Welcome to the Institute of Applied Agriculture!

Grow Professionally at the IAA.

The Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA) is a 60-credit, two-year academic certificate program in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) at the University of Maryland, College Park. The IAA provides students with the entrepreneurial, technical, and leadership skills needed to manage profitable agricultural enterprises, including golf courses, sports fields, landscaping companies, and agricultural operations.

The IAA motivates students to start, enhance, or redirect their careers. Our students include recent high school graduates, people who have been out of school for years, lifelong learners, and career changers.

Our program also provides a gateway for students who want to continue their education and to earn a baccalaureate degree.

Areas of Study

Agricultural Business Management

Advancements in technology continue to change agriculture in Maryland and across the country. You can use that technology to meet the challenges of protecting natural resources while managing productive, profitable agricultural businesses. Career options include crop production, livestock production, nutrient management consulting, and more.

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Agricultural Leadership and Communication

Advancements in communication technology have changed the way agricultural producers and advocates interact with customers and stakeholders. You will gain the knowledge and skills relevant to agricultural business management, leadership, and communication in today's world. Career options include agricultural public relations, advocacy, marketing, and advertising; agribusiness start-up, management, and consulting; management of agriculture-related associations and nonprofits; and more.

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Sustainable Agriculture

The challenges of meeting future food, fiber, and fuel needs—while protecting natural resources, managing profitable businesses, and supporting our communities—are upon us. While combining hands-on production skills with expertise in business management, you can build a career in agriculture that fosters environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Career options include crop and livestock production, supply chain management, education, advocacy, and more.

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Environmental Stewardship

Protecting our planet and environment is one of the great challenges of our time, and agriculture and the green industry have a crucial role to play in solving that challenge. In the IAA's Environmental Stewardship track, you'll learn fundamental agricultural science, hands-on applied skills, and expertise in business and leadership. A certificate in Environmental Stewardship will prepare you to support environmental sustainability in a wide range of different sectors of the green industry. Career options for this flexible track include greenhouse or nursery production, management of parks, environmental restoration, sustainable landscaping, and environmental nonprofit or advocacy work, just to name a few. 

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Ornamental Horticulture

When it comes to green industries, ornamental horticulture is certainly growing. New technologies augment the breeding and growth of plants, and creative florists and innovative business managers are sought to design and retail unique plants for resorts, parks, greenhouses, botanical gardens, retail garden centers, research facilities, and more.

The state of Maryland is a great place for you to begin a career in ornamental horticulture. Horticulture production remains the second-highest income-producing commodity group in our state, with sales exceeding $1.96 billion. Of all plants sold here, 81% are grown on Maryland’s 20,800 acres of production area.

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Landscape Management

People who work in the landscaping field love the outdoors. You are not confined to a desk, yet you still have an opportunity to use the latest technology and software to plan, research, and complete projects. Additionally, you have the satisfaction of working a job from the start to the final product.

Our highly regarded landscape management specialization provides training in basic botany, landscape construction and maintenance, plant, weed, and insect identification, business and personnel management, computer applications, and more. Landscaping companies do over $217.5 million in business in Maryland, and jobs are plentiful.

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Golf Course Management

Golf course superintendents/managers combine business and communication skills with science. They become part scientist, part executive, part environmentalist, and part golfer. The expertise will provide outstanding playing surfaces for professional and recreational golfers. The learning experience will include disciplines such as soil and plant science, integrated pest management practices, computer-guided irrigation systems and state-of-the-art maintenance equipment.

There are over 16,000 golf courses in the United States and approximately 180 in Maryland. Each course requires educated and experienced managers or golf course superintendents.

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Sports Turf Management

Sports turf management blends business skills, art, and agronomic sciences to provide playable, safe, and aesthetically attractive turf playing fields. Turfgrasses are used in a variety of sporting venues throughout Maryland and the United States because they can be mowed at different heights, withstand traffic, and create a resilient surface.

Sports organizations and institutions are demanding a growing number of qualified individuals with agronomic expertise to manage all types of athletic fields.

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Turfgrass Management

Turfgrass managers need expertise in science, people management, and financial planning to satisfy the public’s demand for environmentally friendly lawns in commercial, residential, and parkland settings. At the IAA, you will receive a combination of education and internship experience that will open doors in such areas of turfgrass management as sod production, lawn and landscape maintenance, and large scale institutional grounds management.

The turfgrass industry is expanding rapidly and generates over $30 billion annually in the United States. In Maryland, the turfgrass industry employs over 12,500 individuals and contributes $1.5 billion annually to the state’s economy.

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The mission of the Institute of Applied Agriculture is to provide high-quality education for future leaders and entrepreneurs in agriculture, turfgrass, horticulture, and natural resource enterprises.

Fulfilling UMD's Land-Grant Mission:

The IAA was established in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources on the University of Maryland's College Park campus in 1965. Upon request from the UMD Office of the President, the IAA was developed to meet the state's need for a post-secondary, technical program that was more career-oriented and less time-consuming than a baccalaureate program.

Committees representing the University of Maryland, the USM Board of Regents, the Maryland Governor's Office, and the Maryland Higher Education Commission approved the Institute.