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Animal Science Graduate Program

Degree Offered: MS in Animal Sciences

Quick Links: Admission Requirements, Degree Requirements, Academic Probation, Degree Completion, Research Facilities

Program Overview

HaroldAs the only U.S. land grant university in the tropics, the University of Hawaii has research and extension programs that extend throughout the Pacific basin. The state of Hawaii, because of its location and topography, has a range of climates in agriculture, from tropical to temperate. From its beginning as the Hawaii College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts in 1907, the University has grown into a teaching, research and extension institution with an enrollment of 20,000.

Through the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences offers undergraduate (B.S.) and graduate (M.S.) degree programs. The Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences is engaged in research in many aspects of animal agriculture, with a special focus on the challenges to animal production in a tropical environment. Through the Co-operative Extension Service, the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences provides advice and instruction to animal producers and associated industries.

The Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences conducts basic and applied research with beef and dairy cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, and certain aquatic species. The candidate for a graduate degree will participate in studies, which are designed to improve production efficiency and assist in the economic development of animal industries in tropical and subtropical regions.

Emphasis is placed on the application of scientific methods for the development of the animal industries in subtropical and tropical environments. Breeding studies are designed to evaluate performance of purebred and crossbred animals in a subtropical environment. Nutritional studies are conducted to evaluate feedstuffs and forages produced locally and to formulate rations for improved performance in subtropical and tropical climates. Physiological studies are conducted in management and reproduction of farm animals with respect to effects of tropical environments. Studies on meat science and growth biology include biochemistry and physiology of muscle development and protein accretion in meat animals and aquatic species in tropical and subtropical climates. Aquaculture production research emphasizes growth pattern, biology, and pond ecosystems.

Graduate students in Animal Sciences may elect to pursue either a thesis (Plan A) or a non-thesis (Plan B) M.S. program. Graduate students in animal nutrition may pursue a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences. In addition, graduate students in reproduction in Animal Sciences may enter the joint Ph.D. program in reproduction offered by the Department of Animal Sciences and the Department of Anatomy and Reproductive Biology in the School of Medicine. Other joint Ph.D. programs can be arranged. Teaching and research programs for graduate students are developed to meet the interests and needs of individual students that are compatible with the expertise of the faculty in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences.

Admission Requirements
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To be considered for admission to the Animal Sciences program, an applicant must:

  • hold a bachelor’s degree majoring in Animal Science (or the equivalent) with minimum GPA of 3.0 from an accredited institution of higher education;
  • submit GRE scores (general test only);
  • submit TOEFL score (foreign applicant);
  • submit resume and statement of program interests, and arrange for three letters of recommendation;
  • submit the online graduate application to the Graduate Division

Special Notes

  • An applicant with a bachelor’s degree in a major other than Animal or Veterinary Sciences who otherwise qualifies for admission will be required to take Animal Sciences (ANSC) 200 or 201, one production course, and such other undergraduate courses deemed as necessary by the Department as essential background to the applicant’s studies. The ANSC 200 or 201 requirement noted above may be satisfied by working as a teaching assistant for the course.
  • An important consideration for admission to the Animal Sciences program is the availability of a suitable advisor. Applicants are, therefore, encouraged to establish written and/or personal communication with faculty members prior to and during their admission efforts
  • Applicants from abroad must be proficient in written and oral English and must have sufficient funds to take care of all their expenses for the entire period of graduate study. The recommended TOEFL score for acceptance is 580 minimum (600 recommended, 250 computer, iBT 100).
  • Candidates wishing to specialize in nutrition, muscle biology, physiology, animal genetics and biotechnology, livestock diseases should be strong in chemistry and biology.

Application Deadline

Applications for the fall semester, along with supporting documents, must be received by the Graduate Division by February 1. The application deadline for the spring semester is September 1. This information along with application materials may be found at Graduate Division - Animal Sciences.

Degree Requirements
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Two program options leading to the M.S. degree are available to graduate students in Animal Sciences. Students may elect to pursue either a thesis (Plan A) or non-thesis (Plan B) program. Requirements in these two programs are as follows:

Requirements of both Plans A and B:


Students are required to attend weekly seminars (ANSC 641) each semester and present a minimum of three formal seminars during the graduate program, including the final thesis defense seminar. Attendance is mandatory unless a legitimate reason is given for being absent. A maximum of 2 credits of graduate seminar (ANSC 641) can be applied to meet degree requirements.

