Graduate: Doctoral Program


The AEDE PhD program is a globally recognized leader in the disciplinary areas of agricultural, environmental, and development economics.

In 2011, our doctoral program was ranked by the National Research Council as the top program in Agricultural and Resource Economics in the United States.

AEDE PhD students acquire rigorous training in economic theory and advanced quantitative methods, and learn to apply these skills to a wide range of real-world economic problems. AEDE PhD degree recipients go on to assume teaching, research, and managerial positions with universities and colleges, research institutions, government agencies, multilateral international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and private companies and corporations.

Program Structure

Because the PhD program requires that certain core courses be taken in sequence, regular admission is typically granted only with an autumn semester start date. Full-time students may complete all PhD degree requirements in as few as four calendar years, but may take longer, depending on the student’s preparation, professional objectives, funding availability, and other special circumstances.

PhD students typically spend their first and second years completing courses in microeconomic and econometric theory offered by the Department of Economics and applied economics courses offered by the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics. During the third and fourth years, PhD students devote themselves primarily to doctoral dissertation research.

Course Requirements

The PhD program requires a student to complete a minimum of 90 graduate semester credit hours. PhD students must take the non-credit Math Camp offered by the Economics Department in July and August immediately preceding the start of classes in the first year. In addition, effective autumn 2012, they must complete the following core courses during their first and second years.

In addition to core course requirements, PhD students, after the conclusion of their second year, must:

  • Complete a minimum of thirty semester credit hours of AED Econ 8999, “Dissertation Research”;
  • Enroll in 1 semester credit hour of AED Econ 8800, “Seminar in AED Economics”, in every autumn and spring semester they are in residence; and
  • Enroll in 1 semester credit hour of AED Econ 8895, “PhD Research Seminar”, in every autumn and spring semester they are in residence, making at least two presentations in that seminar.


In addition to required coursework, a PhD student must:

  • Pass a Microeconomics Theory Qualifying Examination prior to the beginning of the second year;
  • Submit a quality research manuscript prior to the beginning of their third year;
  • Pass the Candidacy Examination and defend their Doctoral Dissertation Proposal, typically before the beginning of their fourth year, and
  • Complete the Doctoral Dissertation and pass a Final Oral Examination.

Fields of Specialization

The AEDE PhD program requires students to take a total of six doctoral level field classes, four of which must be taken in agricultural, environmental, and development economics.  The AEDE field courses include: environmental and resource economics, regional economics and development economics. Graduate students are given wide latitude to design their own program of study and to choose a dissertation topic.

In recent years, under the supervision of AEDE faculty members, doctoral students have conducted innovative theoretical and applied research on agricultural policy and trade, agricultural finance and risk management, consumption and marketing economics, food economics and agribusiness, environmental and natural resource economics, international and regional economic development, poverty and food security, climate change, spatial and land-use economics, health economics, bioeconomics, and experimental and behavioral economics. Innovative research that addresses pressing social problems is encouraged, regardless of the sub-discipline of economics with which it may be identified.

Admission Standards

It is recommended, but not required, that applicants have earned:

  • A minimum grade point average of 3.3 on a 4 point scale in all previous undergraduate coursework, or equivalent; 
  • A minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4 point scale in all previous graduate coursework, or equivalent;
  • A minimum score of 163 on the quantitative portion of the Graduate Record Examination; and 
  • A minimum score of 163 on the verbal portion of the Graduate Record Examination. It is also recommended that international applicants whose native language is not English and who do not possess an undergraduate degree from a US university have achieved a minimum Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores of 600 on the paper test, 250 on the computer test, or 100 on the internet test.


Students whose undergraduate majors are in areas other than economics or business are welcome to apply. Entering PhD students, however, are assumed to have successfully completed courses in Calculus-based Intermediate Microeconomic Theory, Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory, Differential and Integral Calculus, and Mathematical Statistics. Students who have not successfully completed all of these courses may be admitted conditionally to the PhD program, subject to conditions stipulated by the Director of Graduate Programs. An MS degree is not required for admission to the PhD program.