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Agricultural and Applied Economics

Administrative Unit:Agricultural and Applied Economics
College/School: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Admitting Plans:M.A., M.S., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.A., M.S., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor
Named Options:

Resource and Energy Demand Analysis (M.A.) 

Faculty: Professors Coxhead (chair), Barham, Chavas, Cox, Deller, Foltz, Gould, Harris, Jones, Klemme, Phaneuf, Provencher, Rutherford, Stiegert; Associate Professors Alix-Garcia, Hueth, Mitchell, Schechter, Shi; Assistant Professors Du, Grainger, Parker


The Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics offers graduate degree programs leading to the master of arts, master of science, and doctor of philosophy. Long recognized as one of the top programs in the nation, the department is an active center of research and graduate training in environmental and natural resource economics, the economic development of low-income countries, agricultural economics, community economics, and more recently, resource and energy demand analysis.

Graduate students select courses from among the department's advanced offerings in these areas. Active department seminar and workshop series complement formal classroom instruction. In addition, nearly all students work as graduate research assistants on projects with individual faculty members. Faculty and students carry out research in virtually every region of the globe, with Latin America, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa as the areas of strongest geographical concentration. A selection of current department working papers can be viewed at the department's website. More details on the structure of the graduate programs can be found in the department's Graduate Student Handbook.

While members of the faculty define themselves professionally in terms of the areas of applied economics within which they work, the graduate programs are predicated on the notion that good applied economic analysis requires rigorous and thorough training in economic theory and econometrics. Both the master's and the Ph.D. curricula are grounded in comprehensive training in economic theory and econometrics. The Ph.D. curriculum relies on the doctoral core in theory and econometrics offered by Wisconsin's outstanding economics program. When matched with the department's applied courses, which teach students how to use advanced methods to conceptualize and answer contemporary economic problems, this strong core training prepares students for a variety of challenging careers. Wisconsin graduates have taken positions in academic research and teaching; economic consulting in the private sector; and economic staffing in public agencies and nongovernmental organizations at the local, state, national, or international level. More than 75 percent of the department's Ph.D. graduates take faculty positions at universities and colleges.

Department faculty are affiliated with a broad range of institutes and centers across the campus, including the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, the University Center for Cooperatives, the Renk Agribusiness Institute, Center for Community Economic Development, and the area studies programs. Each program has its own rich intellectual life of seminars and other activities. In addition, many programs are sources of graduate fellowships and research assistantships for the department's students.

The department provides office space for its approximately 50 graduate students. Other facilities include the Halvorson–Ebling Computer Center, where students have access to the latest computer equipment and software packages. The Taylor–Hibbard Club, the department's graduate student organization, serves as a link between graduate students and faculty members, elects student representatives to department committees, and promotes academic and social activities for its members.

Master's Degree

The department's traditional master's degree programs presume prior courses in intermediate-level microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, the equivalent of two semesters of calculus, and introductory statistics. The 30-credit master of arts program emphasizes subject matter; the 30-credit master of science program emphasizes research and involves writing a thesis. The M.A. named option in Resource and Energy Demand Analysis (REDA) presumes prior courses in introductory economics and statistics. This 10-month professional program trains students for careers analyzing resource and energy conservation initiatives for consulting firms, utilities, regulators, and businesses promoting renewables.  

Ph.D. Degree

Doctoral students are required to develop comprehensive proficiency in economic theory, mathematics, econometrics, and major and minor fields of concentration. Mathematical statistics and linear algebra are prerequisites for admission to the doctoral program. In addition to the general requirements of the Graduate School, candidates for the Ph.D. degree must complete further requirements which are detailed in the department's application material and website.

The department offers a number of research assistantships, and students have competed well for university-wide fellowships. The department's students have also received nationally competitive fellowships and research grants from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Fulbright programs, and others. New students wishing to be reviewed for the university fellowship competition must complete their applications by December 15.


Students may be admitted for graduate work upon meeting the requirements for admission to the Graduate School. The department requires the minimum scores determined by the Graduate School on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). In addition, the department requires that applicants provide test score results from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general test (verbal, quantitative, analytical writing).

For more information: Director of Graduate Programs, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 423 Taylor Hall, 427 Lorch Street, Madison, WI 53706-1503; 608-262-9489; admissions@aae.wisc.edu; www.aae.wisc.edu.

This page was revised 10/24/14.