Recommended Core Courses

ANSC 601, ANSC 641 (twice) and one graduate-level statistics class (ANSC 603 or others), any four of the following: ANSC642, ANSC643, ANSC644, ANSC650, ANSC652, ANSC657 and ANSC687

Preliminary Conference

This conference will be scheduled within two months after the beginning of the fall or spring semester. Its purposes include: introduction of the student’s background and specific interests; expertise of faculty members in the Department and UH community; assignment of an interim advisor for the student if this has not already been arranged; discussions of course deficiencies which need to be corrected; and determination of the degree plan (A or B).

Teaching Experience

Each graduate student will be required to serve as a teaching assistant (in either a paid or non-paid status) during at least one semester of their program. This experience must include leading a laboratory or discussion section for the semester. Performance as a teaching assistant will be evaluated and unsatisfactory performance may require additional assignments. The teaching experience requirement is met if the experience is evaluated and approved by the graduate chair via letter from major advisor.

Candidacy and Comprehensive Examination

Admission to candidacy depends on the student’s knowledge and proficiency in the general areas of animal science and on the student’s attitude and preparedness to carry out research. Students will not be able to be admitted to candidacy if they have not completed their M.S. degree deficiencies and met minimum requirements. They must also pass a Comprehensive Examination. The responsibility of giving the examination is that of the student’s advisor. In consultation with the student, the advisor will determine the disciplines to be covered, provide general guidelines for the exam, and determine the date for the exam. General practice has been to give written exams, followed by an oral follow-up exam if there were questions about completeness or accuracy of written answers. The examination will be administered by a committee consisting of at least 3 faculty members (the advisor and 2 faculty selected by him). Written and oral (if given) parts will be considered as one exam. The examination may be repeated only once. Either fail or pass will be determined by the examining faculty members.

The examination should be taken no later than three (3) months prior to the thesis defense or four (4) months prior to graduation.

The examination will cover at least 2 of the following disciplines:

    • Genetics
    • Nutrition
    • Physiology
    • Disease
    • Meat Science and Growth Biology
    • Reproduction
    • Animal biotechnology
    • Any other relevant discipline

The examination will also cover at least one animal species. For further assistance or information, consult your advisor or the Graduate Chair. A letter from the graduate student’s committee verifying successful completion of this exam must be sent to Chair of Animal Science Graduate Program. Student Progress Form I will be completed and submitted for admission to candidacy.

Plan A (Thesis-based Graduate Program)

A minimum of 30 credits is required including: At least 18 credits of course work at the graduate level, 12 of which must be at the 600 level or above (excluding ANSC699 and 700)

A maximum of 2 credits of Directed Reading and Research (ANSC699)
Ten credits of directed and thesis research (ANSC699 and ANSC700), at least one credit must be taken in the final semester.

Thesis Research Project and Committee

Under Plan A, students are required to write and submit a thesis to the Graduate Division. Possible topics for thesis research should be discussed with the student’s advisor. Once a thesis topic is decided upon, the student is required to complete the selection of his/her thesis research and examining committees, if this has not already been done. This is accomplished by selecting, in consultation with the advisor, at least two additional graduate faculty members to serve on the committee, one of which must be an ANSC graduate faculty member. When this has been decided, and the indicated individuals have agreed to serve in this capacity, Student Progress Form II is initiated, showing the names of the student’s committee and the designated major advisor.

The thesis proposal should include a statement clearly defining the problem or hypothesis, review of pertinent literature and a description of the materials and methods including appropriate statistical analyses. The research proposal should be distributed to the thesis committee members and a time scheduled for the committee to review the proposal. The proposal should be presented formally by the student at this meeting. Scheduling the meeting, as well as conducting it, are the student’s responsibilities.

When the thesis proposal has been approved by the committee, Student Progress Form II is signed by all members of the committee. The Form II should be completed no later than six (6) months prior to the thesis defense. Upon completion of this progress form, the student is then eligible to register for Thesis Research (ANSC 700). Relevant work done by the student in directed reading/research (ANSC 699) may be utilized as part of the thesis research. In such instances, the total credits for such directed reading/research and thesis research to be applied toward the requirements for the degree shall not exceed 10, the maximum specified for thesis credit.

