Section 1 Academic Programs

1         Academic Programs.
1.1      Master of Science (M.S.).
1.1.1   Admission Policies.
1.1.2   Academic Advising.
1.1.3   Credit Requirements.
1.1.4   Courses.
1.1.5   Thesis (Plan A).
1.1.6   Final Exam.
1.1.7   Assessing Academic Performance.
1.1.8   Assessing Degree Progress.
1.2      Doctor of Philosophy.
1.2.1   Admission Policies.
1.2.2   Academic Advising.
1.2.3   Credit Requirements.
1.2.4   Courses.
1.2.5   Qualifying Examinations.
1.2.6   Preliminary Exam.
1.2.7   Dissertation.
1.2.8   Assessing Academic Performance.
1.2.9   Assessing Degree Progress.

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Section 1. Academic Programs

1.1     Master of Science (M.S.)

The Master of Science (M.S.) degree certified by the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (DARE) is a formal program of study consisting of 30 credit hours including a work of original research (thesis or technical paper). The program is designed as a standard two year M.S. degree, but students who work diligently can finish earlier. Class work is focused on microeconomic applications and quantitative methods, and can typically be completed in approximately three semesters. Most M.S. students in DARE opt to prepare a thesis, which must be defended publicly before a degree is granted.

Completion of the M.S. in DARE signifies a mastery of fundamental microeconomic theory and econometrics, and an ability to perform applied economic research. This preparation makes M.S. graduates suitable for employment in the public and private sectors as analysts, consultants, researchers, and other occupations. Students with a Masters from our department have gone on to rewarding careers in CSU and peer University’s Extension programs, Federal agencies such as the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State Departments of Agriculture, NGO’s like Nature Conservancy, and the private sector.  The M.S. in DARE also provides an excellent basis for those inclined to pursue doctoral degrees. Many of our students have decided to pursue a Ph.D., either in our own program or in other top-level institutions across the country. The program also provides the flexibility to switch from M.S. to Ph.D. after one or two semesters of instruction if a student is so inclined. This allows considerable time savings compared to pursuing a PhD after full completion of the M.S.

Relative to undergraduate instruction, study at the Master’s level is faster-paced, uses considerably more formality in the classroom, and requires original research. Students are expected to be self-motivated, professional, and actively invested in their own education.

1.1.1     Admission Policies

Applications to the M.S. degree program are reviewed by the Graduate Admissions Committee in order to determine suitability for study in agricultural and resource economics at the graduate level. In general, successful applicants for the M.S. program will have completed an undergraduate degree program with a grade point average greater than or equal to 3.0 on a 4.0 point scale, and have successfully completed classes in differential calculus, statistics and econometrics, and intermediate microeconomic theory.  While an undergraduate background in agricultural and resource economics, economics, or a related field is encouraged, it is not strictly required. All applicants to the program are required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). A high score on this exam can help a student lacking in some areas to document the strengths necessary to gain acceptance in the program and will be considered in funding decisions. However, the Graduate Admission Committee evaluates each perspective student based on the totality of their application packet. As such, there is no minimum requirement for the GRE scores. If admitted, please notify us of your intention to enroll in the semester of admission (or to defer to subsequent semesters) as soon as that decision has been made.

1.1.2     Academic Advising

After admission to DARE, the Chair of the Graduate Program will serve as your temporary advisor during the first one/two semesters.  During this period, you are expected to work at devising your program of study, and identifying a faculty member who will serve as your permanent advisor and supervise your thesis work. Your temporary advisor will help you with these tasks. All students must declare their permanent advisor on the GS-6 form, generally by the end of the second semester after arrival. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the work of the DARE faculty in order to identify a permanent advisor.

Students pursuing an M.S. degree also choose a Graduate Advisory Committee following the procedures detailed in section 2.1.1. The student’s graduate committee provides guidance in completing a research study suitable for your thesis or technical paper. Examples of M.S. thesis titles can be found at:  https://dare.agsci.colostate.edu/graduate/theses-dissertations/.

1.1.3     Credit Requirements

Total credits required for the M.S. degree are:

  • Plan A – 30 credits including a thesis (maximum of 6 credits for thesis).
  • Plan B – 30 credits including a technical paper (no thesis credit awarded).

