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Professional Development

Course work and thesis/dissertation research are integral parts of a graduate program. However, a graduate program should be much more than that. Our program offers many opportunities for professional development.

Joint Research with Faculty

Most students in our M.S. and Ph.D. programs have a research assistantship (see Financial Aid ). Research assistantships offer students the opportunity to work closely with faculty on research projects.

In working with faculty, students can put ideas learned in the classroom to work – discovering which economic and quantitative techniques to use on a particular problem, how to use them, and how to write up and present results. Students can also learn much about the research process – writing grant and contract proposals, administering a project, meeting deadlines, and preparing project reports. Students often co-author papers with faculty based on research results. Many students base their master's theses and Ph.D. dissertations on projects with faculty.

Teaching Experience

For students who would like to prepare themselves for a possible future academic career, we offer AEREC 602 – Supervised Experience in College Teaching. A student in this course works closely with a faculty mentor on an undergraduate course. Student activities in 602 vary but can include assisting in the development of a course outline, preparing lectures, giving lectures, and developing homework assignments and exam questions.

Students interested in developing their teaching skills can also take advantage of Penn State's Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence . CELT offers a course in college teaching every semester. CELT also has several online teaching resources on its website.

Thesis/Dissertation Fieldwork

We endeavor to be as supportive as possible when a student is working on a master's thesis or Ph.D. dissertation that requires fieldwork (e.g., to carry out a survey). Faculty can assist students in preparing proposals for external funding to support fieldwork, in identifying sources of funding within the University, and in taking care of logistics and travel arrangements.

Travel to Professional Meetings

We strongly encourage graduate students to attend and participate in professional meetings. Financial support from the Department and College is available for students presenting papers at professional meetings. For students presenting papers based on research projects with faculty, funds are often available from the research project to support travel.

Department Seminars

The Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education has a seminar series during the Fall and Spring semesters, with usually one seminar per week. Many seminar speakers are visitors from other universities, companies and organizations, providing students with exposure to a world of ideas. Graduate students can give departmental seminars as well. Graduate students also present their research ideas and results in AEREC 590, a colloquium course that is part of the M.S. and Ph.D. programs.

Computing Support

The Department's Information Technology Support Group (ITSG) offers computer support services to graduate students to assist them in learning the computer skills they need in pursuing their degrees. ITSG provides on-demand and scheduled assistance with a variety of questions and problems involving computer accounts, hardware, email, survey coding and data entry, data access (from various media), word processing, spreadsheet and database programs, presentation graphics, scanning, web searching/writing, and statistical analysis programs.

The Department has a computer lab equipped with about 20 computers (as well as printing and copying facilities) for student use. The computers are on the Department's local area network and are connected to the campus data backbone.