PhD in Agricultural and Applied Economics

The PhD program emphasizes preparation for teaching, research, and extension work in academia, as well as for careers in agrifood business, government and international agriculture. The program 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. While students and their advisory committees have latitude in developing a plan of study, the following specialties are emphasized in our program: Environmental and Development Economics; Managerial, Behavioral & Organizational Economics; and Public Policy Analysis.

Degree Requirements

The general requirements for the PhD consist of theory and methods courses, followed by a well-balanced selection of field, elective, and research courses in agricultural and applied economics and other disciplines at the graduate level. The course of study will prepare students for the qualifier exam taken after the first year of courses, the comprehensive exam assessing 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.

The minimum requirements for the PhD are 72 credit hours of graduate coursework, with at least 30 credit hours from courses numbered 8000–9000, exclusive of dissertation research, problems or independent study. No more than 30 credit hours can be transferred from an MS program. Specific requirements are as follows:

Agricultural and Applied Economics Core6
AAE 8050Economics of Institutions and Organizations3
AAE 8265Agricultural and Food Policy3
Theory Core9
ECONOM 9451Advanced Microeconomic Theory I3
ECONOM 9452Advanced Microeconomic Theory II3
ECONOM 9479Mathematical Methods for Economics3
Can be met from a combination of 8000- or 9000-level quantitative, qualitative, mixed or other methods courses (e.g., econometrics, multivariate statistics, simulation methods, survey methods, qualitative research, etc.)
Agricultural and Applied Economics Concentration Field6
Two courses in AAE, chosen in consultation with the major advisor and committee.
Cognate Field6
Two courses in a single subject outside of AAE, chosen in consultation with the advisor and committee. Examples include economics, geography, management, political science, plant sciences, psychology, statistics, or law. Students have the freedom to propose a cognate area that leads to a specific expertise or support for dissertation research, graduate minor, or graduate certificate.
Dissertation Research 12
AAE 9090Doctoral Dissertation Research in Agricultural and Applied Economics12

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Sample Plan of Study

First Year
AAE 80503AAE 82653
ECONOM 94513ECONOM 94523
ECONOM 9472*3ECONOM 9473*3
ECONOM 94793Qualifer Exam 
 12 9
Second Year
Agricultural and Applied Economics Concentration field course3Agricultural and Applied Economics Concentration field course3
Cognate field course3Cognate field course3
Methods course3Elective3
 Comprehensive Exam 
 9 9
Total Credits: 39

Or another 8000- or 9000-level quantitative methods class with advisor’s approval.


Subsequent Semesters: A student can take Field and/or Elective courses. Or Research and/or Dissertation hours.

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Qualifier Examination Process

Students take the Qualifier Exam after completing the first year sequence of courses. Students must pass the Qualifier Exam to continue in the PhD program. The Qualifier Exam consists of two parts. (1) The Microeconomics Qualifier Exam is administered in May of the first year by the Economics Department and is taken at the same time first year Economics PhD students take the exam. Students who fail the Micro Qualifier in May can retake the exam in August. (2) An average GPA of 3.25 for the other courses in the first year core.

Comprehensive Examination Process

Students take the Comprehensive Exam after passing the qualifier exam 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. The Comprehensive Exam must be completed at least seven months before the final dissertation defense.

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 research findings. The second type of dissertation is a compilation of three essays that are related to a general theme or topic. Students select dissertation topics in consultation with their Doctoral Program Committee.

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Admission into the PhD program is determined by an assessment of program prerequisites and application materials. Prerequisites for the PhD program include courses in intermediate microeconomics; intermediate macroeconomics; econometrics or regression and correlation analysis; differential calculus; and statistics. Applicants who have not met these prerequisites or have limited background in economics may be required to correct these deficiencies or take certain courses without graduate credit before being formally admitted into the program. A master’s degree in economics, agricultural economics, or a related field, is preferred but not required for admittance into the PhD program. Minimum requirements for admission into the PhD program are a Bachelor’s degree (BA or BS) or equivalent and undergraduate GPA of 3.2. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or an equivalent English competency test is required of applicants whose first language is not English, with minimum TOEFL scores of 80 if internet-based. Applicants should also take the GRE or GMAT exams. Domestic and international students are equally welcome to apply.

The following should be submitted as part of the application process:

  • Statement of purpose explaining why you want to study at the University of Missouri
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • GRE (or GMAT) score report
  • TOEFL (or equivalent) score report, if applicable

For priority consideration for assistantships, fellowships and scholarships, applications should be submitted by January 15 for Fall enrollment and September 1 for Spring enrollment. 

For More Information

For further information on admissions or financial assistance, write to Teo Skevas, Director of Graduate Studies, 215 Mumford Hall, Columbia, MO 65211, or

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