Back to top

The Master of Professional Studies in Agriculture and Life Sciences  with a specialization in International Agriculture and Rural Development (IARD) is a one-year, course-based master's program in the graduate field of Global Development. 

IARD Specialization

Producing enough food to adequately and sustainably feed a growing world population is one of greatest challenges facing society today. This critical problem is exacerbated by disproportionate population growth in low-income countries where arable lands are commonly limited and governmental infrastructures supporting agriculture often weak. With about half of the world’s population relying directly on the food they can produce, rural development for improving livelihoods and human health is inextricably linked to expanding agricultural capacity. Massive urbanization worldwide disconnecting millions of consumers from producers necessitates the development of complex food production and delivery systems far beyond subsistence.

The International Agriculture and Rural Development (IARD) specialization is ideal for students interested in development practice, management, and/or policy related to sustainable and equitable food, forage and fiber systems and food security. The program is especially relevant for experienced practitioners from any country, who seek broad-gauged perspectives and knowledge about agriculture and rural development to support challenged communities in their home country and globally. 

Student Michal in Uganda working with female farmers

MPS Program Structure

The MPS is an accredited, one-year, course-based master’s degree program that prepares individuals for the 21st-century workplace through knowledge development and career skillset refinement. The specialized, course-based instruction led by world-class faculty broadens expertise and provides various interdisciplinary venues for critically analyzing alternative strategies. Students learn about practices, technologies, approaches, and trends in agriculture and rural development efforts around the world.

The MPS 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 MPS 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.

MPS 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.

You can read about the admission requirements here

IARD Minor

International Agriculture and Rural Development (IARD) is also offered as a minor for graduate research students at the MS and PhD levels.  Requirements for the minor will depend on the student’s own major field and will be specified by the faculty member representing Global Development on the student’s graduate committee.  Typically, 2-3 courses will be required.