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The Department of Agricultural Sciences and Engineering Technology at SHSU will be bringing a whole new kind of online degree program – the Master of Agriculture in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Environment (SAFE) – to SHSU this fall.*

Unlike many other master’s degree programs which are generally intended for students pursuing academic or specialist careers, this unique, non-thesis 36-hour distance education program is designed to prepare working professionals for studies in agrSAFE_icon_greenwords_verticaliculture that focus on sustainable practices.

The program’s curriculum will explore a variety of modern agricultural pursuits framed by sustainable practices, including non-traditional and viable enterprises in agriculture, alternative value-added products, modern farming techniques, food safety, and small business marketing. This makes it an ideal choice for small landowners, urban farmers, value-added and cottage food makers, educators, government agents, or anyone interested in local food production.

Dr. Stanley Kelley, chair of the Department of Agricultural Sciences and Engineering Technology, says: “We know our students have unique needs and interests in the field of agriculture. That is why we are excited to offer a fully online degree program that is relevant to modern agriculture with sustainable practices,” and adds, “SHSU is a leader in online education that has received national recognition. Our faculty are ready to engage you no matter where you live.”

The department will also offer a new Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture.* This 12-credit hour online program will build student’s competencies in the most current aspects of the agricultural industry, including agricultural advocacy, alternative agricultural enterprises, entrepreneurial activities, agritourism, conservation, and innovative marketing strategies.

For more information on enrollment, contact Dr. Kelley at 936-294-1189 or sfkelley@shsu.edu.


*New programs for Fall 2015 pending approval from The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Sam Houston State University Online students come from many different places and life situations, and all face unique challenges as they work to earn their degrees. Angela Cravens, who just graduated this past week with a bachelor’s degree in general business administration, has successfully balanced work in the information technology sector and raising a young family while also earning her online B.B.A. at SHSU… and she intends to take her education even further.

Cravens had previously attended SHSU as a traditional student, but had discontinued her earlier studies due to financial constraints. She earned a Project Management Professional (PMP) designation while working at global software firm BMC in Houston, and her company also encouraged her to seek a bachelor’s business degree.

Cravens2She was quick to select SHSU’s online B.B.A. program. “I have attended many other state universities in the past, and SHSU by far offers more interaction and technology to accommodate the best online experience,” Cravens notes. “I also liked the fact that if needed, I could be advised via Skype or phone, or even drive to campus if absolutely necessary. Either way, there was always a way to get the guidance I needed.”

Flexibility was also very important to her. “I chose the SHSU Online degree program for convenience and well-rounded nature of the program,” she says. “As a full-time working professional with children and work-related travel, having the flexibility to do my studies was key.”

Another factor in favor of SHSU Online’s program for Cravens was her ability to transfer a generous number of hours from Lone Star Community College, and to take courses at the University Center. As she says, “I was able to maximize my hard-earned educational dollars.”

Though online learning by its nature involves a large amount of solo effort by students, Cravens was also able to make some important connections with fellow students as she approached the final year of her B.B.A. program. “It was in my final year of studies that the assignments required heavier collaboration in a team structure for projects, and I’m still in contact with several classmates outside of school as a result,” she notes. “There were many working adults, parents, and non-traditional students that I could identify with in the online program, and we inspired and encouraged each other along the way.” She also appreciated many professors in the online program, including Mrs. Cathy Lockwood (statistics), Dr. Robert “Chip” Matthews (entrepreneurship), and others who, she says, “inspired me to examine things from different angles and try my very best.” Cravens3

On May 8, Cravens celebrated her graduation with her husband, Aaron J. Cravens (SHSU ’11 and U.S. Army veteran), her two children, and her grandmother—who, she notes, grew up working on a cotton farm and did not have the chance to attend college. “Ever since I was a little girl, she has very much inspired me to become a woman in business,” she says.

While achieving her B.B.A. is an important milestone that she hopes will help advance her professional IT career, she already has a further goal – she hopes to return to SHSU to earn a master of business administration degree in the future. Cravens believes SHSU Online’s program is one of the best in the nation for both the quality of education and the ability to meet the needs of returning or continuing students.