Agricultural & Applied Economics, PhD

for the Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural and Applied Economics

Department Head: Sean Fox

Director of Graduate Studies: Nick Paulson

Director of Graduate Recruiting and Admissions: Madhu Khanna

Address: 326 Mumford Hall, MC-710, 1301 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801

Phone: (217) 333-1810

Fax:(217) 333-5538


PhD Program Overview

The Doctor of Philosophy is a research-oriented degree that prepares successful candidates for positions in higher education, governmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the research and management functions of the private sector. In consultation with a faculty advisor, students develop an area of specialization to fit their career aspirations. Typical areas of specialization include:

•agricultural finance •environmental and natural resource economics •family and consumer economics •farm and agribusiness management
•international and policy economics •price analysis and agricultural marketing •regional economics and public policy  

Students pursue coursework in theory, quantitative methods, and their area of specialization; pass a written core exam, a second-year research paper requirement, an oral preliminary examination which includes the formal proposal for dissertation research; and complete and defend a dissertation. The core courses cover the theory and quantitative methods upon which advanced research, teaching, and service in ACE are based. The specialty courses build on the knowledge gained in the core courses and provide an understanding of the application of economic theory and the tools of economic analysis. Students are encouraged to complete substantial coursework in other departments, such as economics, finance, and business administration.


Graduate College requirements apply, including a 3.0 (A = 4.0) GPA for the last two years of undergraduate coursework and any graduate work completed. International applicants whose native language is not English are required to follow the Graduate College's Minimum Requirements for Admission.  Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test scores are required for all applicants. Applicants to the Ph.D. program are required to provide a sample of their academic writing. Students having an inadequate background in theory or quantitative methods will be asked to take additional coursework to prepare for graduate study. Students may commence study in either semester, but initial enrollment in fall semester is preferable. An applicant with a master's degree in an appropriate discipline will be considered for the Ph.D. degree. Applicants with a baccalaureate degree can apply directly to the PhD program, but will need to demonstrate sufficient preparation to be admitted. 

Student Thesis and Dissertation Research

Our students’ research uses economics to address important social and economic challenges. Thesis and dissertation topics include designing policies for environmental protection and resource management, evaluating international efforts to reduce poverty and hunger, and enhancing the performance of commodity and speculative markets.

Graduate Teaching Experience

Although teaching is not a general Graduate College requirement, experience in teaching is considered an important part of the graduate experience in this program and is strongly recommended for those intending to pursue an academic career.

Financial Aid

Graduate fellowships, assistantships, and tuition and fee waivers are awarded on a competitive basis.

Fellowships. The department offers fellowships from internal resources and by nominating students for college and campus fellowships. These fellowships, often combined with assistantship support, provide monetary stipends and, in most cases, exemptions from tuition and some student fees. Recipients must register for the equivalent of at least 12 hours of graduate credit in each semester and four hours in an eight-week summer session. Fellowship holders are encouraged to involve themselves with research and teaching in the department.

Assistantships. Research and teaching assistantships provide an opportunity for graduate students to work with faculty. Most research assistantships are funded by grants and contracts involving the analysis of contemporary issues.  Most assistantships carry waivers of tuition and some fees.

Tuition and Fee Waivers. Waivers may be awarded. In most cases they are awarded to students with fellowship support from certain external programs.

Graduate Degree Programs in Agricultural and Applied Economics

Agricultural and Applied Economics, MAAE

Agricultural and Applied Economics, MS

Agricultural and Applied Economics, PhD

for the Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural and Applied Economics

A 3.0 (A = 4.0) GPA is required in all courses completed in the program.

For additional details and requirements refer to the department's Graduate Program information for the Ph.D. degree and the Graduate College Handbook

Entering with approved B.S./B.A. degree

Core Courses24-28
4 hours (minimum) of quantitative methods beyond the courses specified in the core4
16 hours at the 500 level to define two fields of expertise. At least 8 of those 16 hours must be in ACE16
ACE 561Adv Res and Scholarly Comm4
ACE 599Thesis Research (max applied toward degree) 148
Total Hours96

Entering with approved M.S./M.A. Degree

Core courses24-28
4 hours (minimum) of quantitative methods beyond the courses specified in the core4
16 hours at the 500 level to define two fields of expertise. At least 8 of those 16 hours must be in ACE16
ACE 561Adv Res and Scholarly Comm (Advanced Research and Scholarly Communication)4
ACE 599Thesis Research (max applied toward degree) 132
Total Hours64

Other Requirements

Other requirements may overlap
Minimum Hours Required Within the Unit at the 500-Level: 16 excluding indep study, 599 and core courses
A written paper in the form of a journal article approved by the research paper committee and presented at a department conference.
Written Core Exam Required Yes
Preliminary Exam Required Yes
Final Exam/Dissertation Defense Required Yes
Dissertation Deposit Required Yes
Minimum GPA: 3.0