Agricultural and Resource Economics (AREC)

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The Department offers both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from one of the nation's premier graduate programs in agricultural and resource economics. Both programs focus on the application of advanced microeconomic theory and econometrics to issues in agricultural economics, environmental and resource economics, and development economics. Courses are taught by leading researchers in those fields, who combine rigorous scholarship with extensive policy experience. The Department's faculty includes internationally prominent scholars in agricultural, environmental and resource, and development economics. In recognition of their research, Department faculty members have received such international awards as Germany's Alexander von Humboldt Prize, the American Economic Association's John Bates Clark Medal, and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association's Quality of Research Discovery and Publication of Enduring Quality Awards, among others. Several have been elected fellows of such professional associations as the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (formerly the American Agricultural Economics Association), the Association of Environmental and Resource Economics, the Econometric Society, and the American Statistical Association. Department faculty members have served as presidents of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and Association of Environmental and Resource Economists and as editors/associate editors of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, the Journal of Public Economics, and Environment and Development Economics, among others. One faculty member is currently a research fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research. For additional Department highlights, please visit The policy experience of the Department's faculty equals its scholarship in both quality and extent. Three have served on the staff of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Other policy experience includes service as consultants to agencies and organizations like the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank. The University's location in the Washington, D.C., area provides numerous opportunities for interaction with the World Bank, International Food Policy Research Institute, Resources for the Future, International Monetary Fund, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Agency for International Development, Food and Drug Administration, Inter-American Development Bank, Census Bureau, and a host of other such institutions and organizations. Questions about the Department's graduate programs should be directed to the Graduate Coordinator at or 301-405-1293.

Admissions Information

At a minimum, students entering either our M.S. or Ph.D. program are expected to have the following preparation:

  • Knowledge of macroeconomic theory at the intermediate level and microeconomic theory at the advanced level.
  • Knowledge of multivariate calculus and linear algebra.
  • Knowledge of elementary statistical methods. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, transcripts for all higher education, and three letters of recommendation are required with the application for admission. Part-time graduate study is not encouraged because no courses are taught in the evenings. Transfer from M.S. to Ph.D. Program Students enrolled in the Department's M.S. program may apply for admission to the Department's Ph.D. program by submitting a new Graduate School application, supplemental transcripts, and three letters of recommendation. The Graduate School application fee is waived if the student applies for the Ph.D. program in or before the semester in which the M.S. degree will be completed. Students within the Department's M.S. program need not submit GRE's when applying for the Ph.D. program.

    Application Deadlines
    Type of Applicant Fall Spring

    Domestic Applicants; US Citizens and Permanent Residents

    Deadline: January 15
    Preferred: January 15

    International Applicants seeking admission under F (student) or J (exchange visitor) visas, as well as those seeking admissions under A,E,G,H,I and L visas and immigrants.

    Deadline: January 15
    Preferred: January 15

    Application Requirements

    We normally admit M.S. and Ph.D. students for the fall semester only, since the first-year program consists of course sequences that begin only in the fall. Application for admission to both the Department's M.S. and Ph.D. programs is made through the Graduate School. In addition to the completed application form, the Graduate School requires and admission decisions depend on:

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores;
  • One copy of the transcript of record from all institutions attended after high school
  • Three letters of recommendation; and
  • Statement of purpose. Students from non-English-speaking countries are required to demonstrate English proficiency by providing scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
  • Degree Requirements

    Master of Science (M.S.)
    The M.S. program trains students to conduct economic research in the fields of agricultural economics, environmental and resource economics, and development economics. It provides rigorous training in microeconomic theory and econometrics and in the application of microeconomics and econometrics to policy issues. Students completing their MS degrees go on to work in U.S. government agencies, international organizations, and consulting firms. The M.S. program requires a minimum of 33 credits of coursework (i.e., 16 credits of electives in addition to the 17 credits of required coursework) and defense of a scholarly paper. No M.S. thesis is required. Required courses for the M.S. program consist of basic coursework in microeconomic theory and econometrics:

  • The first semester of the sequence in microeconomic theory (ECON 603).
  • A two-semester sequence in applied econometrics (AREC 623 and 624).
  • A one-semester course on mathematical methods (AREC 620).
  • A one-semester course on applications of microeconomic theory to agricultural and resource economic problems (AREC 610). The first-year coursework normally includes these 17 credits (3 credits each for ECON 603, AREC 620, AREC 610 plus 4 credits each for AREC 623 and AREC 624). M.S. students fulfill additional coursework requirements by taking electives to suit their own interests during their second year. Elective courses are normally selected from M.S. level courses (600 level or above) in AREC or ECON but may be taken in other disciplines with adviser approval. For detailed information on the scholarly paper, see the "Doctor of Philosophy" section below.

    Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
    The Ph.D. program trains students as professional research economists in the fields of agricultural economics, environmental and resource economics, and development economics. Students learn to disseminate research results in major professional media including journals, reports, conferences, and seminars. Rigorous training is provided in microeconomic theory, econometrics, and their application to policy issues. Students completing their Ph.D. degrees find employment in academia, U.S. government agencies, international organizations, and consulting firms. Requirements for the Ph.D. degree include a minimum of 43 credits of coursework, completion of a two-course field in one of the Department's three major areas, completion of a research paper requirement, development and defense of a dissertation prospectus, 12 credits of Ph.D. dissertation research (AREC 899), and successful defense of a Ph.D. dissertation. The first year of the program consists of the following core courses in microeconomic theory, econometrics, and mathematical methods: AREC 610, AREC 620, AREC 623, AREC 624, ECON 603, and ECON 604. The second year of the program consists mainly of six elective field courses. All Ph.D. students are required to complete one two-course field out of the following: Agricultural Policy (AREC 825, AREC 832), Development Economics (AREC 845, AREC 846), or Environmental and Resource Economics (AREC 785, ECON 781 or AREC 783-formerly 869W). Four additional 3-credit PhD-level field courses are required; at least two from courses offered by the Department with the remainder from courses offered by Economics or another supporting department on campus with adviser approval. During the spring semester of their second year, students also take a 1-credit course intended to help them develop a written dissertation proposal (AREC 891-formerly 869K). The final course requirement is AREC 892-formerly 869P, Advanced Topics in Agricultural Economics (3 credits), which consists of more intensive preparation for writing a dissertation prospectus. It is normally taken during the fall semester of the third year. This requirement is waived for any student who has completed a dissertation prospectus and passed a prospectus examination before the fall semester of the third year. The writing of a research paper is required during the first year and a half of the graduate program. The paper allows students to engage in original research early in their graduate education. Students who do not pass following the initial submission may revise and resubmit their papers in response to comments they receive. A student who is unable to achieve a Ph.D. pass on the paper requirement after two attempts is not permitted to continue in the Ph.D. program. For more information about the research paper, see Admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree requires:

  • A "B-" or better in each of the first-year courses.
  • A B (3.0) average or better in graduate coursework,
  • Passing the research paper requirement, and
  • Having an approved Ph.D. dissertation prospectus. The prospectus presents the student's dissertation proposal, including a topic, background, literature review, and proposed methodology. It is prepared under the guidance of and must be approved by a three-person core committee headed by the thesis advisor and appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies.

    Facilities and Special Resources

    The AREC Department provides a 15-seat computer lab for the exclusive use of our graduate students. The lab is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Another 25-seat lab is available by reservation for classes, presentations, and research (e.g., experimental economics sessions). These labs are equipped with Pano Logic zero (aka thin) client devices that connect end users to desktop virtual machines. This solution allows graduate students the ability to remotely access a virtual desktop with all the applications listed below, as well as their files stored on the network servers. The following applications are available at this time: ArcInfo, Filezilla (FTP Client), Fortran, Google Earth, Limdep, Maple, Mathematica, Matlab, Mozilla Firefox, MS Office 2007, Nlogit, Perl, R, SAS, Scientific Word, Stata, TextPad, and WinEdt. Graduate students can access the AREC network and Internet from home via several remote access methods. A multifunction printer/scanner/copier is available in the graduate student computer lab. Wireless access is available to the campus network. The Department offers close proximity to an incomparable array of government agencies, international institutions, and non-governmental organizations devoted to environmental issues, agricultural policy, natural resource management, and international development. Opportunities for attending stimulating seminars abound. Many students find useful work experience, access to data, and cutting-edge thesis topics as well as future employment through these organizations. These include (all within approximately 10 miles) the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Economic Research Service, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Resources for the Future, the Joint Institute for Food Science and Nutrition, the Joint Global Change Research Institute, the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Food Policy Research Institute, the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center with its National Agricultural Library, as well as the U.S. Capitol, Senate, and House of Representatives.

    Financial Assistance

    Graduate assistantships are offered to qualified applicants on the basis of past academic performance, research potential, and availability of funds. Many full-time students in the Department hold assistantships or some other form of financial aid. Part- time and summer work are sometimes available for students who do not have assistantships. Graduate fellowships are also available on a competitive basis. The Department offers financial assistance in the form of graduate assistantships and fellowships. To apply, use the form for requesting financial assistance included in the Graduate School application packet. Graduate Assistantships Many of our students are supported by graduate assistantships with responsibilities for either research or teaching. Graduate assistants are expected to work an average of 20 hours a week on their research or teaching duties. They must maintain at least a B average. They are considered employees of the University and are thus covered by health insurance. In addition to a competitive salary, graduate assistants receive tuition remission for up to 10 credits in the fall and spring semesters and up to 4 credits each summer semester. Fellowships The Department awards a limited number of fellowships each year to highly qualified applicants. Annual fellowship stipends are highly competitive. Fellowship awards also include tuition remission of up to twelve credits per semester. Fellowships are awarded to Ph.D. students for two (2) years and M.S. students for one (1) year. After the expiration of the fellowship, the Department expects to provide Ph.D. fellowship recipients with an additional two years of support (and M.S. fellowship recipients with an additional year of support) as a graduate assistant subject to satisfactory academic progress. All applicants for financial aid are automatically considered for fellowships as well as assistantships. Financial assistance in the form of loans and work study may also be available. Interested students should contact the University's Office of Student Financial Aid.

    Contact Information

    The AREC Graduate Program website at provides course requirements, examination procedures, and descriptive material for the M.S. and Ph.D. programs.

    Graduate Program
    Agricultural and Resource Economics 2200 Symons Hall
    University of Maryland
    College Park, MD  20742
    Telephone: (301) 405-1293


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