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). 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.
  • All applicants must apply online. The application procedures are slightly different for domestic and international applicants, so please use the one that fits your situation.
  • There is an application fee. The fee must be paid before an application can be evaluated.
  • Copies of official transcripts 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 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 sent from your degree-granting institution(s) directly to the Office of Admissions will be required.
  • 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.
  • 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 and any obstacles you overcame. Your academic statement should describe the areas of study that most interest you and what you plan to do in your career. 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 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. 

For international applicants, there is a checklist here. Please follow this checklist closely to ensure that you have requested all of the appropriate information to be sent to MSU. 

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. 

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 

Successful M.S. applicants will generally have at least a 3.0 grade point average, on a 4.0 scale, in their undergraduate program. Successful Ph.D. applicants will generally have at least a 3.3 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, and microeconomics. 

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.