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MS in Regenerative Organic Agriculture

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Become an organic agriculture specialist!

Online • 16 months • Part-Time

Welcome! Our newly offered MS in Regenerative Organic Agriculture (MS-ROA) highlights best industry practices to cultivate an ethical relationship with the world’s natural resources to support greater resiliency in our environment and economy.

Add value to your career and community

Be a part of restoring balance back to our soils, our environments, and our food, feed, and fiber chains! Whatever your background, you can become a professional in agribusiness, farmer, educator, or consultant, by gaining a strong foundation in the principles and practices of regenerative organic agriculture.

NEXT ENTRY FOR THIS PROGRAM AUGUST 2022 - APPLY NOW

Kickstart Your Career!

Advance your career in a growing field

Financial aid typically covers all costs, including living expense support*

Per USDA, nearly 60,000 high-skilled agriculture job openings expected annually

Gain skills in applying regenerative organic principles

Learn how to improve soil health and water quality to mitigate climate change

Consciousness-Based education for inner development

*Federal grants and loans available to most US citizens and permanent residents

What is Regenerative Agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture is a systems-based approach to agriculture
that leverages natural ecology to build soil, improve water efficiency, and increase biodiversity while emphasizing healthy food, feed, and fiber as the foundation of a strong community.

“More than a mere alternative strategy, regenerative agriculture represents a fundamental shift in our culture’s relationship to nature.” – Charles Eisenstein

Our MIU and Community History with Organic Agriculture

1980

MIU launches Radiance Dairy

40 years ago MIU established a Jersey cow organic dairy farm to supply unhomogenized creamline milk to the university and community. Now known as the Radiance Dairy, this organic farm has continued to grow over the years. Through rotational grazing and the establishment of perennial prairie grasses, Radiance Dairy has restored over 700 acres of land in our community, all while providing delicious cheeses, yogurt and milk products.

1982

Soil Technologies Corp

As a major sponsor of the MIU - Department of Regenerative Agriculture, Soil Technologies Corp. has developed, manufactured and distributed low toxic and naturally derived products approved for organic agriculture right here in Fairfield, Iowa. With a customer base that extends across the globe, Soil Technologies Corp has been helping producers improve yields and soil health since 1982.

2000

Organic Commercial Greenhouses

MIU personnel have also worked together to establish commercial greenhouses in our area. In the early 2000’s they established 2.5 acres of greenhouse space, now known as Jorge’s Organics, that still produces organic vegetables for MIU’s all organic cafeteria.

2000

The Organic and Non-GMO Report

founded in Fairfield almost 20 years ago, is a publication dedicated to the industry of organic and non-gmo agriculture. With online and print publications available, the Organic and Non-GMO Report has been an important source of information for the USA organic food and agriculture industry.

2011

Ecovillages Break Ground in Fairfield

Fairfield, Iowa is also home to a number of ecovillages and sustainable housing developments. On the outskirts of town you can find SoFair Farms, a small tiny home community that is a haven for homesteaders and individuals looking to reconnect with nature. Just north of the MIU campus you can also find the Abundance Eco Village. Here, community members can enjoy sustainable housing options encapsulated by a permaculture-based landscape.

2015

HRI Labs Established on Campus

As a leading authority on sustainability in food and agricultural systems, the Health Research Institute is located on the MIU campus. HRI labs investigates the relationship between regenerative agricultural practices, the safety and nutritional value of foods, and consumer health and well-being.

2015

Farm Center

An on-campus MIU Regenerative Organic Farm Center for teaching and research was founded.

2017

Abundant Biology is Founded

Abundant Biology is a compost and biological agriculture service company, founded by an MIU graduate, that provides high-quality compost products to farmers and businesses in our area.

Fully online, 16-month program

Flexible, affordable, online program designed for working adults. The MS-ROA program is delivered part-time over three semesters and one summer – offering a convenient option for individuals looking for career development while juggling a career, family, or other commitments.

Self-discovery

You’ll learn the Transcendental Meditation® program, an evidence-based program that enhances clear thinking, reduces stress, and promotes creativity. In addition, our unique system of Consciousness-BasedSM education will help you to connect everything you’re learning to who you are at your core.

