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Ecological Food & Farming Systems Graduate Specialization


The following are the current required and elective courses for the EFFS Specialization.

Special topic, Study Abroad, and other related courses may be substituted for an elective course. Contact Julie to discuss potential substitutions.

Required Courses (7 credits)

Elective Courses (6 credits)

* CSUS 848 is often substituted for CSUS 811 if the student's focus is international, rather than within the United States.

Graduate Committee Requirement

EFFS requires that students have a faculty committee member (with appropriate rank) from outside their disciplinary field in a complementary field representing one of the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, or environmental. For example, a cropping student may include a social scientist or economist on their committee, and visa versa. While some departments require a faculty member from outside the department (for example, a Horticulture faculty member for a Crop & Soil Science student), the intention of this is to cross the biological/sociological divide.

This requirement is intended to help EFFS students contextualize their work in broader considerations of sustainability (social, economic and ecological); and expose EFFS students to different disciplinary sustainability approaches and perspectives related to their research topic.

The role of this committee member is to support the student’s understanding of their topic, but it is not required that EFFS students engage in research from the external field of study. The faculty member may provide readings or other background information to help provide contextual understanding, and should contribute to an understanding of the methodology of their field. In order to respect the funding and time of the student and their sponsoring faculty, this committee member does not necessarily contribute to the research agenda unless the primary faculty mentor and student desire multi-disciplinary additional research. We do ask that the external committee member review the draft research plan and thesis or dissertation of students in order to recognize contextual connections.

Examples of demonstrated interdisciplinary understanding have ranged from:

  • including additional framing in the introduction or interpretation in the conclusion of their written work,
  • extension projects or public presentations and response surveys,
    completing additional research project work in the complementary field.

We encourage the level of familiarity with the external field of study, appropriate level of incorporation with the research work, and demonstration of understanding end product to be clarified as early in the academic process as possible.

If you are struggling to find faculty that appropriate to your research, please contact the EFFS advisor for assistance.

Interested in studying abroad?

MSU has international student study abroad and exchange programs that may suit your interests! For example, we have a student exchange program with the University of BOKU in Vienna. Visit the Office of Study Abroad for more information.

Interested in Peace Corps?

Agricultural knowledge and skills are highly valued for Peace Corps International experiences. Graduate students have combined their Peace Corps experience with their research or program of study. For more information, contact the MSU Peace Corps office, and speak with your primary faculty advisor.

Interested in a gender and justice perspective?

Some students also pursue the Gender, Justice & Environmental Change Program (GJEC) specialization when these social topics are strongly relevant to their research and interests. Contact their advisor to learn about additional funding, event, and publication opportunities, too!

Find us through MSU!

View the EFFS program entry in the MSU Academic Programs Catalog: Doctoral / Masters.

Students interested in enrolling in EFFS, in need of a course substitution, or other EFFS program advising should contact Julie Cotton.

Updated on September 26, 2018.