The advisor is responsible for directing and guiding the student’s research project and thesis writing. However, the student must cooperate with the advisor to carry out experimental work diligently in a timely manner. The student should keep the advisor and the committee informed of the scope and progress of both research and the thesis. Periodic meetings of the student and the committee may be requested. Instructions for the preparation of the thesis can be obtained at the Graduate Division Office. It is expected that the student will prepare the results of the research for publication and conference or symposium presentation.
Thesis Defense

Copies of the completed thesis must be submitted to the committee at least two weeks before the thesis defense. A reproducible copy for The Graduate Division, signed by all members of the committee, must be deposited with the Graduate Division by the deadline specified in instructions issued to all candidates at the beginning of the term. In addition, one copy is required for the Departmental office.

The thesis defense examination should be held before the deadline posted by the Graduate Division for the semester in which the degree is to be conferred. In accordance with Graduate Division regulations, it is conducted by the thesis committee and is open to all graduate faculty members. It is not a public examination, and the privilege of attendance does not exceed beyond that stated in Graduate Division regulations. The examination should include a formal presentation of results.

Results of the student’s final thesis defense are reported on Student Progress Form III. The judgment of the thesis (satisfactory or unsatisfactory) is made on Form III by the signatures of all committee members and the Chairman of the Animal Science Graduate Program.

Plan B (Non-Thesis-based Graduate Program)

A minimum of 30 credits is required including:

  • At least 18 credits in courses numbered 600 and above (excluding 699), including ANSC 601 and 2 credits of ANSC 641 (seminar)
  • Six to nine credits of directed research (ANSC 699)
  • Remaining credits must be in courses numbered 400 and above

Candidates must be enrolled for at least 1 credit during the term in which the degree is awarded. The appropriate Master’s Plan B Studies 500 may be used to meet this requirement. The 500 course is offered as a 1 credit course with a mandatory grading of S/NG, but does not carry credit toward meeting degree requirements.

Research Project

Under Plan B, students are not required to submit a thesis to the Graduate Division. However, a research report, final oral presentation and exam are required. Possible topics for the research project should be discussed with the student’s advisor. The student is required to complete the selection of his/her research project and examining committees. This is accomplished by selecting, in consultation with the advisor, at least two additional graduate faculty members to serve on the committee.

The composition of the Plan B research/examination committee is recorded on Form II and submitted to the Graduate Chair. A formal written and oral presentation of results in directed research is required of each student during his/her final semester within the deadlines posted by the Graduate Division. Copies of the completed report must be submitted to the committee at least two weeks before the final exam. The results of the exam are recorded on Form III and submitted to the Graduate Chair.


Grades of A, B, and C (not C_ ) may be used to fulfill requirements for an M.S. degree. A grade of I in graduate courses (600-799) will remain unless changed by an instructor or unless the course requirements are completed by the following April 1 for Fall semester courses, or the following November 1 for Spring semester.


To remain eligible for further graduate work, students must have a B average (3.0 GPA) for all courses applied toward the degree. Students must also have a B average for all courses taken as a classified graduate student. The B average is computed for: (1) all courses numbered 300-398, 400-498 and (2) all graduate courses numbered 600 and above. The Graduate Division disregards grades or credits for courses numbered 100-298 (except those required to fulfill undergraduate deficiencies) and 500-599 (except Law and Medicine courses). Credit-hour requirements for graduate degrees can be fulfilled only with grades A, B, or C. Grades of D and F will not be counted toward the completion for requirements for advanced degrees, but will be counted in computing the grade-point ratio.

Academic Probation
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A student admitted as a regular student whose cumulative grade-point average fails to meet the minimum requirements after completing at least 12 credit hours or after completing two semesters of course work will be placed on academic probation for the following semester. However, a student admitted as a conditional student whose grade-point ratio after admission fails to meet the minimum requirements after completing one semester of course work will be placed on academic probation for the following semester.

All grades for courses taken while on probation, as well as for all previous semesters in classified status, will be included in calculating the grade-point at the end of the probationary semester. No extensions of the probationary semester may be granted due to incompletes (I).

A student on academic probation who meets the standards at the end of the probationary period will be taken off probationary status. This change in status is indicated on graduate student listings received from the Graduate Division.

A student on probation who fails to attain the minimum standards at the end of the probationary semester will be denied further registration in the program by the Graduate Division. A student whose academic record falls below the required minimum at any time following one academic probationary semester is dismissed.

