Degree Options

Degree Options


AFRE graduate students may take advantage of interdepartmental specializations offered by Michigan State University. Specializations act like a minor field, and they appear on your transcript. These graduate specializations are available through the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR).

Doctoral Dual Major Guidelines for AFRE and Economics

Updated July 2023

AFRE Ph.D. students may pursue a dual major in Economics. Graduates with a dual major receive one Ph.D. degree denoting majors in both departments. To complete the dual major, a Ph.D. student in AFRE or Economics must meet the degree requirements of both departments.

To satisfy the requirements in Economics, AFRE Ph.D. students who wish to pursue the dual major must complete core courses and pass Economics qualifying examinations in microeconomic theory, econometrics, and macroeconomics, all at the Economics pass level by the end of their first year. If the qualifying exam is failed on the first try (May), it must be re-taken the next time the exam is offered (August of the same year).

A student must apply and be approved for dual major status in the other department upon successfully completing their three qualifying exams, but no later than the end of their second year. Within this timeline, the student constructs a course plan that meets the requirements of both departments and must be approved by the Graduate Program Directors (GPDs) in both AFRE and Economics. The same course can be used to meet requirements of both programs subject to approval by both GPDs. Within this timeline, the student also constructs a guidance committee, which must have at least two AFRE members and two Economics members. Those faculty members with AFRE/Economics joint appointments can count as the Economics guidance committee members.

Dual major students must meet the comprehensive examination requirements of the department in which they originated. Comprehensive exams are met in both departments by fulfilling a research paper requirement. Students with AFRE as their home department fulfill the AFRE research paper requirement and students with Economics as their home department fulfill the Economics research paper requirement.

How AFRE Students Apply for Dual Major Status

After receiving an Economics pass grade on all three qualifying exams, complete the AFRE and Economics Dual Major Course Plan Form in D2L. This is an Excel spreadsheet in which you list the courses you plan to take to fulfill both departments’ requirements. Once completed, send the spreadsheet to the AFRE GPD with CC to the AFRE Academic Program Coordinator; also include in the email a list of your proposed dual major guidance committee members. From there, the AFRE GPD will review the form and proposed guidance committee composition and, if approved, will send the information to the Economics GPD for their review.

Once the dual major course plan and guidance committee have been approved by each department, enter your guidance committee in the SIS. Once this is fully approved, enter your course plan in the SIS.

While your guidance committee and course plan are routing in the SIS, you can begin working on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) form documenting your dual major plans. The AFRE-EC dual major fillable MOU PDF is available in D2L and the AFRE GPD will guide you on how to complete the form. Once the draft MOU is approved by the AFRE GPD, the MOU will be circulated for signatures from the student, their major professor, the AFRE and EC GPDs, and the CANR and College of Social Science Graduate Assistant/Associate Deans (GAADs).

Please note: If you have any extra courses that you have taken that you are not counting in either your AFRE or Economics course plans, you will need to list them as collateral courses in the notes section when entering your course plan in the SIS. These collateral courses should not be listed at all in your MOU; only the courses counting toward the dual major should be listed there.

Once all the aforementioned signatures have been obtained, you will upload the MOU in the SIS under “Requests” to submit it to the MSU Graduate School for their review. See the MSU Graduate School Dual Doctoral Major Request website (Procedure section) for further details ( You will receive an email from the Graduate School once a decision has been reached on your dual major request. If approved, the Graduate School will add “ECONO_DUAL” to your program plan in the SIS.

As noted above, this entire process, including approval by the Graduate School, must be completed by the end of your second year. Otherwise, per University rules, you will not be able to pursue a doctoral dual major at Michigan State University.

As you proceed in your program, if there are any changes to your course plan, guidance committee, or other aspects of your dual major plan as outlined in your approved dual major MOU, you must first get approval for these changes from the AFRE and Economics GPDs. After receiving approval, you will need to fill out a dual major addendum form. This form is available in D2L. After filling in the top sections of the form, please share it with the AFRE GPD for review. The form will then need to be reviewed and approved by your major professor, the AFRE and Economics GPDs, as well as both Colleges.

Environmental Science and Policy Doctoral Dual Major

A doctoral dual major in AFRE and Environmental Science and Policy is also available. Please see for details.