Doctoral students develop comprehensive proficiency in economic theory, mathematics, econometrics, and major and minor fields of concentration. In addition to the prerequisites for the master's program, doctoral applicants should also have mathematical statistics and linear algebra. Candidates for the PhD degree must complete the general requirements of the Graduate School, as well as further requirements which are detailed in the department's application material and website.

The Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics offers graduate degree programs leading to the 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, many students have the opportunity to 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. 

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. The PhD curriculum is grounded in comprehensive training in economic theory and econometrics and 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. A A E 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. A majority of the department's PhD 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 international area studies programs. Each program has its own rich intellectual life of seminars and other activities.

The department provides student office space, a lounge, and IT support for its approximately 80 graduate students. The Taylor–Hibbard Club, the department's graduate student organization, serves as a link between graduate students and the faculty, elects student representatives to department committees, and promotes academic and social activities for its members.


Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline January 15
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not exclusively in English, must provide an English proficiency test score earned within two years of the anticipated term of enrollment. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Requirements for Admission policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1241.
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

For details on the agricultural and applied economics PhD application process, visit:

To Apply

For more information on the Agricultural and Applied Economics, PhD degree contact the graduate program manager (see contact information box).


Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

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 applying for the PhD who wish to be reviewed for the university fellowship competition must complete their applications by December 15.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

Mode of Instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 26 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Refer to the Graduate School: Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1203.
Other Grade Requirements Grades of B or above in core curriculum coursework.
Assessments and Examinations 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. The major field prelim is administered and graded by the Agricultural and Applied Economics faculty. The PhD also requires a dissertation. Students must make oral defense of dissertation.
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Graduate School Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or graduate/professional certificate. Refer to the Graduate School: Breadth Requirement in Doctoral Training policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1200.

Required Courses

Economic Theory
ECON 711 Economic Theory-Microeconomics Sequence3
ECON 713 Economic Theory: Microeconomics Sequence3
ECON 712 Economic Theory-Macroeconomics Sequence3
or ECON 714 Economic Theory; Macroeconomics Sequence
Statistics and Econometrics6
Economic Statistics and Econometrics I
and Economic Statistics and Econometrics II
Major Field9
Complete one of the following fields:
Community Economics
Choose 9 credits of A A E courses in consultation with advisor. Courses outside of A A E may be taken with advisor permission.
Development Economics
Foundations of Development Economics
Frontiers in Development Economics 1
Frontiers in Development Economics 2
Economics of Agriculture
Foundations of Agricultural Economics
Frontiers in Agricultural Economics 1
Frontiers in Agricultural Economics 2
Environmental and Resource Economics
Foundations of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
Frontiers in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics 1
Frontiers in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics 2
Breadth Requirement9
Students take 9 credits in either an external or distributed doctoral minor or a graduate/professional certificate.
Students enroll in credits of A A E 990 to reach the minimum credit requirement.Minimum of 18
Total Credits51

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to transfer no more than 18 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

No credits from an other institution or UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a University Special Student at UW–Madison

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.


Refer to the Graduate School: Probation policy.

Advisor / Committee

Every graduate student is assigned to a faculty member advisor. To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, students are expected to meet with their advisor at least once a semester.

Credits Per Term Allowed

15 credits

Time Limits

Students must pass the microeconomic theory requirement before the beginning of year 3. Students must finish all required coursework and pass the major field exam before the beginning of year 4. Students must defend a dissertation proposal before the end of the first semester of year 4.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Refer to the Graduate School: Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences: Grievance Policy

In the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), any student who feels unfairly treated by a member of the CALS faculty or staff has the right to complain about the treatment and to receive a prompt hearing. Some complaints may arise from misunderstandings or communication breakdowns and be easily resolved; others may require formal action. Complaints may concern any matter of perceived unfairness.

To ensure a prompt and fair hearing of any complaint, and to protect the rights of both the person complaining and the person at whom the complaint is directed, the following procedures are used in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Any student, undergraduate or graduate, may use these procedures, except employees whose complaints are covered under other campus policies.

