The U.S. organic food industry has grown at an impressive rate of nearly 20 percent each year for more than a decade and industry experts are predicting the trend to continue or accelerate. The Organic Trade Association forecasts that overall the everyday use of organic products of all kinds will be both accepted and routine by the year 2025.
The growing demand for organic products has created the need for employees who understand the unique production, processing, and marketing approaches used in organic agriculture.
Established in the Fall of 2008, WSU’s Certificate in Organic Agriculture, the first in the nation, develops a solid background in the agricultural sciences, including an understanding of complex agriculture and food systems. Students develop knowledge and skills that are applicable to all industries and agencies involved in the food chain – from production, processing, and delivery to policy, regulation, and education.
The Certificate in Organic Agriculture is an 18-credit undergraduate program that can be taken along with a major in another field, or as a stand-alone educational experience. The certificate is ideal for professionals working in agriculture or related fields who require in-depth knowledge of organic systems, those wanting to pursue a career in organic agriculture, anyone interested in beginning a community supported agriculture (CSA) enterprise, home gardeners, as well as current WSU students in other majors at WSU with an interest in organic agriculture.
This is an interdisciplinary certificate that makes use of coursework from several departments in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS).
Available online and on campus
Working professionals, other non-degree-seeking students, as well as current students in other majors at WSU will be able to learn the fundamentals in a highly focused program through online and classroom venues.
It is important to note the online courses are taught by the same world-renowned faculty who teach at WSU’s main campus in Pullman and are accessible 24/7 from computers with high-speed Internet access.
Organic Agriculture Major
If you think you might be interested in the more comprehensive Organic Agriculture major (B.S. in Agricultural and Food Systems with a major in Organic Agriculture Systems), then you would need to fulfill many of those requirements on campus at WSU in Pullman. Students who pursue the Organic Agriculture certificate as a non-degree seeking student may wonder if they can later use that credit toward a WSU degree. If a student later applies as a degree seeking student, and is admitted as such, all the work that they took while in non-degree status will apply toward their degree program and total hours.
For more information, see the Agriculture and Food Systems site.
How to Enter the Program
WSU students at any campus and in any major can obtain the Certificate in Organic Agriculture. Regional campus students and WSU Online students can take online courses and Pullman campus students can take classroom or online courses.
Non-Degree Seeking Students
All participants in the Organic Agriculture Certificate must be admitted to WSU, and may apply as a non-degree seeking student. There is a $25 application fee.
Non-degree seeking students interested in pursuing the certificate online:
Learn more on the Online Certificate Program site and apply.
Non-degree seeking students interested in pursuing the certificate on the Pullman campus:
Learn more on the WSU Admissions site and apply.
Awarding of the Certificate
Students should email Colette Casavant, Academic Coordinator, so she can complete the appropriate certification form. At the beginning of the student’s final semester of coursework, the student should apply for the certificate using MyWSU and Student Center. This will notify the Registrar’s Office to confer the certificate.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Organic Agriculture Certificate is an academic program. All students pursuing the certificate in organic agriculture must be admitted to Washington State University. Students interested in pursuing the online certificate, but not a degree in one of the majors offered online or on the Pullman campus, should apply as a non-degree seeking student. Note: Application deadlines are relaxed for non-degree seeking students, who can apply up to 1 week before classes begin (transcripts are not required for application).
Many financial aid and scholarships programs are available for degree-seeking students. If you’re not seeking a degree through WSU, your financial aid options are much more limited. Please check our financial aid website.
Alternatives to financial aid might be private ‘career loans’, although they typically have high fees and interest rates, but no grace periods. Also, some employers provide educational benefits.
If you have question about using veterans benefits, please contact WSU’s Office of Veteran’s Affairs at 509-335-1234.
Non-degree seeking students are not assigned a specific advisor, but the Academic Coordinator and certificate program director listed below attempts to monitor enrollment toward completion of the certificate.
Students pursuing a degree either online or on-campus from WSU who are also earning the certificate will be assigned an advisor.
WSU courses taken online are equivalent to courses taken on a WSU physical campus in virtually every way: learning objectives, assignments, projects, exams, and the degree of rigor. The online learning environment provides opportunities to interact with fellow students and the course instructor, making the learning process interesting and dynamic and far from isolated. WSU Online courses must be completed within a predetermined timeframe, but because courses are asynchronous (not in real time) students can “go to class” anytime 24/7: access course readings, chat with fellow classmates who happen to be online at the same time, post comments to a threaded discussion board, submit assignments, and work on projects.
The internship can be the most important 3 credits you take for the Certificate because it is a real-life experience.
Online students should enroll in SOIL_SCI 498. Students will need to arrange an internship (paid or unpaid) with an organic farmer, an organic business, or an organic certifying agency. Usually an internship is at least 20 hours per week for 12 weeks. Students will need to keep a daily diary and write a 10-page paper on some aspect of your organic working internship. The required forms for completing your internship are posted in the Internship Handbook (pdf). (Note: The hourly, diary, and paper requirements required for this internship differ from the requirements listed in the Internship Handbook). The Internship Agreement and Statement of Intent must be submitted for approval at least two weeks before the internship is expected to start. The student may be dropped from the course if this paper is not completed before the internship start date. Your statement must be approved by Dr. John Reganold, director of the certificate program (in the ‘academic advisor’ field on the form).
