Animal Sciences (ANSC)

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Note: Some courses in this program may require the use of animals. Please see the Statement on Animal Care and Use and the Policy Statement for Students.


The Graduate Program in the Animal Sciences offers graduate study leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The master's degree program does not offer the non-thesis option. Faculty research interests include: 1) Cell, molecular and developmental biology studies, gene expression of the neuroendocrine system during growth and development, molecular genetics of metal and heme homeostasis in animals, maintenance of pluripotency and cell lineage determination in early embryos and embryonic stem cells, regulation of gene expression during embryonic patterning, neuro- and reproductive endocrinology in avian and fish species, and virology, immunology and microbial pathogenesis of significance to animal agriculture; 2) Nutrition and intermediary metabolism of ruminants and non-ruminants, regulation of milk fat production in dairy cattle, modeling for nutrient management, nutrient management in avian and other monogastric species, including forage utilization in horses; nutritional immunology, nutrient sensing, metabolic homeostasis, companion and exotic animal nutrition; 3) Aquaculture related fish physiology, cryopreservation of germ cells, neuroendocrine control of reproduction and reproductive dysfunction induced by stress, or endocrine disrupting chemicals, and; 4) Application of computational and systems biology to quantitative genetics, genomics, epigenetics, selection theory and breeding for the improvement of domestic animals and conservation genetics.

Admissions Information

The Program requires applicants to submit an application online, and to submit official academic transcripts, statement of goals and research interests, at least three letters of recommendation, and official Graduate Record Examination scores to the Enrollment Services Operations Office. Applicants with degrees from non-English speaking countries and who have not received a degree from the list of approved English-speaking universities must also submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). To be considered for an assistantship, submit your application by the preferred deadline.

Application Deadlines
Type of Applicant Fall Spring

Domestic Applicants; US Citizens and Permanent Residents

Deadline: February 1
Deadline: October 1
Preferred: August 1

International Applicants seeking admission under F (student) or J (exchange visitor) visas, as well as those seeking admissions under A,E,G,H,I and L visas and immigrants.

Deadline: February 1
Deadline: August 1

Application Requirements

  1. GRE (Verbal; Quantitative; Analytical/Writing)
  2. TOEFL (if required)
  3. 3 Letters of Recommendation
  4. An application
  5. Official academic transcripts
  6. Statement of goals and research interests

Degree Requirements

Master of Science (M.S.)
During the first semester, the student selects an Adviser and an Advisory Committee (AC) with the approval of the Program Graduate Education Committee. By the end of the second semester, with the AC's advice, students file a proposed schedule of courses (plan of study). Committees may require that students take remedial courses if they enter with inadequate prerequisites or deficiencies in undergraduate programs. Also, by the end of the second semester a thesis research proposal must be approved by the student's AC. Course requirements comprise at least one semester of Biochemistry (3 credits; typically BCHM 463), one semester of Biometrics (4 credits; typically BIOM 601), one credit of seminar (ANSC 698) and a course in Research Ethics. Additional credits of graduate coursework should result in a total of 24 credits, of which no more than 12 credits can be at the 400 level. Furthermore, a minimum of six hours of thesis research credit (ANSC 799) is required. Towards the end of their graduate studies, students must present the results and conclusions of their research in a public seminar and successfully defend their written thesis in a final oral examination, which is given by the AC. A final copy of the thesis must be submitted to the Program Office. Students with adequate undergraduate training usually complete the master's degree within two years.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Ph.D. students with Master's degrees from other institutions are expected to meet the requirements indicated above for the ANSC M.S. degree. The M.S. degree is not a prerequisite but is advantageous for admission to the Ph.D. program. At least two credits of Seminar (with at least one in ANSC 698) and one semester of teaching experience (8-10 hours per week) are required during study for the Ph.D. degree. In addition, a minimum of 12 research credits is required. A plan of study and a research proposal must be filed with the approval of the student's Adviser and Advisory Committee (AC) by the end of the second semester. After no more than five semesters, the student must pass the Admission to Candidacy Examination, which consists of both written and oral components and is administered by the AC. Towards the end of their studies, the candidates present the results and conclusions of their graduate research in a public seminar and defend their research in an oral examination, which is adjudicated by the student's AC. In addition to successful defense of the dissertation, it is expected that the student will publish at least one paper in a refereed scientific journal, based on the dissertation research. A final bound copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the Program Office. The Ph.D. degree is usually completed within four years after the M.S. degree.

