The Student Experience

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences delivers quality, experiential educational programs, that provide opportunities for students to graduate with skills in leadership, communications and cultural competency, within and across disciplines. The college provides a welcoming, inclusive environment that inspires success.


The college has 15 academic departments, eight of which are co-administered with other ISU colleges.Smiling students from all backgrounds.

  • Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
  • Agricultural Education and Studies
  • Agronomy
  • Animal Science
  • Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology
  • Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
  • Economics
  • Entomology
  • Food Science and Human Nutrition
  • Genetics, Development and Cell Biology
  • Horticulture
  • Natural Resource Ecology and Management
  • Plant Pathology and Microbiology
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • The college offers 24 undergraduate and 35 graduate majors that prepare students to address societal challenges in food, environment, energy, climate, nutrition and science and technology.
  • More than 4,500 students registered for online courses in the fall of 2017— 45 percent undergraduate courses and 55 percent graduate level.
  • Over the past decade, nine college professors have been honored with national awards for excellence in teaching in food and agricultural sciences.
  • The college and its departments award nearly $3.5 million in scholarships annually.
  • The Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering’s undergraduate and graduate programs are ranked number two and number one respectively among all national universities, according to the US News & World Report’s 2018 “Best Colleges” rankings.
  • Science With Practice is an experiential learning and work program that allows students to pursue research and earn a paycheck.


Enrollment for the fall of 2017 totaled 5,333 students, 4,603 undergraduates and 730 graduate students. For undergraduates, this followed an 11-year streak of enrollment increases, including five consecutive record enrollments.

  • The college continues to have the third largest undergraduate student body among agricultural colleges in the nation.
  • For the third straight year the college has enrolled more women than men—52 percent of the undergraduates were women in the fall semester.   
  • Multicultural undergraduate student enrollment has increased 54 percent over the past five years.
  • International students came from 57 countries in the spring of 2018 and included 104 undergraduate students
  • and 159 graduate students.

Support for Modern Learning Facilities

  • In 2017, a $14 million dollar gift was announced to support the college’s education and research facility for feed milling and grain science.
  • In 2017, a four-story addition was completed on the east side of Bessey Hall that includes eight teaching laboratories and six research laboratories.
  • In 2016, a food science teaching laboratory was transformed into an up-to-date space to enhance the student learning experience.
  • In 2014, Elings Hall and Sukup Hall were completed and became home to the agricultural and biosystems engineering department. The Biorenewables Complex is a $107 million project that includes an 8,000- square-foot atrium.
  • In 2014, the Jeff and Deb Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center opened. The $7 million dollar facility combines an area suitable for classwork and real-life industry events.

Learning Farms

The college also maintains a working farm to provide hands- on learning experiences for each of its livestock species: Scholars collaborating.

  • Beef Teaching Farm
  • Dairy Science Farm
  • Equine Farm
  • Poultry Science Farm
  • Sheep Teaching Farm
  • Allen E. Christian Swine Teaching Farm

Student Opportunities

  • Ag 450 Farm will celebrate the 75th anniversary in September 2018. It is the only student-managed farm at a land-grant university. The Ag 450 course provides approximately 150 students with the opportunity to manage and operate a grain and livestock farm.
  • In 2006, the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods began a Service Learning and School Gardens Program in the Kamuli District of rural Uganda. The program brings together students from ISU and Uganda’s Makerere University for five weeks. In 2017, the school gardens program helped teach and nourish students in four primary and two secondary schools.
  • George Washington Carver Summer Research Internship Program has been impacting and engaging high school and undergraduate students for more than 25 years. The internship program promotes “science with practice” by providing hands-on research experiences.
  • CALS Student clubs and organizations are nationally recognized and provide hands-on award winning experiences.
  • The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative provides students with the entrepreneurial tools needed to start their own business ventures.