Objectives - MFARE, MSc and PhD Programs

The objective of the MFARE program is:

• To provide an alternative pathway to graduate education related to the economics of food, agriculture, and natural resources.

• To provide a program with an emphasis on skills acquisition and development of industry specific expertise.

Through expanded course work requirements, students develop a breadth of exposure to empirical methods and analytical approaches to undertaking policy analysis and research, and enhanced communication skills.

The objectives of both the MSc and PhD programs are to develop students with the following capabilities:

• A fundamental understanding of economic principles and their application to agricultural, resource, rural and related issues.

• An appropriate level of problem identification and conceptualization skills to focus on realistic and relevant research problems.

• A capability to integrate theory, technical information and appropriate methods in effectively analyzing and solving agricultural, resource and rural-related problems.

• An appropriate level of communication skills to effectively disseminate research and technical information, including the practical implications of research analyses.

The main difference between the MSc and PhD programs is the greater depth in thesis research for the PhD degree and the greater depth and breadth from a larger array of courses. The MSc is an apprenticeship in research and at the completion of their program students must demonstrate an ability to conduct independent research. Students completing the PhD should also be contributing to the literature in their fields of specialization.

The aims of the program are to educate people already well versed in the current theory and techniques of agricultural economics research. Graduate students are expected to have developed self-learning abilities and to be able to apply critical and innovative thinking. Seminars, courses, research projects, the writing of a thesis based on original research for each degree and the PhD comprehensive examination are the means by which the program meets and verifies its objectives. As well as at seminars in the Department, students are encouraged and given financial support to present the results of their research at national and international research meetings.

Master's and PhD students are encouraged to investigate a variety of career opportunities and to customize their program by selecting activities that would equip them to meet the challenges of both academic and non-academic careers.

Both the MSc and PhD programs provide a rigorous combination of economic theory, quantitative methods, agricultural economics subject matter and applied research experience that enables students to receive a well-rounded graduate training.

A special feature of the Department is its close links to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Health Canada, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Forestry Canada and with producer organizations. These linkages have enabled researchers to define pertinent economic problems facing the agrifood and natural resource sectors. In addition, students working on research problems can acquire an appreciation of the policy environment within which these organizations exist. In addition, these groups tend hire a number of our graduates upon completion of their studies.

The Department also has strong links internationally. Graduate students in the Department are drawn from North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia. The multicultural nature of the graduate student body enriches the experience of both students and faculty in the Department.

The strength of both the MSc and PhD programs in agricultural economics is demonstrated by the ability of graduates from these programs to make effective contributions in a wide variety of situations that require applied economic and management analysis. Several graduates from the MSc program, who have gone to doctoral programs at other major universities in North America and Europe, have commented that our training provided them with a competitive edge compared to other graduate students, particularly in their strength of economic analysis and practical application of their training.

A recent survey of reviewers of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics found that Guelph was the top Canadian graduate program in agricultural economics. Guelph was mentioned by 38 of the 39 individuals who ranked Canadian programs.