PhD Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics

Admission Requirements

Degree Requirements

Qualifying Examinations

PhD Supervision

PhD Thesis

Program Overview

The PhD program in Food, Agricultural & Resource Economics focuses on two major areas of emphasis:

  • Food and agricultural economics
  • Natural resource and environmental economics

Across these areas there is a focus on both developed and developing countries. Students in the PhD program focus on an area of specialization relevant to their thesis research, plus complete courses in microeconomic theory and economic research methods. All students must complete and defend a thesis in their chosen area of specialization.

Admission Requirements

Students entering the Doctoral program require a minimum average of B or 73%  in the last two years of study and completion of a Bachelor’s degree.  (Note: most successful applicants have an average of 80%,  A- or higher.)  Students entering the PhD program are expected to have satisfied the requirements, or their equivalents, (contains significant mathematics components and several economic theory courses) of the department's MSc degree in Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics. 

Refer to Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies for university guidelines.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE - General only) scores are required for ALL doctoral applications.   Institution code is 0892 and the Department code is 0101 Agricultural Economics.

In cases where a student's master's degree is not equivalent to that offered by the department, the student may initially be accepted into the MSc program and may then apply for transfer to the PhD program at some time during the first three semesters.  Applications for transfer must be supported by the Departmental Graduate Program Committee and approved by the Board of Graduate Studies.  The student does not have to complete all the requirements of the MSc before transferring to the PhD program, but must achieve high academic standing.

As international grading scales and minimum requirements do vary, please consult the "International Credential Evaluation Guidelines" If you require further guidance in regards to the application process you may also contact the Graduate Program Assistant.

If your first language is not English, you will be required to submit the results of a standardized language test. Please see chart below for acceptable tests and required scores for the Department of FARE. The University of Guelph English as a Second Language Test Code is 0892.
Acceptable tests and minimum required scores for FARE graduate programs are: 
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) = 7.0 overall score and a minimum score of 6.5 in the Speaking and Writing category
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
TOEFL - Paper based test (PBT) = 587
TOEFL - Internet based test (IBT) = 95
NOTE: A minimum overall score of 95 must be achieved, with at least 22 in Speaking, 26 in Writing and 21 in the Listening and Reading categories.
University of Guelph Language Certificate = Advanced Level
English as a Second Language tests are considered valid for a period of two years.
You may upload a letter requesting exemption from this requirement if you have completed your academic studies in a recognized  English speaking institution.  Please indicate institution, program and length where all were delivered in English.


Degree Requirements

Students enrolled in the PhD program must successfully complete a program of at least ten taught courses that prepare them for the various elements of the qualification examination and thesis research, as outlined below.  However, students that are able to demonstrate a satisfactory level of competence in any of these requirements may have these course requirements adjusted accordingly, subsequent to evaluation and the decision of the Departmental Graduate Program Committee.

Microeconomic Theory:



Microeconomic Theory I



Microeconomic Theory II

Economic Research Methods:



Applied Quantitative Methods for Agricultural Economists



The Methodology of Economics



Econometrics I



Econometrics II

Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics



Applied Policy Analysis II



Advanced Topics in Agricultural Economics


Plus, ONE from the following:



Food Firms, Consumers and Markets II



Natural Resource Economics II

Plus, ONE other graduate course approved by the student's advisory committee.

See Department of Economics and Finance for ECON course outlines.

Students may also be permitted to take other courses as substitutes for the above, subject to approval by the Departmental Graduate Program Committee.


Qualifying Examination

It should be noted that successful completion of the above courses is not necessarily sufficient for qualification to PhD candidacy.

Students are expected to complete successfully the qualifying examination in microeconomic theory that aims to assess a student's understanding of key theoretical concepts.  Students are allowed two attempts at this qualifying examination.  Students that fail the examination at the second attempt will not be permitted to continue.

Dissertation Proposal

During the second year and only after the theory comprehensive exam is passed, students must prepare a dissertation proposal under the supervision of the student's advisory committee. 



PhD Student Advising

Upon enrolment in the Department, a doctoral student is under the supervision of the Departmental Graduate Program Committee. This committee assists the student in the selection of a course program for his/her first term of study. By the end of the second semester at the very latest, PhD students are required to select an Advisory Committee in consultation with faculty members and subject to the approval of the Departmental Graduate Program Committee. The Advisory Committee consists of a minimum of three Graduate faculty members, at least one of whom must be from outside the student's home department.  Until an Advisory Committee is finalized, the Graduate Studies Committee will remain the 'acting' advisory committee.

The Advisory Committee is responsible for establishing the student's prescribed schedule of studies and advising his/her research progress. The Advisory Committee should be consulted prior to registration each semester. A list of prescribed courses for each student is agreed with the advisory committee.

Both of the above forms are to be submitted to the Graduate Program Assistant.  If you require assistance with these forms, please feel free to consult the Graduate Program Assistant or Graduate Co-ordinator.



PhD Thesis

The doctoral thesis is expected to be a significant contribution to knowledge in the students chosen field of specialization. The candidate is required to take a final oral examination devoted chiefly, but not entirely, to the defence of their doctoral thesis. In accordance with University regulations, this is a University examination conducted by a committee consisting of:

• Member of the graduate faculty who is not a member of the student's Advisory Committee appointed to act as Chair by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

• Qualified examiner from outside the University.

• Member of the graduate faculty from the Department who is not a member of the student's Advisory Committee.

• Two members of the student's Advisory Committee.

To provide guidance to students, previous thesis topics of Doctoral students in the Department are available on the Departmental website:


Please Note: The Doctor of Philosophy programs offered by the Department must follow all regulations of the Office of Graduate Studies. These are given in the University of Guelph's Graduate Calendar under General Regulations. In addition, there are specific regulations found in the Calendar for PhD degrees. The information provided in these pages is provided for guidance only.