A master of science degree in agricultural economics can lead to a host of professional opportunities and there are several educational institutions across the country offering these graduate programs. To earn this degree, learners are expected to complete about 30 hours of coursework in a two-year period. Below you can find more details on the type of program and the common courses it entails.
Courses of Master of Science in Agricultural Economics
Master of Science in Agricultural Economics programs are structured to provide learners a strong foundation in economic theory and quantitative tools, with emphasis on analytical methods to problem-solving. These typically offer both the thesis (that leads to further studies) and non-thesis options and cover several courses, such as microeconomic and macroeconomic theories, econometrics, statistics, production economics, and price analysis, which are explained in the following sections.
Learners are required to take a course in microeconomics, which helps them understand the fundamental approaches of the subject and enables them to analyze the decision-making of people and small firms and how they arrive at those decisions. Some of the topics in this course include cost and production theories, price and output, consumer demand, market structure, and welfare analysis. Prospective graduates may also be required to learn other topics, such as factor market pricing, and economics of information and uncertainty.
Students are also typically expected to take courses in macroeconomics, which analyzes the decision-making at a grander scale, such as a nation's economic policies. Common topics in this course include national income, employment, saving, investment, interest rates, and theory of consumption. Further, students may also be required to learn about the roles of fiscal and other policies that promote stabilization and growth.
Econometrics is a course that features regularly in these master's programs. This quantitative method examines the various mathematical and statistical models and their applications to specific economic problems. The course may cover topics such as multi-collinearity, autocorrelation, distributed lags, specification error, dummy variables, and non-normal disturbances.
Another important course in quantitative methods is statistics. Here, students will learn the various statistical tools that are used for economic and agricultural systems. Topics may include hypothesis testing, estimation techniques, frequency distributions, and their properties, and classical linear regression model.
In production economics courses, prospective graduates will learn theories and research methods of managing production systems, and application of theories to production decisions under conditions of risk and uncertainty. Topics may include resource allocation, site-specific management, supply and input demand, and more.
Students may also be required to take a course on price analysis. Here, they will study topics such as the economics of food and agricultural markets; supply and demand relationships; elasticity; industry-specific pricing systems, and more. The course familiarizes them with the various economic tools used in analyzing supply and demand.
Requirements of Master of Science in Agricultural Economics
Individuals who wish to pursue a master of science degree in agricultural economics must have completed prior coursework in areas such as microeconomics, macroeconomics, statistics, and calculus, with a major in economics or some understanding of mathematics considered an advantage. Some schools may require a graduate record examination (GRE) or minimum grade point average (GPA), which is typically 3.0 but that may vary; however, even for schools that don't require them, such information and letters of recommendation can be advantageous. Also necessary is proficiency in the English language.
A master of science program in agricultural economics equips the learner with the various concepts of the subject and the understanding of how to apply those tools. Graduates often begin their careers in research, academia, or as administrators in firms and agencies.