Development Economics


  • The development economics (DEV) field emphasizes the economics of international agricultural growth and development with a focus on food security, productivity analysis, marketing policy, and the performance of the food supply chain. The field is a traditional strength of the Department and is supported by MSU’s long-standing international orientation and over fifty years of ongoing applied field research projects in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. These projects have focused on agricultural and rural development, marketing and food system performance, technology development, agricultural productivity, and food security. Interactions among technology, institutions, and policy receive special attention.


  • Faculty members in the DEV field have special expertise in marketing and value chain analysis, food security policy, farm household economics, sustainable agriculture, agricultural technology development and transfer, rural nonfarm enterprises, land tenure, property rights, and other institutional aspects of economic development. Faculty working in the development field also collaborate extensively with faculty working in other fields across the Department, as well as with faculty and students from other departments across the University, including the Department of Economics. 

Course Program

  • Courses in the DEV field focus on an analysis of ways to stimulate and manage economic growth in food and agricultural systems and rural areas, with emphasis on realizing rapid economic transformations in low-income countries. Study ranges from farm and market development to rural farm and nonfarm growth linkages. Attention is also given to macro issues related to agricultural transformation in economic development, and to the links between development and the natural environment. Coursework focuses on the study of international economic issues related to agricultural production, marketing, trade and national food security.
  • Students are also encouraged to build their expertise in key subjects such as marketing, production, and policy. Supporting study in other social sciences, technical agriculture, and quantitative methods are also recommended. Two graduate specializations relevant to students in this field are available: the graduate specialization in ethics and development, housed in the Department of Philosophy, and the graduate specialization in international development, administered by the Center for Advanced Study of International Development (CASID) and jointly sponsored by the Center for Gender in Global Context (GenCen) program.


  • The Department is unique in terms of opportunities for graduate students to pursue fieldwork in developing countries. Such fieldwork is often done in conjunction with long-term projects such as those funded by U.S. Agency for International Development, including the Dry Grain Pulses CRSP and Food Security III. Other projects are funded by the World Bank, U.S. foundations, and projects in collaboration with international agricultural research centers.
  • These research experiences usually involve participation in project design, field data collection, collaborative activities with other research institutions, and outreach to developing country policy-makers and donors.
  • Graduate students play a key role in implementing these international projects, thereby gaining invaluable international experience as well as research and research management experience.  

Course Requirements

  • Ph.D. students with a major field in DEV take two required courses:
    • * AFRE 861 Agriculture in Economic Development
    • * AFRE 961 Advanced Agricultural Development Economics
  • In addition, the Ph.D. major requires choosing one additional course from the following menu.

    • AFRE 930 Dynamic Models in Agricultural and Resource Economics
    • AFRE 932 Information Economics and Institutions in Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Masters students with an interest in development economics should put together a suitable course program in consultation with their major advisor and committee.

Other Courses of Potential Interest

  • In addition to the courses listed above, there are other courses across the University that may be of potential interest to students with an interest in the field. These include:
    • AFRE 810 Institutional and Behavioral Economics
    • AFRE 865 Agricultural Benefit-Cost Analysis
    • AFRE 874 Field Data Collection and Analysis in Developing Countries
    • ACR 824 Sustainable Development
    • ACR 825 International Development: Strategy, Design, and Implementation
    • ACR 826 International Development Theory and Practice
    • ANP 424 Culture and Economic Behavior
    • ANS 480 Animal Systems in International Development
    • EC 840 International Trade: Theory and Commercial Policy
    • EC 841 Exchange Rates and Capital Flows
    • EC 850 Growth, Development, and Human Resources
    • EC 851 Domestic and Foreign Development Policies
    • FOR 450 Forestry in International Developing Countries
    • GEO 425 Geographic Information Systems
    • GEO 850 Seminar in Regional Geography
    • SOC 986 Survey Research Principles
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