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UK unveils enhanced agricultural economics Master's program, focusing on real-world problem-solving through extension

UK unveils enhanced agricultural economics Master's program, focusing on real-world problem-solving through extension

UK unveils enhanced agricultural economics Master's program, focusing on real-world problem-solving through extension

A new UK Master's program will help agriculture economics students obtain out-of-the-classroom experience by integrating extension in the curriculum.

Lexington, Ky.—

The University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment recently announced a new Agricultural Economics Master's program focusing on practical, real-world applications. The two-year program aims to prepare students for applied economics research, immersing them in extension work and addressing real-world challenges. 

“The enhanced program is designed to equip students with the skills needed to tackle pressing issues in agriculture and rural communities using economic principles,” said Department of Agricultural Economics associate professor Yoko Kusunose.  “Students will have the opportunity to create valuable resources and implement strategies for a sustainable and prosperous future in these sectors.” 

One key feature is personal and active collaboration with extension faculty who disseminate their work to community members via the UK Cooperative Extension Service offices and other organizations serving Kentuckians. Students will engage in production management, agricultural marketing, consumer behavior and regional economics. This hands-on approach ensures graduates not only understand the theoretical aspects of their field but the practical skills necessary to make a meaningful impact in Kentucky and beyond. 

Extension work’s integration into the curriculum is a response to the historical success of extension faculty’s valuable mentorship with graduates. The revamped program ensures graduates benefit from communications training, teamwork and outreach -- essential skills for modern agricultural economists. 

"Extension is the bridge between academic knowledge and practical application,” Kusunose said.  

This program is bolstered by a $246,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Needs Fellowship program, allowing the department to offer stipends to six Masters students. 

"It's not just book learning; it’s seeing how economics really plays out in the field,” Kusunose said. “Thanks to this grant, our fellows are going to get a well-rounded experience – from crunching numbers to meeting with farmers." 

Kusunose said the program's focus on practical problem-solving and stakeholder engagement will make fellows valuable assets in the community. 

“This program is about much more than just classroom learning; it's about preparing our students to make a tangible difference in the fields of agriculture and rural economics.” 

For more information, contact Kusunose at or 859-257-7289. 

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2024-38420-41526. USDA is an equal-opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

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The Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is an Equal Opportunity Organization with respect to education and employment and authorization to provide research, education information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, physical or mental disability or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity. 

Economics Extension Students

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Scovell Hall Lexington, KY 40546-0064