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PhD Programs in Economics and Agricultural Economics
The School of Economic Sciences offers two doctoral programs: the PhD in Economics and the PhD in Agricultural Economics.
- The PhD in Economics is designed to prepare students for careers as professional economists in academia, government, and the private sector. The program is structured so that a student with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and an appointment as a graduate assistant should be able to complete the required coursework within three academic years, excluding summer sessions. Students with a Master of Science in Applied Economics degree may be able to complete the required coursework in less time, depending on the content and quality of previous work. The length of time required to complete the dissertation varies greatly but students usually complete the entire program, including the dissertation within four years.
- The PhD in Agricultural Economics is designed to provide the student with an excellent foundation in the theory and methods of economic analysis as well as experience in applied analysis of agricultural, agribusiness, and/or resource economics problems. Career opportunities for agricultural economists also include academia, government, and the private sector. Many academic positions (especially at land grant universities) include salary support for a combination of teaching, research, and/or outreach related to the food and fiber sectors and the natural resource base that supports them. The time required to complete the doctoral degree in agricultural economics is comparable to that required for the economics PhD.
We next list key features of our PhD programs.
- Student publications. The collaboration between students and professors is close, our offices are often next to each other, and it is common for professors to coauthor papers with PhD students, which turn into journal publications. In the last years, coauthored papers with our students were published in journals such as Science, Economic Inquiry, BE Journal of Macroeconomics, Canadian Journal of Economics, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, and Economic Letters, among others. In addition, the environment between students and professors is very collegial, and we meet once a week (normally after seminars) for drinks in a relaxed environment.
- Job placement. The job market placement of our recent PhD graduates has been extremely positive, including positions at the University of Arkansas, Penn State University, Yale University (Post-Doc), University of Connecticut, Purdue University, California State University, College of William and Mary, Cornell University (Post-Doc), Colorado State University, University of New Mexico, Illinois State University, University of Kentucky, Hamline University, University of Oklahoma, University of Georgia, and University of Nebraska; City University of Hong Kong, Renmin University, University of International Business and Economics, and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (China); Higher School of Economics (Russia); at government agencies such as the US Department of Agriculture, Freddie Mac, the United Nations; and at firms such as JP Morgan-Chase, Amazon, BNP Paribas, Charles River and Associates, Amgen Corporation, FedEx, and American Express.
- Funding opportunities. Many admitted students are international and around 80% of admitted students receive graduate assistantships from our School (with other students being funded by governments in their home countries, or private foundations, such as the Fulbright Scholarship or the Soros Foundations). At this point, common assistantships (with a 20-hour per week work obligation) pay an estimated monthly stipend of $1,949. The stipend is provided for the nine-month academic year. Health insurance and most tuition costs are provided to you in addition to the stipend, resulting in a total award value of up to $46,396 depending on residency status. Also, students in good academic standing typically receive one additional month of pay for teaching and/or research assistance during the summer. Therefore, Ph.D. students with a 9-month assistantship plus one-month of summer pay receive a total stipend estimated at $19,490 per year. Please note that we plan to increase monthly stipends starting every year, conditional on funding availability.
- MS in Statistics. The PhD program enhances the marketability of graduates in all degrees by deepening their training in economic theory and econometrics. To further strengthen their quantitative training, some students simultaneously pursue a Master’s degree in Statistics (at least 2-3 students pursue this option every year). For more information, visit www.math.wsu.edu/info/hb.pdf (pages 14-15).
- Class size. On average, our incoming class has around 18-23 students. Most of our students complete the program in 4 years, and a few students complete it in 5 years. Overall, we often have more than 80 students in our PhD program. You can learn more about the Economics Graduate Student Association, their activities, and resources here: http://ses.wsu.edu/graduatestudies/resources-for-students/sesgradstudentassociation/.
The PhD requires core courses in economic theory and econometrics, advanced topics courses in applied fields, and the completion of a dissertation. In the first year, study in the doctoral program is tightly structured. During the first year, full-time students take four core theory courses, one core course in statistics for economists and one core econometrics course. Because the fall core courses offered in the first year are prerequisites for subsequent courses, students generally must begin the program in the fall semester. Additional core courses are taken in the second year. Field courses are taken in the second and (possibly) third years. Total requirements for the PhD degree include a minimum of 72 credits beyond the baccalaureate, including at least 39 credits of coursework from the core and field courses and 20 credits of doctoral research.
While an advisory committee tailors each student’s program to his or her interests, all programs are designed to meet the following requirements.
