Environmental and Resource Economics


The Environmental and Resource Economics (ERE) field develops student expertise in economic theory and empirical methods for analyzing problems in environmental and natural resource economics. Relevant methods include dynamic optimization and simulation analysis, non-market valuation techniques, hedonic pricing, location theory, and policy evaluation under uncertainty. Learning these methods enables students to understand and study why certain markets fail to provide environmental and resource services efficiently, how formal and informal institutions can be constructed to promote more efficient provisioning of these services, and how to measure the associated economic gains and losses. Students also acquire advanced knowledge of a range of historical and contemporary environmental and natural resource problems and policies.


Faculty working in the ERE field have expertise in the economics of land use, water resources, energy, ecosystem management, non-market valuation, property rights, resource dynamics, and policy design to achieve environmental objectives. Faculty in the field collaborate extensively with graduate students and those working in other fields across the Department, as well as with researchers from other disciplines. 


ERE research programs cover a broad range of topics including water quality, economic sustainability, bioenergy economics and policy, prevention and control of invasive species, infectious disease in wildlife systems, corporate environmental management, recreational demand modeling, the design and analysis of economic incentives to achieve public policy objectives, and improvements in theory and empirical methods.

Course Programs

Ph.D. students with a major field in ERE take two required courses: 

  • AFRE 923 Advanced Environmental Economics
  • AFRE 925 Advanced Natural Resource Economics 

In addition, the Ph.D. major requires choosing one of the following two additional courses: 

  • AFRE 823 Environmental Economics Methods
  • AFRE 891 (Special Topics: Business, the Environment, and Sustainability) 

Ph.D. students can also choose from a range of other courses, both in and outside the Department, to support their ERE interests and meet other program course requirements. 

Masters students with an interest in environmental and resource economics put together a suitable course program in consultation with their major advisor and committee.

The ERE course program also links to an interdepartmental graduate specialization in environmental and resource economics directed by economists from across the college. By fulfilling the requirements of this specialization, which involves little if any additional coursework beyond that required for their Department degrees, students can receive a formal transcript certification indicating that a graduate specialization in environmental and resource economics has been accomplished. The specialization is available at the Masters and Ph.D. levels (details here).

Ph.D. students can also achieve a doctoral specialization in environmental science and policy (ESPP). For more information on the ESPP specialization, and for links to all doctoral programs with environmental content at MSU, see http://environment.msu.edu.

ERE students interested in regional economic issues can build a program in that area by following the recommendations for specializing in Regional Economics and State and Local Government Policy