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Graduate Program

Admissions and Research Assistantships


All applications for admission are made directly to the Graduate School.  After determining that students meet the minimum standards for admission to the Graduate School (see the Graduate School website for these requirements,,  the application is passed on to the department for action.  These applications are reviewed by the department's graduate program admissions committee.  This committee also reviews applications for research assistantships.  Assistantship applications are made directly to the department, not to the Graduate School.  The admissions committee, which is appointed by the Chair of the Department of Agricultural Economics and director of graduate studies, makes recommendations to the director of graduate studies on admission applications and the granting of assistantships.


Applicants are eligible for admission to graduate work in agricultural economics at the Master's level only after they have completed an undergraduate degree at an accredited institution with a grade point average of at least 2.7 (4.0 basis) on all undergraduate work.  Applicants for the Ph.D. program are eligible for admission if they hold a Master's degree from an accredited institution and have at least a 3.0 average on all graduate work.  Preference is given to Ph.D. applicants with Master's degrees in Agricultural Economics, Economics, or closely related fields and who have research experience through research and writing a Master's thesis. 


Applicants are expected to include Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores as a part of the application.  Applicants who do not meet requirements of a 2.7 grade point standing but present high GRE scores may be considered for admission.  Students may be admitted without GRE scores only under special circumstances and will be required to take the examination and furnish scores during their first semester in residence (as part- or full-time students).


In addition to the above requirements, foreign student applicants who have not completed a degree at an accredited English-speaking College or University must complete the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), minimum score of 550 paper/79 Internet or the IELTS, minimum score 6.5. 


All applicants should have three letters of recommendation sent to the department's director of graduate studies (DGS).


Details on application procedures are available in all application materials sent out from The Graduate School or the Department of Agricultural Economics.  Information is available through e-mailing



The basic assistantship in the department is a one-half time appointment.  However, due to budget stringencies, new graduate students are sometimes offered quarter-time assistantships with the understanding that successful effort will qualify them for one-half time appointments as soon as possible.  A half-time assistantship carries with it the obligation to devote at least 20 hours per week in research duties over the duration of the student's program. Quarter-time assistantships are obliged to work 10 hours per week. Acceptable completion of assigned research tasks, rather than simply working a specified number of hours per week, constitutes a fulfillment of the assistantship obligation.  Research assignments will be made by the student's major professor.


Students receiving a one-half time appointment will remain at that level of assistance for the duration of their program, assuming acceptable performance.  As a rule, graduate assistants will be placed on full-time assistantship pay only when doing field work on a faculty member's research project that is not connected with the student's thesis research and when the student can demonstrate to his major professor and the DGS that he or she is making satisfactory progress towards fulfilling the assistantship obligation.  Once such projects are completed, the student will revert to half-time status and stipend level.


Assistantships ordinarily are awarded on an annual basis.  However, there is no guarantee that stipend payments will continue for the full year; acceptable performance of assistantship duties is always required.  Each assistantship will be reviewed annually by the student's major professor and Advisory Committee, the Graduate Program Committee, and the Director of Graduate Studies.  Annual renewal will be based upon acceptable performance of work responsibilities and academic progress.  Subject to annual review, one-half time assistantships are renewable for a maximum total service of 24 months for M.S. students and 48 months for Ph.D. students when continuously enrolled at the University of Kentucky after initiating graduate study.


Half-time assistantship stipends are determined annually in each fiscal year and are paid on a 12-month basis.  Rates are based on comparable salaries and are higher for Ph.D. students than for Masters students.  All tuition, fees, and health insurance for the student are also covered through the research assistantship.  In addition to research assistantships, the Graduate School sometimes awards fellowships (equivalent to the basic stipend rate) to agricultural economics students.  Such fellowships are taxable.


Each graduate assistant has a responsibility to the department to carry out assigned research work under the direction of her or his major professor and to complete such research.  Each student is expected to undertake research during the first semester of his or her program, to complete it as quickly as possible, and to assist in publishing results.  Work responsibilities during initial semesters will contribute to the student's understanding of the research that ultimately will be undertaken in the thesis or dissertation and in all cases will contribute to the student's research skills.  A student is encouraged to submit contributed papers to professional associations and to publish the results of research prior to and after completion of the thesis or dissertation.


All Master's students on graduate assistantships, in partial fulfillment of the assistantship obligation, will write a Master's thesis.  No Plan B coursework Master's students will be awarded assistantships.


The primary responsibility of each research assistant is the completion of research projects that have been assigned.  However, the student may be expected to undertake other tasks as assigned by his major professor, the DGS, or the Department Chairman.


An effort will be made to permit each graduate assistant to develop a thesis in the area of the student's greatest interest.  It is necessary, however, that the thesis research fit into the department's overall research program.  Since the department's research program covers a wide range of problem areas, an on-going, funded project in the student's area of interest will probably be available.


It should be understood that the development of the dissertation prospectus and seminar presentation is considered to be an integral portion of the Ph.D. students' research responsibilities.  Failure to do so may result in interruption of stipend (if any) or enrollment status.  Masters degree students are encouraged to present seminars on their M.S. thesis prospectus or on their research work.


The Dr. John Redman Memorial Scholarship is an endowed scholarship for graduate students in the department.  Awards are made annually or as fund availability permits.  When available, an announcement will be made and application forms provided.

last update: August 21, 2009.