Degree Options

Specializations

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.  

Dual Major Guidelines for AFRE and Economics

Fall 2018 through Summer 2021
(See footnotes for policy changes that will go into effect in Fall 2021)

Ph.D. students may pursue a dual major with 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 pursue the dual major must complete core courses and pass Economics qualifying examinations at the Economics pass level by the spring of their second year (see footnote 1). If students do not pass all three exams at the Economics pass level by the spring of their second year, there will be insufficient time to acquire all the necessary approvals for the dual major by the end of their second year (see footnote 2). Qualifying exams are in microeconomic theory, econometrics, and macroeconomic theory. The courses and qualifying exams for at least one of these areas must be taken in the first year of the program. 

Qualifying examinations must be taken at the first opportunity immediately following the semester in which the corresponding courses were taken. If the qualifying exam is failed on the first try (spring), it must be re-taken the next time the exam is offered (fall 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 program plan that meets the requirements of both departments and must be approved by the Graduate Program Director (GPD) of both AFRE and Economics. The same course can be used to meet requirements of both programs, subject to GPD approval. Also within this timeline, the student constructs a guidance committee that must have at least two members from each of the two departments. 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 research paper requirements. 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 which courses you plan to take to fulfill both departments’ requirements. Once completed, send the spreadsheet to the Academic Program Coordinator in AFRE, your home department. From there, the GPD in AFRE will review the form, and if approved, will send to the GPD in Economics for their review and approval as well. 

Once the course program plans have been approved by each department, the process for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) form can begin. This is a form that is required by the Graduate School to route alongside your GradPlan for approvals. The Academic Program Coordinator will send you the MOU, and will ask you to complete the form and route it to your major professor for their signature. From there, you’ll need to return the MOU to the Academic Program Coordinator so that next steps can be initiated. 

The Academic Program Coordinator will let you know when it is time to submit your GradPlan for approvals. You’ll need to make sure to request a dual major at the same time you submit your GradPlan. The course program plans on your MOU must match your GradPlan exactly. If you have any extra courses that you have taken that you are not counting in either your AFRE or Economics program plans, you’ll need to list them as collateral courses in the notes section in GradPlan. These collateral courses should not be listed at all in your MOU; only the courses counting toward your program plans should be listed there. 

Once your MOU and GradPlan have been approved by both departments and all guidance committee members, the Colleges and Graduate School will review your request for a dual major and, if everything is in order, will approve your request.

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

Footnotes:

(1) Note: Beginning with AFRE Ph.D. students starting the Ph.D. theory sequence in Fall 2021, AFRE Ph.D. students that wish to pursue the dual major with Economics will be required to pass the microeconomic theory and econometrics qualifying exams at the Economics pass level by the end of their first year, and pass the macroeconomics qualifying exam at the Economics pass level by the spring of their second year.

(2) Students requiring a second attempt on a given qualifying examination in August of their second year will have difficulty obtaining all the required approvals for the dual major by the end of their second year, as required by the University.