A Minimum of:

  • 24 credits must be earned at Colorado State University.
  • 21 credits must be earned after admission to the Agricultural and Resource Economics Graduate Program.
  • 16 Credits must be in 500-level or above courses.
  • At least 12 credits must be from formal AREC or ECON 500-level or above courses (i.e., not independent studies or research).
  • Please note that we expect you to be actively engaged in devising your program of study, and the responsibility of complying with these requirements rests on the student. No student-option pass-fail grading is permitted in the program of study (i.e., courses listed on GS-6 Form). Students must maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA or above to remain in good academic standing.

1.1.4     Courses

M.S. students are required to take three core classes (AREC 506, 507, 535) within their first two semesters, one methods course (AREC 615 or AREC 635) and field courses (AREC 605 and 610 or 540) within their first three semesters. The courses are listed in the following section, and Appendix B presents a sample M.S. program complying with such constraints.
1.1.4.1     Core Courses:

  • AREC 506: Applied Microeconomic Theory
  • AREC 507: Applied Welfare and Policy Analysis
  • AREC 535: Applied Econometrics

1.1.4.2      Methods Courses (Choose one course):

  • AREC 615: Optimization Methods for Applied Economics OR
  • AREC 635: Econometric Theory I

1.1.4.3     Field Courses

A field in Agricultural Economics or Natural Resource and Environmental Economics will be declared by taking field courses:

  • AREC 605 (2 credits): Agricultural Production and Cost Analysis AND
  • AREC 610 (2 credits): Agricultural Marketing and Demand Analysis

OR

  • AREC 540 (3 credits): Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

1.1.4.4     Elective Courses

Masters students will take additional courses to complete their program. Specific course electives beyond the required core, method and field courses will be selected and agreed upon by the student and the student’s advisor in consideration of the student’s background and objectives. Such courses can be from DARE or other departments and can include 300 and 400 level courses. However, Econ 306 (Intermediate Microeconomics), AREC/ECON 335 (Introduction to Econometrics) and STAT 301 (Introduction to Statistical Methods) are considered prerequisites to enter the M.S. program, and therefore credit from such classes cannot be used to fulfill minimum credit requirements (See Appendix A for DARE offered graduate level courses). Students that choose the Plan A track may also use a maximum of 6 credits of the variable credit AREC 699 – Thesis towards their degree. A typical full-time student at CSU is registered for 9 credits per semester.

Formal coursework from a properly planned degree program can thus be completed in three semesters. See https://dare.agsci.colostate.edu/graduate/graduate-courses/ for the catalog description of DARE classes.

1.1.5     Thesis (Plan A)

A Master’s thesis in DARE is an independent, original piece of research prepared by the student addressing a particular topic of interest related to agricultural and resource economics, and submitted to the Graduate School in support of the candidate’s petition for the degree. The thesis should contribute to scholarly knowledge. In practice, it is a written formal document that usually reports the results of a research project, often testing theoretical hypotheses with empirical data. Specific guidelines for submitting a thesis are determined by the Graduate School, and can be found at http://graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/thesis-dissertation/index.aspx.

Technical Paper (Plan B)

A technical paper in DARE is typically the application of empirical methods to a particular managerial decision or problem of interest within the agricultural and resource economics field. It is a research paper, but may not contribute to scholarly knowledge to the degree expected of a formal thesis. Students that choose Plan B cannot utilize thesis credits (AREC 699) toward their requirement of 30 credits, implying that this plan requires two more formal courses than Plan A.

1.1.6     Final Exam

Candidates for an M.S. degree must pass a final examination (also known as a thesis or technical paper defense), which must be held by the published deadlines of the student’s graduating term. The examining committee is the student’s graduate committee with the advisor serving as chairperson. It is the student’s responsibility to schedule the final examination in consultation with the advising committee and the graduate coordinator, and to give a minimum of two week notice to the broader academic community.

In DARE, the final exam typically consists of the candidate presenting the results of his/her research (thesis or technical paper) and answering questions by those in attendance (outside of the committee) and by the committee related to that research specifically and the candidate’s field of study more generally. Exams typically last two hours.

