University of Vermont

Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences (ASCI)

The Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences offers programs leading to the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science. Completion of requirements must have approval by your studies committee.
Required Courses
Because of the diversity of faculty and student research interests we have a policy of minimizing required courses.  However, all graduate students who are supported by a GTF or GRA are required to attend Graduate Research Seminar and Journal Club each time they are offered.

Requirements for M.S. and Ph.D. Programs:
Acceptance to Candidacy
All  M.S. and Ph.D. students are admitted to the Graduate College but are not concurrently admitted to candidacy for the degree.  Admission to candidacy occurs only after deficiencies in course prerequisites and residence requirements are completed.

Maintenance of Good Standing
The faculty advisor reviews the progress of the graduate student on an annual basis, to determine whether adequate advancement is being made. All students in the program are required to show satisfactory progress, which is defined as:

  • Finishing the minimal course work in three years.
  • Completion of the comprehensive exam within the prescribed time limits.
  • Participation in ASCI 297, Journal Club, or ASCI 282, Graduate Seminar, each semester that they are enrolled for credits.
  • Maintenance of a 3.0 GPA
Residence Requirement
The Department abides by the minimum residence requirements of the Graduate College, which is 21 hours of graduate credit for the M.S. degree and 51 hours for the Ph.D. degree to be taken at the University of Vermont.  (See graduate catalog for more details regarding this and transfer of credit. Also see Non-Thesis option)

Comprehensive Examination
Both Ph.D. and M.S. students must take the  comprehensive exam. The students studies committee decides the format of this exam (ie., oral, written, take-home, combination of both for the M.S.).  Ph.D. students are required to do a written exam. Exams are designed to test if the student has satisfactorily learned what they need to know in their area of interest, animal science or almost anything the studies committee deems important for completion of your degree. Comprehensive exams must be completed 6 months before a Ph.D. student's dissertation defense, and is usually taken at least 2 months prior to a M.S. student thesis defense.  Many M.S. students choose to take these exams during "spring-break" of their 4th semester, when there are less distractions.
Students need to register for GRAD 397 (M.S.) or GRAD 497 (Ph.D.) upon completion of the comprehensive exam, even if it is in the middle of the semester.  Inquire at the Graduate College for forms.

Thesis Committee and Defense
The M.S. and Ph.D. programs both require a thesis, which is the formal written report of the research done for the degree. The style and format of a thesis may either be traditional style or journal style with a comprehensive literature review.  A decision to use the Thesis style is determined by the student and their studies committee. The Style Manual for Biological Journals, third edition (1972), published by the conference of Biological Editors of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, may be a helpful source.  The Graduate Faculty has rules, which specify the format your thesis must be written in.  You may obtain these rules, "Guidelines for Thesis Writing," in the Graduate Dean's Office in Waterman. In addition, there are copies of graduate theses in the Department library, that may help in choosing the style appropriate for your thesis.

Before the thesis defense, a copy of the thesis, in final form, must be submitted to the Dean's Office for format check.  Dates for the deadlines for format check are posted by the Graduate Dean's office
For Ph.D. students, the Thesis Committee usually consists of the Studies Committee.  The students and their advisor recommends at least 2 faculty members from outside, and 2 members from within the advisor's department, and forwards it to the Graduate Dean.  The Dean will designate the Committee Chairperson.  The date, time, and place for the thesis defense must be submitted to the Dean at least 3 weeks in advance of defense.

For M.S. students, the Thesis Committee is nominated by the advisor in consultation with the Chair and appointed by the Graduate Dean.  It should consist of 3 members (one of whom comes from outside the advisor's department) and is usually identical to the Studies Committee. The member who is not from the department is the chair of the committee.

At least 2 weeks in advance, an announcement of the defense, which includes an abstract, should be sent to all Department faculty and to other faculty who are appropriate.  The Department Office will prepare and distribute the announcement from materials provided by the student.  Reserve a room for your defense, well in advance, with Facilities Scheduling at 656-3044.

The oral defense of the thesis should be passed at least three weeks before Commencement for conferral of the degree in May.  The Graduate College posts deadline dates every year.

