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. Please scroll down for information on:

  • How to Apply
  • Admission Criteria
  • Previous Academic Performance & Preparation
  • GRE Performance
  • TOEFL Performance
  • Diversity & Leadership
  • Visiting

How To Apply

  • The application period for consideration for the Fall 2024 cohort is now closed.

    The application period for consideration for the Fall 2025 cohort will begin in August 2024. Please plan to apply by December 31, 2024, for full consideration for funding. Applications received after December 31 will be considered, but admission and funding offers may begin in January, so the earlier an application is completed, the better the chances of getting an offer. The final application deadline for the Fall 2025 cohort will be February 1, 2025.

  • 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. Please be sure to include Fall Semester 2023 transcripts if you take courses that semester. International applicants: Please also review the MSU Graduate School’s requirements for transcripts under the “International Transcripts” section here.
  • Official GRE scores (for all students), using MSU’s institution code, 1465, must be uploaded from your testing institution.
  • Official TOEFL scores (for non-exempt international students), using MSU’s institution code, 1465, must be uploaded from your testing institution. MSU is also currently accepting IELTS and Duolingo test scores. International applicants: Please see the MSU Graduate School’s information on English language competency requirements here for further details.
  • 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. 
  • A table summarizing all math, microeconomics, probability/statistics, and econometrics courses taken. See the “Previous Academic Performance & Preparation” section for further information and guidance.
  • 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 Criteria 

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 Calculus I and II, introductory and intermediate microeconomics, and at least one semester of statistics. 

Ph.D. applicants that have completed (or are completing) an M.S. degree should have taken master’s level courses in mathematics for economists, microeconomics, probability/statistics, and econometrics. The mathematics for economists course should cover multivariable calculus, linear algebra, and real analysis concepts.

Ph.D. applicants without M.S.-level training should have taken advanced undergraduate-level courses in microeconomics, probability/statistics, and econometrics, as well as multivariable calculus (or Calculus III), linear algebra, and real analysis.

Strong Ph.D. program applicants lacking real analysis are encouraged to apply but will be advised to complete an online or in-person course on or undertake focused self-directed study in real analysis prior to the beginning of fall semester. Alternatively, Ph.D. program applicants needing additional math preparation may complete one year in the AFRE M.S. program to bolster their preparation for the Ph.D. program. Conditional on strong performance in Year 1 master’s courses, such students can apply to transfer directly to the Ph.D. program.

All M.S. and Ph.D. applicants are required to upload as part of their application a table listing all math, microeconomics, probability/statistics, and econometrics courses taken and the following information about each course: the institution where the course was taken, the course number, course title, a list of the main topics covered in the course, and course grade.  

GRE Performance 

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. 

TOEFL Performance 

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.