Time Allowed to Complete Degree Requirements
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Graduate Division regulations concerning the time allowed for completion of degree requirements state that candidates for the M.S. degree will be expected to complete all requirements within 7 years after admission into the program. Candidates who fail to complete all requirements in the specified time are automatically dropped from the program. Reinstatement for a limited period of time is only possible upon favorable recommendation of the field of study and with the concurrence of the Dean of Graduate Division. Candidates for the M.S. degree in Animal Sciences are expected to meet all requirements within 3 years.

Research Facilities
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A large-animal facility on the big island of Hawaii, and a small-animal facility for intensive animal research on the Manoa campus are available to the animal science graduate program. Several laboratories managed by individual faculty members, including animal nutrition, reproduction and endocrinology, molecular biology, animal biotechnology, aquatic species culture, and animal tissue culture are available on campus. Laboratories are well equipped with instruments such as liquid scintillation counter, high and ultra-centrifuge, protein gel electrophoresis system, image document system, HPLC, PCR and real-time PCR. The Department is also hosting a computer center for handling animal production data and statistical analysis to support on-going extension and research programs. Aquaculture facilities, including ponds, tanks and hatcheries may be available through cooperation with other agencies or institutes in Hawaii.

Graduate Training Flow Chart



Average months

Student progress forms, paperwork suggestions

Enter U.H. Animal Science Dept. Probationary/ Non-probationary

Begin immediately to discuss and plan graduate career. Decide on plan A or plan B.



Preliminary advising conference. Any deficiencies are identified.

Conducted by faculty. One faculty member assigned as interim advisor.


Student progress form I indicates plan A or B, signatures needed, interim advisor/chair.

Admission to candidacy. All deficiencies and/or minimum requirements completed.

First semester. Called general exam on form.


Student progress form II. Course transfers considered.

Assemble thesis (plan A) or program (plan B) committee.

Choose final thesis/program advisor and committee.


Student progress form III, obtain names and signatures of committee (for plan A and B).

Select research topic. Write research proposal.

Consult with advisor and committee members. Write proposal before doing research and in consultation with full committee.



Acceptance of research proposal.

Must be completed by end of second semester after admission.


Student progress form IV, notes acceptance of topic/proposal.

Do research.

Plan A and plan B research.



Animal Science Comprehensive exam
Written and/or Oral

Covers all topics in animal science, made up by faculty. Taken in second year of graduate work, pass/fail evaluated on basis of both written and oral.


Students are encouraged to see each faculty member for guidance on preparation, including reading list. First time, failures given one more chance; second time, failures rejected. Student's thesis/program committee notifies graduate chair by letter of pass/fail.

Finish thesis/research work, write up results.

Seek guidance from committee.


Be prepared to write several drafts.

Submit thesis to committee for consideration.



Final copies of thesis to committee members at least 2 weeks prior to exam.

Thesis research defense (plan A)
Mini thesis defense (plan B)

a) Department seminar open to public.
b) Closed examination by thesis research committee.


Student progress form VI covers thesis defense exam.

Completion of thesis


Plan A

Plan B


Form VII is used to indicate satisfactory completion of thesis. Use only form VI for mini thesis defense, because mini thesis is not submitted to graduate school.

Because of the diversity among fields of specialization, specific elective course requirements will vary considerably among students. On the recommendation of the student’s major advisor, courses can be selected from those offered in Animal Sciences, as well as in the graduate programs of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Molecular Bioscience and Bioengineering, Anatomy and Reproductive Biology, Genetics, Information and Computer Sciences, Microbiology, Oceanography, Physiology and Zoology.

Financial Aid

A limited number of teaching and research assistantships are available in the Department. A research assistantship is arranged by the potential advisor. Teaching assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis by the department. Tuition is automatically waived for all graduate students on assistantships. Some assistance is also available to students not on assistantships in the form of tuition waivers awarded by the department. To apply, indicate in your application materials that you would like to be considered for financial aid. Highly qualified students are encouraged to apply for competitive scholarships available federal funding agencies such as USDA-CSREES, NSF and non-profit organizations.

Related Links

Contact Information

Dr. Rajesh Jha

ANSC Graduate Chair
1955 East-West Road
Agricultural Sciences 314H
Honolulu, HI 96822

phone: 808-956-4122

fax: 808-956-4024