University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
Graduate Examinations for the Ph.D. Program

Graduate Examinations for the Ph.D. Program

Ph.D. students take Qualifying Examinations consisting of three parts, as follows:

  1. The written microeconomic theory examination, administered by the Economics Department;
  2. The Research Paper requirement;
  3. The oral portion of the qualifying examination, administered by the student's advisory committee.

Economic Theory Examinations:

Students are expected to take the micro-theory examination early in their programs, upon completion of the ECO 701. The examination is based on the content of ECO 601 and ECO 701. The Economics Department schedules the theory examinations in January and June. Examinations are graded by the Economics faculty and the results communicated to our department.

Students are not required to take the macroeconomics examination if they receive a "B" or better in ECO 602 and ECO 702. Students who fail the examination must retake it at the next available opportunity.  Students who fail these examinations on the second round are dismissed from the program.

 Research Paper Requirement:

This requirement demonstrates the student's capacity to conduct original, independent research at the Ph.D.-level.  This process will also help the student develop writing and presentation skills that will be useful during the dissertation preparation, the job search, and future research. The paper must be 20-30 pages in length (including figures and tables), double-spaced with one inch margins all around, written in AJAE style, and be within an agricultural economics specialization area.  The research must include a problem statement, a literature review, relevant theory, and analysis.  The topic must be original to the student and should be motivated by relevance to decision makers or previous work in the profession.  The quality and depth of the analysis should be consistent with those of an AAEA Selected Paper (see AgEcon Search for examples).  The student may use whatever methodological tools are deemed appropriate. 

The paper must be solely authored by the student and be based on research that is largely performed by the student.  Faculty members or fellow students may assist in minor aspects of the research, but the core material should be independent work of the student.  The analysis cannot be written based on work begun prior to the student's entry into the Agricultural Economics Ph.D. program.  University policies for academic integrity strictly apply. The student must submit a signed statement that the research paper is their work and has not been used to fulfill another requirement at the University of Kentucky.  The student may be asked to submit supplemental material to assure originality of the paper.

The research paper must be finished within one year of the student's successful completion of the Economics Ph.D theory sequence (ECO 601, 602, 701, and 702 and passage of the microeconomics and macroeconomics qualifying requirements).  There is an annual cycle for submission of the research paper.  Topics must be approved by the major professor and two other members of the student's advisory committee based on a proposal submitted by the student by May 15.  A memorandum of transmittal from the major professor must have the signatures of the student, major professor, and two committee members stating that the topic is appropriate for the research paper.  Completed papers are due September 1.  Papers requiring minor revisions are resubmitted by November 1, while papers requiring major revisions are resubmitted by December 1.  If any of these deadlines fall on a weekend, they move to the next business day.

The Oral Examination:

The third phase of the qualifying examinations, the Oral Examination, has to be held at a time previously scheduled with the Graduate School. Before taking this examination, the student must

  1. File an "Advisory Committee Request Form" with the Graduate School through MyUK. Normally students will file this form well before taking the preliminary examinations.
  2. Submit their dissertation prospectus to the advisory committee.
  3. Have removed all "I" grades or "No Grades" from their academic records and have met the residence credit requirements. The Graduate School will not permit students to take preliminary examinations if they have I grades outstanding.
  4. File a "Recommendation for Qualifying Examination" form with the Graduate School through MyUK. This form must be filed with the Graduate School two weeks before the oral portion of the qualifying examination is conducted.

The dissertation prospectus should be completed as quickly as possible after passing the written portion of the exam, but no later than one semester after passing the written portion.

The Oral Examination is administered by the student's advisory committee. However, in cases of marginal performance on the written Applied Analysis examination, members of the examining committee will be present to examine the student in areas of weakness.  Failure in the second attempt at the oral examination requires dismissal from the graduate program.

The Final Examination:

A final oral examination on the candidate's dissertation and entire Ph.D. program is required. Application is made for this examination with the Graduate School through MyUK.

If you have questions or would like additional information about the AEC Graduate Program, please contact:

AEC Director of Graduate Studies
University of Kentucky
Department of Agricultural Economics
400 Charles E. Barnhart Bldg.
Lexington, KY 40546-0276