  1. The student should first talk with the person at whom the complaint is directed. Most issues can be settled at this level. Others may be resolved by established departmental procedures.
  2. If the student is unsatisfied, and the complaint involves any unit outside CALS, the student should seek the advice of the dean or director of that unit to determine how to proceed.
    1. If the complaint involves an academic department in CALS the student should proceed in accordance with item 3 below.
    2. If the grievance involves a unit in CALS that is not an academic department, the student should proceed in accordance with item 4 below.
  3. The student should contact the department’s grievance advisor within 120 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment. The departmental administrator can provide this person’s name. The grievance advisor will attempt to resolve the problem informally within 10 working days of receiving the complaint, in discussions with the student and the person at whom the complaint is directed.
    1. If informal mediation fails, the student can submit the grievance in writing to the grievance advisor within 10 working days of the date the student is informed of the failure of the mediation attempt by the grievance advisor. The grievance advisor will provide a copy to the person at whom the grievance is directed.
    2. The grievance advisor will refer the complaint to a department committee that will obtain a written response from the person at whom the complaint is directed, providing a copy to the student. Either party may request a hearing before the committee. The grievance advisor will provide both parties a written decision within 20 working days from the date of receipt of the written complaint.
    3. If the grievance involves the department chairperson, the grievance advisor or a member of the grievance committee, these persons may not participate in the review.
    4. If not satisfied with departmental action, either party has 10 working days from the date of notification of the departmental committee action to file a written appeal to the CALS Equity and Diversity Committee. A subcommittee of this committee will make a preliminary judgement as to whether the case merits further investigation and review. If the subcommittee unanimously determines that the case does not merit further investigation and review, its decision is final. If one or more members of the subcommittee determine that the case does merit further investigation and review, the subcommittee will investigate and seek to resolve the dispute through mediation. If this mediation attempt fails, the subcommittee will bring the case to the full committee. The committee may seek additional information from the parties or hold a hearing. The committee will present a written recommendation to the dean who will provide a final decision within 20 working days of receipt of the committee recommendation.
  4. If the alleged unfair treatment occurs in a CALS unit that is not an academic department, the student should, within 120 calendar days of the alleged incident, take his/her grievance directly to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. The dean will attempt to resolve the problem informally within 10 working days of receiving the complaint. If this mediation attempt does not succeed the student may file a written complaint with the dean who will refer it to the CALS Equity and Diversity Committee. The committee will seek a written response from the person at whom the complaint is directed, subsequently following other steps delineated in item 3d above.


Funding packages are offered to selected PhD applicants.

Professional Development

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Program Resources

The Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics invites applied economists to participate in a seminar series. Students get various presentation opportunities to present their latest research in department and student seminars. All students are required to take a research colloquium which helps students develop their dissertation proposal and plan for their job search. Faculty provide mock interviews and detailed feedback on interviewing skills. A A E placement information is on the department website.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Articulates and critiques theories and empirical methods to address research issues in agricultural, environmental, international development, or community economics.
  2. Identifies data sources, applies appropriate econometric methodologies, and evaluates quantitative evidence relevant to questions in agricultural, environmental, international development, or community economics.
  3. Creates scholarship that makes a substantive contribution to the chosen major field and/or to society.
  4. Clearly communicates applied economics issues, methods, and empirical analysis using both written and oral strategies.
  5. Recognizes and applies principles of ethical, collegial and professional conduct.



Deller, Steven
Foltz, Jeremy
Mitchell, Paul
Phaneuf, Daniel
Rutherford, Thomas
Schechter, Laura
Shi, Guanming (Chair)

Associate Professors

Conroy, Tessa
Dower, Paul
Du, Sheldon
Grainger, Corbett
Nicholson, Charles
Parker, Dominic

Assistant Professors

Frye, Dustin
Hadachek, Jeff
Jerch, Rhiannon
Johnston, Sarah
Mukherjee, Priya
Stevens, Andrew
van Rijn, Jordan
Wiseman, Eleanor

Faculty Associates

Beach, Jeremy
Berner, Courtney
Yi, Jing

Affiliate Faculty

Fletcher, Jason
Kagy, Gisella
Raynor, Jennifer
Timmins, Christopher


Roth, Kevin
Schmidt, Silke

Graduate Advisor

Mary Treleven