Teaching is be divided into five main modules. The modules are organised over four study periods (2 academic years) and contain a minimum total of 120 ECTS or credits.
- A basic module over one study period with theoretical formation in basic agricultural economic and development theories and methodologies.
- First specialized module in the second study period.
- Second specialized module in the third study period, linked to the master thesis topic.
- A case study during the summer semester.
- The master thesis in one of the major disciplines of rural development economics or policies, written during the final period of study.
The basic module is offered by the core partner institutes in the EU and US. It is to be followed at one of the degree awarding institutes (in the US home institute for US students and at the university of Ghent for EU students). The courses represent a general training into the basic competence domains and components of it are commonly agreed and recognised in order to have common basic standards. The module represents 30 to 40 ECTS or credits.
The specialized modules are offered by all partner institutes in the EU and US according to their specialty disciplines (see table below). They can be followed in different languages (English, Spanish, French, German and Dutch). The courses represent an advanced study in specific competence domains. The modules represent 10 to 30 ECTS or credits each.
The case study is a summer semester field experience where students and scholars from different institutions and backgrounds share visions and approaches. The aim is that students undertake a practical experiencein a commonly organised case study. Possible locations for the case study are: Pisa University (Italy) or Nitra University (Slovakia). The case study represents minimum 10 ECTS or credits.
The Master thesis is written on one of the disciplines of rural development economics or policies. It represents 30 ECTS or credits. Preference is given to common EU-US projects in terms of research, data collection, supervision and examination to obtain the largest added value possible within the EU-US environment, thus stimulating comparative research of the EU and US approach in agricultural economics and rural development. It is defended in one of the degree awarding institutes, according to the specialisations offered at either side. External scholars and outstanding professionals working in the field of rural development and agricultural economics can assist in supervising the students or in providing specific assistance.
The course program can be complemented with elective courses. The elective courses can be used to further specialize in one of the competence domains, to broaden the knowledge or to improve language skills. Apart from these, courses in language and culture are an obligatory part of the curriculum.