Last Updated on August 31, 2023Masters in Soil Science in Canada: Uncovering the Path to Excellence
Canada’s diverse and fertile landscapes have long been a source of pride for the nation. With a deep-rooted agricultural heritage, it is no surprise that Canada stands at the forefront of soil science research and education. Aspiring soil scientists from around the world flock to Canadian institutions, seeking to delve into this captivating field and further their careers through the pursuit of a Master’s degree in Soil Science.
Canada’s rich natural resources and diverse ecosystems offer an unparalleled learning experience for those passionate about understanding the intricacies of soil. Renowned for its commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable practices, Canada’s educational institutions provide an ideal environment for students to develop their knowledge and skills in soil science while contributing to the preservation and enhancement of our natural
|What is a soil scientist?A soil scientist studies the upper few meters of the Earth’s crust in terms of its physical and chemical properties; distribution, genesis and morphology; and biological components. A soil scientist needs a strong background in the physical and biological sciences and mathematics.|
What is soil science?
Soil science is the science dealing with soils as a natural resource on the surface of the Earth including soil formation, classification, and mapping; physical, chemical, biological, and fertility properties of soils; and these properties in relation to the use and management of the soils.
Soils play multiple roles in the quality of life throughout the world. Soils are not only the resource for food production, but they are the support for our structures, the medium for waste disposal, they maintain our playgrounds, distribute and store water and nutrients, and support our environment. They support more life beneath their surface than exists above. They facilitate the life cycle of growth, sustenance and decay. They influence the worldwide distribution of plants, animals, and people.
|What does a soil scientist do?Soil scientists work for federal and state governments, universities, and the private sector. The job of a soil scientist includes collection of soil data, consultation, investigation, evaluation, interpretation, planning or inspection relating to soil science. This career includes many different assignments and involves making recommendations about many resource areas.|
A soil scientist needs good observation skills to be able to analyze and determine the characteristics of different types of soils. Soil types are complex and the geographical areas a soil scientist may survey are varied. Aerial photos or various satellite images are often used to research the areas. Computer skills and geographic information systems help the scientist to analyze the multiple facets of geomorphology, topography, vegetation, and climate to discover the patterns left on the landscape.
Soil scientists work in both the office and field. The work may require walking over rough and uneven land and using shovels and spades to gather samples or examine a soil pit exposure.
Soil scientists work in a variety of activities that apply soil science knowledge. This work is often done with non-soil science professionals. A soil scientist’s job may involve:
- conducting general and detailed soil surveys
- determining the hydric (wetness) characteristics of the soil
- recommending soil management programs
- helping to design hydrologic plans in suburban areas
- monitoring the effects of farm, ranch, or forest activities on soil productivity
- giving technical advice used to help plan land management programs
- predicting the effect of land management options on natural resources
- preparing reports describing land and soil characteristics
- advising land managers of capabilities and limitations of soils (e.g., timber sales, watershed rehabilitation projects, transportation planning, soil productivity, military maneuvers, recreation development)
- training other personnel
- preparing technical papers and attending professional soil science meetings
- conducting research in public and private research institutions
- managing soils for crop production, forest products and erosion control management.
- evaluating nutrient and water availability to crops
- managing soils for landscape design, mine reclamation, and site restoration
- investigating forest soils, wetlands, environmental endangerment, ecological status, and archeological sites
- assessing application of wastes including non-hazardous process wastes (residue and sludge management)
- conducting studies on soil stability, moisture retention or drainage, sustainability, and environmental impact
- assessing environmental hazards, including hazardous waste sites that involve soil investigation techniques, evaluation of chemical fate and transport phenomena, and remediation alternatives
- regulating the use of land and soil resources by private and public interests (government agencies)
These are some of the activities which soil scientists regularly practice. This work is most often conducted in coordination with other professionals with lesser training and knowledge of soil systems.
Well-trained soil scientists are in high demand for a wide array of professional positions with public agencies or private firms. Here are some specific examples of positions currently held by soil science graduates from just one university over the past 10 years.
- Wetland specialist
- Watershed technician
- Hydrologist with Board of Health
- Environmental technician
- State soil and water quality specialist
- Soil Conservationist
- County Agricultural Agent
- Landscaping business
- On-site evaluation
- Crop consultant
- Soil scientist, mapping and interpretation, U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Research technician
- Conservation planner
- District marketing manager for an agricultural firm
- County conservationist
- Crop production specialist
- Research scientist
What kind of people become soil scientists?
