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Graduate Field of Animal Science

Play a key role in creating a more sustainable food supply

The program offers unusual flexibility designed to accommodate individual interests and goals. Approximately 40 graduate students from a variety of disciplines and departments belong to the Graduate Field of Animal Science. There are several advantages to being a graduate student at Cornell and in the Graduate Field of Animal Science, including access to Cornell’s wealth of intellectual (and other) resources and cooperation among students and faculty with common and complementary interests.

Graduate Field of Animal Science

Become a leader and innovator as the role and impact of domesticated animals continues to evolve. Information about the Field of Animal Science, as well as general application information and on-line forms, may be found on the Graduate School website.

Candidates to the Field of Animal Science come from many academic backgrounds. To be considered for admission, applicants must be graduates of recognized colleges or universities, show promise of ability to undertake advanced study and research, have adequate preparation in the field, and have a fluent command of the English language. Applicants are evaluated holistically based upon preparation (courses completed, prior research and other experiences), statements of purpose, and letters of recommendation. We are searching for applicants, including those from diverse backgrounds, who will flourish in the program. Complete applications are due January 1 for Fall semester admission.

  1. Applicants should have contacted potential advisors and include that information in the Statement of Purpose that they provide in their applications.
  2. GRE scores: Not required or considered in review of applicants for application for admission.
  3. TOEFL scores: Applicants whose native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and have the official scores reported to Cornell from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The Graduate School recommends the following minimum scores on the four-part iBT TOEFL exam: Writing: 20; Listening: 15; Reading: 20; Speaking: 22. The TOEFL is not required of international applicants who have studied full-time for two or more years in a college or university where English is the language of instruction and the college or university is located in a country where English is the native language.
  4. Transcript. Official transcripts must be submitted to the Graduate School by each previously attended college or university. The Field of Animal Science does not have a minimum acceptable GPA, but, again, applicants must keep in mind that the selection process within the Field is highly competitive and GPA scores are strongly considered.
  5. Statement of purpose and program fit: To ensure that applicants find a program that fits their personal interests, the Field of Animal Science strongly encourages applicants to research the programs available within the Field of Animal Science. We also encourage applicants to make a connection with a member of the Field specializing in their interest of study before applying. It is important to indicate such a connection and interest in the research being conducted by a member of the Field on the application and in the “Statement of Purpose” part of the application.
  6. Letters of recommendation. The Field of Animal Science requires two letters of recommendation, but will accept and welcome one or two additional letters of recommendation.

In order to ensure that applicants enter a program fitting their personal interests, the Field of Animal Science strongly encourages applicants to explore programs available within the Field of Animal Science and to connect with a member of the Field specializing in their interest of study before applying. Such a connection and interest in the research being conducted by a member of the Field should be included on the application and in the “Statement of Purpose” part of the application.

For more information, prospective students are encouraged to contact faculty members whose research programs are aligned with the interests of the applicant.

Students can choose from the following concentrations:

  • Animal Nutrition
  • Animal Science
  • Physiology of Reproduction
  • Animal Genetics
  • Animal Genomics

For more information regarding subject and degree programs, visit the Graduate School.

Students pursue advanced study leading to three different degrees.

  • Master of Science (M.S.)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Agriculture and Life Sciences

General admissions requirements and criteria for selection:

Candidates to the Field of Animal Science come from many academic backgrounds.  To be considered for admission, applicants must be graduates of recognized colleges or universities, show promise of ability to undertake advanced study and research, have adequate preparation in the field, and have a fluent command of the English language. For more information on admissions, please visit the Graduate School.

Official transcripts must be submitted to the Graduate School by each previously attended college or university. The Field of Animal Science does not have a minimum acceptable GPA. Applicants must keep in mind that the selection process within the Field is highly competitive and GPA scores are strongly considered.

All PhD candidates admitted to the Field of Animal Science must be fully funded by:

  1. a departmental assistantship and/or faculty research funds;
  2. an outside fellowship such as Fulbright, NIH, or other government/educational funding agency; or
  3. funding from a private company.

All PhD applicants who have not secured an outside funding source are considered for a departmental assistantship or faculty research funding. Graduate assistantships include full tuition, health insurance, and an annual stipend. Renewal of financial support each semester is contingent upon academic performance constituting good standing in the graduate field and satisfactory performance in any teaching, extension, or research responsibilities.

To support their graduate education, applicants are encouraged to apply for educational, government and other non-Cornell fellowships such as Fulbright, NSERC, NIH, and CONACYT.