Voting at all final oral examinations shall be limited to the members of the student’s committee, and a majority vote is necessary to pass the examination. A tie vote is interpreted as failure to pass the examination. Committee members who are not academic faculty do not have a vote on the final examination.

Provided that the committee approves, a candidate who fails the final examination may be reexamined once and, for the reexamination, may be required to complete further work. The reexamination must be held not later than 12 months after the first examination. The examination must not be held earlier than two months after the first examination unless the student and committee agree to a shorter time period. Failure to pass the second exam results in dismissal from the Graduate School.

The student is responsible for taking the Report of Final Examination (GS-24) to the examination and returning it, completed and signed, to the Graduate School Office within two working days after results are known; this must occur before the deadline for graduation for the term, as published by the graduate school (http://graduateschool.colostate.edu/policies-and-procedures/deadline-dates/).  The student and committee also complete an evaluation form assessing their graduate education experience.

Participation in oral examinations by the student and/or one or more members of the examining committee may be via electronic link so long as all are participating simultaneously and all committee members and the student have agreed to this in advance.

1.1.7        Assessing Academic Performance

To meet the requirements for graduation and to remain in good academic standing, a student must demonstrate acceptable performance in course work after being admitted to a graduate program. This requires a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 in all regular course work. Regular course work is defined as courses other than independent or group studies, research courses, open seminars, thesis/dissertation credits, study abroad, U.S. travel, supervised college teaching, student teaching, practicum, internship, field placement, unique title courses offered through Continuing Education, and any courses graded pass/ fail.

Grade requirements:

  • An overall 3.00 grade point average must be maintained in regular and non-regular courses graded traditionally (A through F).
  • The grade point average in required courses included on the approved program of study (GS-6) must also equal at least 3.00.
  • Grades of C or higher must be earned in all required courses on a program of study.

D grades may be accepted in background courses, but such courses must be included in the computation of the cumulative grade point average.

Standards and requirements for off-campus graduate study are the same as those standards and requirements on campus. The academic Department Head has the basic responsibility for the implementation of this policy.

Academic probation: failure to maintain good academic standing results in the student being placed on academic probation and a loss of eligibility for departmental funding. New regularly admitted students will not be placed on probation until they have completed 12 regular credits or two semesters of graduate work, whichever comes first. The probationary period extends for one semester beyond the one in which this status is acquired and during which the student registers for courses that affect the grade point average (i.e., traditionally graded regular and non-regular courses). The period allowed between being placed on probation and registering for courses that affect the grade point average shall be limited by the student’s advisory committee within their criteria for determining satisfactory progress. Students on probation are subject to dismissal by the academic department or the Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs at the end of the probationary semester unless good academic standing has been regained. This requires adequate improvement in cumulative grade point averages (3.00) and/or satisfactory progress as determined by the student’s graduate advisory committee.

1.1.8     Assessing Degree Progress

In addition to minimum GPA requirements, good academic standing requires satisfactory progress in the overall program of study. Students’ individual graduate advisory committees may render judgments as to whether satisfactory progress is being made toward the degree, taking into account all aspects of academic performance and promise, not necessarily course work alone. A positive judgment is required to remain in good academic standing.

When a student’s graduate advisory committee or an appropriate departmental graduate committee finds that a student is making unsatisfactory progress toward the degree due to factors other than grade point average and that satisfactory progress cannot be anticipated, a plan should be created and the following steps should be taken.

  1. Inform the student of the concerns, create a progress plan with the student, develop a timeline and inform the student of the potential consequences (dismissal) if the progress is not satisfactory.
  2. The committee should keep in contact with the student to give feedback during the progress plan timeline and document such contacts and their outcomes.
  3. At the end of the timeline, if progress is not adequate, the committee may recommend dismissal from the program. The recommendation goes to the Department Head and the Dean of the Graduate School and should include documentation on the steps taken with justification for this action.

The recommendation must be referred to the Department Head for approval and the Dean of the Graduate School for final action.

1.1.8.1     Timing and Milestones to Degree Completion for M.S.

The following are suggested guidelines intended to result in expeditious completion of a student’s degree requirements. Typical timing for the M.S. degree is as follows:

M.S. Milestones Normal Progress Limit
Select thesis advisor End of 2nd semester End of 3rd semester
Select thesis committee Beginning to midpoint of 3rd semester End of 3rd semester
Complete courses End of 3rd semester End of 10 years
Final Exam End of 3rd semester and contiguous summer End of 10 years

Sample M.S. programs of studies are presented in Appendix B.

