Montana State University has outstanding discipline-specific undergraduate programs in Ag Economics, Ag Business, Business, Animal Science, and Natural Resources and Rangeland Ecology. A 2016 survey of Montana ranchers and allied industries indicate that all of these areas of study are important for an undergraduate program educating future ranch managers.

The table below shows the general program structure in the three related programs, along with the Ranching Systems Degree Program. The Ranching Systems Degree is a systems-level, rather than a discipline-specific approach, to educating and training outstanding graduates in the field of ranch management.

In addition to the multi-discipline approach, the Ranching Systems Degree includes a highly structured internship (in conjunction with summer employment at a vetted cooperating ranch), seminars and ranching system courses that include experiential learning, “flipping the classroom” where students hone their communication and leadership skills, further development of critical thinking, lifetime learning, and nurturing their passion for the ranch management industry.

The internships, seminars, and ranching systems courses are what tie the broad-based curriculum into a systems-level learning experience for our students.

Ranching Systems Degree vs. Other Majors at MSU

Ag Business,
Farm and Ranch
Animal Science
Livestock, Management and Industry option
Natural Resources and Rangeland Ecology; Rangeland Ecology and Management option
Ranching Systems Degree
Econ and Business 45 15 3  27
Animal Science   9a ~43 ~10 28
Rangeland Ecology/
Environmental Studies
 ~15  ~61 29
Freshman level math (including calculus
and stats 216),
biology, and chemistry
16 15 19 19
Internship, Seminar, etc.  0  3  0 7
a combination of range/ecology and animal science
~ = includes blocks in which multiple discipline options are available