College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Michael Parrella, Dean (53 Iddings Wing, Ag. Sc. Bldg.; 208/885-6681); Barbara Petty, Associate Dean and Director of the University of Idaho Extension; Don Thill , Associate Dean and Director of the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station; Larry Makus, Term Associate Dean and Director of Academic Programs.

The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences provides quality programs in agricultural, food, family and consumer sciences, and related areas to all of Idaho. In addition to academic programs, the college also advances knowledge in these areas by research conducted through the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station and provides information transfer and application of new knowledge to the state and the nation through the Cooperative Extension System. The college also actively participates in international development and student and faculty exchange programs around the world. The College of Agriculture was established in 1901 and was renamed the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in 2001. The Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences became part of the college in 1983.


The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences offers a quality education in a professional and friendly atmosphere. Each student has an academic advisor who is readily available to assist in academic and career planning. There is also a Peer Mentor program to help first-time students become acquainted with the college and the university. Undergraduate students often have the opportunity to experience their major by working on research projects and internships directed by faculty members. The college also offers leadership opportunities through a variety of departmental and college student organizations.


The faculty are the key to quality education. In the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, there is a low student/teacher ratio and most classes are taught by faculty members. They bring to their students a strong commitment to teaching and a richness of depth, experience, and research.


The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences offers 24 programs through 6 academic units. The units are Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology; Agricultural and Extension Education,; Animal and Veterinary Science; Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences; Bi-State School of Food Science; and Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences.

Facilities of the College

The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is housed in five buildings on campus and in many other facilities around the state. Some of the unique facilities include a child development laboratory, a state-of-the-art biotechnology research laboratory, an agricultural engineering laboratory, a food science and toxicology research center, and research farms of more than 2,500 acres for beef, dairy, sheep, plant science, and other programs. In addition to facilities at Moscow, there are offices in 42 counties and research and extension centers at 10 locations throughout Idaho.

Agricultural Experiment Station

The Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station was established in 1892 to support the research function of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and has the responsibility to conduct applied and basic research leading to problem solving and new knowledge for agricultural industries, rural communities, and family living. The Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station is coordinated with and provides research for teaching and extension to more effectively meet the needs of Idaho citizens.

The Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station is integrated into all departments of the college. Thus, most of the college's teaching faculty also have partial research appointments in the experiment station. Other faculty members have combined extension and research appointments and some are assigned to full-time research.

The Idaho agricultural research program is statewide. Research is conducted in a number of areas related to agriculture and on all major agricultural commodities. The administrative center for the research program is located on the Moscow campus. There are 10 research and extension centers in strategic agricultural areas around the state where resident research and extension personnel are located.

The Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station shares the responsibility of developing and educating future scientists through undergraduate research and graduate assistantship programs. Currently, there are approximately 130 graduate students enrolled in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, most are on assistantships or stipends. These appointments are generally for two years at the Master of Science level and for three years in Ph.D. programs, during which time the students conduct research as a part of their graduate education.

University of Idaho Extension

The Cooperative Extension System was established by the Smith-Lever Act, signed May 8, 1914, to help extend research to the people of the United States in order to improve their farms, families, and communities. The Idaho legislature approved the Cooperative Extension concept in 1915. In 1917, additional state legislation brought the county boards of commissioners into the cooperative three-way federal, state, and county partnership.

The Extension System is an integral part of the University of Idaho and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and is administratively coordinated with the teaching and research functions of the college. The extension function is organized to extend the knowledge created through research to the people of the state of Idaho so that they can apply the findings to their particular situations, thereby solving their problems and improving their quality of life.

The headquarters of the University of Idaho Extension is in Moscow. District offices are located at Caldwell, Coeur d’Alene, and Idaho Falls. The state is the campus for University of Idaho Extension.

Educators live and work in the areas to which they are assigned by mutual agreement of the university and the counties involved. Agricultural, family and consumer sciences, and youth educators are located in 42 of Idaho's 44 counties and are also involved in multi-county programming.

Supporting the county faculty are state Extension specialists located at Idaho Falls, Parma, Caldwell, Aberdeen, Coeur d’Alene, Boise, Twin Falls, Moscow, and Kimberly. These specialists keep up to date by conducting relevant research and through cooperation with research scientists of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Extension educational programs are conducted in five broad areas. These are: (1) Food, food production, and food systems; (2) Health and wellness; (3) Natural resources and the environment; (4) Community development;and (5) Family well-being and 4-H youth development. Programs are both disciplinary and interdisciplinary and are designed to address the issues facing Idahoans. Major programming issues include water quality, youth at risk, waste management, food security, obesity, community vitality, agricultural sustainability, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).

The University of Idaho Extension helps people improve the social, economic, and environmental qualities of their lives through research-based education and leadership development focused on issues and needs. To accomplish this mission, University of Idaho Extension works under the basic philosophy that programs planned with people will achieve greater success than programs planned for them. Extension takes the resources and research of the land-grant university out into the state so that Idaho's citizens can benefit from their university.

Degrees and Curricula Offered

Students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences are encouraged to pursue a broad education. In each curriculum, minimum requirements are specified in agriculture, life or family and consumer sciences disciplines; in the biological, physical, and social sciences; and in humanities to qualify the graduate to enter professional fields in agriculture, life and family and consumer sciences. Each curriculum also permits students to choose elective courses that will assist in personal and professional growth, development of communication skills, and a better understanding of the world in which we live.

Undergraduate. Baccalaureate degrees and major curricula offered by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences include Bachelor of Science degrees in Agricultural and Life Sciences (with majors in Agricultural Science, Communication and Leadership; Agricultural Systems Management; and Sustainable Crop and Landscape Systems with 5 emphasis areas); Agricultural Education; Agricultural Economics (with emphases in Agribusiness or Applied Economics); Animal and Veterinary Science (with options in production, business, dairy science, and science/preveterinary); Family and Consumer Sciences with degrees in Early Childhood Development and Education, and Family and Consumer Sciences (with majors in: child, family, and consumer studies – 3 options; apparel, textiles, and design; and food and nutrition with options in dietetics and nutrition); and Food Science (with options in dairy foods management and food science). Baccalaureate degrees in Agricultural Engineering and Biological Systems Engineering are offered through the College of Engineering. See the departmental sections below for the programs of study leading to these degrees.

Graduate. Graduate study leading to the degree of Master of Science is offered in Applied Economics; Agricultural Education; Animal Science; Entomology; Family and Consumer Sciences; Food Science; Plant Science; and Soil and Land Resources. Graduate study leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy is offered in Animal Physiology; Entomology; Food Science, Plant Science; and Soil and Land Resources. Both M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Biological and Agricultural Engineering are offered through the College of Engineering. Students must fulfill the requirements of the College of Graduate Studies and the units in which they study.

General College Requirements for Graduation

University Requirements. See regulation J for requirements that all students in the university must meet.

College Requirements. See the individual department section for degree requirements within each department.

Major Curricula

The specific requirements for the undergraduate majors are listed in the individual department section. Each student is assigned an advisor who assists in the planning of his or her program; however, the student has the final responsibility for the completion of all university, college, and departmental requirements.