Common Prospective Graduate Student Questions


Below is a list of questions frequently asked by prospective students. If you have additional questions or need more information, please contact our Graduate Coordinator, Taryn Nance by email, tnance@purdue.edu​, or by phone +1-765-496-2447



Purdue's Agricultural Economics Department Ranking



What is the department's ranking?
  • The department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University is ranked 4th by the Center for World University Rankings which ranks global universities based on the quality of education, alumni employment, research output, and citations without relying on surveys and university data submissions.


Admissions



When are graduate school applications due?
  • The Department of Agricultural Economics accepts students for the Fall semester only. For specific deadlines visit our Graduate Admissions page
When are admission decisions made?
  • Admission decisions for the upcoming fall are made by a faculty committee midway through the prior spring semester.
How long does the average MS/PhD student take to get through the program?
  • The MS program is generally undertaken as a two year program, although some flexibility exists to complete the program in less than, or slightly more than, the two year timeframe.  The PhD program is structured as a three to five year program, with many students finishing in approximately four years. 
Where can I find information on courses and prerequisites?
Is there a document that outlines the plans of study as well as the policies and procedures for graduate study?
  • Yes, the Policy and Procedures Manual for Graduate Study (Graduate Handbook) is updated each Fall. Previous versions can be found here.


Funding  



How are graduate students funded?
  • Admission and financial support decisions are made separately. Some students are admitted to the program without financial support from the department. Students with strong credentials frequently qualify for graduate assistantships.
  • Research assistantships/fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis. Assistantships involve quarter or half-time employment in a research or teaching activity that provides useful experience to the student. Stipends are competitive and evaluated annually for M.S. and Ph.D. assistants employed on twelve-month contracts. 
  • More than 60 percent of graduate students at the University level are on assistantships; however, over the last several years, the agricultural economics department and extramural funding has been able to support about 85% of our graduate student body.
  • All of our assistantships carry a tuition waiver. 
  • For more information visit, our Graduate Financial Aid page.

Who makes funding decisions?
  • A faculty committee in Agricultural Economics reviews applicants to make recommendations about funding decisions; the number of funded positions depends on the department budget and grant availability.

When are funding decisions made?
  • Funding offers are often made shortly after admissions offers.   

How do research assistantships work?
  • Students with strong credentials frequently qualify for graduate assistantships.  Research assistantships/fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis. Assistantships involve quarter or half-time employment in a research or teaching activity that provides useful experience to the student. All assistantships carry a tuition waiver. 

Can graduate students get teaching experience?
  • YES! See information below about the Departmental Graduate Assistantship.

What is the Departmental Graduate Assistantship?
  • The Department has financial support in the form of assistantships for a limited number of qualified graduate students. Graduate student assistants are employees of Purdue University. These assistantships are awarded competitively and initially involve research, teaching or extension service to the Department in return for a stipend. Students who receive funding from outside sources are not eligible for funding from Purdue. Graduate students holding departmental appointments are research assistants and are required to complete a thesis or dissertation.

Are there other departmental, college, or university awards available to graduate students?
  • On occasion, the Department provides financial support to students in the form of awards that are made possible through the generous gifts of alumni and other supporters. Such awards include the Gary Lynn Hoover Award, the Hardin Scholarship, and the Bottom-Kohlmeyer Award. In addition, the Department is sometimes invited to nominate qualified students for other competitive awards at the College and University levels. These awards include PRF Assistantships, PCCRC Fellowships, Bilsland Fellowships and other forms of support. Nominations for such awards are solicited from the faculty and, where selection or ranking from a pool of qualified nominees is required, the Department Head or the Chair of the Graduate Program will appoint a committee to review applications and recommend awards based on overall merit and thematic match to the award program under consideration.  

Are there resources available for conference travel?
  • Many students in the Department, at both the MS and PhD levels, will travel to conferences and workshops during their time affiliated with the Department.  Funding for conference attendance varies depending on the particular conference, the student’s role at the event, and funding available from the Department, the Graduate School, and the Major Professor or Research Assistantship Supervisor.  


