Master of Agricultural and Applied Economics (MAAE)


Program Description

The non-thesis Master of Agricultural and Applied Economics (MAAE) is a professionally-oriented degree designed to prepare graduates for a wide variety of careers in the private sector, including as economic consultants, commodity traders, analysts, or in the public sector with government agencies and international organizations. Students will choose one of four specialty training areas that fit their interests and career goals:

  • Food and Agribusiness
  • Agricultural Markets and Finance
  • Sustainability Policy and Management
  • Trade and Development

Core courses will train students in advanced microeconomics and econometrics, and additional quantitative tools such as data science and system optimization.


This master's degree can be completed as a stand-alone master's degree or, for University of Illinois undergraduate students only, a combined bachelor plus master's (4+1 MAAE). The 4+1 MAAE combines the ACE Bachelor's of Science, and it can be completed in five academic years, including a summer internship. The standalone MAAE is designed to be completed over a 1 to 2 year period based on the student's interests and ability to take partial to full course loads during each semester of study; it is open to any student with a bachelor’s degree that meets the program admission criteria. 

Professional Internship or Research Apprenticeship

Students will work with advisors to successfully complete a professional internship or research apprenticeship as part of the program requirements.

The professional internship experience is typically completed the summer after coursework requirements are met. It could also be completed during the fall or spring semesters, or in the summer prior to the first fall semester of classes for the MAAE program. However, students may find the internship experience more enriching after having completed some, or all of their graduate coursework.

Program advisors will support students in their internship preparation, professional network building, and to identify opportunities, while students will be responsible for successfully interviewing, landing, and completing the internship.

Career Opportunities

The MAAE's focus on mastery of quantitative methods, field specialization, and internship experience prepares students for many career paths. Graduates will be fully prepared to grow with industry leaders through the program's combination of academics tailored to career goals with hands-on work experience.

Upon earning your master's, you might:

  • Inform efforts to fight hunger at an international organization;
  • Shape policy in government agencies;
  • Crunch the numbers that drive high-stakes legal cases and regulatory evaluations in economic consulting companies;
  • Take a leadership position in the food and agribusiness industries;
  • Work in the fast lane at a commodity trading company;
  • Fight for the environment or food security as an analyst in a non-profit.

Who Should Apply

You should apply to this program if you:

  • Are interested in a career in the private sector, including as an economic consultant, commodity trader, analyst; or
  • Are interested in a career in the public sector with government agencies and international organizations; and
  • Have a strong background in math, microeconomics, and statistics;
  • Want to complete a master's degree in a shortened timeline and without completing a research thesis;
  • Desire to gain hands-on work experience tailored to your career interests;
  • Are prepared to competitively enter the job market after earning your master's.

How to Apply

Application deadlines*

  • Spring cohort: October 15
  • Fall cohort: January 15

*We will continue accepting and reviewing applications after the above dates, but for full consideration, please submit all materials by the deadlines above.

MAAE Application

Apply through the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (  and be officially accepted into the Graduate College, making sure to include the following elements via the formal application:

  • Select the “MAAE” Option on the application;
  • Personal Statement (400-500 words);
    • The personal statement should summarize your qualifications, outline your reasons for applying to the program, and describe your career objectives. This should reflect your professional interests specific to the MAAE program.
  • Resume (updated);
  • Official post-secondary academic record;
    • Include courses taken, grades earned, and degrees awarded. Unofficial transcripts meet this requirement.
  • Names and contact information for three references;
    • At least two of your references should be familiar with and in a position to comment on your academic record and potential for success in a graduate program.
  • GRE test scores (optional);
    • If you choose to submit your test scores, do so directly from the Educational Testing Center, ETS is who administers the GRE and TOEFL.
      • Institution code: 1836
      • Department code: 0101
Last updated Oct 2020

About the School

ACES is a diverse college with top-rated programs in engineering, agricultural sciences, economics, nutritional science, and more. While our faculty and student body have various specialties and areas ... Read More

ACES is a diverse college with top-rated programs in engineering, agricultural sciences, economics, nutritional science, and more. While our faculty and student body have various specialties and areas of interest, we are all working toward a common goal of improving daily life for people around the world. Read less