NCTA, UNK launch pathway program for agribusiness students


CURTIS – The Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture at Curtis and the University of Nebraska at Kearney are partnering to expand statewide career opportunities for agribusiness students and professionals.

The NCTA-UNK 2+2 Agribusiness/Business Pathway is set to launch next fall.

The Pathway will make it easier for students who start their agribusiness education at NCTA in Curtis to then earn a bachelor’s degree online or at the university campus in Kearney, NCTA Dean Larry Gossen said this week.

“We are seeing more of our Aggie students who want to earn a four-year degree in agribusiness, particularly while they are working in their new careers,” Gossen said. “This new NCTA-UNK Pathway is an ideal opportunity for our NCTA graduates to earn a living here in rural Nebraska and take classes through UNK at the same time.”

The first two years (60 credit hours) are taken at NCTA, which offers an Associate of Applied Science degree or Associate of Science degree in agribusiness management systems. Students can follow a semester-by-semester course plan or take classes at a pace that better fits their schedule.

Through UNK, pathway options for the bachelor’s degree in business administration are accounting, finance, management, marketing and supply chain management, or a minor in marketing/management.

It is not uncommon for students to revise their college plans as they make decisions for life choices and career goals, said NCTA professor Mary Rittenhouse, agribusiness academic lead.

“How do we figure out what we want to do?” asks Bree Dority, associate dean of the UNK College of Business and Technology. “We try things, and as we invest in ourselves we often realize we need more knowledge and understanding. Start with your associate degree but know there are options for a seamless transition to UNK to earn your business degree.”

A Nebraska education, flexibility and increased career opportunities were foremost as the NCTA-UNK discussions began several years ago. Faculty discussions rapidly progressed during the summer, and Rittenhouse and Dority finalized the pathway with administrators in October.

NCTA agribusiness graduates are in high demand by employers throughout the state, particularly regionally by agricultural cooperatives, banks, sales, farm and ranch production enterprises and livestock companies.

“Students are comfortable at our small, rural campus in Curtis. They look forward to their careers and making a living that meshes with their life choices, their interests and perhaps continuing to live in a rural atmosphere,” Rittenhouse said.

“If they decide to pursue a four-year degree, they have an excellent opportunity nearby at Kearney,” she added. “The program is ideal for geographic location, size of campus and excellent academic opportunities.”

Gossen said more pathway partnerships may be in store between NCTA and UNK.

“It’s a win-win overall,” said Gossen. “The transition is seamless, and the student can remain in a familiar environment within the University of Nebraska System.”

For more information on the Agribusiness/Business Pathway program, contact NCTA agribusiness professor Mary Rittenhouse at or 308-367-5275 or UNK College of Business and Technology Associate Dean Bree Dority at or 308-865-8343.