Core courses: A 27-credit core curriculum ensures that each PhD student receives advanced training in economic theory and quantitative methods: (1) theoretical foundations of economics–12 credits (EconS 500, 501, 502, 503) or their equivalents; and (2) tools for research and empirical analysis–12 credits (EconS 510, 511, 512, and 521) or their equivalents.
Directed elective: Students take one 3-credit, 500-level course as a directed elective with the approval of their academic advisor.
Fields of specialization: A student’s program is required to demonstrate an area or areas of concentration that prepare the student for the dissertation. Through field courses, the students receive additional preparation in at least two areas of specialization. Together with individual research activities and mentored study, the field courses prepare the students to apply economic theory and quantitative methods to real-world problems. Selections among field courses allow students to tailor their graduate program to specific interests and to interact with faculty working in their area. The fields of study offered are: Econometrics; Environmental & Natural Resource Economics; International Economics; Industrial Organization; Public Economics; Agricultural Economics (required for Agricultural Economics PhD) .
Advanced topics are taught in a repeatable, variable-credit course in each field area. Students take a minimum of six credit hours in each of two fields, and 12 credits overall in field courses.
Additional credits: Additional coursework and research credits are used to bring the student up to 72 credits.
For more information, please visit the following link, which provides instructions about the on-line application process and all necessary application materials: Application Process. Please note that applications to our Ph.D. program require you to submit your CV, your undergraduate transcripts (and, if applicable, transcripts from your Masters or other postgraduate courses), your scores in the GRE exam, your scores in the TOEFL exam (unless you can show that your undergraduate education was taught entirely in English), a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation on your behalf.
- GRE exam. We do not have a minimum GRE score. However, the average GRE score in the quantitative section (the most important section for our application process) is around the 75th percentile (157 points), but most funded students are above the 80-85th percentile (about 159 points or above). If you took your GRE exam in the last 1-2 years, please contact us to check if you should include a more recent score in your application.
- TOEFL exam. The minimum TOEFL score is 213 in the computer version (which corresponds to 550 points in paper version and 80 points in the internet version). In case you took the IELTS exam, the minimum IELTS score is 7 points. Please note that the TOEFL/IELTS exams can be waived if you completed a degree (or at least an entire academic year) at a university in the which all coursework was taught in English. Specifically, the Graduate School from WSU waives the TOEFL/IELTS exam to applicants who completed their degree from institutions in the following countries: Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Canada, Guyana, Kenya, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Nigeria, and Trinidad and Tobago. For more details on this policy, visit https://gradschool.wsu.edu/international-requirements/, and for more information about the TOEFL exam here: https://www.ets.org/toefl.
- GPA score. The average GPA score into our Ph.D. program is around 3.4, but it varies depending on the coursework the applicant did in undergrad (for instance, we understand that your GPA can be lower than 3.4 if you took several math or Master-level courses).
- MS degree. A Master degree is not required for acceptance. However, many of our recently accepted applicants had a Master degree in Economics, Agricultural Economics, Finance, Engineering, or related fields. Other students start the Ph.D. program right after finishing their undergraduate education, but in those cases students have a strong GPA and took several Math courses in undergrad. Besides the overall GPA, we also look for a good performance in specific courses, such as Master’s Microeconomics, Master’s Macroeconomics, and Master’s Statistics/Econometrics. We also expect applicants to have taken at least two semesters of calculus, and Intermediate-level linear algebra or Mathematics for economists during their undergraduate or MS degrees.
- Transcripts. Applicants must submit transcripts from both their undergraduate and graduate-level courses, clearly reflecting the grade obtained in each course. Applicants can submit unofficial copies of all transcripts. If admitted into our program, the WSU Graduate School may contact the student asking him/her to submit official copies of all documents.
- PhD-bound program. Our pool of PhD applicants is extremely competitive, with most completing an MS degree in Economics, Finance, Mathematics, or Agricultural Economics, at top institutions; along with excellent GPAs, GRE scores, research experience, and letters of recommendation. Strong applicants who do not make it to the top of our pool (especially those without an MS degree but excellent applications) may be recommended admission into our PhD-bound program.In this program, students take MS-level courses for one academic year and, if they maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher, they can start taking PhD-level courses the following academic year. In most cases, students in this program receive a graduate assistantship (tuition waiver and a 9-month stipend) starting when he/she takes PhD-level courses. The student is not funded while taking MS-level courses (although we may be able to offer scholarships of around $4,000), he/she is often funded when taking PhD-level courses. This funding then continues for a total of 4 more years, conditional on good academic progress, and can be extended one more year depending on funds availability. From our experience, this option helps students transition more smoothly from undergraduate-level to PhD-level courses and has been followed by some of our best PhD students. If you are interested in this option, please mention it in your PhD application materials.