Courses of Study 2020-2021 
    
    Apr 17, 2021  
Courses of Study 2020-2021

Agriculture and Life Sciences


In the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences .

Master of Professional Studies Program


Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) master of professional studies (M.P.S.) program is an accredited, course-based, one-year master’s degree program that emphasizes professional development and intellectual investigation in the areas of agriculture, life sciences and global development.

The M.P.S. degree differs from a traditional M.S. degree in its structure and focus. An M.S. is research based, with students building a thesis over the course of two or three years. In contrast, the M.P.S. degree is a one-year, course-based program where students study the intricacies and in-depth questions of their field of study. Instead of a thesis or research project, MPS students complete a capstone project during their final semester.

At CALS, our M.P.S. program spans multiple fields of study within the realm of agriculture and life sciences, including animal science, food science, global development, horticulture, plant and soil science, biological and environmental engineering and more.

The M.P.S. program has two main components:

  1. Coursework: Students work with a faculty advisor to customize their course of study based on their area(s) of interest.  While the majority of the courses (20 of the required 30 credits) will be in CALS, students have the flexibility to take additional coursework across Cornell. Students gain knowledge of development theory and practice combined with technical core competency in subject areas such as: production agriculture; soil, water and land management; agricultural, food systems and development economics; policy and trade; policy analysis; rural development; and participatory extension.
  2. Capstone project: With the guidance of a faculty advisor, MPS candidates undertake an applied capstone project to fulfill the MPS degree requirements. The M.P.S. project offers the opportunity to apply newly-acquired problem solving tools to real world issues, providing valuable insights as students embark on their post-graduation careers.

M.P.S. students are part of a cohort of CALS professional master’s students specializing in diverse fields of study and have a dedicated support organization, offering career guidance, professional skill development and a network of supportive Cornell alumni. The M.P.S. degree is administered by the Graduate School 

Degree Requirements


  • Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 30 credit hours related to the candidate’s professional interest, as agreed upon with the faculty advisor.

(a) Twenty credit hours must be taken within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and at least 24 credits must be in courses numbered 4000 or higher.

(b) A maximum of 6 of the required 30 credit hours may be earned through the student’s problem-solving project (see third bullet).

(c) A maximum of 6 credit hours earned outside the program, at Cornell University or elsewhere, may be counted toward these requirements at the discretion of the student’s faculty advisor. These credits must be appropriate to the subject of study and completed not more than five years before admission.

  • Completion of a minimum of two semesters. One semester must be earned by carrying a minimum of 12 credit hours. In certain circumstances, the second semester credit may be earned by accumulating the remaining credit hours in the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions at Cornell University or through transfer of credit (see item c above).
  • Satisfactory completion of a problem-solving project under the supervision of the faculty advisor. This project may be an action program, the development of a plan to address a pertinent problem, the development of materials or methodology suited to the student’s situation, or the development and execution of research appropriate to the profession. A formal project report must be submitted to and approved by the candidate’s faculty advisor.
  • A minimum grade point average of 2.5 (minimum of 18 credit hours with letter grades at Cornell).
  • Completion of the degree within four years of admission. Some fields of study may have special requirements, so students should check with the field’s director of graduate studies for specific details.

M.P.S. Capstone Project

With the guidance of a faculty advisor, students work on solving a real-world problem, providing valuable insight and skills for their career next steps. A maximum of 6 credit hours are awarded for satisfactory completion of a formal project report.