NEXT ENTRY FOR THIS PROGRAM AUGUST 2022 - APPLY NOW

Courses

A total of 32 credits are required to complete the 16-month Master of Science in Regenerative Organic Agriculture. Up to 8 post-baccalaureate credits may be transferred and applied toward the degree requirements.

Required courses:

Consciousness in Agriculture

This course integrates consciousness with the discipline of agriculture. Together, we will address the need for human resource management in agriculture. At the core of all management systems, in all economies around the world, is the mandatory requirement to evolve the human resource element. Our premise in this course, while abstract, is simple: To achieve global sustainability, tomorrow’s leaders need to educate themselves in individual sustainability – balance in life. Respect for nature emerges from respect for our own human nature. In human nature the cosmic value of creative intelligence is found at the basis of individual action, in the very fundamentals of the thinking process itself. An initial finding is that both nature and human nature, both the objective and subjective worlds, have a common source in the unmanifest unified field of pure creative intelligence, the fountainhead of all structure and function, encompassing all forms of energy and matter. This course will present an understanding that the awakening of the human resource element in agriculture management systems – through knowledge coupled with experience, leading to a development of consciousness – produces an agriculture which is practiced in greater harmony with nature.

Soil Science

Soil Science covers the basics of soil physical and chemical properties, and how biological elements in the soil are influenced by, and exert influences on those physical and chemical properties. However the primary focus will be on the inherent properties of soils arising from their mineral content and physical constituents, as a foundation for more comprehensive exploration of soils in Regenerative Organic Agriculture in higher-level courses.

Crop Science: Sustainable Farming Principles in Row Crops

An introduction to the basic principles of crop production and best management practices (BMPs) in Regenerative Organic Agriculture will consist of studying the biology of crop species, their growth requirements and the soil management needed to achieve those requirements. After that we go into cropping systems and practices, the essential types of machinery used for each crop species, tillage, fertility management, weed control, crop rotations, and control of pests and diseases. Upon completion of the course, students will be prepared to increase efficiency and productivity in the organic production context, while maintaining and improving soil quality. (2 credits) Prerequisites: College-level introductory biology including basic plant structure and physiology, or consent by program director.

Horticulture

This course is an exploration of the issues and regenerative solutions for growing horticultural crops. The emphasis will be on vegetables, but the principles are also relevant to fruits, herbs, and ornamentals. We will study growth, and production of horticultural crops in the context of their environment. This includes the interaction of crops with both the abiotic and biotic environment. The abiotic environment includes soil structure and mineral nutrition, climate and weather, light, air and water. The biotic environment includes soil organisms; insects, both beneficial and pests; and microorganisms, both beneficial and those that cause disease.

Throughout the course we will consider ways to manage crops and their environment in ways that maximize crop health and productivity while enriching the soil, increasing biodiversity, and sequestering carbon. This will include general crop strategies, such as succession planting, cover cropping, intercropping, mulches, timing of crops and more. We will also explore using structures and strategies for microclimate modification and season extension. (2 credits) Prerequisites: Consent by instructor.

Certification, Processing, & Handling

This core course will offer a comprehensive review of the rules and regulations related to the certification of organic production of agriculture commodities, the handling of such commodities from farm to consumer and the rules which govern the processing and labeling of any such commodities as added value food, fiber, or feed end-products.

Research Methods & Statistics for Agriscience

This core course introduces basic principles and statistical applications fundamental to understanding and conducting research on regenerative organic agriculture. This course will introduce and provide practice with: 1) Formulating hypotheses and designing experiments to confirm or refute them; 2) Avoiding pitfalls when producing data; 3) Exploring data; 4) Fitting models to data – choosing an appropriate data distribution, analyzing data using Excel and either R or SPSS; 5) Inference – test of significance, choice of tests, parametric vs non-parametric tests; 6) General Linear Models – ANOVA, regression; and 7) Drawing valid conclusions.