Funding

The application can also serve as a request for funding. Students are not admitted unless funding is available to them. Financial aid is available to many graduate students on a competitive basis in the form of assistantships and fellowships. Assistantships for the most competitive applicants may be available from the Department of Animal Science, but these assistantships usually are awarded only to American citizens and are only offered for fall admission. Cornell Fellowships may also be available. Assistantships may also be funded from grant funds received by individual faculty. See the Financial Support page on the Graduate School website for more details about Cornell Fellowships.

In the Field of Animal Science, most assistantships are 12 months/year. Graduate students who receive assistantships are also awarded full tuition and health insurance. The number of available assistantships in the Field varies depending upon the number of students who are expected to complete their degrees before the start of the fall semester. Assistantships are not available for students accepted into the MPS degree program.

In some cases we will admit MS students who are self-funded.

Master of Science (M.S.)

In this program, students with baccalaureate degrees receive postgraduate training and experience in a major and a minor discipline and develop research experience under the close supervision of a member of the faculty. For some, the MS degree leads to a position in industry, agribusiness, extension, teaching or research; for many, it is a prelude to admission to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program.

Some of the study requirements of the MS program are as follows:

  • Supervised by special committee of three professors selected by the candidate, at least one of whom must not be a member of the Department of Animal Science.
  • Requires one major and one minor subject.
  • Requires a minimum of two residence units (usually one year), but most students receiving financial support need two years for this degree.
  • No residence credit from another university can be transferred for this degree.
  • A research thesis is required.
  • The final examination is an oral defense of the thesis conducted by the special committee.
  • The candidate is expected, as part of training, to assist in teaching undergraduate courses.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or M.S./Ph.D.

This program, which emphasizes training for independent research, is aimed at development of scientists who have mastered one subject, have adequate knowledge of related subjects, and have demonstrated their ability to plan, undertake, complete, and interpret research. Most graduates of this program assume positions in universities, industry, or government.

Some of the study requirements of the PhD program are as follows:

  • Supervised by special committee of four professors selected by the candidate, at least one of whom must not be a member of the Department of Animal Science.
  • Requires one major and two minor subjects.
  • Requires a minimum of six residence units (semesters). Transfer of residence credit may be allowed, but the candidate must spend at least two of the last four terms (ordinarily the last two) in consecutive session at Cornell. Most students who begin with a baccalaureate degree require five years to complete requirements for the PhD degree.
  • A research thesis must be approved by all members of the special committee.
  • Examinations vary somewhat among fields but in all cases include oral Admission to Candidacy and final (thesis) examinations.
  • The candidate is expected, as part of training, to assist in teaching undergraduate courses.

Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Agriculture and Life Sciences

The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program is a course-based, non-thesis, one-year master’s degree program that emphasizes professional development and intellectual investigation. The MPS degree program is ideal for career-focused individuals who are interested in broadening their expertise and expanding their professional versatility through coursework and a hands-on capstone project. 

There are two main components to complete the 30-credit degree requirement:

  • Coursework: Candidates work with a faculty advisor to map out their individualized course of study based on their areas of interest. The majority of courses (20 credits) will be within CALS; however, candidates have the opportunity to take courses across Cornell.

  • Capstone project: Instead of a thesis or research project, MPS students work to solve a real-world problem through a capstone project during their final semester. 

Areas of specialization include: 

MPS candidates are responsible for all costs associated with the degree (tuition, insurance, living expenses). The most recent year's tuition rate and estimated living expenses are detailed out on the Office of the Bursar web site. Student loans are available for MPS students; for more information about funding, you can visit the Graduate School web site.   

MPS Specializations

MPS students are part of a cohort of CALS professional master’s students specializing in diverse fields of study. The program is fast-paced and rigorous. Professional master’s students have a dedicated support organization, offering career guidance and professional skill development.

lambs eat grass in a barn

Animal Health

The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Agriculture and Life Sciences focus area in Animal Health is designed for individuals interested in developing careers working with animals either in industry or the non-profit sector. 

Animal Nutrition

The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Agriculture and Life Sciences focus area in Animal Nutrition is designed for individuals who are interested in developing careers emphasizing the nutritional needs of animals.

Dairy Business Management

The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Agriculture and Life Sciences focus area in Dairy Business Management is designed for individuals interested in gaining exposure to dairy business management in order to enhance their career potential in agribusiness.

Fields and Major Subjects

Graduate faculty in the Field of Animal Science include members from the Department of Animal Science, Department of Food Science, Division of Nutritional Sciences, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Researchers in lab.

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Concentrations

Concentrations include Animal Nutrition, Animal Science, Physiology of Reproduction, Animal Genetics and Animal Genomics.