Applying and Visiting
Thank you for your interest in the Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics (AFRE) M.S. or Ph.D. program! This page explains how to apply and the criteria we use to evaluate applications.
How To Apply
- Please apply by December 31 to have your application considered for entry the following Fall Semester (August of the following year). The MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) has several internal deadlines for departments to submit nominations for MSU Graduate School-funded fellowships and assistantships (i.e., University Fellowships and Academic Achievement Graduate Assistantships), and you will not be eligible for consideration for these funding opportunities if your application is received after December 31. Applications received after December 31 may be considered in general, but admission and funding offers may begin in January, so the earlier an application is completed, the better the chances of getting an offer. Applications received after February 1 will not be considered.
- All applicants must apply online.
- International applicants: Please review the information here from the MSU Graduate School regarding requirements for international applicants. Please note that when you apply to our program, you do not need to submit proof of financial support. If you are admitted and are self-funding, or are being funded from an external source, that is when proof of financial support will be required. However, if you have funding from an external source, please discuss this in your academic statement.
- There is an application fee. The fee must be paid before an application can be evaluated.
- Copies of official transcripts and diplomas from each higher educational institution you have attended will be required. You should arrange to have these sent directly to the MSU Office of Admissions from your institution(s). You can upload unofficial transcripts and diplomas in the application portal, and we can use these to do initial evaluations of applications. However, if you are admitted to the program, official transcripts and diplomas sent from your degree-granting institution(s) directly to the Office of Admissions will be required. International applicants: Please also review the MSU Graduate School’s requirements for transcripts under the “Non-English Transcripts” section here.
- Official GRE scores (for all students), using MSU’s institution code, 1465, must be uploaded from your testing institution. International applicants: Please also review the MSU Graduate School’s "Information on GRE Scores” section here.
- Official TOEFL scores (for non-exempt international students), using MSU’s institution code, 1465, must be uploaded from your testing institution. International applicants: Please review the MSU Graduate School’s information on English language competency requirements here.
- Personal and academic statements are required and can be completed as part of your web application or uploaded as separate documents in the application portal. Your personal statement should outline your life’s journey, how you came to your decision to pursue graduate studies in agricultural, food, and resource economics, and any obstacles you have overcome in your personal life or academic/professional journey. If you have held leadership positions in academic or community organizations, done volunteer work, or promoted diversity, equity, or inclusion, please discuss this in your personal statement and include relevant entries in the CV/resume you submit with your application. Your academic statement should describe the areas of study in agricultural, food, or resource economics that most interest you, particular research topics or questions you wish to explore during your graduate studies (if known at the time of application), and your career goals. If there are particular AFRE faculty that you would be interested in working with, please discuss who and why in your academic statement. A discussion of how your research goals align with those of specific AFRE faculty is also helpful. Please note that there is no length requirement for the statements.
- Three letters of reference must be completed and sent via the application portal by your referees. Instructions will be provided during the application process.
- You will also upload your CV or resume in the application portal.
- You can request financial support for your program during the application process.
Applications must be complete with a paid application fee before the AFRE Admissions Committee can evaluate a prospective student for admission and funding.
Admission to AFRE graduate programs is competitive. We are only able to accept around 20 new students for admission each year, including both M.S. and Ph.D. We take a holistic approach to admissions and consider many factors, including previous academic background and performance, GRE scores, previous work and life experiences, potential to add to diversity and leadership, and the consistency of applicant research interests with ongoing research programs in the Department.
Previous Academic Performance & Preparation
Successful M.S. applicants will generally have an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Successful Ph.D. applicants will generally have at least a 3.5 grade point average in their M.S. program or an exceptionally strong undergraduate degree performance. The quality of the degree-granting institution is considered, and strong grades are expected in math, statistics/econometrics, and microeconomics.
M.S. applicants should have taken at least one semester of statistics, as well as Calculus II and intermediate microeconomics.
Ph.D. applicants that have completed (or are completing) an M.S. degree should have taken master’s level mathematics for economists, microeconomics, probability theory/statistics, and econometrics. The mathematics for economists course should cover Calculus III and linear algebra concepts; otherwise, applicants are strongly encouraged to take supplemental courses in Calculus III and linear algebra to prepare for Ph.D.-level study in microeconomics and econometrics. Ph.D. applicants without M.S.-level training should have taken advanced undergraduate-level microeconomics, probability theory/statistics, and econometrics, as well as linear algebra and Calculus III. Real analysis is strongly recommended for Ph.D. applicants. Although not strictly required for admission, admitted students that have not taken real analysis prior to starting their Ph.D. studies in AFRE will be strongly encouraged to take it during their first year, which may delay taking the Ph.D. microeconomic theory course sequence and associated qualifying exam until their second year.
All M.S. and Ph.D. applicants are encouraged to explain their math background in their academic statement or in a table accompanying their CV summarizing the content of any math courses taken; this is particularly important in cases where course titles listed in transcript(s) do not clearly indicate the content of the math courses.
AFRE requires the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for all applicants. We do not accept the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). There is no absolute GRE score requirement, and GRE scores for admitted applicants vary considerably, depending on English language skills and the time taken to prepare. However, GRE scores in the 70th percentile or higher will increase chances of acceptance. The Quantitative component of the GRE is given the most weight.
Michigan State University requires the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam for all non-exempt international students. For information on automatic exemptions, please visit the Graduate School website. If you believe your situation qualifies you for a special exemption, contact the AFRE Academic Program Coordinator for the graduate program. The University’s minimum required TOEFL score can be found here.
Diversity and Leadership
Along with other admission criteria, AFRE reviews each application for the potential to add to the diversity and leadership of the Department, University, and profession. As a graduate program, we are committed to the University's mission of diversity and equality in higher education. We encourage applicants to reflect on their potential contributions to diversity and leadership in the personal and academic statements section of their application.
Prospective graduate students are welcome to visit the Department. In the spring of each year, the Department holds a visit day when a group of prospective students can learn about our programs and meet with faculty members, current graduate students, and staff. The visit day is the best time to visit, but students who want to come at a different time are also welcome. Please contact the AFRE Academic Program Coordinator for the graduate program if you would like to arrange a visit.