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Start your journey as an agriculture and life science leader with Virginia Tech’s 100% online master’s program!

Start your journey as an agriculture and life science leader with Virginia Tech’s 100% online master’s program!
  • AuthorDanbee Lee & Jennifer Jones
  • DateJanuary 15, 2024
  • MediumNewsletter Article
The OMALS program is a master’s degree that can advance careers and help students achieve their professional or personal goals. This will help students gain the necessary skills to contribute as employees or managers within the broad industry of agribusiness, including the sectors of input supply, farm production, and output marketing.

Recently, online learning has become an increasingly popular option for professionals who want to juggle an advanced degree with their career and personal life.


Virginia Tech’s Online Master of Agricultural and Life Sciences (OMALS) program   allows students the flexibility to earn an accredited degree at their own pace and location while studying Virginia Tech’s world class curriculum. Students earn the same regionally accredited degree as an on-campus student.


The OMALS program is a master’s degree that can advance careers and help students achieve their professional or personal goals. Courses are taught by faculty experts who are both in the classroom and in the field, researching and practicing what they teach. With this tailored educational experience, students will graduate from the program with greater knowledge of industry competencies to effectively and strategically lead in one of the dynamic agricultural and life science industries.


“As a professor of one of the core classes in the OMALS Program, I teach all students from all concentrations,” says Dr. Kathleen Carper. “My favorite part of the program is that faculty get to interact with people from all walks of life. We get individuals that want to advance their careers and those who want to change their career path. The OMALS program’s flexibility and 100% online format will allow you to get a graduate degree in a way that works for you.”


The program offers concentrations in the areas of agribusiness, applied animal behavior and welfare, applied nutrition and physical activity, education, environmental science, food safety and biosecurity, leadership studies, and plant science and pest management. With 8 concentrations to choose from, students get the opportunity to cater their plan of study to gain the skills required to advance in their profession.



Concentration Overview



The Agribusiness concentration will help students gain the necessary skills to contribute as employees or managers within the broad industry of agribusiness, including the sectors of input supply, farm production, and output marketing. Graduates can look forward to pursuing careers as extension agents, managers in agribusiness or financial organizations, farm managers, economists, and agribusiness consultants.


“I absolutely loved 2 classes: Agribusiness Marketing and Agronomic Topics of the Mid-Atlantic. Agribusiness Marketing really helped me do a deep-dive into some business ideas I have for our farm and how those ideas would impact our farm business. Agronomic Topics of the Mid-Atlantic, I would recommend to everyone, even if you're not an ag major. This class gives a really good foundation to all aspects of ag production at a graduate level.” says Jessica Allen, an alumna of the OMALS Program.


Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare 

With the Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare concentration, graduates have the option to become an Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist through the Animal Behavior Society.


Students will learn about the causes of behavior and solutions to behavior and training issues, problem-solving in applied settings, ethical training methods and professional interactions, and leadership in the field of applied animal behavior.


“I have learned many valuable skills that I can apply daily as an animal behavior consultant, like understanding the latest research papers in my field, conducting and presenting research, and applying everything I learn from this research in my training sessions with animals. It sets me apart from other animal behavior experts in my area and pushes me one step closer to being the best behavior consultant I can be,” says Lauren Tsao, an alumna of the Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare concentration.


Lauren Tsao: Graduate of the OMALS Program in 2022 with a concentration in Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare


Applied Nutrition and Physical Activity

The Applied Nutrition and Physical Activity concentration will help students advance and expand their nutrition and physical activity knowledge and skills. Upon completion, graduates can look forward to pursuing careers in corporate wellness/fitness, extension, health education and coaching, athletics, academia, and leadership roles in nutrition.


“I loved participating in OMALS because my professors and advisors knew me personally. They understood my time constraints and demands as an ACC athletic trainer and were willing to help me whenever I needed it.” says Ashlee Humphries.




The Education concentration is designed for individuals desiring to advance their teaching/learning, leadership, extension, and communications skill sets in this dynamic and evolving field. Graduates can look forward to pursuing careers in extension, education, consultancies, and program management.


“I am a working full-time mom with many different hats to wear each day. Having the ability to complete my degree online gives me flexibility in when I can complete my work and be able to give it my best,” says Rosemary Life.


Environmental Science 

The Environmental Science Concentration provides students with the knowledge and skills to solve real-world environmental issues. Through working on hands-on activities students will gain a greater understanding of environmental science theory and practical application. Upon completion of the OMALS program, graduates can look forward to pursuing careers in state and federal regulation agencies, conservation, green industry, municipalities, horticulture, and non-profit organizations.


“Virginia Tech has one of the best programs in Agricultural Science in the country and is highly rated by many sources. I felt the program would work well and help me to balance education and career well in a very stress-free way. The courses jumped out at me as very interesting when I was first exploring the course catalog and made me feel like I wanted to be part of this program.” says Matalin Collins (2023).


Food Safety and Biosecurity 

The Food Safety and Biosecurity concentration builds on students’ knowledge of food safety, food defense, sanitation, and microbiology. The Food Safety and Biosecurity concentration is designed for public health professionals and others interested in the microbiological safety of food, water and the environment, including the development and enforcement of laws and regulations affecting food production and processing, and the implementation of food safety management programs. Graduates can pursue careers as medical and health services managers, agricultural managers, quality control managers, agricultural inspectors, and food science technicians.


“My goal is to [one day] have my own consultancy in Food Safety and assist the government with food safety regulations. The OMALS program has already provided [me with] more knowledge and insight into Food Safety and Biosecurity, which I will use within my consultancy. The food safety regulatory system of America was the main focus throughout the courses and [I believe it will be] a good example to use for the regulatory system in Suriname." says Mayra Zweevel. (alumna)


Leadership Studies 

The Leadership Studies concentration prepares individuals with interdisciplinary skills to be well-rounded agricultural and life sciences professionals who can lead, teach, and communicate current agricultural and life sciences issues facing society today. Upon graduation, students can pursue careers in extension, civic and nonprofit leadership, education, consultancies, community development, and project management.


“I think that there are challenges that come with being an online program, but the VT faculty has done a lot to make sure that you are able to succeed. They are available for office hours and help. They hosted an in person workshop that let us use our new skills in real life situations. They also do a good job tailoring things as needed for individuals.” says Rachel Lane.


Plant Science and Pest Management 

The Plant Science and Pest Management concentration will prepare students in agriculture-related roles to have a broader understanding of the diverse industry, including issues concerning production, business, economics, communication, pest management, and regulations. Upon graduation, students can look forward to careers in government, the soil conservation industry, education, green industry, agriculture-related manufacturing, extension, and private industry (i.e. golf course management, grounds management).


“I really thought all of the OMALS professors did a wonderful job with their materials and the pace/course load in the classes. I was constantly challenged and stimulated. Jennifer Jones is the best advisor I have ever had! I really appreciated her guidance in this program and availability to her students. My committee members are experts in their field and great role models for my research and critical thinking development,” says Lauren Harrison.


Application Process

The application process is fully online  and requires demographic information, a copy of official transcripts, a resume, writing sample, goals statement, and contact information for three professional references.  Applications are accepted for fall, spring, and summer semesters.  The deadline to apply is July 15, December 15, and April 15. For more information on the application process or the program, sign up to attend a First Friday’s information session. 


“Attending the First Friday's Zoom session was a valuable tool that I took advantage of and that has continued to help me understand the requirements, options, and support that is offered in the OMALS degree.”


Learn more about our flexible online master’s program on!


Find out more about the fully online master's program within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. 


To apply visit our website and click on the apply now link.  

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