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Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences: MS, PhD

Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

This department hosts a broad range of studies, from traditional animal and dairy management to in-depth biological areas, including cloning, molecular biology, genomics, metabolomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics. The department has access to lab facilities and equipment allowing research in all of these areas and in studying animal reproduction, nutrition, and disease. Its Center for Integrated Biosystems has been recognized for its cloning expertise twice by Popular Science magazine. Approximately five new students are admitted each year, making this a competitive program with a strong sense of community amongst its graduate students and faculty.


  • Animal Health and Disease: In this specialization, students focus on molecular biology, pathology, and disease detection using conventional and advanced molecular technologies, epidemiology, parasitology, pharmacology, and microbiology.
  • Animal Molecular Genetics: This specialization involves technologies in genome analyses, whole genome scanning, marker assisted selection, and the identification of economically important trait loci in food-producing animals.
  • Animal Nutrition: Students in this specialization have the opportunity to study things like the development of new feed additives that improve animal performance, innovations in grazing practices that optimize ruminant production, the development of feasible approaches for sustainable agriculture, and more.
  • Animal or Dairy Management: For students seeking careers in production animal agriculture, this specialization prepares students for the challenges facing the animal industry and commodity groups in the 21st century.
  • Reproduction and Development: Students in this specialization work with faculty exploring aspects of early embryo development, differentiation, gene regulation, embryonic stem cell characteristics and applications, reproductive immunology, and more.

Nearly all graduates of the PhD program pursue careers as university faculty and researchers. Additionally, many MS graduates go on to doctoral programs. Graduates can also work in the following areas:

  • Pharmaceutical research
  • Reproduction clinics, both animal and human
  • Public health
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Agribusiness
  • Animal management
  • Animal feed industry
  • Nutritional companies
  • Diagnostic medicine
  • Medical technicians, both animal and human

Admission Requirements

Applicants with undergraduate majors other than animal, dairy, and veterinary sciences are considered, but they must have strong undergraduate backgrounds in the sciences, particularly biology.

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Score at or above the 40th percentile on the GRE
  • Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation

International students have additional admissions requirements.

Admission Deadlines

The department has the following deadline:

  • Fall semester – March 15
  • Applications are accepted after this deadline, but students are less likely to be considered for financial assistance.

Program Requirements

PhD Qualifying Exams:

PhD students must pass qualifying exams after their second year, at a time determined by their major professor. The student will meet with their supervisory committee and receive a focus area on which their exam will be concentrated. The exam will have a written and oral component and is designed with the goal to fine tune the student’s understanding of the focus area.

Master's Degree Plan Option(s)

For the MS, students must pursue the following option:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework and must write a thesis.

For the animal management specialization, students have two options:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework and must write a thesis.
  • The Plan B option requires the production of a paper and is expected to reflect equivalent scholarship standards as a thesis. This option is considered to be a terminal degree, and graduates are not eligible for acceptance into USU’s PhD program in animal, dairy, and veterinary sciences.

Financial Assistance

All graduate students in the department receive some sort of funding. In particular, the department offers competitive teaching and research assistantships on a rotating basis. Students awarded these assistantships are given $15,000 per year. Students earning a master’s degree receive this amount for two years, those earning a PhD will receive it for three years, and those who enter the PhD program directly out of a bachelor’s degree will receive this assistantship for five years. In addition to these amounts, students will also receive subsidized health insurance.

A variety of funding opportunities are available on the graduate school website.

Chris Davies, PhD, Cornell University
Research Associate Professor
Area: Immunology, immunogenetics
Office: BTEC 203
Phone: (435) 797-1900

Brian Gowen, PhD, University of South Carolina
Research Assistant Professor
Area: Immunology
Office: VSB 207
Phone: (435) 797-3112

Clay Isom, PhD, University of Missouri
Assistant Professor
Area: Animal models, gene regulation
Office: AGSC 240
Phone: (435) 797-8114

Justin Julander, PhD, Utah State University
Research Assistant Professor
Area: Virology
Office: VSB 305
Phone: (435) 797-7215

Jeffrey Mason, PhD, University of California, Davis
Assistant Professor
Department: Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences Department
Area: Reproductive Physiology
Office: BTEC 205, Lab 215
Phone: (435) 797-0950

Kerry Rood, MS, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, Louisiana State University
Associate Professor
Area: Veterinary health
Office: VSB 209
Phone: (435) 797-1882

Rusty Stott, DVM, Kansas State University
Clinical Assistant Professor
Area: Veterinary medicine
Office: VSB 226
Phone: (435) 797-7197

Bart Tarbet, PhD, University of Delaware
Research Assistant Professor
Area: Genetic engineering
Office: VSB 201
Phone: (435) 797-3954

David Wilson, DVM, PhD, Ohio State University, Cornell University
Assistant Professor
Area: Dairy extension veterinarian
Office: VDL 109
Phone: (435) 797-1899

Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs

American Society of Animal Science: ASAS is a professional society for animal scientists interested in promoting new ideas and interacting widely with the broad spectrum of animal science professionals. 

