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Thread: Is a PhD in Agricultural Economics worth it?

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    Is a PhD in Agricultural Economics worth it?

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    Now, please don't get me wrong, this is all out of curiosity. I get that agricultural economics had a different start point, in that it initially developed after a bunch of agronomists/agricultural scientists started using economic theories in their work. And, now, these departments in land-grant universities get huge government funding, so there are nice funding opportunities for students. But it seems that a lot of agricultural economics departments now deal more with research topics marginally related to agriculture, like environment, natural resources, and international development.

    I am curious that if I am interested in, let's say, international agricultural development and the related topics (smallholder farmer issues, technology transfer and adoption, agricultural cooperatives, gender in agriculture, etc.), why would it be better to do a PhD in an agricultural economics department, compared to an economics department or even a nice public policy department like at HKS? I think the same could be said to a certain extent for traditional agricultural topics (agricultural and commodity price analysis and forecasting, agricultural markets, agribusiness and farm management, etc.).

    Am I missing something?

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    Re: Is a PhD in Agricultural Economics worth it?

    That's a tough and very esoteric question... I hope somebody here can answer it! I would say it increases your likelihood of admissions to top schools because of the specialized nature of the field, and maybe pays just as well if possibly even better? I don't have much concrete evidence but that would be my guess...

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