LSU Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics


The Ph.D. program is a rigorous extension of M.S. work with the opportunity for the student to broaden and strengthen training. Students applying for the Ph.D. program should have completed an M.S. degree. In addition to training in economics and agricultural economics, the student is expected to be sufficiently grounded in mathematics and statistics. It is the responsibility of the student to address any deficiencies. All 7000-level AGEC courses are listed in Appendix D in the Graduate Student Handbook. Our Ph.D. program is STEM approved: International students are eligible for the 24-month extension of Optional Practical Training.

Admissions & Funding

We encourage all applications for fall semester admission to be completed by the department’s January 25 priority deadline. We offer funding to highly competitive applicants through research assistantships.

We review all applications that are formally submitted through the LSU Graduate School, but we are not able to review/preview application materials sent via email.

To be considered for admission and funding, we require (1) transcripts indicating a master’s degree or equivalent; (2) a current resume/CV with an outline of all previous college-level education; (3) GRE scores; (4) three letters of recommendation; and (5) a personal statement describing your interest in the degree program. The LSU Graduate School and LSU International Services Office provide additional information for international applicants. Applicants to our graduate programs in agricultural economics must have an adequate background in microeconomic theory, econometrics/statistics, and mathematics and academic backgrounds in economics, marketing, management, finance, accounting, or related fields.

About the Ph.D. Program

There are five major steps in fulfilling the requirements for the Ph.D. in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness:

  1. Development of the program of study
  2. Successful completion of required coursework
  3. Successful completion of the qualifying examination in microeconomics
  4. Successful completion of the written general examination and oral general defense
  5. Successful completion of the final examination. 

At least one academic year of continuous residence (two consecutive semesters) as a full-time graduate student must be earned at LSU after the program of study is submitted and approved by the Graduate School.

In addition, students in the Ph.D. program must maintain continuous registration for a minimum of three semester hours of credit each regular semester (excluding summers) from the completion of the general defense to the end of the semester in which an approved dissertation is submitted to the Graduate School. Students holding assistantships during this time must meet enrollment requirements of the assistantship. Graduate students must be in good academic standing to qualify for examinations.

Program of Study

Students are expected to develop a program of study in consultation with their graduate committee chair during their first semester and have it approved by their graduate committee (once the committee has been appointed), the Chair of the Graduate Committee, and the Department Head.

Qualifying Examination

Students must take ECON 7702 and ECON 7703 during the first year of the Ph.D. program and pass the qualifying exam in advanced microeconomic theory administered by the department of economics during the summer after the first year of graduate study.

General Examination and Defense

The written Departmental Ph.D. General Examination consists of questions administered by the Departmental General Examination Committee upon completion of core coursework (after four semesters for students starting in the fall semester; after five for students starting in the spring semester).  

Students will have two opportunities to pass this exam. Failure to pass the written portion of the General Examination on the second attempt will terminate the student's program. The general examination will consist of questions from core economic areas such as production, consumption, marketing, trade, development, resource or environmental economics and research methods.  The written examination will be offered in June of each year.

For students who fail, they will be allowed to re-take the written general examination once in August of the same year. Students who have not passed the written general examination before the fall semester starts (August of that same year) will not be able to continue in the Ph.D. program.

An oral general defense is given after successfully completing the written exam.  The general defense generally covers the student’s dissertation proposal, with questions dealing with economic theory and methods pertaining to the dissertation research.  

About the Program Final Dissertation Defense

The Final Dissertation Defense may be scheduled after three calendar months have elapsed since passing the General Defense. The Final Examination, an oral test administered by the student's graduate committee, members from minor departments, and the member appointed by Graduate School, focuses on (but is not confined exclusively to) contents of the dissertation.

About the Program Ph.D. Course Requirements

Students are required to complete 12 hours of Economic Theory, 9 hours of Quantitative Methods, 18 hours of Agricultural Economics courses, 6 hours of 7000-level Approved Electives, and 12 hours of Dissertation Research, for a total of 57 hours.  The approved electives may be used to develop a specialization or to gain breadth in the Ph.D. program.  Students entering the program with deficiencies in their background training may be required to take additional courses.

About the Program Preparation of the Dissertation

Ph.D. students, with their graduate committee and with graduate adviser approval, may elect to prepare the dissertation in either traditional or three paper/journal style.  Guidelines for preparation of both styles are presented in Guidelines for the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations, available in the Graduate School. 

View the Graduate Student Handbook.

For questions about our program please contact Mark Schafer,