Specializations - Agribusiness

The University of Minnesota is a leader in food and agriculture policy and research. In this new specialization, Carlson School students can take advantage of the thriving food and agribusiness environment at the University and in the Twin Cities region and learn about the future of food from farm to fork.

Take classes across the University and learn both in the classroom from world-class faculty and outside it by engaging with the dynamic local ecosystem. With world-class global food companies and exciting startups trying to change the way we grow and consume food, few institutions have more opportunities than the University and the Carlson School.

Develop a career in food and help feed a projected 9 billion people sustainably.

Recommended Courses

It is recommended to complete at least 12 elective credits of the below recommended courses for a specialization in Food and Agribusiness

Economic concepts related to marketing agricultural commodities. Conditions of competitive markets, historical perspectives on market institutions/policy, structural characteristics of markets, policies/regulations affecting agricultural marketing of livestock, crop, and dairy products.

Economics of food marketing in the United States. Food consumption trends. Consumer food behavior, expenditure, data collection. Consumer utility models, demand forecasting. Food distribution system. Changes in supply chain, industry structure that serves retail food outlets. Individual/group projects.

Survey course of the industrial organization and current policy issues in the food and agribusiness marketplace and a comprehensive look at all of the sectors in the food and agribusiness value chain is described. Topics include food policies (Farm Bills, food stamps, food labeling, and similar topics); environmental policies (water, invasive species, agriculture production and similar topics); and industrial organization issues (marketing and production contracts, overview of firm strategic orientation, distribution and similar topics).

Survey course to introduce students to the Minnesota food industry through its regulatory process, research and development, and industry structure. It is an integrated week long course that includes field study tours of Minnesota agriculture and food economy coupled with classroom instruction. Each year the course will focus on two Minnesota industries such as dairy, beef, soybean, corn, potatoes, and other agricultural and food industries.

Economics of food marketing in the United States. Food consumption trends. Consumer food behavior, expenditure, data collection. Consumer utility models, demand forecasting. Food distribution system. Changes in the supply chain, industry structure that serves retail food outlets.

The challenges facing the food industry in today's global economy are significant - from commodity volatility, to expanding demand across global marketplaces, to dynamic merger and acquisition activity, to ensuring food safety, to navigating disruptive scientific and social forces, to promoting better health, and finding ways to feed the world. Managing successfully in agribusiness today is truly a "Food Fight", where the answers to these challenges will shape the global economy we live in and define the world for generations to come. 

Minnesota occupies a unique leadership position in the food industry. Often described as the "silicon valley of food", the region is home to leading companies from farm to fork - Buffalo Wild Wings, Cargill, CHS, General Mills, Hormel, Land O'Lakes, Mosaic, Schwan's, Supervalu, and Target- as well as being home to defining agribusiness research in the University of Minnesota system. 

Led by Jeff Ettinger (Carlson Executive Fellow, and former CEO of Hormel) and Mark Bergen (the James D. Watkins Chair in Marketing) the class presents a Minnesota perspective on these contemporary challenges. They combine what is known in industry and academics to provide practical, contemporary frameworks being used to address these challenges.

Managing with an appreciation for corporate responsibility. Corporate responsibility/how executives think about it. Factors that make assessing corporate responsibility complex. Need for business leaders to understand/make choices with respect to corporate responsibility issues.

Chile/Argentina: This course will explore the use of the Marketing Management Process by firms and governments as they seek to grow. For example, much of Chile’s recent success is predicated on a broad product and market diversification strategy seeking to expand beyond copper into wine, fish, forestry and food. While across the Andes in Argentina, a more challenging political and business environment has led some firms to embrace vertical integration in an effort to ensure the reliability of channel partners. The countries are different, the economies are challenging, let’s learn about marketing in the mayhem.

Central & Eastern Europe: This course provides students with a first-hand look at the business environment of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and is designed as a partnership between the Warsaw School of Economics (SGH), the Carlson School, and a corporate partner.  The 2020 practicum is a marketing project sponsored by Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW), a partnership between General Mills and Nestlé. CPW is developing a new offering for its global customers, with an initial focus on the European market. Project participants will be tasked with providing recommendations for the implementation of this new model after completing a range of activities, including market analysis, consumer insights, assessing current and future competitors, and evaluating distribution and communication channels. A final presentation will be delivered in Warsaw to CPW executives.

Career Opportunities

Connect to a wide range of opportunities and companies that directly shape or impact the landscape of food and agribusiness. The Graduate Business Career Center (GBCC) at the Carlson School connects MBA students with organizations across industries, sectors, and locations. The following are among the wide array of employers that recruit talent from the Carlson School. 

  • Amazon
  • Cargill
  • Carlisle
  • CHS
  • Coborn's
  • Compeer Financial
  • General Mills
  • Hormel
  • Land O' Lakes
  • Organic Valley
  • Partners in Food Solutions
  • Post
  • Schwan's Food Company
  • SuperValu
  • Syngenta
  • Target

Food and Agriculture Employers in Minneapolis


Top 5 regions in the U.S. for food scientists


The University of Minnesota was ranked a top 25 agriculture sciences university in the world in 2018. - U.S. News & World Report


5 of the world's 30 largest food and agriculture companies are in Minneapolis

University Resources

One of the country's original land-grant institutions, the University of Minnesota is proud of its history as a land grant research university and remains dedicated to its mission of promoting access to higher education and collaborating to advance knowledge benefiting communities, the state, and world.

Ranked 4th nationally for agriculture science, the University of Minnesota provides unique opportunities for MBA students to not just learn the business of food, but build connections with their researcher peers in the field.

Growth North and Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship

  • Thought Leaders in Food and Ag
  • Food + Ag + Ideas Week

Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy

  • Based in the Department of Applied Economics with an interdisciplinary approach to encouraging education and research related to food supply around the world. Brings leading industry researchers and leaders to speak on campus.

Global Landscapes Initiatives

IonE’s Global Landscapes Initiative develops and applies tools needed to characterize global land use; understand land use changes; assess trends in global agricultural supply and demand; improve our ability to balance human needs with environmental stewardship; and promote secure landscapes across the globe.

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