UW-Madison UW-Madison

Prospective Graduate Students - Degree Programs

Degree Programs | Facilities & Resources | Campus & City | Admissions | Dissertations & Job Placement | Employment of Master's Students | Grad Student Handbook

The department offers graduate degree programs leading to the Master of Arts, Master of Science and the Ph.D. in agricultural and applied economics. These graduate programs build on the department's international reputation in environmental and natural resource economics, development economics, economics of agriculture, and community economics.

Both Master's and Ph.D. curricula provide students with a strong grounding in economic theory and econometrics, as well as the ability to apply those analytical tools to important problems.

The Master's degree offers individuals the opportunity to obtain professional training in the core areas as well as a chance to explore graduate economics education and continue on to a Ph.D. program. The Master of Arts degree emphasizes subject matter and requires 30 credits (3-4 semesters).  The Master of Science requires 30 credits of course work and research leading to a thesis; students usually take 4 semesters to complete this option.

Master's degree students take theory and econometrics courses and electives in their areas of interest in Agricultural and Applied Economics and related departments. The Master's degree programs presume prior course work in intermediate-level microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, the equivalent of two semesters of calculus, and introductory statistics.

Master's degree students in the Resource and Energy Demand Analysis option need prior course work in introductory economics and statistics.

Master of Arts Course Requirements:

  • Microeconomic theory (3 credits)
  • Statistics and econometrics (6 credits)
  • Economic analysis (15 credits)
  • Elective course work (6 credits)

Master of Arts in Resource and Energy Demand Analysis Course Requirements:

  • Applied economic theory (4 credits)
  • Statistics and econometrics (10 credits)
  • Economic analysis in resource and energy demand (9 credits)
  • Seminar and Practicum (7 credits)

Master of Science Course Requirements:

  • Microeconomic theory (3 credits)
  • Statistics and econometrics (6 credits)
  • Economic analysis (9 credits)
  • Elective course work (6 credits)
  • Research and thesis (6 credits)

See more details in the handbook.

Master's graduates are employed in a wide variety of positions.  See more details here.

The Ph.D. program, taking 4-5 years to complete, offers further training in economic theory and econometrics, as well as major and minor field course work. The Ph.D. curriculum relies on the doctoral core in theory and econometrics offered by Wisconsin's outstanding and highly ranked Department of Economics. 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. Active department seminar and workshop series complement formal classroom instruction. Mathematical statistics and linear algebra are prerequisites for admission to the doctoral program.  See more about math preparation recommendations from the Economics Department here.

Preliminary examinations are required in microeconomic theory and a major field. The microeconomic theory prelim is administered and graded by the faculty in Economics.  Students receiving grades of B or better in the microeconomic theory core can choose not to sit for the prelim.  Pass rates for AAE students have historically been around 85%.  The major field prelim is administered and graded by the AAE faculty. 

The Ph.D. also requires a dissertation. Most students' dissertation work includes a period of primary data collection and field work either in this country or abroad, often in the developing world. Recent dissertators have undertaken field work in Chad, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, Morocco, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa and Thailand.

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. About 70-80% of the department's Ph.D. graduates take faculty positions at universities and colleges. See Dissertations and Placement for information on employment of recent graduates.

Ph.D. Course Requirements:

  • Economic theory (9 credits)
  • Statistics and econometrics (7-9 credits)
  • Major field courses (9 credits)
  • Minor field courses (9 credits)

See more details in the handbook

The Ph.D. Minor, is available to students in other UW departments.  It consists of 3 graduate-level courses (9 credits) of the student's choice.  Inquiries about the Option A Minor in Agricultural and Applied Economics can be directed to the Academic Programs Coordinator or the Director of Graduate Studies.  The minor field is formally approved at the time the prelim warrant is filed, but students should get pre-approval for their field courses before taking them.


"Until I joined the Agricultural Economics Department at Wisconsin I never realized how overwhelming an influence it has had on the profession. An amazing percentage of the key people I meet all over the world graduated from the department. Most of the professors are not only extremely knowledgeable about the fields they teach, but they are the people who wrote the book on the subject. I would highly recommend the department for any students interested in natural resource economics, land tenure and property rights, econometrics, or development economics from a more microeconomic perspective.’‘

David Kaimowitz, Class of 1986, Director of Sustainable Development, Ford Foundation


Last updated on Wed, September 7, 2016 8:57 PM