Ph.D. Apply

Thank you for your interest in applying to the Agricultural and Applied Economics department at UW-Madison. Our department offers a variety of study opportunities for graduates and undergraduates, focused on four research areas: international development economics, economics of agriculture, environmental and resource economics and community development economics. Undergraduate admissions information is available here. The information below is for prospective graduate students. If you have questions, please contact our Graduate Program Manager for graduate admissions.

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Application Requirements

  • Online application
  • Statement of purpose
    Summarize educational goals, past experiences relevant to future study, and career plans. Include details about your specific research interests. Information about educational background, publications or other relevant details should be included. Use pdf format to upload to the online application.
  • Three letters of recommendation

    Solicit detailed letters from persons who are able to judge your qualifications for graduate work in this field. Most useful are letters from faculty who have taught you in one or more classes. In the application, you will supply their email addresses, and the Graduate School will send them instructions on how to upload their letters.

  • Transcripts from all colleges or universities

    You will be asked to upload unofficial transcripts or copies of official transcripts into the online application. The Graduate School will request official transcripts if you are admitted to the department.

    International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation.

  • Course inventory

    So that we can better evaluate your quantitative training, please list all the economics, math and statistics courses you have taken.  Include the  textbook(s) used, course number, course title, and your grade for the class.  Put this in a list or table format and upload your document as a pdf.

  • Graduate Record Exam scores

    GRE scores are required and must be from within the previous 5 years. For score reporting, use the UW-Madison institution code of 1846. No department code necessary. GMAT scores are not accepted in lieu of GRE.

  • English proficiency for international students. International degree-seeking applicants must prove English proficiency. See the Graduate School requirements for more information.
  • C.V.
  • Writing sample – optional
  • Application fee

Cost of Study and Financial Aid

Tuition and fees

Costs of graduate study

Funding information for international students

All Ph.D. applicants who wish to be considered for a fellowship must submit all application materials by December 15. The Admissions Committee will review all applications received by this deadline and nominate students to the appropriate committees for review. Fellowship recipients are notified in mid to late February and have until April 15 to accept offers.

To be considered for other departmental funding, applications must be received by January 15. Outstanding applicants to the graduate program are considered for full funding in the form of stipends, tuition remission and health insurance associated with teaching and research assistantships or fellowships. No special application is required. We seek a good match between the applicant’s research interests and the projects being carried out in the department.

Selected admitted applicants will receive funding offers starting in March. We regret that we cannot make offers to all admitted applicants, but it is sometimes possible a second round of offers are made after the mid-April deadline for acceptance adhered to by all major U.S. graduate programs.

Research Assistantships

Many students are supported through research assistantships, awarded in the department or in other related units. Research assistants work under the supervision of a faculty member on research related to their areas of interest. For students entering the program, research assistant awards are determined by the Graduate Committee at the same time admission decisions are made. Students who have been recommended for financial assistance will have their files reviewed by faculty who have funding available. Therefore, it is not necessary to contact individual faculty about funding opportunities.  The assistantships provide a stipend, tuition remission and health insurance coverage. Students pay student fees.

The Graduate Committee seeks to continue supporting those students who are making satisfactory progress in their studies. So, while it is not usually possible for the committee to make multi-year funding guarantees to incoming students, the presumption is that those students will continue to receive financial support.

Teaching Assistantships

The department seeks to provide a structured teaching experience for all students expecting to go on the academic job market.  Several year- or semester-long teaching assistantships are awarded each year.


The department’s Ph.D. applicants have competed well for university-wide fellowships, awarded to outstanding students from the U.S. or abroad. The Graduate Committee screens all files completed by the December deadline and selects several candidates for nomination. No special application form is required.

The department also offers a graduate fellowship established in honor of Prof. Willard F. “Fritz” Mueller.  This fellowship honors the legacy of path-breaking contributions by Prof. Mueller and his colleagues in the areas of industrial organization, food systems research and economic policy. It provides a full stipend, tuition waiver and health insurance for the first year of study. Applicants to the AAE graduate program should specify their interest in being considered for the fellowship; there is no special application form.

Other UW funding opportunities

Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships.  Support the study of more than 60 modern foreign languages and provide a full stipend, tuition remission and health insurance.  U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible.  A separate application to the relevant area studies program is required; the deadline is in early February.

Science and Medicine Graduate Research Scholars Program strives to enhance the experiences of underrepresented graduate students in the College of Agricultural Sciences and the School of Medicine and Public Health. SciMed GRS coordinates professional development opportunities and community gatherings of graduate scholars.  Applicants may be eligible for Advanced Opportunity Fellowships administered through this program.

Ph.D. Admissions Information

Course prerequisites

  • Intermediate level microeconomics and macroeconomics
  • Two semesters of calculus (including differential and integral)
  • Linear algebra
  • One additional semester of advanced mathematical analysis

Number of credits of taught courses (excluding research credits): 42

Average time to degree: 5 years

Ph.D. Admissions Timeline

Early November: Take the Graduate Record Exam

December 15: Fellowships deadline

January 15: All other applications due

February: Fellowships recipients notified

Early March: Admissions and financial aid offers announced

April 15: Final day to accept fellowships and financial aid offers

Profile of Recent Ph.D. Admissions

Applicants Admitted Applicants Applicants Admitted with Financial Aid
GRE Verbal Mean 157 158 161
GRE Quantitative Mean 165 166 166
GRE Analytical Mean 3.8 4.0 4.6
Undergraduate GPA 3.6 3.7 3.8
TOEFL Score 100 103 109

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Application Procedures | FAQ Academics | FAQ Admission and Financial Aid |

PHD Program FAQs


Q The on-line status check shows that you have not received my uploads of transcripts, CV or other uploads even though I sent them days ago. Why?