Pullman-based students should enroll in SOIL_SCI 480, Practicum in Organic Agriculture held at WSU’s Certified Organic Farm.
There is no set time for completion of the certificate. The certificate consists of 18 credits and your time will vary according to the how many credits you take each semester.
Program Requirements for the Organic Agriculture Certificate
The 18-credit certificate program is designed with five core courses (13 credits) required for all students, 2 credits of ‘experiential learning’, plus a minimum of 3 additional credits (electives) selected from a range of courses. All courses already exist as permanent courses, and the certificate can be fulfilled through on-line delivery or in-class participation on the Pullman campus. Pullman and online classes are semester based, including a summer session. The minimum GPA for the certificate is 2.0.
Please check the online time schedules for up-to-date information on course offerings. Be sure to select the appropriate campus and the appropriate term.
Courses may be taken in any order, however students should be mindful of prerequisites to ensure adequate preparation for the course.
|Course #||Course Title||Term Offered |
|Required courses: (13 credits)|
|SOIL_SCI 101||Organic Gardening and Farming, 3 cr||Spring (P)|
|SOIL_SCI 201 [BSCI]||Soil: A Living System, 3 cr||Spring (P)|
|SOIL_SCI/AFS 302 [M]||Introduction to Agroecology, 3 cr||Spring (O)||Recommended SOIL_SCI 201|
|SOIL_SCI 478||Advanced Organic Farming and Gardening, 2 cr||Spring (P,O)||Course Prerequisite: SOIL_SCI 101|
|SOIL_SCI 479||Organic Farm & Garden Field Management, 2 cr||Summer (P, O)|
|Course Prerequisite: SOIL_SCI 478|
|Experiential Learning (2 credits minimum):|
|SOIL_SCI 480||Practicum in Organic Agriculture||Spring (P) |
|Course prerequisite: SOIL_SCI 478 or concurrent enrollment|
|SOIL_SCI 498||Professional Internship (S/F grading)||Spring (P,O)|
|Electives (3 credits required):|
|AFS 250||Civic Engagement in Sustainability, 2 cr||Spring (P)||To be taken with one more credit of SOIL_SCI 480 or 498|
|AFS 445||Field Analysis of Sustainable Food Systems, 3 cr (one-week field trip required in WA state)||Spring (P,O)|
|BIOLOGY 140 [BSCI]||Introduction to Nutritional Science, 3 cr||Spring (P,O)|
|CROP_SCI/HORT 102||Cultivated Plants, 3 cr||Fall (P)|
|CROP_SCI/SOIL_SCI 360 [I]||World Agricultural Systems, 3 cr||Spring (O)|
|Course Prerequisite: 3 credits in the [B] or [BSCI] categories|
|CROP_SCI 443||Plant Breeding for Organic Agriculture, 3 cr||Fall, odd years only (O)||Course Prerequisite: CROP_SCI/HORT 202; BIOLOGY 106 or 120|
|CROP_SCI/HORT 445 [M]||Plant Breeding, 4 cr||Spring (P)||Course Prerequisite: CROP_SCI/HORT 202; BIOLOGY 106 or 120|
|AFS 336 [SSCI]||Agriculture, Environment & Community||Fall (P)||Course Prerequisite: 3 credits [S] or [K], GER, or [SSCI] UCORE; sophomore standing|
|ECONS 101 [SSCI]||Fundamentals of Microeconomics, 3 cr||Spring (P,O)|
|Course Prerequisite: MATH 101, 103, 105, 107, 108, 171, 201, 202, STAT 205 or 212|
|ECONS 102 [SSCI]||Fundamentals of Macroeconomics, 3 cr||Spring (P,O)|
|Course Prerequisite: MATH 101, 103, 105, 106, 107, 108, 171, 201, 202, STAT 205 or 212|
|FS 220||Food Safety and Quality, 3 cr||Spring, even years only (P)|
|MTKG 360||Marketing, 3 cr||Spring (P,O)|
|Course Prerequisite: Certified major [any college] with 60 semester hours|
|SOIL_SCI 441||Soil Fertility||Spring (P,O)||Course Prerequisite: SOIL_SCI 201|
Note on Transfer Credit:
The maximum number of credit hours earned at other institutions that may apply toward this certificate is 4.5 (25% of the total). Acceptance of particular courses from other institutions is at the discretion of the department offering the program (EPPM 3.2.1).
Dr. John Reganold will make these determinations. An official transcript is required (in a sealed envelope), as well as the catalog course description.
ATTRA – National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
The ATTRA project has served as the premier source of information about sustainable agriculture for U.S. farmers and other agriculturists for twenty years.
For more information on the certificate, contact Dr. Colette Casavant, Academic Coordinator or Dr. John Reganold, Certificate Program Director.
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