Research Project

This capstone course is the applied research component of the degree and will permit many approaches to the intellectual exercise of applying the principles of ROA under research settings. Approaches may include, but are not limited to, critique on literature reviews; collecting published data on a selected topic, synthesize of the collected data, reporting and presentation; design and execution of on-the-job agronomic lab or field projects involving environmental sample collection, analyses, data synthesis, report-writing and presentation, etc. Research may be conducted on the campus of MIU or at a location of the student’s choosing.  The course not only introduces how agronomic research is done, but empowers students in critical thinking to prepare them for research projects in their careers. (4 credits) Prerequisites: Research Methods & Statistics for Agriscience.

Exploring Consciousness

This course starts new students off with the exploration of paradigms – the framework that determines how we perceive a situation. Students will examine a field paradigm of consciousness that Maharishi created called the Science of Creative Intelligence.

Electives

Elective courses may include:

Global Organic Agriculture Practices

This course will focus on the global status of organic agriculture with respect to legal and organizational considerations in both the private and public sectors. Together, we will compare certification requirements around the world and look at the history of organic agriculture certification. We will review case study topics currently under debate in the public sector related to certification definitions and procedures.

History of Organic Agriculture

Study the history of agriculture. This history is mostly a demonstration of organic methods. Modern chemical agriculture is only a recent development. We will explore the origins of agriculture from the evidence unearthed in the fields of archeology, religious study, and anthropology. Students will engage in case study of indigenous agriculture practices over the last thousands of years around the world, from all continents of the globe – illustrating there is nothing new under the sun. Students will be presented with the intellectual and practical prospect of learning from history what might be applied today in modern agriculture under the umbrella of regenerative organic agriculture.

Science of Permaculture

Permaculture is a design science centered on whole system thinking. It is both a philosophical understanding of natural resource management and a body of practical techniques for sustainable, regenerative support of human life. Permaculture designs habitat and agricultural systems modelled from natural ecosystems. It has many branches including ecological design, ecological engineering, regenerative design, environmental design, and construction. This course will introduce scientific and practical principles at the basis of Permaculture Design.

Agroforestry

Agroforestry is a form of agriculture that utilizes trees to enhance landscape productivity and resilience, thereby contributing to the sustainable production of food, wood, medicinal, and other industrial raw materials. This land use management technique improves agroecology of landscapes and enhances the livelihood of people. Agroecology encompasses diverse applications such as improved soil fertility and carbon cycle, water retention of soils, protection from pests and diseases, protection of soils from water and wind erosion, etc. Students will learn about the principles, classifications, and practical applications of agroforestry systems in agricultural production and environmental management. Online course

Apiculture

The study of the art and science of beekeeping in regenerative organic agricultural systems. Beekeeping through pollination activity of the honeybees improves crop yield and quality. Organic honey, pollen, propolis, and beeswax are also produced through beekeeping. In this course, students will learn about world history of beekeeping, the different honeybee species and their geographical distributions, honeybee behavior and activities, different types of beehives used in beekeeping, establishment of a honeybee farm (apiary selection and management), role of beekeeping in climate change mitigation, honeybee enemies, and how to protect the health of bee colonies. Students will also learn how to maintain a honeybee-friendly environment, sustainable harvesting, processing, and marketing of organic honey and honeybee products, and the role of beekeeping in sustainable livelihoods. In this course, the role and management of honeybees regarding crop pollination will be discussed. (4 credits) Prerequisites: Basic biology or agricultural science desired; 90 college credit hours or consent by the program director. Online course

Medicinal Herbs Cultivation, Processing, & Quality Control

Growing medicinal and culinary herbs is a specialization of horticulture. Here we focus on production, processing, and evaluating the quality of the herbs under cultivation. In production we study nursery techniques: seed starting, propagation and large-scale production of herbs; cultivation practices: soil and climate requirements, maintenance, and care of herb crops. For effective processing we introduce the methods and times of harvesting, methods of dehydration, and correct choice of storage temperature and conditions. For quality evaluation students will learn methods of extraction and quantification of active and /or desirable components of the herbs. The course also includes ethno-botanical background on the herbs commonly cultivated in North America, and a few tropical plant species.

Agricultural Economics

This course will present the application of economic principles to the field of regenerative organic agriculture. Agricultural economics is an applied field of economics concerned with the application of economic theory in optimizing the production and distribution of food and fiber. The course will study how agricultural economics influences food policy, agricultural policy, and environmental policy.

