Doctoral students are required to 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 Ph.D. 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 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. 

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 Ph.D. 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 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 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.

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 in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

For details on the agricultural and applied economics Ph.D. application process, please visit:

To Apply

For more information on the A A E Ph.D. degree please contact:

Mary Treleven
Graduate Program Coordinator
Phone: 608-262-9489

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 processes 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 Ph.D. 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


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

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (26 credits out of 51 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
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 A A E faculty. The Ph.D. also requires a dissertation. Students must make oral defense of dissertation.
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a 9-credit minor.

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 in consultation with advisor.
International Development
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
Minor Field9
Students take 9 credits in either an external or distributed doctoral minor.
Total Credits33

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

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count 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.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from the UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval students are allowed to count no more than 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.


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.


15 credits

Time Constraints

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 by required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.


Funding packages are offered to selected Ph.D. applicants.

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.

  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.

Faculty: Professors Foltz (chair), Barham, Chavas, Coxhead, Deller, Gould, Mitchell, Phaneuf, Provencher, Rutherford, Stiegert; Associate Professors Alix-Garcia, Du, Grainger, Hueth, Schechter, Shi; Assistant Professors Conroy, Dower, Parker, Tjernström; Faculty Associate Dong