Agriculture, Food and Environment

The Agriculture, Food and Environment (AFE) program fuses the disciplines of nutrition, sustainability, agricultural science, environmental studies, and public policy. Students in the AFE degree program learn to evaluate the ecological, political, economic and social aspects of food production and distribution.

This program aims to educate future leaders at the nexus of agriculture, food, and environmental science and policy, and empower them by providing rigorous training, an ethic of social change, and an intellectual community generating visions and models of alternative systems.

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This program is in the Division of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Students come to the AFE Program to help build a more desirable food production and distribution system, making agriculture and food systems more supportive of the natural environment and the society they serve. Students apply to AFE from varied academic and professional backgrounds in areas such as agriculture, biology, nutrition or health and environmental studies, as well as political science, history, economics and business or the liberal arts. Most students enter the program with applicable professional and volunteer experience which contributes to classroom discussion and community life.


To be eligible, applicants must have completed a Bachelor's degree, and have demonstrated their commitment and ability to succeed in the AFE program through previous coursework, including at least one course in general biology or chemistry, plus employment and volunteer experience as well as the GRE exam.  For students who seek to refresh their verbal and quantitative skills, self-study materials and sample questions are available from the Educational Testing Service. Students whose native language is not English must take and pass the TOEFL exam.

Master of Science

The curriculum includes core courses in nutrition science, food and environmental policy, and research skills. Each student completes a specialization (three to five courses), a field internship, and a self-designed directed study project. A total of 16 one-credit courses are required for the M.S. degree. Learning objectives:

  • To develop a breadth of understanding of agricultural science and policy issues related to soil, energy, air, water, plant breeding, plant nutrients, livestock production, pest management, and forestry
  • To develop in-depth expertise on one area of AFE through specialized class work (e.g., water resources policy, local food systems, animal welfare, etc.)
  • To develop sophisticated knowledge of the policymaking process
  • To understand historical and current aspects of U.S. agricultural production, policy initiatives, and structures
  • To develop competency in statistical methods and data analysis
  • To develop basic knowledge of nutrition science
  • To become a critical thinker, with advanced research, analysis, and writing skills

Doctor of Philosophy

Students enrolled in the doctoral program must have completed courses equivalent to the AFE master's degree at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy or elsewhere. Students in the doctoral program must pass a written and oral qualifying examination, and then complete and formally defend a doctoral dissertation based on original research. Learning objectives:

  • To become proficient in study design, hypothesis development, and statistical analysis
  • To become proficient in presentation (oral and written) and publication of research findings
  • To command a sophisticated understanding of relationships connecting agriculture, food and the environment
  • To become conversant in the breadth of scientific and policy knowledge related to agriculture, food, and environmental issues

Combined Degree Programs: MALD, MPH, UEP, WSSS

Students enrolled in combined degree programs complete all the requirements for both degrees, but by counting selected courses towards both programs, they reduce the total time required for completion. Students must be admitted independently to each program. Our combined degree programs allow formal recognition of students emphasizing these additional areas of study, greater depth of professional preparation, and opportunities to make connections with students and faculty members in other related programs.

  • A combined degree program with the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy results in both the Master of Science in Nutrition and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD).
  • A combined degree program with Tufts University's School of Medicine leads to the Master of Science in Nutrition and the Master of Public Health (MPH).
  • A combined degree program with Tufts University's Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning results in both the Master of Science in Nutrition and a Master of Arts in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning.

Students may also earn a professional certificate in the Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) program — an exciting new offering at Tufts University, providing multidisciplinary perspectives and tools to manage water-related problems. Students must be accepted by and obtain their graduate degrees from an existing school or department in order to be eligible for the WSSS certification.

View Current Degree Requirement Worksheet

Students currently enrolled at Friedman should refer to the degree requirement worksheet associated with their year of entry for the most accurate requirements.

Program Core

These are the required courses for the AFE program:

  • Fundamentals of U.S. Agriculture  (NUTR 215)
  • Agricultural Science and Policy I (NUTR 233)
  • Agricultural Science and Policy II (NUTR 333)
  • Economics of Agriculture and the Environment (NUTR 341)


One of the most positive aspects of AFE is the flexibility for each student to mold a specialization around the academic and professional interests that motivate ourindividual visions of sustainable food systems.
—Nyssa Schloyer (AFE '06)

Each AFE student chooses to specialize in a topic area related to future employment. Examples of topic areas include agricultural development, community development and organizing, food risk assessment, and resource economics. The specialization requires a minimum of three course credits. The professional skills course and directed study course may be among the three specialization course credits.

Participation in the Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) program may serve as an approved specialization, with the added benefit of a professional certification.

