May 18, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Animal Science Major, PhD

Areas of research emphasis are animal physiology (e.g. ruminant and nonruminant nutrition, reproduction, stress, and obesity), health and well-being (e.g. immunology, microbiology, pre-harvest food safety and behavior), and genomics. Programs emphasize experiential learning with animal species, including beef and dairy cattle, poultry, swine, small ruminants, and animal models for human disease. See the Department graduate program website for a listing of graduate research faculty and their specific research focus areas.

Campus Code

Knoxville Campus

Admissions Standards/Procedures

  • Applicants to the PhD program normally should have completed a MS degree with thesis before beginning the doctoral program. To be considered for admission, students must have
    • At least a 3.00 graduate grade point average (GPA) on a 4.00 scale in a completed graduate program in Animal Science or related field.
    • Prerequisite courses with a grade of B or higher may be required if the applicant has insufficient background or less than required GPA.
  • Admission will be contingent upon evaluation of the applicant’s
    • grade point average,
    • information provided by at least three evaluators,
    • educational and career goals,
    • relevant experience, and
    • scores from the TOEFL or IELTS, if applicable.
  • Final admission is contingent upon the applicant contacting and obtaining a commitment from a graduate research faculty member to serve as her/his graduate mentor (major professor). Graduate research faculty may require additional information, an interview, or other while evaluating an applicant to work under their direction, thus effort to make direct contact early in the process will be important.
  • Application, application fee, transcripts, and, if applicable, TOEFL or IELTS scores, should be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions.

Academic Standards

Student Responsibilities and Retention Standards

Students must be fully committed to their graduate program, participate in departmental and professional activities, and assume full responsibility for knowledge and compliance with rules and regulations of the Graduate Council and Department requirements stated in the Animal Science Graduate Student Handbook for their degree program. Retention is dependent on the student maintaining a 3.00 graduate cumulative grade point average in graduate courses taken at UT and completing other milestones in a timely manner as outlined in the Animal Science Graduate Student Handbook (e.g. forming a committee, completion of coursework, submitting a research proposal, completion of comprehensive exam, making progress in research objectives, and dissertation preparation).

No graduate student may repeat a course for the purpose of raising a grade already received.

Academic Probation

A graduate student will be placed on academic probation when the UT cumulative graduate grade point average (GPA) falls below a 3.00 and at least 6 credit hours of graduate coursework have been completed, or when less than a C is earned in any course, or when given an NP grade in ANSC 600 , or when withdrawing from courses without prior approval of the graduate advisory committee. Probationary status, due to withdrawing from a class without prior approval from the graduate advisory committee, will be removed at the end of a semester where the graduate advisory committee finds satisfactory progress toward degree completion. If deemed unsatisfactory the student will be dismissed. For doctoral students, coursework for the MS degree, whether taken at UT or elsewhere, will not be included in cumulative GPA calculations. A student will be allowed to continue graduate study in subsequent semesters if each semester’s graduate GPA is a 3.00 or greater. Upon achieving a graduate cumulative GPA of at least 3.00, the student will be removed from probationary status. ANSC 511  and AGNR 512  credit hours will not be used in probation GPA calculations.


A graduate student on academic probation earning less than a 3.00 semester graduate grade point average, or less than a C in any course, or NP in ANSC 600 , or withdrawal from courses without prior approval of the graduate advisory committee may be dismissed from the program. Even if not on academic probation, other reasons for dismissal include failure to make adequate progress towards other degree requirements (e.g., research project, dissertation preparation), academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, falsification of data), or other forms of gross misconduct as defined by the Office of Equity and Diversity, Human Resources, Dean of Students’ Office, Hilltopics or Graduate Council. Dismissal will be accomplished by written notice to the student with a copy to The Graduate School.

Credit Hours Required

48 graduate credit hours (500- and 600-level) beyond the Master’s

Required Courses

  • 24 credit hours of ANSC 600  
  • A minimum of 6 credit hours at the 600-level
  • A minimum of 8 credit hours in related graduate courses outside of animal science (ANSC cross-listed courses may be used for this purpose)
  • At least 1 credit hour of Teaching/Extension experiential learning
  • At least 3 credit hours in statistics chosen from courses approved for use in the intercollegiate graduate statistics and data science program (or 6 credit hours if student has no previous graduate level statistics coursework)
  • 1 credit hour of research ethics coursework if not taken for the Master of Science degree
  • 3 credit hours of graduate-level multi-systems physiology coursework if not taken for the Master of Science degree (as approved by the student’s advisory committee)
  • ANSC 696  each spring term for first- and second-year students

Additional Course Requirements

  • The remainder of coursework will be selected by the student in consultation with the major professor and advisory committee.

Non-Course Requirements

  • The student and major professor select the graduate advisory committee which must be comprised of at least 5 faculty members at the rank of assistant professor or above.
    • The major professor serves as chair, 3 members must reside within the Department of Animal Science, and one member must be from outside the Department.
    • The student’s advisory committee assists in the planning of coursework and may require specific courses in addition to those required by the Animal Science graduate program.
    • The graduate advisory committee also aids in formulating an appropriate research project and administers other degree requirements, including the comprehensive exam and dissertation defense.
  • Students are expected to
    • choose their graduate advisory committee in their first semester, and
    • present proposed coursework and research plan to the committee before or at the beginning of the second semester, and
    • present a written research project proposal to the committee no later than the fourth semester of matriculation, and
    • present research proposal to the department, and
    • successfully complete and pass the doctoral comprehensive examination which consists of both written and oral examination, and
    • write a dissertation based on original research
  • Unless extenuating circumstances arise after the comprehensive exam or dissertation defense commences, two outcomes are possible - pass or fail. In case of failure (comprehensive exam or dissertation defense), the student/candidate may not be reexamined or apply for defense until the following semester. Assistantship/employment may be terminated and student may be responsible for maintenance and other fees required for enrolling in 3 credit hours of ANSC 600 . The result of the second examination is final.
  • PhD students are required to present research proposal to the department.

Concurrent Master’s Degree

In exceptional cases where an individual is admitted to the PhD program having a BS and/or DVM only, but no thesis-based MS degree, the individual will be required to complete a MS degree in the continuum of PhD program efforts.

Credit Hours Required

30 graduate credit hours

Required Courses

  • 24 graduate credit hours selected in consultation with the major advisor and graduate advisory committee
  • 6 credit hours of ANSC 500  

Additional Information

  • Individual would work with their graduate advisor to submit a manuscript containing their initial original research efforts to a scientific peer-reviewed journal.
  • Submitted manuscript would then be formatted into a thesis for presentation of an oral defense.
  • Upon completion of MS degree requirements (24 graduate credit hours + 6 credit hours of ANSC 500  Thesis), the individual would complete PhD requirements as outlined in departmental graduate student handbook.