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Internships and Career Opportunities

Careers at USDA are diverse, rewarding, and in demand. USDA offers employment opportunities for students and recent graduates to work in agriculture, science, technology, math, nutrition, food systems, management, business, and managing the impacts of climate change. From the classroom to the workplace, USDA supports student engagement, recruitment, retention, and agricultural workforce development.

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The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is a partnership between USDA and the 1890 historically black land-grant colleges and universities (PDF, 1.2 MB). The program provides full tuition, fees, books, room and board to students pursuing degrees in agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, or related academic disciplines. When the student has completed the academic and summer work requirements of the scholarship, USDA may at its discretion convert the student to a permanent employee without further competition.

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The USDA 1994 Tribal Scholars Program seeks to increase the number of American Indian and Alaska Native students studying agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, and related disciplines.

The USDA 1994 Tribal Scholars Program combines classroom study with paid work experience that leads to employment at USDA. Through this program, USDA seeks to boost the number of students studying and graduating in food, agriculture, natural resources, and other related fields of study, and help build the pipeline of future agricultural scientists and professionals. The program also strengthens USDA partnerships with 1994 land-grant institutions.

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The CAPAL program provides agencies with highly qualified internship candidates representing groups that are currently under-represented within the federal workforce. CAPAL interns hail from a diverse set of the country’s most prominent universities including UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University.

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USDA offers a paid 10-week internship program for students from migrant and farmworker backgrounds. Interns will gain work experience and learn about career opportunities available within USDA while working at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. The program is run in partnership with the National HEP/CAMP Association, comprised of universities, colleges and nonprofit organizations that administer a High School Equivalency Program (HEP) and/or a College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). Participating interns will be current or former participants of HEP and/or CAMP programs at their respective institutions. This internship program is administered by USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE).

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The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) is a nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) representing more than 493 member institutions across the United States. The HACU National Internship Program places students in federal and corporate internships. USDA has partnered with the HACU for more than 24 years to provide over 2,700 college students with paid spring, summer, or fall internships at various USDA offices in Washington, D.C. as well as field offices. The program gives undergraduate and graduate students valuable professional experience in the federal sector. Students are recruited based on academic performance, leadership, and community service.

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As the largest nationwide residential career training program in the country, the Job Corps program helps eligible young people ages 16 through 24 complete their high school education, trains them for meaningful careers, and assists them with obtaining employment.

While Department of Labor leads Job Corps in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, the Forest Service operates 24 Civilian Conservation Centers. These centers combine the traditional Job Corps program with an opportunity to serve rural America and gain the skills required to conserve the nation’s natural resources. Civilian Conservation Centers provide real life solutions to the challenges of youth unemployment and offer an integrated approach to address the nation’s conservation challenges.

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Start your career at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA offers federal internship and employment opportunities for current students, recent graduates, recent veterans, and those with advanced degrees. There are three pathway opportunities.

The Pathways Internship Program provides year-round paid work experiences for current degree-seeking high-school, undergraduate, and graduate students. Interns may work during the summer, fall, spring or year-round and are eligible for non-competitive conversion upon program completion.

The Pathways Recent Graduates Program is for graduates within two years of degree or certificate completion, and for veterans within 6 years of obtaining a degree. Fellows are placed in a one-year career development program that may be non-competitively converted upon completion of program requirements.

The Presidential Management Fellows Program is the flagship leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. In addition to salary and benefits, fellows earn a two-year appointment that may be converted to a permanent appointment.



Fast Facts on Careers in Agriculture

  • More than 200 career options in research, production, processing, and distribution
  • > 57,000 new jobs in agriculture-related fields created annually
  • > 21 million people employed in agriculture-related fields
  • USDA has more than two dozen agencies and offices with nearly 100,000 employees who serve the American people at more than 4,500 locations across the U.S. and abroad


Third-Party Internship Programs

USDA partners with a wide variety of organizations to provide students the opportunity to work with our 19 agencies and gain practical experience in different fields. Each of these programs provide differing benefits for students. Recruitment and selection is completed by the host programs.


TMCF supports and represents students attending HBCUs across the country. This program accepts undergraduate students with at least a sophomore standing, graduate, and professional students. Applicants must maintain at least a 3.0 G.P.A. with strong verbal and written communication skills. They must able to demonstrate strong initiative and drive, in the following fields: science, technology, engineering, agriculture, mathematics, or business.

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Working with the World Food Prize, USDA offers exceptional college students the opportunity to collaborate with scientists and policymakers through paid fellowships at USDA research centers and offices across the United States. Fellows help analyze agricultural and economic policy; assist in the management of food, nutrition and rural development programs; and take part in groundbreaking field and laboratory-based research. Fellows also participate in a weeklong symposium hosted by the USDA in Washington, D.C. Named for Henry A. Wallace and George Washington Carver, two of American leaders in agricultural science and policy who made significant strides toward ending hunger, the Wallace-Carver Fellowship seeks to educate, inspire and train the next generation of agricultural leaders.

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The U.S. Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is a summer youth employment program that engages young people, ages 15 to 18, in meaningful work experiences in national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and fish hatcheries. Youth are engaged in fun, exciting work projects designed to develop an ethic of environmental stewardship and civic responsibility. Projects include building and repairing trails; preserving and repairing historic buildings; removing invasive species; helping with wildlife and land research; and leading environmental education.

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Discover Your Career

Did you know that agriculture is much more than farming? These are just some of the careers in the food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences. For more stories watch this series of ag career video interviews produced by the Utah State University Extension, Agriculture in the Classroom.

Ag Explorer

National FFA partnered with Discovery Education and to help explore the many careers in agriculture. Learn more about which career may be right for you through videos, career pages, and an interactive Career Finder tool.