May 20, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Animal Science Major, MS

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.

The major professor, an animal science faculty member at the rank of assistant professor or above, chairs the student’s graduate advisory committee. The student and major professor select the other members of the advisory committee which should contain at least two other faculty members at the rank of assistant professor or above, one of whom may be outside the Animal Science 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 student’s graduate advisory committee also aids in formulating an appropriate research project and assesses achievement of other degree requirements, including the research proposal and thesis defense.

Options Available


Campus Code

Knoxville Campus

Admissions Standards/Procedures

To be considered for admission, students must have at least a 3.00 grade point average (GPA) on a 4.00 scale in a completed undergraduate degree program in Animal Science or related field, or at least a 3.00 GPA each term during the junior and senior years. 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 undergraduate or graduate 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, making progress in research objectives, and thesis 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 graduate cumulative 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 500, 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 cumulative graduate 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 500, 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, thesis 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

30 graduate credit hours

Required Courses

  • 6 credit hours of ANSC 500 
  • At least 14 credit hours in courses numbered at or above the 500-level.
  • 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.
  • 1 credit hour of research ethics coursework (preferably in the first year).
  • 3 credit hours of graduate-level multi-systems physiology coursework (approved by the student’s advisory committee).
  • ANSC 696 each spring term for first- and second-year students (maximum 2 credit hours).

Additional Course Requirements

  • The remainder of coursework will be selected by the student in consultation with the major professor and advisory committee. A majority of coursework must be completed at the University of Tennessee.

Non-Course Requirements

  • Students are expected to
    • choose their graduate advisory committee in their first semester,
    • 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 third semester of matriculation, and
    • write a thesis based on original research.

Unless extenuating circumstances arise after thesis defense commences, two outcomes are possible - pass or fail. In case of failure, 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 another 3 credit hours of ANSC 500. The result of the second examination is final.

Five-Year BS/MS Program - Animal Science Major, MS

For qualified students, the Department of Animal Science offers an accelerated 5-year BS-MS degree program with a BS major in Animal Science and a thesis-based MS major in Animal Science. Central to this program is that a qualified student may take up to 9 credit hours of graduate level courses for their senior undergraduate electives and have them count toward both the BS degree and the MS degree. Students are typically considered for conditional admission to the program during, or immediately following, their third year of undergraduate study at UT. Because the MS program requires that a student write a thesis based on original research, efforts related to developing and starting a research-based project in consultation with a graduate advisory committee (that meets MS committee requirements) is required immediately following their third year of undergraduate studies.

To be considered for conditional admission to the program:

  • A student must be a declared Animal Science major with a minimum GPA of 3.40, must have completed at least 15 credit hours in Animal Science, and must have completed at least 90 credit hours of the 120 credit hours of coursework required for the BS degree with a major in Animal Science.
  • A student must provide three letters of recommendation and complete a personal interview with individuals comprising the Graduate and Undergraduate Committees in the Department of Animal Science. 
  • A student must obtain a commitment from an Animal Science graduate research faculty member to serve as their graduate mentor-advisor (i.e., major professor) and at least two other graduate research faculty members to serve on their graduate advisory committee.

Applicants are required to have completed at least 6 credit hours from the following Animal Science core courses (i.e., ANSC 320, ANSC 330, ANSC 340, ANSC 380 or their Honors counterparts). The Department may consider other relevant factors such as an applicant’s work experience and level of maturity before conditionally admitting a student to the BS-MS program. Conditional admission of a student into the 5-year BS-MS program must be approved by the Department of Animal Science and the Graduate School. Students will be typically informed of the outcome of their application before the beginning of their fourth year of undergraduate study.

Any graduate course that is to be counted towards both the BS degree and the MS degree must be approved by the student’s graduate advisory committee, the departmental Graduate Director, and by the Graduate School. These courses must be identified, in consultation with the graduate advisory committee members. The form “Animal Science Conditional Admission 5 Year BS-MS” is available from the Graduate Director and must be completed, signed by the student, the student’s graduate advisory committee, the Graduate Director and the Undergraduate Coordinator before submitting to the Graduate School for approval and processing.

A student that is conditionally admitted to the BS-MS program may complete up to 9 credit hours of graduate level coursework during the student’s undergraduate study and apply those 9 credit hours to satisfy both the BS degree requirements and also the MS degree requirements, provided that these graduate credit hours were approved by both the Department and by the Graduate School. To receive graduate credit for the 9 credit hours listed on the Animal Science Conditional Application form and approved by their graduate advisory committee, and others granting approval by signing that form, the student must complete and submit the Senior Requesting Graduate Credit Form to the Graduate School. If courses are to be taken during different semesters, the student will need to submit this form before the start of each relevant semester.

Conditional admission into the BS-MS program does not guarantee acceptance into either the Graduate School or the MS program. Students in the BS-MS program must apply for admission to the Graduate School and to the MS program during their fourth year of undergraduate study, following the same procedures that all other student applicants follow. Students will be fully admitted to the MS program after they have been accepted both by the Graduate School and by the Animal Science MS program. Students will not be eligible for graduate assistantships until they are enrolled as graduate students in the Graduate School.