Facilities and Special Resources

The Department of Animal and Avian Sciences and the nearby Gudelsky Veterinary Center housing the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, have extensive facilities consisting of faculty research laboratories, animal holding areas, a campus farm, aquaculture facility and outlying research farms. Additionally, the department maintains two computer laboratories with 30 workstations in the teaching laboratory, and a smaller laboratory exclusively for the use of graduate students on a 24 hour basis.

The research laboratories comprise nearly 28,000 square feet for bench work, averaging over 1000 square feet per faculty member. Over 2800 square feet of cold room and 2000 square feet of freezer rooms are integral components of the research laboratories. The laboratories are fully equipped with state-of-the-art modern instrumentation and equipment for the entire range of research carried out by the faculty, e.g. research in biochemistry, cell-molecular biology, physiology, nutrition, behavior, virology, immunology, microbial pathogenesis etc. Individual laboratories are fully self-standing units, yet there is free exchange between laboratories having shared and collaborative interests. All the laboratories and offices are networked to the campus server for direct Internet access.

Nearly 15,000 square feet of space is dedicated for animal holding in the Animal Wing of the Animal Sciences Center. This facility is capable of handling all kinds of animals such as rodents, birds, fish and large animals for research in separate rooms. A new aquaculture facility, adjoining the Gudelsky Center, is also available. The Animal Wing is under the care of trained staff and is supervised by a professional veterinarian.

Other facilities, such as the Laboratory for Biological Ultrastructure, the Visual Imaging Center, the DNA Sequencing Laboratory,the Proteomics Core Facility, etc., are available to the faculty and students as part of the Central Core Facilities on the campus.

Off Campus Research Facilities include:-

1. University of Maryland/USDA-Beltsville Animal Biotechnology Facility

An 11,000 square foot cooperative facility for research in animal biotechnology at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. This Center includes laboratories specifically designed for research in cloning and transgenic biology. ANSC faculty engaged in nuclear cloning, stem cell and transgenic biotechnology may use this facility to investigate genes of significance for the growth, development and physiology of domestic animals.

2. Central Maryland Research and Education Center, Clarksville, MD

This 925-acre dairy research center, located ~25 miles from the campus, houses 200 head of Holstein dairy cattle including 110 milking cows and 90 head of young stock. ANSC faculty engaged in nutrition, reproduction, physiology, herd health, behavior and management research, conduct their experiments at this facility.

3. Applied Poultry Research Laboratory, Upper Marlboro, MD

This 202-acre facility is located approximately 20 miles from the campus. It is used for conducting research in nutrition, physiology and behavior.

4. Wye Beef Cattle Research Center

This 450-acre facility is located on Maryland's Eastern Shore near Queenstown. It has 250 registered Angus beef cows plus young stock and bulls which are direct descendants of the Wye Angus herd. The facility is used to support research associated with beef cow-calf management, pasture management and growth physiology.

Financial Assistance

A number of graduate combined research/teaching assistantships are available and awarded to students who present strong academic records and a capability and motivation to perform well in teaching or in research assignments. These assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis. Appointments are on an annual basis, with reappointment contingent on demonstration of successful progress towards the degree. Assistantships are available for up to two years for the M.S. degree and four years for the Ph.D. degree. As assistantships are generally awarded for Fall admittance, applications should be completed by the February 1 deadline for consideration.

Contact Information

For specific information on the program, admission procedures, or financial aid, see the ANSC website ( or contact the ANSC graduate program office as listed below.

Victoria Lake, ANSC Graduate Office
Room 1415A Animal Sciences Center, Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, Univ. of Maryland College Park
MD  20740
Telephone: 301-405-5781

Dr. Carol L. Keefer, Associate Professor and Director
Graduate Program in Animal Sciences
Room 2129 Animal Sciences Center
Department of Animal and Avian Sciences
Univ. of Maryland
College Park
MD  20742-2311
Telephone: 1-301-405-5781


Related Programs and Campus Units

Veterinary Medical Sciences
Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
Applied Mathematics & Statistics, and Scientific Computation
Nutrition and Food Science

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