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Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural Education

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) degree is a research-oriented degree. The program of study developed by the candidate builds on the previous undergraduate and graduate courses completed by the candidate. The program of study is designed to foster independent and creative thinking about agricultural education by the candidate. Emphasis is placed on selecting courses and educational experiences that enhance the breadth and depth of the candidate’s knowledge related to their major and minor fields study.

Candidates pursuing a Ph.D. degree must select a research problem, design a study, carry out the study, and document this study in the form of a dissertation. The selection of a dissertation topic is made by the candidate with the assistance of the major professor and program of study committee. The topic selected should reflect original thinking by the candidate and be concerned with some aspect of agricultural education that is within the research focus of the department.

Students will become well-versed in the following learning areas while in their tenure as a graduate student in the Agricultural Education program at Iowa State University:

  • Delivery Systems: Select, organize, and implement appropriate delivery systems to fit a variety of teaching and learning situations.
  • Learning Systems: Model and utilize appropriate learning principles and theories in agriculturally related learning situations.
  • Evaluation: Select, organize, and implement appropriate formative and summative evaluation strategies for accountability and program improvement.
  • Philosophy and Knowledge Base of Agricultural Education: Develop a foundation for one’s personal philosophy of agricultural education by synthesizing and evaluating appropriate philosophical models.
  • Needs Assessment Analysis: Develop and evaluate appropriate strategies for analyzing and assessing educational needs, situations, and processes.
  • Planning and Development: Organize educational programs utilizing appropriate planning and development models.
  • International Agricultural Education and Technology Transfer: Organize and evaluate international agricultural education programs based upon the principles of technology transfer.
  • Research Design and Analysis: Design, conduct, report, and evaluate quantitative and qualitative research utilizing appropriate design and analysis models.
  • Administration, Supervision and Leadership Development: Organize, conduct, and evaluate activities that further the mission of Agricultural Education, provide growth opportunities for its practitioners, and foster development of a vision for the profession.
  • Policy and Trends in Agricultural Education: Monitor the development of trends and administration of policies in and outside the discipline of Agricultural Education and explain their impact or potential impact on the discipline.

Admission Procedures

Before applying for admission, students are encouraged to acquaint themselves with the Department of Agricultural Education and Studies. Contact any of our faculty and staff at anytime with questions. It is important that your educational goals and interests align with the expertise and focus areas of the department. If you decide that one of our programs would help you to achieve your personal and professional goals, we cordially invite you to apply for admission. Directions for admission that are outlined on the Internet at:

Admission Requirements

The components listed below will be uploaded into the Office of Admissions portal. 

Key components of the application for admission include:

  • Application form.  There is a “Statement of Purpose” section on the application form. Statement of Purpose writing guide (pdf)
  • Three letters of reference.
    Note: At least one letter of recommendation should be from a university professor. Ask your university
    references to comment on your past academic performance, potential to succeed in graduate school,
    character and work habits, and whether or not they believe that a graduate program in Agricultural
    Education/Professional Agriculture is consistent with their knowledge of your personal and professional
    goals. It is recommended that the other two letters be from professionals in education or business and
    industry who are familiar with your overall abilities and goals. Ask references to be specific and identify
    factors that will help the admissions committee make an appropriate admissions decision. Please do not
    ask friends and relatives to submit reference letters.  When you add your recommenders and their email addresses to the Docfinity system, they will receive a link to upload their recommendation letter directly into the Docfinity system and your application.
  • An official transcript from all schools attended after high school.
  • A resume or vita. Applicants are expected to have three years of professional work experience in a career area related to agricultural education.
  • International students must meet the Graduate College English Proficiency requirement as described in the following document:

Application Deadlines

March 15 - Deadline for persons desiring admission in the following summer or fall semester.
October 15 - Deadline for persons desiring admission for the following spring semester.

Program of Study Requirements

Program Requirements Required Course or Equivalent Credits
Introduction to Research



Instructional Methods



Program Planning/Evaluation



Learning Theory



Foundations of Agricultural Education






Program Evaluation

Recommend RESEV 597


Required Seminars in AgEd



Professional Internship AGEDS 617 1-6
Program Leadership & Administration AGEDS 625 3
Dissertation Research
AGEDS 699 15
Qualitative Research Methodology RESEV 580 3
Research & Statistics Select 6
Electives   18
Total Required Credits   72

Other requirements:

  • 36 credits must be earned at Iowa State University
  • Completion of a career-focused experience plan in the areas of teaching, extension, and research
  • Completion of written and oral preliminary examinations (conducted by candidate’s program of study committee)
  • Completion of final oral examination and defense of dissertation (conducted by candidate’s program of study committee)
  • PhD students are required to meet with all graduate faculty prior to establishing their POS committee
  • PhD students in Agricultural Education are required to spend at least one academic year on campus

For a specialization in Agricultural Extension Education, click here