A All updates are done manually so there can be a delay. You can check your application to see if your materials are uploaded. Do not send any official transcripts unless you are accepted to the program. If accepted, you will send transcripts directly to the Graduate School, 217 Bascom Hall, 500 Lincoln Avenue, Madison, WI 53706. The graduate school must receive them before you begin the program.

Q I can’t get my fall grades on a transcript by December 15.  Will I still be considered for a fellowship?

A Yes. Please upload an unofficial transcript by December 15 and another one with grades by January 15.

Q Is there a minimum grade point average or test score required for admission?

A The Graduate School requires an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) or the equivalent for admission. There is no cutoff for GRE scores. Below are average scores for accepted candidates. All application materials are taken into consideration when making admission decisions.

Average GPA:      3.8

Average GRE V:   155/69%

Average GRE Q: 166/91%

Average TOEFL: 100

Q What are the institution and department codes I should give to ETS so that my GRE or TOEFL scores will come to you?

A The institution code for UW-Madison is 1846. You do not need to list a code for agricultural economics. Our Graduate School will obtain scores electronically and load them into an applicant database accessible by any department.

Q I am an international student with a Master’s degree from a U.S. university. Do I need to submit the TOEFL score?

A No. Your U.S. studies exempt you from this requirement. Generally, if you have studied in an institution in which English is the language of instruction, for two years, you do not have to take an English Language examination.

Q Is there a form for letters of recommendation?

A No special form is required. Recommendation writers should follow emailed instructions for electronically submitting letters.

Q Is there a separate application form for students wishing to be considered for fellowships and assistantships?

No. We review all applications which are complete by the December 15 and January 15 deadlines for financial aid. December 15 is the priority deadline. Those applications will be considered first for funding.

Q I cannot remember the titles of my math and economics textbooks needed for the course inventory form you require. What should I do?

A Try to recall the author’s name or give us some indication of the level at which the course was being taught (introductory, intermediate, advanced).

Q Do you admit students for the spring semester?

A No. Courses are sequenced such that students entering in the spring would lose a semester or two. Also, financial aid decisions are made in February for the cohort of students entering in the fall.

Q Can I apply to both the departments of Agricultural and Applied Economics and Economics? What is needed to do so?

A Yes. You can submit up to three applications with one application fee.

Q I can’t afford the application fee – can I apply for a fee waiver?

A There are no fee waivers at this time.

Q Can I apply to the Ph.D. program with only a bachelor’s degree?

A Yes. Students who do not have a Master’s degree will take Master’s-level courses in their first year, followed by Ph.D. level courses in the second year.

Questions about Academics

Q What is the pass rate for your microeconomics theory preliminary exam?

A The average pass rate has been around 90% over the past decade or so. Currently, students who get grades of B or better in the Ph.D. level microeconomics theory courses can elect not to sit for the prelim exam.

Q I’m not yet certain if I want a Ph.D. If I apply to the Master’s program, can I later apply to go on for a Ph.D.?

A Yes. You can apply at the end of your first year of study, though Master’s students are not considered for financial aid.

Q How is your program ranked?

A There are many rankings, with Wisconsin consistently placing in the top five to ten programs nationally.


Q I am an international student and cannot attend your university without receiving full financial support. Can you tell me how many international students you fund?

A We understand that many international students need full support in order to meet the financial requirements of the university. About half of the entering cohort each year are international students who have received funding from the department.

Q Should I contact individual faculty to speak with them about my research interests in order to be considered for funding?

A No. Faculty wishing to fund a new graduate student are given files of appropriate candidates to review. Therefore, it is important for students to be specific about their research interests in their statement of purpose.

Q What is your acceptance rate?

A  Each year we receive about 170 applications. Of those, we admit 35-40 and we offer funding to 7-13. We don’t have a set cohort size.

Q  What is the size of your entering class?

A  In the past couple years about 9-11 for the PhD program. There are currently about 60 PhD students and 25 MS AAE students.

Q When will I hear from the admissions committee about my application or financial aid?

A Admissions decisions for the PhD program are made after all files are reviewed in February. Funding decisions are also made at that time, but some applicants may receive financial aid offers later in the spring as new sources of funding become available.

Visit AAE

We welcome you to come visit the department. Any prospective students who would like to arrange an on-campus visit should contact the Graduate Program Coordinator at least two weeks before coming. We will arrange meetings with students and faculty, to help you learn as much as you can about our programs.

Visit UW-Madison Official Page


By November Take GRE:  GRE scores must be from within the previous 5 years.
December 15 Complete application due for priority consideration for admission and funding
January 15 All applications due
Febraury Admissions and funding offers emailed
April 15 Deadline to accept financial aid offers


By November Take GRE:  GRE scores must be from within the previous 5 years.
December 15 Complete application due for priority consideration for admission and funding
January 15 All applications due
Febraury Admissions and funding offers emailed
April 15 Deadline to accept financial aid offers