PhD in Agricultural and Applied Economics

Degree Requirements

The PhD program emphasizes preparation for research, teaching and extension and usually requires about three years beyond the master's program to complete. The size, quality and diversity of the faculty provide a broad choice of advisors and research topics. Students and their advisory committees have considerable latitude in developing a plan of study. There is no foreign language requirement.

The general course requirements for the PhD consist of courses in advanced microeconomic theory, new institutional economics, welfare economics, econometrics and research methodology, followed by a well-balanced selection of elective and research courses in agricultural economics and other disciplines at the 8000/9000 level. The course of study should prepare the student for the written qualifying exam taken after the first year of courses, the comprehensive exam assessing the student’s competency in his or her chosen fields of study, and independent research. A dissertation embodying the results of original research must be written on a subject approved by the program committee. An oral examination over the dissertation completes the degree requirements.

Doctoral candidates have flexibility in developing their own program by choosing specialties from one of the department's three areas (will not appear on transcripts or diplomas).

  • Agribusiness Management, which emphasizes the economics of food-system organization, strategy and institutions. An important focus of this research includes organizational structure, entrepreneurship, innovation, information, strategy, finance and governance, contracting, collective action, and social capital.

  • Public Policy Analysis, which prepares students to evaluate the role of government in a market economy. This would include food and agricultural policy, various regulatory policies (e.g. food and environmental safety, IPR and market structure), and rural development policy and assess the impacts of such domestic and international government interventions.

  • Resources and Development, which allows students to develop expertise in the application of economic theory and quantitative methods to problems and issues related to the subjects of natural resource and environmental economics, economic development, and regional economics. The significant overlap among these subjects allows students the flexibility to select courses and research topics relevant to more than one subject.

Prerequisites for the PhD program include courses in intermediate microeconomics; intermediate macroeconomics; quantitative or mathematical economics; statistics, econometrics or regression and correlation analysis; and calculus. A master’s degree in economics, agricultural economics, or a related field, is preferred but not required for admittance into the PhD program. However, applicants to the PhD program without a master’s degree will be admitted initially into the MS program with the expectation that they complete the MS degree including MS thesis before continuing with their doctoral studies.

Back to Top

Sample Plan of Study

Fall semester, year 1: AG_EC 9040 Advanced Microeconomics Theory and Applications I; AG_EC 8050 Economics of Institutions and Organizations; Elective

Spring semester, year 1: AG_EC 9042 Advanced Microeconomics Theory and Applications II; AG_EC 9230 Welfare and Consumption Economics; AG_EC 9475 Econometrics I

Fall semester, year 2: AG_EC 8010 Research Methodology; ECONOM 8473 Applied Econometrics; Field Course or Elective

Spring semester, year 2: Field Courses and/or Electives

Subsequent semesters: Field Courses and/or Electives; Research and Dissertation hours

Back to Top

Qualifying Process

After completing the first year sequence, students take a written qualifying exam administered by a committee formed under the direction of the department’s Graduate Studies Committee. The exam covers the content of the first-year PhD core courses (both microeconomic theory courses, new institutional economics, welfare economics and basic econometrics). The exam is generally given in May following the first complete year of studies, with a retake, if needed, offered in August. Students must pass the exam to continue in the PhD program.

Back to top

Comprehensive Examination Process

Students take the Comprehensive Exam after passing the qualifying exam process and completing coursework, including core courses and field courses. The Comprehensive Exam consists of three parts:  the written dissertation proposal, a written comprehensive exam, and an oral examination. The Comprehensive Exam is administered by the student’s Doctoral Program Committee.

Back to Top

Dissertation Requirements

Two types of dissertations are acceptable. The first type of dissertation is organized around a single topic and typically is a lengthy monograph of your research findings. The second type of dissertation is a compilation of three narrow-topic essays that are loosely related to a single, general theme or topic. Students select dissertation topics in consultation with their Doctoral Program Committee.

Back to Top


The Department’s Graduate Studies Committee oversees the admissions process. Admission into the PhD program is determined by an assessment of program prerequisites and application materials. Domestic and international students are equally welcome to apply.

For More Information

For further information on admissions or financial assistance, write to Harvey James, director of graduate studies in agricultural economics, 200 Mumford Hall, Columbia, MO 65211, or

Back to Top