Ranching Systems Degree Program
To sustain and preserve the agricultural heritage of the Northern Great Plains and Intermountain West by graduating students who have the breadth of knowledge and diversity of skills needed to employ prudent ranching practices that create value and improve the natural resources vital to our land.
Develop a pipeline of future ranch managers with the skills and experiences to manage complex ranches through a unique program focused on building a knowledge base and skill set across academic disciplines that includes business, ecology, agriculture, communication and public policy. Student’s education will be enhanced through real-world experiences and exposure to leading organizations in fish and wildlife ecology and land management.
Montana State University has created the preeminent Ranch Management Program in the Northern Great Plains and Intermountain West. The program prepares outstanding graduates with the diverse set of skills needed to meet a variety of challenges facing the ranching industry today. Our program is based on a systems-level approach that integrates course work and experiential/hands-on learning in animal production, natural resource management, economics and business, as well as, applied skills such as communication, lifelong learning and critical thinking in a student-centered curriculum.
Keeping ranches viable leaves native rangelands undamaged, creates habitat for a broad diversity of game animals and other species, moderates run-off and secures carbon in the soil. To adequately manage these resources in an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable manner takes an experienced, well-trained and educated professional. The expertise and traditions of western ranchers are as important today as they were 100 years ago. However, the skill sets, knowledge base and critical-thinking abilities needed for present and future ranch managers have grown faster than the educational programs that service this vital element of the United States’ food, natural resource and recreational hospitality industries.
In 2015, the USDA reported a critical shortage of well-trained individuals needed to meet the demands for current and future professionals in agriculture and natural resource management. In addition, MSU’s Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship conducted a survey in 2016 of individuals involved in the land and livestock management business, members of the Montana Land Reliance and the Montana Stockgrowers Association. The results indicated there is a high demand for a ranch management degree program in Montana and the Northern Rockies/Great Plains.
“The key is to have a very broad curriculum that ties animal production, natural resources, wildlife, accounting, and finance together with external learning opportunities through internships and projects. The curriculum must focus on tying all these aspects together for the good of the whole ranch. Training students to manage the complexity of the interconnectedness of all the facets is the niche MSU could fill.”- Clay MathisDirector and Kleberg Endowed Chair King Ranch Management InstituteTexas A&M University - Kingsville