Major Professor Assignment



How are students assigned to professors?  
  • Incoming students are assigned a temporary major professor prior to arrival. An essential responsibility of the graduate student is to select a permanent major professor. The selection of a major professor and the thesis research area normally go hand in hand. In most cases, the major professor serves as the student's academic advisor, mentor and thesis research supervisor. However, the major professor is not always the same person who will supervise a research assistant's work assignment or serve as a mentor.
  • The Graduate Committee Chairperson or designated temporary counselor will serve as the student's advisor until a major professor is selected. Students with assistantships should discuss their temporary assignment with the Department Head at the time of their first registration.
  • MS students are encouraged to select a major professor by the end of their first semester in residence. They are required to choose a major professor no later than the end of their second semester in residence. 
  • PhD students are encouraged to make their selection by the end of their second semester in residence. They are required to choose a major professor, and submit the Plan of Study and the request for specialty area courses by the end of their third semester. 
  • Students should avoid unnecessary delays in choosing their major professor because the choice of research supervisor and project will often influence the final Plan of Study. 
  • Students graduate assistantship work usually coincides their thesis topic and major professor; however, to ensure financial support, it may be necessary to assign a student, that is on a research assistantship, to a funded project for which the topic is different than the student’s thesis work.



Graduate Advisory Committee Selection



How do grad students form their advisory committees?
  • After selecting a major professor, the student and major professor select the other members of the advisory committee. Advisory committee members should bring independent thought and perspectives to their advisory committee roles. Advisors and students should work carefully to avoid financial or personal conflicts of interest when setting up committees. Where conflicts of interest exist, are perceived to exist, or arise in the course of research, the Graduate Chair will work with the student and the committee to find replacement committee members.
  • The major professor is the chair of the student’s advisory committee; however, the advisory committee can contribute to the student's educational experience in several ways:
    • The committee reviews previous training, recommends courses (including prerequisite courses), and assists in formulating the student's Plan of Study. All committee members must approve the Plan of Study.
    • The committee confers with and advises the student regarding his or her rate of progress toward completion of degree requirements.
    • The committee advises the student in all phases of the thesis research, including subject competence, research design, procedures, analytical concepts and methods, thesis organization, and ethical conduct.
    • The committee advises the student during preparation of the prospectus document and on the appropriate time to take the prospectus and final exams. The advisory committee serves as the final examination committee for MS and PhD students, unless justification for a different examination committee has been presented to and approved by the Department Head. 


  Job Market Preparation


What kind of job market preparation and job placement assistance do you provide for grad students?
  • Department seminars, lectures, and various professional development-oriented discussions are undertaken to aid students in actively preparing for the job market.  The Graduate School holds many workshops throughout the year with topics often focusing on job market preparations at both the MS and PhD level.  Graduate School workshops can be found at the Graduate School's Professional Development page.
  • When readying for the job market, students are encouraged to submit their CV and Job market papers to our Job Candidates page when they are preparing to enter the workforce.

Are there opportunities to network with private and public sector employers?
  • The Department of Agricultural Economics participates in the graduate student career fairs, circulating materials and encouraging participation in related workshops.  Within the Department and throughout the year there are opportunities to interact with stakeholder groups and organizations, often by hosting visitors to campus or participating in related discussions.


 Graduate School Preparation

We asked our students, "what was the one thing that you wish you'd known before starting graduate studies in AgEcon?" Here's a little advice directly from one of our graduate students.


"Here is something that every graduate student (particularly the newer cohorts) in this department talk about in a kind of regretting tone (including me): before starting PhD studies, most students wish they had taken more math classes. These classes generally include: the entire undergrad calculus sequence (including differential equations), linear algebra, one course in probability, and one course in real analysis. It is my understanding that the department does not require all of those classes to be taken to apply here, but they will make the student’s life so, so, so much easier! 

Why? The calculus sequence would be the bare minimum to enable a student to comprehend the readings in the first year PhD and master courses. Differential equations will help the student to grasp PhD macroeconomics in the economics department and Dynamics in the agricultural economics department. Probability and linear algebra help with econometrics, and real analysis will aid you in the first three PhD courses in microeconomics, which are heavy in mathematics."



Agricultural Economics Student Organizations 

Are there any Agricultural Economics student organizations at the graduate level that I can join? 

  • The Agricultural Economics Graduate Student Organization (AgEcon GSO) is a graduate student-lead initiative that works to bring the Ag Econ student body together; to promote academic and social communication among all Ag Econ students; to provide a forum in which Ag Econ students can voice their concerns and expectations; and to act as a liaison between the Ag Econ student body, administration, and faculty members. 
  • The GSO holds several events throughout the year, including:
    • Welcome BBQ, Fall & Spring BBQ
    • Intramural sports (like volleyball and soccer)
    • Wednesday Coffee hours
    • Seminar coffee hours
    • Final Fridays
  • Learn more about how the GSO helps graduate students maintain a healthy work-life balance here.

Agricultural Economics, 403 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4191

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