Course Information Suite

Programs of Study: Undergrad

Agricultural and Consumer Economics

Head of the Department: Paul N. Ellinger
Director of Graduate Studies: Alex E. Winter-Nelson
326 Mumford Hall, MC-710
1301 West Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801
(217) 333-1810
Fax: (217) 333-5538

Major: Agricultural and Applied Economics
Degrees offered: M.S. and Ph.D.

Medical Scholars Program: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Agricultural and Applied Economics and Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) through the Medical Scholars Program

Graduate Degree Programs

The Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE) offers courses of study that lead to the Master of Science and the Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Applicants with a baccalaureate degree are initially admitted to the M.S. program. Students who fulfill specific requirements in the first year of the M.S. program may request transfer into the Ph.D. program.


Graduate College requirements apply, including a 3.0 (A = 4.0) GPA for the last two years of undergraduate coursework and any graduate work completed.  International applicants whose native language is not English must have a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT) score of at least 88 (230 computer-based and 570 paper-based) or an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) academic examination overall score of at least 6.5 with a minimum sub-section score of 6 in each of the four modules (speaking, listening, writing, and reading).  Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test scores are required for candidates seeking financial aid and are requested for all applicants.  Applicants to the Ph.D. program are requested to provide a sample of their academic writing. Students having an inadequate background in theory or quantitative methods will be asked to take additional coursework to prepare for graduate study. An applicant with a master's degree in an appropriate discipline will be considered for the Ph.D. degree. Students may commence study in either semester, but initial enrollment in fall semester is preferable.

Degree Requirements

*For additional details and requirements refer to the department's Graduate Program information for the Master's degree and the Graduate College Handbook.

Master of Science

Required Courses Required Hours
ACE 500, ACE 592-Microeconomics, or ECON 500 4
6 hours in quantitative and research methods from departmental list (these do not count toward the 500 level course requirement) 6
Thesis Hours Required–ACE 599 (min/max applied toward degree): 8 max
Total Hours 32 (only 2 hours of ACE 566 may count towards total)
Minimum Hours Required Within the Unit:
8 at the 500 level, not including 566, 599 or independent study
Minimum 500-level Hours Required Overall:
Other Requirements:*  
Minimum GPA: 3.0

The M.S. offers considerable flexibility. Students using the degree as a foundation for a doctorate emphasize economic theory and analytical research tools. Students seeking the terminal master's degree focus their study on the concepts and analytical techniques used by analysts and managers in industries, governments, and other organizations.

Students must earn a 3.0 (A = 4.0) GPA for a minimum of 32 graduate hours of credit.  A thesis is prepared under the supervision of a faculty advisory committee.  The thesis is defended in a formal oral examination, which usually coincides with an open departmental seminar, administered by the thesis committee.

Doctor of Philosophy

*For additional details and requirements refer to the department's Graduate Program information for the doctoral degree and the Graduate College Handbook.

Required Courses Required Hours
Core courses 24-28
8 hours in ACE at the 500 level to define primary field 8
4 hours (minimum) of quantitative methods beyond the courses specified in the core 4
8 additional hours (minimum) in quantitative methods, methods, theory, complementary field, or other area to strengthen or diversify the student's program 8
4 hours in Advanced Research and Scholarly Communication (ACE 561) 4
Thesis Hours Required–ACE 599(min/max applied toward degree): 32 max
Total Hours 64
Minimum Hours Required Within the Unit at the 500-Level:
16 excluding indep study, 599 and core courses
Other Requirements:* A written paper in the form of a journal article approved by the research paper committee and presented at a department conference.
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Masters Degree Required for Admission to PhD? Yes, but students meeting specific conditions may petition to move from the M.S. to the Ph.D. program after three semesters.
Written Core Exam Required Yes
Preliminary Exam Required Yes
Final Exam/Dissertation Defense Required Yes
Dissertation Deposit Required Yes

The Doctor of Philosophy is a research-oriented degree that prepares successful candidates for positions in higher education, governmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the research and management functions of the private sector. In consultation with a faculty advisor, students develop an area of specialization to fit their career aspirations. Typical areas of specialization include agricultural finance; family and consumer economics; price analysis and agricultural marketing; farm and agribusiness management; international and policy economics; natural resource, production, and environmental economics; and regional economics and public policy.

Students pursue coursework in theory, quantitative methods, and their area of specialization; pass a written core exam, a second-year research paper requirement, an oral preliminary examination which includes the formal proposal for dissertation research; and complete and defend a dissertation. The core courses cover the theory and quantitative methods upon which advanced research, teaching, and service in ACE are based. The specialty courses build on the knowledge gained in the core courses and provide an understanding of the application of economic theory and the tools of economic analysis. Students are encouraged to complete substantial coursework in other departments, such as economics, finance, and business administration.

A 3.0 (A = 4.0) GPA is required in all courses completed in the program.

Medical Scholars Program

The Medical Scholars Program permits highly qualified students to integrate the study of medicine with study for a graduate degree in a second discipline, including Agricultural and Applied Economics. Students may apply to the Medical Scholars Program prior to beginning graduate school or while in the graduate program. Applicants to the Medical Scholars Program must meet the admissions standards for and be accepted into both the doctoral graduate program and the College of Medicine.  Students in the dual degree program must meet the specific requirements for both the medical and graduate degrees. On average, students take eight years to complete both degrees.  Further information on this program is available by contacting the Medical Scholars Program, 125 Medical Sciences Building, (217) 333-8146 or at

Graduate Teaching Experience

Although teaching is not a general Graduate College requirement, experience in teaching is considered an important part of the graduate experience in this program and is strongly recommended for those intending to pursue an academic career.

Faculty Research Interests

The mission of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics is to improve the economic and environmental well being of producers, consumers, and families. Drawing on economics, business, and law, the department analyzes issues related to individuals and families, agriculture and natural resources, and food — all ranging in scope from local to global. The department pursues its mission through rigorous baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral curricula, through research that advances knowledge and solves problems, and through public service.

Financial Aid

Graduate fellowships, assistantships, and tuition and fee waivers are awarded on a competitive basis.

Fellowships. The department offers fellowships from internal resources and by nominating students for college and campus fellowships. These fellowships, often combined with assistantship support, provide monetary stipends and, in most cases, exemptions from tuition and some student fees. Recipients must register for the equivalent of at least 12 hours of graduate credit in each semester and four hours in an eight-week summer session. Fellowship holders are encouraged to involve themselves with research and teaching in the department.

Assistantships. Research and teaching assistantships provide an opportunity for graduate students to work with faculty. Most research assistantships are funded by grants and contracts involving the analysis of contemporary issues.  Most assistantships carry waivers of tuition and some fees.

Tuition and Fee Waivers. Waivers may be awarded. In most cases they are awarded to students with fellowship support from certain external programs.