Soil Ecology

This course will focus on the comprehensive study of soil biology with an emphasis on soil microbiology. The microcosm of the soil has outward effects on the macrocosm of the agro-ecosystem. 

 In regenerative organic agriculture, establishing and maintaining healthy biology in the soil is a critical component in farm management. Plant health depends on soil health. The foundation for maintenance of healthy soil is knowledge of the composition and dynamics of soil organisms. From the agricultural perspective, this knowledge is applied in management practices that enhance a diverse and balanced soil biota.  We will study how plants interact with the soil life from the level of root colonization with beneficial organisms, to how plants support diverse microbial partnerships in the rooting zone, and outwards to the ways macroscopic soil organisms affect the plant-microbial system. We will introduce some methods for studying a community complexity, the diversity and distributions of soil micro-biomes, such as metagenomic and multi-omics approaches. Bio-remediation, inoculation, and other ways to regenerate soil communities in agro-ecosystems will be investigated.

Biochar in Organic Agriculture

Biochar, or partially combusted plant material, has been used for thousands of years as a soil amendment because it retains fertility even under the most difficult conditions. This course will study biochar as a soil amendment for regenerative and sustainable agriculture. This course will review biochar properties, characterization of biochar, how biochar is produced and modified to fit different needs, and current research and importance of biochar in agriculture.

Soil and Water Quality

This course will study the dynamics of the soil environment, including the interrelationships between the soil physical properties, chemistry, biological life. Advanced study of the soil fundamentals will be presented, including the chemistry and physics of colloidal nutrient carrying capacity, soil organic matter dynamics, soil health, soil texture and structure, soil water relationships, soil and gaseous emissions, the soil-microbe-plant interface, etc. The impact of agricultural management practices on surface and groundwater systems will be discussed.

Advanced Crop Science

This course will focus on the dynamics of crop production. This will include a study of crop physiology, including plant food needs, plant nutrient utilization, the absorption of nutrients from the soil and air, photosynthesis, energy pathways in the plant metabolic system, metabolites for self-plant-defense, etc. The concepts and principles associated with crop establishment and maintenance will be discussed, including all stages of crop growth, germination to harvest.

Advanced Horticulture

This course is an extension of the core course on horticultural science. In this course the student will study the organic cultivation of fruits and vegetables. The course will include an in-depth study of organic management of the problems common to this production, including prevention and control of disease and insect problems, soil preparation, bedding systems, mulching systems, irrigation systems, greenhouse production systems, storage, transporting and marketing of organic fresh produce and other topics pertinent to the horticultural field. Composting of raw organic materials will be discussed, as an input for supporting crop production.

Cost & Financial Aid, 2021-22

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Entrance Requirements

Applicants must have a four-year undergraduate degree or equivalent.

Additional Requirements

  • GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Submit a résumé or curriculum vitae, including a brief cover letter outlining your work experience and academic background. Email your résumé/CV and cover letter to your admissions counselor.
  • Submit a statement of purpose discussing your interest in MIU and the MS in Regenerative Organic Agriculture. Please also highlight your short-term and long-term personal and professional goals. The essay should be 1-2 pages, double-spaced, in Times New Roman 12pt font, in PDF format. Email the statement of purpose to your admissions counselor.
  • Apply for the fall entry by July 15 and complete the admissions process by July 27.
  • Completion of the MIU admissions process, including the submission of official transcripts, a recommendation, all materials listed above, and an admissions interview.
  • For students whose first language is not English: official English proficiency test scores within the past 2 years of at least 6.5 on IELTS Academic, 90 on TOEFL iBT or 58 on PTE, unless you have earned a full-time, on-campus degree from Canada, Australia, the UK, or the US within the past 2 years.

Before your first class

  • All MIU students practice the Transcendental Meditation® technique. If you have not learned it yet:
  • MIU has a special TM course fee of $190 for students.
  • Online students are required to learn the TM technique before starting the first class at MIU. The full $190 TM course fee will be refunded by MIU at the time of enrollment.