People that become soil scientists usually have one or more of the following characteristics:
- love of science
- enjoy working outdoors
- enthusiasm for maps and relationships in nature
- desire to be an integral in environmental decisions related to soil conservation, land use, water quality, or waste management
- willingness to communicate their knowledge about soils and the environment to all aspects of society
- hunger for answers to questions and solutions to problems in agricultural and environmental settings
- desire to contribute to the success of others
How do people become soil scientists?
Most soil scientists have earned at least a bachelor degree from a major agricultural university. At many universities, two choices are available for specialized training in soils. The Soil Science option prepares students to enter the agricultural sector as farm advisors, crop consultants, soil and water conservationists, or as representatives of agricultural companies. The Environmental Soil Science option prepares soil scientists for careers in environmental positions dealing with water quality concerns, remediation of contaminants or for on-site evaluation of soil properties in construction, waste disposal, or recreational facilities.
Top Universities for MSc Agriculture in Canada
According to the QS News Ranking of 2019 for universities offering agriculture and forestry programs, following are the highly ranked institutes that offer Masters in Agriculture in Canada:
|QS Ranking 2019||University||Programs Offered||Total Program Fees (in CAD)|
|19||University of Guelph (U of G)||M.Sc. in Plant Agriculture; MSc Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics||$10,257|
|45||McGill University||M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics; MSc in Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry||$34,840|
|51 – 100||University of Alberta (UAlberta)||Master of Agriculture||$21,000|
|51 – 100||University of Saskatchewan||M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics||$36,106|
|101 – 150||Laval University||Masters in Agroeconomics||$29,548|
|101 – 150||University of Manitoba||M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics, M.Sc. in Agribusiness||$22,650|
|151 – 200||Dalhousie University||M.Sc. in Agriculture||$12,057|
|251 – 300||Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN)||M.Sc in Boreal Ecosystem and Agricultural Sciences||$6,444|
|–||University of Lethbridge||MSc in Agricultural Studies||$18,044|
Some other masters degree available in Canada closely related to agriculture discipline are:
- University of British Columbia (UBC): MS in Land and Food System; Masters of Food Science
- University of Toronto (U of T): MS in Forestry
- University of Manitoba: MS in Soil Science; MS in Plant Science; MS in Food Science
- University of Saskatchewan: MS in Nutrition; MS in Soil Science
Course Details of MSc Agriculture in Canada
Masters in agriculture is designed to help students build an advanced career in research, development, teaching, and extension of knowledge in the field of agriculture. It is offered as both course-based and thesis-based program for students interested to study in Canada.
If a student opts for thesis-based masters in agriculture in Canada, he/she has to submit a research thesis on a relevant topic by the end of the program. It is also mandatory to do teaching assistantship in one of the undergraduate classes in some Canadian universities.
Following are some of the popular specialization available to study masters in agriculture in Canada:
- Plant Agriculture
- Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics
- Agricultural Economics or Agroeconomics
- Agricultural Chemistry
- Agricultural Business
- Agricultural Engineering
- Sustainable Agriculture
MSc Agriculture in Canada: Highlights
|Types of Degrees Offered||MS, MA|
|Number of Universities||Over 13|
|Specializations Available||Plant Agriculture, Food Agriculture, Agriculture Economics, Agricultural Sciences, etc|
|Average Tuition Fees||3,500 CAD to 18,000 CAD per year|
|Admission Eligibility||Bachelors in agriculture or related field with minimum 70%|
|Average Salary Offered||60,000 CAD per annum|
Admission Process of MSc Agriculture in Canada
A 4-year bachelor’s degree in agriculture or relevant field is required for admission in masters in agriculture in Canada. Some universities also accept students with a 3-year bachelor’s degree or diploma in agriculture.
Where to Apply: Canadian universities offering MSc Agriculture accepts application via their own application portal. Some universities located in Alberta and Ontario also accept applications via ApplyAlberta and OUAC application portal.
