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Building careers and knowledge via Virginia Tech's online masters of agricultural and life sciences program

Chad Benton was always interested in two things: science and helping people.

After getting an undergraduate degree in biological sciences and microbiology, Benton, of Morrisville, N.C., got a job at BASF, where he is now a senior associate scientist on the crop physiology team dedicated to finding ways for farmers to increase their yield. Having been raised on a farm with his grandparents, Benton felt a calling to give back to the farmers.

Still, Benton wanted to boost his knowledge of plant science — and to advance his career even further — so he enrolled in the online Master of Agricultural and Life Sciences (OMALS), a degree program through Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

"This was an outstanding experience all around for me," said Benton, who graduated in 2012 after three years in the program. "There are many things that I gained from this program, but one of the biggest was confidence in my research and job."

Students from across the country and abroad enroll in OMALS courses every year. The program is uniquely designed to meet the evolving and dynamic needs of today's agricultural professionals with five focused concentration areas, including food safety and biosecurity, environmental science; plant science and pest management; education; and leadership studies.

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