MSU, University of Rwanda launch first master’s degree in agribusiness program in Rwanda

Michigan State University (MSU) and the University of Rwanda (UR) launched a new master of science degree program in agribusiness this week in Kigali, Rwanda.

Rwandan women in Kigali

Michigan State University (MSU) and the University of Rwanda (UR) launched a new master of science degree program in agribusiness this week in Kigali, Rwanda.  The gender-sensitive degree program will enroll its first cohort of students in February 2015.

The degree program was jointly developed 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 prioritizes accessibility to women and midcareer professionals, and it is incorporating extensive experiential learning opportunities for the students. The structure of this program requires all students to partake in an internship, 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,” said James McWha, UR professor emeritus and vice chancellor. “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. 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.” 

MSU has a rich history of working collaboratively with the Rwandan government and its institutions 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 Gretchen Neisler, principal 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 the 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.”


The U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the foreign assistance agency of the U.S. 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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