1.2     Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree certified by the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics is a program of study consisting of 72 credit hours (42 earned following a 30-credit M.S. degree) including credits from a substantial work of original research written in the form of a dissertation. Class work is focused on microeconomic theory, quantitative methods, and at least one tested field (Agricultural Economics or Environmental and Resource Economics). Successful candidates must pass:

  1. two written Qualifying Examinations (Econometrics and Microeconomic Core Theory Exam);
  2. a Preliminary Oral Examination (comprising a written and oral component) of their proposed research, and
  3. a Final Oral Dissertation Defense.

With proper planning and pre-enrollment academic preparation, a Ph.D. degree can be earned in approximately four years. Completion of the Ph.D. in DARE signifies a mastery of advanced microeconomic theory and quantitative methods, with a particular expertise in either Agricultural Economics or Natural Resource and Environmental Economics. Those who earn a Ph.D. must demonstrate significant intellectual achievement, high scholarly ability, and great breadth of knowledge. Successful Ph.D. graduates will be experts in applied economics and have the ability to develop and execute research programs, teach undergraduate and graduate level economics courses, and present theoretical and applied economic concepts and results to a wide variety of audiences. Individuals holding a Ph.D. from DARE have gone on to success in a variety of positions at universities, the public sector, and private enterprise.

Ph.D. students are held to the highest academic standards and are expected to become experts in their field. Significant independent inquiry outside of the classroom is expected. Successful students are self-motivated, professional, and proactive in achieving their academic goals.

1.2.1        Admission Policies

Applicants to the Ph.D. degree program are reviewed by the Graduate Admissions Committee in order to determine suitability for study in agricultural and resource economics at the PhD level. Applicants with a strong background in quantitative methods and economics are most likely to gain admission to the Ph.D. program with departmental funding, but strong applicants with other types of degrees will be considered. All applicants to the program are required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Generally, a high score in this exam can help a student lacking in some areas to document strengths necessary to gain acceptance and will be considered in funding decisions.  The Graduate Admission Committee evaluates each perspective student based on the totality of their application packet, and there is no minimum requirement for the GRE scores.

1.2.2     Academic Advising

After admission to DARE, the Chair of the Graduate Program will serve as your temporary advisor in the first year.  During this period, you are expected to work at devising your program of study, and identifying a faculty member who will serve as your permanent advisor and supervise your thesis work. Your temporary advisor will help you with these tasks. All students must declare their permanent advisor on the GS-6 form, generally by the end of the second semester after arrival. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the work of the DARE faculty, as well as those in other departments across the University, in order to identify a permanent advisor and committee members.

Students pursuing the Ph.D. degree choose a committee of at least four people following the procedures detailed in section 2.1.1. The chair of this committee, with input from the committee members, will guide the student through the research process and the writing of a doctoral dissertation. Examples of Ph.D. dissertation titles can be found at:  https://dare.agsci.colostate.edu/graduate/theses-dissertations/.

1.2.3     Credit Requirements

A minimum of 72 semester credits are required for the Ph.D. degree, including:

  • A minimum of 42 credits earned in 500-level or above courses beyond the B.S. degree, with a minimum of 30 of these credits earned in regular graduate courses (i.e., not independent studies or research).
  • Students may apply an approved Master’s degree for up to 30 credits toward the PhD requirements provided such degree fulfills course requirements analogous to the Agricultural and Resource Economics M.S program offered by DARE. The transfer of such credits will be assessed on a case by case basis by the Chair of the Graduate Program.
  • A maximum of 12 dissertation credits.
  • At least 32 credits earned at Colorado State University after admission to the Ph.D. program.
  • A maximum of 10 credits in courses earned after the date on which an M.S. degree was awarded may be accepted in transfer if approved by the student’s advisory committee, the department, and the Graduate School. Transfer credits are only allowable for completed courses receiving a grade of B or better (3.0 grade points), in accordance with the substitution policy.
  • At least 9 credits must be earned at Colorado State University at the 700 level in AREC OR ECON classes, not including AREC 784, 795, and 799.
  • The responsibility for complying with these requirements rests on the student

No student-option pass-fail grading is permitted in the program of study (i.e., GS-6). 300-level courses in ECON and AREC are not allowed, but undergraduate courses at the 300-level and above from other disciplines in support of secondary course fields may be approved, on a course by course basis, by the student’s graduate committee.

