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.  

Doctoral Dual Major Guidelines for AFRE and Economics

Updated March 2022

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). These guidelines apply to students starting in the AFRE Ph.D. program in Fall Semester 2022 and later. Students who started in the AFRE Ph.D. program before Fall 2022 should follow the previous guidelines.

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 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 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 the 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 it to the GPD in Economics for their review. 

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 will need to return the MOU to the Academic Program Coordinator so that next steps can be initiated. 

The Academic Program Coordinator will inform you when it is time to submit your GradPlan for approvals. You will 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 will 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 doctoral dual major at Michigan State University.

If there are any changes to your course program, 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.