Eligibility for MSc Agriculture in Canada Admission
- Bachelor’s degree in a discipline related to agriculture
- 70% or above overall percentage at the undergraduate level
- IELTS or TOEFL scores as a proof of English proficiency
Following are the minimum score required for admission in some of the top universities of Canada:
|University||Minimum % Required in Bachelors||English Proficiency Requirement|
|University of Guelph||Bachelors in plant science, biology or equivalent with 73% or above average;||IELTS: 7.0; TOEFL (iBT): 95|
|McGill University||78% overall or 80% in tha last two years of study||IELTS: 6.5; TOEFL (iBT): 86|
|University of Alberta||4-year bachelors with 70% or above average in the last two years of study||IELTS: 6.5; TOEFL: 90|
|University of Saskatchewan||4-year bachelor’s degree with 70% average in the last two years of study||IELTS: 6.5; TOEFL (iBT): 86|
|Laval University||Bachelors/Diploma in ag economics or equivalent with 70% or above average||Studied in English at bachelors level|
|University of Manitoba||4-year bachelors with mathematics, macroeconomics, microeconomics and econometrics||IELTS: 6.5; TOEFL (iBT): 86|
|Dalhousie University||70% in bachelors||IELTS: 7.0; TOEFL (iBT): 92|
|Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN)||75% in bachelors||IELTS: 6.5; TOEFL: 80|
|University of Lethbridge||70% in bachelors||IELTS: 6.5; TOEFL: 86|
Documents Required for MSc Agriculture in Canada Admissions
Although not mandatory for admission in all universities, submission of following documents will increase the acceptance chances of international students:
- Statement of interest
- Letters of references
- GRE test scores
- Updated CV
- Personal Statement
- Work experience in the field of agriculture
Cost of Studying MSc Agriculture in Canada
Total fees for studying abroad can be broadly divided into three categories: Pre-arrival Cost, Tuition Fees and Cost of Living.
An estimate of one-time expenses incurred while applying for masters in agriculture in Canada is tabulated below:
|Type of Expenses||Cost (in CAD)|
|Application Fees||$100 – $150 (approx)|
|Canadian Student Visa Fee||$305|
|IELTS Registration Fee||$240 – $247|
|TOEFL Registration Fee||$208 – $325|
|GRE Registration Fee||$272|
Tuition Fee of MSc Agriculture in Canada
The University of Saskatchewan has the highest annual tuition fee for masters of agriculture among the popular universities of Canada. Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) has the lowest annual fee of 3,222 CAD per annum.
Cost of Living in Canada
International student’s cost of living in Canada is estimated to be approximately 14,000 CAD per annum. This includes the accommodation cost, books & supplies cost, transportation cost etc. A rough estimate of accommodation cost in Canada is provided below:
|Housing Type||Cost per year (in CAD)|
Scholarships for MSc Agriculture in Canada
International students can finance their education with the support of various types of financial aid offered by the universities of Canada, the government of Canada or any other third party agencies.
Following are the scholarships for international students in Canada studying masters in agriculture program:
|Scholarship||Awarding Institute||Eligibility||Award Amount (in CAD)|
|Board of Graduate Studies Research Scholarships (BGS)||University of Guelph||85% or above in previous year of study||Tuition fee waiver|
|Ontario Graduate Scholarships||Ontario Government||80% or above in last two years of study||Varies|
|Dean’s Scholarship||University of Saskatchewan||85% or above entrance GPA||$18,000 for two years|
|McGill Financial Aid||McGill University||Student of full-time program||Tuition fee waiver|
|Alberta Innovates Graduate Student Scholarship||University of Alberta||87% or above in graduate program||$26,000|
|Graduate Fellowship||University of Manitoba||Masters student||$14,000|
|CGS-M Scholarship||Dalhousie University||One year in a masters program||$17,500|
|School of Graduate Studies Fellowship||Memorial University of Newfoundland||Enrollment in graduate program||$4,000 to $12,000 per year|
|Scholarships in Agriculture||University of Lethbridge||Completion of first year of study in agriculture||$700|
For more scholarships in Canada, click here.
Job Prospects after MSc Agriculture in Canada
Average salary of a student with MSc Agriculture from Canada is 60,000 CAD per annum. A student having MS in Agriculture Economics and Business degree earns up to 59,000 CAD per annum in Canada.
Some of the popular job opportunities in Canada available after completion of masters in agriculture are described below:
|Job Role||Responsibility||Average Annual Salary (in CAD)|
|Agronomist||Helps in proper growth of crops by suggesting nutrients, equipments etc||$57,047|
|Microbiologist||Study microorganisms affecting crops||$49,829|
|Policy Analyst||Develop, modify and implement suitable agriculture policies||$60,649|
|Sales Manager||Manages the marketing and selling of agricultural products||$69,760|
|Operations Supervisor||Supervises the day-to-day operations of an agriculture-based organization||$60,293|
Canada has a highly prosperous agriculture sector producing seafood in British Columbia, livestock and grains in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba to a variety of fruits in Ontario. Government is also devoting a significant amount of funding to this sector. Thus, the scope of masters in agriculture in Canada is promising in the near future.