1.2.4     Courses

A typical full-time student at CSU is registered for 9 credits per semester. Core courses are taken by all Ph.D. students, while field courses are taken by all students within a specialization (Agricultural Economics or Natural Resource and Environmental Economics). Elective courses are chosen by the student to fulfill the minimum credit requirements of the degree.

1.2.4.1     Core Courses

To maintain good academic standing students must complete the following core classes by the end of the second year after admission to the Ph.D. program:

  • AREC 615: Optimization Methods for Applied Economics
  • AREC 635: Econometric Theory I
  • AREC 735: Econometric Theory II
  • AREC 736: Advanced Econometric Methods: A (Discrete Choice Models) or B (Panel Data Models)
  • AREC 606: Microeconomic Analysis I
  • AREC 706: Microeconomic Analysis II
  • AREC 570: Methodology of Economic Research
  • ECON 501: Quantitative Methods for Economists
  • ECON 504: Applied Macroeconomics (or other graduate level macro course)

1.2.4.2     Field Courses

Field courses depend on the chosen specialization.

Students pursuing a field in Agricultural Economics are required to successfully complete the following classes:

  • AREC 605 (2 credits): Agricultural Production and Cost Analysis
  • AREC 610 (2 credits): Agricultural Marketing and Demand Analysis
  • AREC 705 (2 credits): Advanced Production and Technological Change AND
  • AREC 710 (2 credits): Advanced Agricultural Marketing Issues

Students pursuing a field in Environmental and Resource Economics are required to successfully complete the following two classes:

  • AREC 540 (3 credits): Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
  • AREC 740 (3 credits): Advanced Natural Resource Economics AND
  • AREC 741: Advanced Environmental Economics

1.2.4.3    Elective Courses

Ph.D. students will take additional courses to complete their program. Specific course electives beyond the required core and field courses will be selected and agreed upon by the student and the student’s advisory committee in consideration of the student’s background and objectives. Such courses can be from DARE or other departments. 300 and 400 level courses are acceptable for graduate credit, but need to be approved by the student’s advisor and committee (See Appendix A for graduate level courses offered by DARE). However, 300-level courses with AREC and ECON prefixes are not admissible.

Note: students are required to maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or better to maintain good academic standing, and all classes declared on the GS-6 form must be completed with a grade of C or better.

1.2.5     Qualifying Examinations

Students pursuing the Ph.D. are required to pass two qualifying examinations:  one in microeconomic theory and one in quantitative (econometrics) methods. The intent of the examinations is to test and certify that a student has mastered the fundamental core knowledge necessary to succeed in advanced Ph.D. coursework and the chosen field of study.

Each qualifying examination will be administered as a closed-book, in-classroom, written examination lasting four hours.  Doctoral students are expected to sign up and take the test immediately after completing the supporting coursework (see following sections). Students who do not pass each qualifying examination on the first attempt must retake the examination at its next offering. Failure to take the test at the subsequent offering constitutes an automatic fail. Students who do not complete the qualifying exams in a timely manner will lose their good academic standing and be deemed not to be making satisfactory academic progress.

In rare situations where there are extenuating circumstances beyond a student’s control, students who did not pass the exam on the second attempt may petition the Graduate Committee for a third attempt (see Ph.D. Exam Appeal Policies).

1.2.5.1     Econometrics Core Theory Qualifying Exam

The Econometrics Qualifying exam is offered twice each summer in May and August, usually one week after the end of the spring term and one week before the beginning of the fall term. This exam covers econometric topics discussed in AREC/ECON 635 (offered in Fall) and AREC/ECON 735 (offered in Spring), but also test more basic concepts and intuition typically presented in M.S. level courses. Students are required to complete this sequence of classes by the end of their second academic year, but students with a previously earned M.S. degree will typically complete the sequence in their second semester.  Students will take the quantitative qualifying exam following successful completion of AREC/ECON 735. Failure to take the exam in the absence of a formal exemption (granted by the Graduate Committee) will be considered a failed exam.