The original and copies, signed by the Thesis Committee, with necessary corrections made, should be delivered to the Graduate Dean's Office no later than two weeks before Commencement.  Actual deadline dates will be posted. The student who is preparing a thesis should work with the most recent set of guidelines. (Contact the Graduate College for the most up-to-date guidelines).

The Graduate College will bind the completed and approved thesis.  Bound copies (original) of a Master's thesis are given to the library and to the advisor.  Bound copies of a doctoral thesis are given to the library (original and one copy) and the advisor.

Non-Thesis M.S. Degree

A Non-Thesis MS degree requires 30 credit hours of study with 24 credit hours in courses in Animal Sciences or related fields and 6 credit hours of literature research.

Requirements of Literature Research Project for Non-Thesis M.S.
Students undertaking a non-thesis MS, with the help of their advisor, develop a proposal for the literature review they plan to undertake and submit this to the Department Graduate Committee for approval during their first year of study.  The Committee will approve, approve with modification or disapprove the proposal.  Once approved, the students can enroll for 6 credits of literature review and commence the project.

The format, style and conventions for the literature review are those currently defined by the Journal of Animal Sciences.  It should be of a quality, thoroughness, and depth consistent with a publishable review article.  It should be approximately 10,000 words (or more) in length, excluding a comprehensive bibliography.  It is an absolute requirement that it be a critical review not a historical account.  The review shall compare and contrast published work, identify areas of disagreement in the literature and objectively discuss these disagreements. From reading the review it should be clear that the student has developed a comprehensive and profound understanding of the subject area.  The completed literature review, after approval by the advisor, will be supplied to members of the graduate committee and will be the basis for an oral presentation to the Department, comparable with a thesis defense.  Following the presentation, the students will be interviewed by the graduate committee, who will make constructive suggestions and corrections.  They will then determine whether the student has gained a satisfactory grade (S) or unsatisfactory grade (U) for the literature review course.  Where possible the student should be encouraged to submit the review for publication in a professional journal.  Once corrections are completed, two bound copies of the literature review should be prepared for deposit with the Department and the student's€™s advisor. The student must follow the general rules for format check and defense of a thesis (in this case lit review) as described on page 9 and 10.

It is the joint responsibility of the student and the advisor to see that all requirements are completed fully and on time so that no oversight delays a student's gradation.  However, final responsibility falls on the student to see that all requirements are met.

Minimal Expectations as Outlined by the Department Graduate Committee

Master of Science Degree
All graduate students will read and follow the policies and procedures presented in the Graduate Catalogue.  The department expects full time graduate students with an assistantship to complete master's degree program within two years.  Students may stay on assistantship longer, at the discretion of the Graduate Committee.  All master's degree programs require a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate credit.  Usually 15-21 hours of course credits and 9-15 hours of thesis credits are earned.  All graduate students will participate in Graduate Journal Club in the fall semester and Graduate Seminar in the spring semester that they are enrolled. Each student must pass a comprehensive examination administered by the Department of Animal Science and successfully defend their thesis.

Doctor of Philosophy
All graduate students will read and follow the policies and procedures presented in the Graduate Catalogue.  The department expects full time graduate students with an assistantship to complete doctoral degree programs within three years after the master's degree.

All doctoral programs require a minimum of 75 semester hours of graduate credit. At least 20 credits must be earned for dissertation research.  Up to 24 hours of graduate course earned at UVM in a Master's program may be applied to a Ph.D. at UVM.  All graduate students are expected to enroll in Graduate Journal Club in the fall and Graduate Seminar in the spring semesters.  Proficiency in a modern foreign language or computer language is optional at the discretion of the studies committee.  The candidate must pass a comprehensive written examination, in the field of study, at least 6 months before the dissertation is submitted.  The Department, in consultation with the Studies Committee will prepare the examination.  Only one re-examination is permitted.  Success in the written comprehensive is prerequisite to standing for oral Dissertation Defense Exam. All examinations are taken on the University of Vermont campus.

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Last modified January 13 2016 12:34 PM

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