University of Rwanda and USAID Launch Master of Science in Agribusiness Degree Program

Kigali, Rwanda – The University of Rwanda (UR) is excited to announce the beginning of a new Master of Science degree program in Agribusiness. The gender-sensitive degree program will enroll its first cohort of students in February 2015.

The degree program was developed in partnership with Michigan State University (MSU) with funding provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Women’s Leadership Program, implemented globally by Higher Education for Development (HED).

The graduate program is prioritizing accessibility to women and mid-career professionals, and is incorporating extensive experiential learning opportunities for the students. The structure of this program in particular will require all students to partake in an internship opportunity thus better preparing them for leadership and entrepreneurial roles in agriculture in Rwanda.

“Agriculture is vital to the people and economy of Rwanda and many of those involved in agriculture are women. Their input to the business of agriculture is essential. It is also important that agriculture adopts a modern business strategy because it is a business and all those involved must learn the relevant skills," said Emeritus Professor James McWha Vice Chancellor University of Rwanda. " This program brings together all the components necessary for a major development of the future of the agriculture and food industries in Rwanda.”

Using a collaborative approach, the Women’s Leadership Program is designed to support access of women to higher education and advanced degrees, strengthen institutional capacity in research and education on women’s leadership, and promote women’s leadership through higher education extension/outreach efforts in underserved communities.

“The empowerment of women through the expansion of their leadership opportunities and spaces for their voices to be heard is a top priority for USAID globally, including in Rwanda,” said Joseph Lessard, USAID/Rwanda Economic Growth Director. “We really believe this program will give women rich opportunities to share their expertise and play major roles in the country’s economic development. We congratulate the University of Rwanda and Michigan State University on this achievement, and look forward to seeing how it will benefit Rwanda into the future.”

Michigan State University has a rich history of working collaboratively with the Rwandan government and their institutes of higher education.

“It has been a great honor to continue the tradition of our two universities working together to advance the agriculture sector in Rwanda,” said Dr. Gretchen Neisler, Principle Investigator on this project from MSU. “Working collaboratively on the Rwanda Women’s Leadership Program has been very rewarding. I look forward to strengthening our partnership with UR through the continued development of this degree program. I am also excited to explore new and innovative ways for our two universities to work together to educate the next generation of thought leaders at both Michigan State University and the University of Rwanda.”

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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the foreign assistance agency of the United States Government. USAID supports $150 million of development assistance annually to Rwanda, with programs in health, economic development, education, and democracy and governance.

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