1.2.5.2     Microeconomic Core Theory Qualifying Exam

The microeconomic qualifying exam is offered in January and May/June of each year, usually one week before the beginning of the spring term and shortly after the end of the spring term.  This exam will cover topics discussed in ECON 501 (offered in Fall), AREC/ECON 606 (offered in Spring), and AREC/ECON 706 (offered in Fall). Students are required to complete the 606-706 sequence by the end of their second academic year.

Students will take the microeconomic qualifying exam following successful completion of AREC/ECON 706, usually in Fall of Year 2. This implies that the student’s first attempt of the microeconomic qualifying exam will usually be in January of year 2. Failure to take the exam in the absence of a formal exemption (granted by the Graduate Committee) will be considered a failed exam.

1.2.6     Preliminary Exam

The Preliminary Exam (also known as ‘Proposal Defense’) is the final step to candidacy (also known as A.B.D., “All But Dissertation”, status). Per Graduate School regulations, the Preliminary Examination for a PhD degree has to be completed at least two terms before the final examination. For example, a student passing the preliminary examination in the spring term, cannot take the final examination in the summer term, and needs to wait until the following fall term. In DARE, completing the Preliminary Examination involves the following three components: 1) research proposal 2) written exam and 3) oral exam.

The written and oral exams can be scheduled to occur only after meeting the following requirements:

  1. Passing the Microeconomics and Econometrics Qualifying Exams
  2. The research proposal has been approved as “ready to defend” by all members of the advisory committee
  3. Successful completion of the AgEcon or NRE PhD field course listed in the GS6
    1. AgEcon: AREC 605, AREC 610, AREC 705, AREC 710 (8 credits total)
    2. NRE: AREC 540, AREC 740, AREC 741 (9 credits total)

The intention to hold a Preliminary Examination is to be publicized to the Department at least two weeks before the date of the exam. A two-page summary of the research proposal prepared by the student and approved by the members of the advisory committee shall be shared with the DARE faculty at this time.The written component is to be assigned two weeks before the oral exam. Students have one week to return written materials for evaluation by their committee.

1.2.6.1     Research proposal

The objective of the research proposal is to lay the foundation for the doctoral dissertation. While there is no specific requirement, the research proposal should assure that substantial progress has been made on a portion of the research, the student is conducting PhD-level work, and, for the research that remains, there is a reasonable and complete plan of work. This will imply showing that data is available (if appropriate), the methods for analysis are known and understood, and that hypothesized results are provided. As a general rule, the student should engage and request feedback from all members of his/her advising committee in an iterative process. This iterative process continues until all committee members are in favor of proceeding to the written component of the exam, or the advising committee determines that the student has lost the status of good academic standing because of a lack of satisfactory progress towards the degree (see section 1.2.9)

A basic template and suggested structure of a research proposal is:

One research contribution should be close to completion, and be representative of the quality and rigor the advisory committee expects from a PhD student in their final doctoral dissertation. This involves an extensive literature review, a well formulated research question, solid methods and results, coherent conclusions and relevant discussion.

The second and third contributions can be at a more preliminary state, and may build or extend on the first contribution. At the very minimum, the following questions will be clearly addressed.

  • What is your primary research question for this contribution? How does this fit into the broader literature?
  • Why (and for whom) is this research question important?
  • How are you approaching the research question? Can you document that the necessary information/data is accessible and/or how you will collect it?
  • What is novel about your approach, compared to what others in the literature have done? How are you contributing to the literature?
  • What results do you expect, and why?

1.2.6.2     Written component of the preliminary examination

After a research proposal is approved, the advisory committee will devise a set of questions for the written component of the prelim exam.  Every departmental member of the advisory committee is required to write at least one question, while the outside member is encouraged but not required to write a question. The main advisor is in charge of compiling all the questions, adjusting for any redundancy, and to administer the exam.  The written exam is open-book, open-notes and take-home, but no other outside help can be accessed (the student can discuss the questions with the committee members as appropriate). The answers will include the signed statement of academic integrity: “I have not given, received, or used any unauthorized assistance.”

