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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 belong to the Department of Animal Science, most of them in the Field of Animal Science. There are several advantages to being a graduate student at Cornell and in the Department 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.

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.

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 most, it is the prelude to candidacy for the 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: 

  • Animal Nutrition
  • Animal Science
  • Physiology of Reproduction
  • Animal Genetics
  • Animal Genomics
  • Dairy Business Management (production or leadership focus)

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.