American  Dairy Science Association: ADSA is an organization committed to sustaining and increasing the global dairy industry through the generation, dissemination, and exchange of information and services.

International Embryo Transfer Society: IETS and its missions provide access to the most current research and clinical procedures associated with the follicle, ovulation, superovulation, gonadotropins, the embryo, the oocyte, the sperm cell, IVF, IVM, embryonic developmental stages, oocyte cryopreservation, lactation, and embryo transfer/cloning.

Society for the Study of Reproduction: SSR is a group of scientists who share an interest in reproductive biology.

Labs, Centers, Research

Animal Science Farm: The Animal Science Farm provides facilities for cattle, sheep, swine, and horses. Facilities also include a home for the farm manager, a pavilion for teaching and Cooperative Extension activities, and handling facilities for the various species of livestock.

Caine Dairy Center: The Caine Dairy Center is considered one of the nation's most modern dairy research facilities. The center features a state-of-the-art milking parlor, a heated pavilion for judging cows and teaching, a 60-cowtie stall barn, a feed preparation and behavior research area, and a feeding research unit for 72 cows in loose housing, which has eight stalls for research involving fistulated or catheterized animals. There is also outdoor cow housing with a capacity of 128 animals, which is equipped with meteorological instruments for continuous recording of climatic data. Additionally, the center features heifer and dry cow housing, individual, portable calf housing hutches, and a waste-handling system and lagoons.

Center for Integrated BioSystems: The CIB leads a progressive, interdisciplinary effort in research, core services, and education serving agriculture and life sciences. The CIB is where the first hybrid animal, a mule, was cloned, and was named one of “30 Awesome College Labs” by Popular Science magazine. The CIB has a research program with several active projects in diverse areas of life science that encompass plant, animal, and microbe functional genomics.

Equine Education Center: This modern equine facility accommodates 40 head of horses with two tack rooms, wash racks, feed rooms, two classrooms, and office space that provides a working environment experience. Large indoor and outdoor arenas accommodate more classes, Extension events, and horse shows and clinics. A breeding barn will be a part of the new facility, as donations allow for its eventual completion, to provide students with experience in handling stallions, collecting and evaluating semen, teasing and inseminating mares, and foaling.

Institute for Antiviral Research: The IAR is comprised of a recognized team of scientists representing a spectrum of disciplines, who are researching ways to control viral diseases. The IAR has been involved with the pre-clinical development of several FDA-approved drugs, including Tamiflu, which was recently used to combat H1N1. The main areas of emphasis are respiratory diseases such as influenza and infections caused by emerging viruses, including West Nile virus.

Laboratory Animal Research Center: The LARC is a controlled laboratory that utilizes animals in teaching and research. The proper care of animals is of utmost importance as it relates to the effectiveness of research and the safety of the animals and researchers.

Matthew Hillyard Agricultural Research and Teaching Center: This center provides teaching, research, Cooperative Extension, and professional service to support the animal industries of Utah, the surrounding region, the nation, and the international community. The facility features a veterinary clinic, a teaching laboratory, and a harvest facility.

North Logan Farm: The North Logan Farm facility consists of land, equipment, buildings, and animals (beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and mink) that are used for research, teaching, service, and animal husbandry activities.

USDA ARS Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory: The Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory identifies toxic plants, and its interdisciplinary teams of chemists, geneticists, pathologists, physiologists, plant and range scientists, toxicologists and veterinarians provide an interdisciplinary approach of applied and basic research to develop solutions to intoxication.

Utah Agricultural Experiment Station: The UAES is part of a network of researchers and facilities at the nation’s land-grant universities and is committed to improving agriculture and managing natural resources for the people of Utah. At research facilities on the USU campus and throughout the state, UAES supports hundreds of research projects that promote agriculture and human nutrition and enhance the quality of rural life.

Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory: The UVDL is a cooperative effort by USU and Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. The laboratory provides timely, in-depth, cost-efficient, veterinary diagnostic services to safeguard animal health, protect the agricultural economy, and shield the public against diseases transmissible from animals to humans.

Veterinary Diagnostics and Infectious Disease Research Group: VDID draws on the strength of USU’s College of Agriculture to tackle a $1-billion-a-year market in the United States for animal disease screening and diagnostics.

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Academic Advising

Lee Rickords
Associate Professor
Office: AGSC 248
Phone: (435) 797-2195

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