Nutrition Science and Policy Core

The nutrition science and policy core provides students with an understanding of basic and applied nutrition in its broadest sense, including factors affecting food production, supply, and consumption. Courses in the area reflect the school's mission of integrating science and policy related to the food supply, with particular emphasis on environmental aspects of food systems.

The following courses are required:

  • Principles of Nutrition Science (NUTR 202)  
  • Statistical Methods in Nutrition Research I (Policy) (NUTR 207)
  • Regression Analysis for Nutrition Policy (NUTR 307)

Food Policy and Programs

Each student must take at least one course in food policy, such as:

  • Determinants of U.S. Food Policy (NUTR 303)
  • Nutrition, Food Security, and Development (NUTR 304)
  • Agriculture and Rural Development in Developing Countries (EIB E243)

Professional Skills Course

Each student must select at least one course that develops a professional skill in such areas as program monitoring and evaluation, GIS, non-profit management, epidemiology, or community organizing.

Ph.D. Candidates Required Courses

  • Survey Research in Nutrition (NUTR 210); required of Ph.D. students only
  • Nutrition Data Analysis  (NUTR 311); required of Ph.D. students only

In addition to these full courses, a standardized training in the ethical treatment of human subjects is a requirement for graduation.

Tufts Institute of the Environment

Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE) is an interdisciplinary, university-wide education and research institute devoted to enhancing and disseminating knowledge about the many ways human interactions affect the environment. TIE brings together existing environmental efforts at Tufts and helps catalyze new research, outreach, service and teaching initiatives. TIE offers annual graduate research fellowships, which have been awarded to a number of AFE students. Recent AFE graduate Hilde Petersen (AFE '05) also served as the most recent graduate student representative on the Steering Committee, representing students from all of Tufts University's graduate programs.

Read more on their website

The University College of Citizenship and Public Service

The University College of Citizenship and Public Service (UCCPS) is a university-wide initiative developed to make the values and skills of active citizenship a hallmark of a Tufts University education. Its mission is to ensure that students graduate from Tufts prepared to be committed public citizens and leaders who take an active role in building stronger communities and societies.

Read more on their website

Water: Systems Science and Society

The Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) program is a new and exciting addition to Tufts University's offerings, providing multidisciplinary- perspectives and tools to manage water-related problems. Students must be accepted by and obtain their graduate degrees from an existing school or department; in addition, they receive a certificate in WSSS. Friedman School professor Timothy Griffin is contributing faculty for the program.

Read more on their website

Internship Requirements

Students enrolled in the Master of Science degree program in AFE complete a minimum 400-hour internship. Depending on the student and circumstances, an internship may involve participation in the many different activities in which the organization engages or may involve completing a single project under the guidance of a staff member of the sponsoring organization. Students develop a contract detailing their educational objectives before the internship begins and present their experiences to their peers after completion.

AFE internships are a great way for students to apply core concepts, refine qualitative and quantitative skills, develop working relationships with the potential for future employment, or simply explore new aspects of the field. From Switzerland to the Nation's Capitol, Iowa's Corn Belt to Boston's urban-fringe, AFE internships provide an important platform for practical training and professional development.

Read More About Internships at Friedman

After leaving the AFE program, students pursue a variety of careers with social change at the core of their work. AFE graduates are found at think tanks, advocacy organizations, local, state, and federal governments, community-based NGOs, schools, and occasionally, on the farm.

Today, more than 70 AFE alumni are active in the workforce, meeting the growing demand for professionals with an integrated understanding of agricultural, food and environmental interactions.

Examples of positions held by alumni include:

Academic Institutions

  • Ph.D. graduate at Unity College in Maine teaching undergraduates in the Department of Environmental Studies
  • Senior Research Coordinator "Shape Up Somerville: Eat Smart, Play Hard," Tufts University

Research Organizations

  • Policy analyst working on food biotechnology, Resources for the Future
  • Policy analyst working on "factory farming," Worldwatch Institute

Private Industry

  • Several graduates at Equal Exchange and Red Tomato, working on the sourcing and marketing of sustainable, fair trade and local foods
  • Advisor on health claim labeling, Mars Corporation.


  • Bureau Director, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources overseeing Water Quality and Pesticides program
  • Consultant, Massachusetts Department of Public Health


  • Manager at The Food Project, using urban gardening to promote youth development
  • Associate, Food and Agriculture Group, Business for Social Responsibility

International Development

  • Consultant on water issues, The World Bank
  • Rwanda country staff, Food for the Hungry International

Additionally, AFE graduates love farming...

  • Board member, Waltham Community Farm
  • Owner, heirloom organic flower farm