The written component of the preliminary exam is not a stand-alone exam, but rather the first part of the preliminary examination. Its primary function is to allow the members of the advising committee to ask complex and in-depth questions about the proposed research plan, which may be hard to address during an oral examination. Possible questions include (but are not limited to) the following objectives:

  • Address potential flaws or uncertainties in the research proposal.
  • Assess student knowledge and understanding of the broader methods and concepts relative to the chosen field of expertise (AGECON, NRE), even if not immediately related to the research proposal.
  • Survey student knowledge of the academic literature relevant to his/her research proposal, and challenge the relevance of the proposed contributions.
  • Test student knowledge of the methods and tools relevant to the proposed dissertation work.
  • Further explore interdisciplinary dimensions and connections with the non-economic literature.

The members of the advisory committee will determine the timing and content of the exam, but the exam will be limited to occur over not more than five business days. The committee will assess the student performance in the written exam before the oral component, but the pass/fail determination is made only at the end of the oral component.

1.2.6.3     Oral component of the preliminary examination

The oral exam will involve a 30-45 minute presentation by the student illustrating the research proposal, followed by questioning by the advising committee. At their discretion, committee members can follow up on the questions and answers provided in the written component of the exam and/or inquire about the feasibility/methodological soundness of the research conducted and proposed. Per graduate school rules, participation in the oral exam by the student and/or one or more members of the examining committee may be via electronic link (online) so long as all are participating simultaneously and all committee members and the student have agreed to this in advance.

At the end of the oral exam, each faculty member on the advisory committee will express a vote of pass/fail based on the overall performance of the student in the 1) written exam and related follow up questions during the oral, and 2) the merit of the research conducted and proposed. If the majority is opposed (or there is a tie), the student fails and works with the committee to devise a remediation path. Regardless of the outcome, a GS16 “Report of Preliminary Examination” (GS Form 16) is filed with the graduate school. The student is responsible for obtaining the Report of Preliminary Examination from the Graduate School and returning it, appropriately completed, after the conclusion of the examination.

A candidate who fails the Preliminary Examination may be reexamined once and, for the reexamination, may be required to complete further work. The reexamination must be held not later than 12 months after the first examination. The examination must not be held earlier than two months after the first examination unless the student agrees to a shorter time period. Failure to pass the second exam results in dismissal from the Graduate School.

1.2.6.4     Timing and Milestones to Degree Completion for Ph.D.

The following guidelines are suggestions intended to favor an expeditious completion of your degree requirements. Sample Ph.D. programs of studies are presented in appendix B.

Ph.D. students entering the program with a MS degree from a program comparable to the DARE MS (transferring 30 credits) are required to take five classes associated with the preliminary examinations (AREC 606, 706, 635, 735, and ECON 501), plus AREC 736A or 736B within their first two years, two methods courses (AREC 570, 615) and the required field core courses (AREC 605, 610, 705, 710 or 540, 740, 741) within their first three years.  The Chair of the Graduate Program may consider waiving one of more of these requirements if the student can demonstrate the equivalence of coursework eligible for transfer of credit.  Students may also use a maximum of 12 credits of the variable credit AREC 799: Dissertation course towards their degree. Although there are a maximum number of thesis credits from AREC 799 that can be formally counted towards the degree, there is no limit to the number of thesis credits for which a student may register. As such, a typical full-time Ph.D. degree program would consist of 9 credits of formal coursework per semester (three classes). Formal coursework from a properly planned degree program can thus be completed in five semesters with a previously earned M.S. Note, however, that certain courses (notably field courses) are only offered every other year, so planning is essential. See appendix A or https://dare.agsci.colostate.edu/graduate/graduate-courses/ for the catalog description of DARE classes.

Typical timing for the Ph.D. degree is as follows:

Ph.D. Milestones Normal Progress Limit
Quantitative Core Exam Summer after 2nd semester Summer after 4th semester
Microeconomic Core Exam Winter after 3rd semester Winter after 4th semester
Select thesis advisor/committee End of 3rd semester End of 3rd semester
Preliminary Oral Exam End 5th semester End of 6th semester
Final Dissertation Exam End of 7th semester End of 10 years

Students entering the PhD program without transferring MS degree credits will develop and follow the full 72 credits program, which will include, in addition to the program just described, the MS core and field classes. A template for such program is provided in appendix B.

