completion of a B.S. degree in agricultural and life sciences or a field closely associated with a graduate degree in the discipline. An overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 to 4.0 or greater and strong scientific writing and communication skills are required.

Applicants who fall slightly below the requirements can be admitted on a provisional status at the recommendation of the department. Provisional status is permitted for a maximum of 12 credit hours of graded course work; a minimum GPA of 3.0 is required for a student to continue the graduate program. Applicants with a GPA below a 2.75 should apply to Commonwealth Campus. This option is a non-degree seeking option that allows individuals to improve their GPA prior to applying to the degree program. Credits earned through Commonwealth Campus may be transferred into the degree program.

One of the major benefits of the online program is that it allows you to complete the program at your own pace. On average, students will take two courses (6 credit hours) a semester, leading to completion of the program in five semesters. Courses are offered fall, spring and summer semesters, so a student can finish the program in two years based on the two-course minimum per semester. Refer to the Courses page for an entire list of courses offered in the program.

Requirements Minimum Credit Hours

Core Courses

ALS 5104

Diversity and Inclusion course

ALS 5234

Research Methodology course

9 total credits





Area of Concentration 12
Electives 3
Project and Report 6
Total 30

Minimum total credits: 30 credit hours
Minimum graded credits: 24 credit hours

Students cannot transfer more than 50% of graded, graduate-level course credit hours from another regionally accredited university to satisfy the requirements for a Virginia Tech graduate degree.

Transferred credits must be from graduate-level courses at the university where the student took the courses. Students must have earned grades of  "B" or better for all graded courses, while maintaining good standing in graduate status.

Each student is assigned a preliminary faculty advisor upon initial enrollment.  By the time the student finishes approximately 12 credit hours, students should work with program leadership to find a committee chair that has research interests similar to the student's final project interests.  Assignments should be mutually agreeable to both student and faculty member.  A primary consideration in choosing an advisor/chair ensures that the student’s professional interests match well with the advisor’s expertise.

After determining a committee chair, each student should work with his or her chair to establish an advisory committee. The committee should consist of three members. Two committee members should be from the concentration, one being the faculty advisor. The third member should be a full time, tenure-track, teaching or research faculty or other qualified individual, inside or outside the university, as requested by the department.

The student is expected to do a final project to complete the requirements of the degree. Steps to complete the final project include:

  1. Student prepares a project proposal to present to the advising committee.
  2. Advising committee approves proposal.
  3. Student works with the advisor to set up, conduct, and complete the project.
  4. Student completes the final project report defense.