The Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering undergraduate program in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is up to No. 3 in the nation, according to the latest U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings.

two ladies working in a lab wearing lab coats, rubber gloves and protective glasses.
The department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering undergraduate program jumped one spot to No. 3 in the U.S. News and World Report’s top college and universities list. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Michael Miller)

The department’s biological and agricultural engineering undergraduate program ranked third in the nation in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2024 Best Undergraduate Program after placing at No. 4 on the previous two lists. The department joined several other programs at the university mentioned in the 2023 ranking.

Patricia Smith, Ph.D., department head, said the ranking provides an opportunity for faculty, staff and students to reflect on the collective effort in making the program stand out among the best departments in the nation.

“The ranking reflects our consistent commitment to our students both while they are here at Texas A&M and after graduation,” she said. “We are problem solvers and having a healthy sense of pride in what our students accomplish and provide the state of Texas and beyond is warranted when there are so many problems out there needing engineering solutions.”

Collaboration, teaching and research excellence

Smith said the department’s faculty are committed to quality research programs, collaboration and providing a top-tier educational experience for students.

Engagement with faculty and support from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering has fostered an environment where cutting-edge research and innovation provide opportunities for scientists and students alike to excel.

Smith said engagement with state and federal agencies, commodity groups and professional organizations like the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers has also solidified its position as a solutions-driven department. 

“We’re embracing our past but also our future and big-picture concepts like sustainable agriculture and circular bioeconomy, which is everything we do from production agriculture, including AI-driven solutions for weed control and harvesting, water management and soil health, to post-harvest processing and food engineering,” she said. “This has created fertile ground for the department and the College to lead Texas, the nation and the world.”

Forward momentum

The department is working through a new strategic planning effort designed to ensure its direction aligns with its land-grant mission and priorities of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the state of Texas.

Smith said the department’s foundation has been solid for decades. The new ranking supports that strong reputation in the biological and agricultural engineering and agricultural systems management fields.

“It’s nice to receive validation about what we are doing within this department,” she said. “But it also fuels that desire to be even better. Challenges present opportunities. That is engrained into what this department does. It’s exciting because it feeds that energy.”

About U.S. News & World Report rankings

According to the publication, the rankings are based on expert opinions about program excellence and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research and students.

Data for these rankings comes from statistical surveys of more than 1,500 institutions across the U.S. The ranking methodology now looks more at the return on investment, earnings, debt, Pell recipients and first-generation students, according to the U.S. News data team.

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