1.2.7     Dissertation

Students take primary responsibility for identifying a dissertation topic, developing the dissertation content, and preparing the presentation and format of the dissertation. The dissertation is supervised by the student’s advisor and committee, and must be approved by them. As an alternative to the standard monographic dissertation format, the advisor and committee may approve a dissertation constructed of shorter, stand-alone articles integrated around a central theme. This approach is often favored because it expedites the process of submission and publication of original dissertation work in academic journals.

The final dissertation defense must occur at least two terms after the preliminary exam of the dissertation proposal (one term between the preliminary and final defense). So, if a student passes the preliminary exam in the fall term, they cannot defend the dissertation in the ensuing spring term and need to wait until the summer term.

The Ph.D. degree is completed when the student’s advisory committee and the Department Head has approved the dissertation, the dissertation is filed with the Graduate School, all appropriate forms have been submitted and approved, and an electronic copy of your dissertation is submitted to the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics.

1.2.8     Assessing Academic Performance

To meet the requirements for graduation and to remain in good academic standing, a student must demonstrate acceptable performance in course work after being admitted to a graduate program. This requires a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 in all regular course work. Regular course work is defined as courses other than independent or group studies, research courses, open seminars, thesis/dissertation credits, study abroad, U.S. travel, supervised college teaching, student teaching, practicum, internship, field placement, unique title courses offered through Continuing Education, and any courses graded pass/ fail.

Grade requirements:

  • An overall 3.00 grade point average must be maintained in regular and non-regular courses graded traditionally (A through F).
  • The grade point average in required courses included on the approved program of study (GS-6) must also equal at least 3.00.
  • Grades of C or higher must be earned in all required courses on a program of study.

D grades may be accepted in background courses, but such courses must be included in the computation of the cumulative grade point average.

Standards and requirements for off-campus graduate study are the same as those standards and requirements on campus. The academic Department Head has the basic responsibility for the implementation of this policy.

Academic probation: failure to maintain good academic standing results in the student being placed on academic probation and a loss of eligibility for departmental funding.

New regularly admitted students will not be placed on probation until they have completed 12 regular credits or two semesters of graduate work, whichever comes first. The probationary period extends for one semester beyond the one in which this status is acquired and during which the student registers for courses that affect the grade point average (i.e., traditionally graded regular and non-regular courses). The period allowed between being placed on probation and registering for courses that affect the grade point average shall be limited by the student’s advisory committee within their criteria for determining satisfactory progress. Students on probation are subject to dismissal by the academic department or the Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs at the end of the probationary semester unless good academic standing has been regained. This requires adequate improvement in cumulative grade point averages (3.00) and/or satisfactory progress as determined by the student’s graduate advisory committee.

1.2.9     Assessing Degree Progress
In addition to grade point average requirements, good academic standing requires satisfactory progress in the overall graduate program. For DARE Ph.D. students, this includes sufficient progress on the qualifying and field exams, as well as the dissertation proposal and final dissertation defense. Students’ individual graduate advisory committees may render judgments as to whether satisfactory progress is being made toward the degree, taking into account all aspects of academic performance and promise, not necessarily course work alone. A positive judgment is required to remain in good academic standing.

When a student’s graduate advisory committee or an appropriate departmental graduate committee finds that a student is making unsatisfactory progress toward the degree due to factors other than grade point average and that satisfactory progress cannot be anticipated, a plan should be created and the following steps should be taken.

  1. Inform the student of the concerns, create a progress plan with the student, develop a timeline and inform the student of the potential consequences (dismissal) if the progress is not satisfactory.
  2. The committee should keep in contact with the student to give feedback during the progress plan timeline and document such contacts and their outcomes.
  3. At the end of the timeline, if progress is not adequate, the committee may recommend dismissal from the program. The recommendation goes to the Department Head and the Dean of the Graduate School and should include documentation on the steps taken with justification for this action.

The recommendation must be referred to the Department Head for approval and the Dean of the Graduate School for final action.

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