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Integrated Graduate Training in Commodity Markets

Funding for two outstanding Ph.D. students is currently available through a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) National Needs Graduate Fellowships grant with the goal of broadening scientific and professional expertise in the Agricultural Sciences. Eligibility for this program requires applicants to be US citizens and strongly encourages applications from women, first-generation students, and underrepresented minorities. More details about the program can be found here.

This program combines traditional classroom training in Agribusiness Economics and Management on the MS level and Applied Econometrics and International Development and Trade on the Ph.D. level with practical experiences through participation in an interdisciplinary Commodity Investing by Students (COINS) program.  The COINS program at Virginia Tech University is the first Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF) in the U.S. focused on commodity markets (  You will learn to analyze market forces, forecast market movements, and make investment decisions. You will understand the economic value of commodities and natural resources, and discern how economics influences policy decisions in both government and industry. You will learn how to model and forecast commodity price volatility and its responses to various market factors. Previous Ph.D. students have examined topics related to the costs of futures hedging, grass fed beef price premiums, and the impacts of animal disease on livestock markets and prices, as well as changes in the impact of USDA information on US grain and livestock markets. Master’s students in this specialization have examined topics related to commodity ETF tracking performance, futures-based forecasts of US crop prices, organic price premiums and risk in US feed grains markets, as well as VA grain and feeder cattle basis analysis and forecasting.

Selected PhD students will receive a research/teaching assistantship that includes a monthly stipend of $2,300 plus a tuition waiver. If interested in this opportunity, please mention the COINS program in the statement of purpose submitted with your application.

Students recruited under this program will be working with the two principal investigators of the project: Drs. Olga Isengildina Massa (, and Shamar Stewart ( Please contact AAEC graduate coordinator, Mr. Normand Adams (, for any questions about the graduate program application. Questions related to the COINS program can be addressed to the principal investigators. To apply and for more information about the graduate program, please visit our website here. Priority deadline for application is January 15, 2023.