Academic Programs Catalog

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics

Graduate Study
Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics - Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics equips students with a strong foundation in microeconomic theory, econometric methods, and analytical tools for applied microeconomics. A major field provides specialized training in one of three major areas of emphasis. Graduates proceed to careers in academia, research institutes, government, and business. 

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, students must meet the requirements specified below.


Applications to the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics are evaluated by an admissions committee formed by the Department Chairperson and chaired by the Graduate Program Director.

Several criteria are used to evaluate applications including:

  1. Academic preparation including review of previous degrees and grades, Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores.
  2. Letters of recommendation.
  3. Match between the applicant’s background, interests, and educational objectives, and the department’s research, teaching, and/or outreach programs.
  4. The applicant’s contribution to the diversity and balance of the department’s graduate study body.

Additional details on admission requirements and procedures are outlined on the department Web site at

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics

A total of 61 credits is required for the degree. The student must:

1. Complete all of the following core courses (16 credits):
AFRE  900 Applied Microeconomics 3
EC  812A  Microeconomics I and its Mathematical Foundations 4
EC  812B  Microeconomics II  3
EC  820A  Econometrics IA  3
EC  820B  Econometrics IB  3
EC 812A, EC 812B, EC 820A, and EC 820B must be taken during the student’s first academic year of doctoral study, and AFRE 900 must be taken in the fall semester of their second year. To be qualified to proceed in the AFRE Ph.D. program, grades of 3.5 or better are required in at least two of the five core courses (EC 812A, EC 812B, EC 820A, EC 820B, and  AFRE 900), with a 3.0 minimum grade required in each course. Retaking a course to meet these requirements is not allowed.
2. Complete 9 credits in one of three major fields in Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics: development economics, environmental and resource economics, or food and agricultural economics. A 3.0 minimum grade is required in each course used to establish the student’s major field and the student’s cumulative grade-point average for their major  field courses must be greater than 3.0 (i.e., a grade of 3.5 or better is required in at least one of the student's three major field courses).
3. Complete an additional 12 credits of advanced course work at the 800- or 900-level, at least 6 credits must be AFRE courses.
4. Complete a minimum of 24 credits of AFRE 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research.
5. Pass the comprehensive examination no later than the end of the third year.
6. Present and obtain formal approval for the proposed dissertation research by the end of the fourth year.
7. Pass a final oral examination at which the student presents their dissertation results.
8. Attend at least 6 AFRE (or joint AFRE-EC) seminars in any single academic year before the end of the fourth year.
9. Have a grade point average of at least 3.0 in the student’s approved course program before the student can be certified for graduation. Collateral courses are not included in this calculation.

Guidance Committee

New students are assigned a temporary major professor by the Graduate Program Director, in consultation with the student and faculty member. The student is responsible for assembling a long-term major professor and guidance committee via consultation with faculty and, if desired, the Graduate Program Director. Students must have a major professor and guidance committee by the end of their third semester. The guidance committee consists of four or more Michigan State University regular faculty members. A majority of the guidance committee members must have appointments in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics.