Mississippi State University and Alcorn State University are partnering to launch a dual-degree program that will prepare more leaders for the state’s top agricultural industry.

On Feb. 21, MSU President Mark E. Keenum and ASU Interim President Donzell Lee signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the program that will allow students to earn bachelor's degrees from both universities.

Students can complete 91 hours toward an ASU Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Science with a focus in animal science and then transfer to Mississippi State to complete the remaining 31 hours in coursework for an MSU Bachelor of Science in Poultry Science.

Upon completion of the MSU coursework, students will graduate from both institutions with dual degrees.

Keenum said the new program will provide a range of benefits for both students and the poultry industry, the state’s largest agricultural enterprise topping $3 billion in value last year alone.  

“This is an opportunity for two leading land-grant institutions to work together to prepare even more professionals and leaders for one of our state’s most important industries,” Keenum said. “Mississippi State offers one of only six poultry science programs in the nation, and our graduates have a 100 percent job placement rate, with many of them considering multiple offers.”


Lee said this partnership is a great opportunity for both institutions.

“I am delighted about the partnership,” Lee said. “Working together, ASU and MSU will have a great impact on one of the largest industries in the state by creating a pipeline of competent individuals who can jump right into leadership positions.”

Mary Beck, professor and head of the MSU poultry science department, said the partnership extends the university’s academic outreach in the state and meets the needs of Mississippi’s largest agricultural commodity.

“The main goal of this program is to expand opportunities for students with regard to career options,” she said. “The poultry industry employs more than 28,000 people directly and another 27,000 indirectly. Having a degree in poultry science from Mississippi State and a degree in agricultural science from ASU ensures the industry will continually have a skilled workforce.”

Marketing the program at Alcorn State is the first step for program administrators this spring, and the colleges hope to start gaining students to the program by fall 2019. Students in the dual-degree program will apply to MSU as transfer students and meet admission requirements. A component of the MSU curriculum includes a summer internship at a poultry processing plant.