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This degree is an innovative approach to joining the demands of employers wanting employees with advanced degrees with customizable degree plans to meet the interests and time demands of students. The program is a unique way to build the knowledge base and academic proficiency of students who would like to further their education in a professional school.

What are some potential careers?

An advanced degree in Animal and Dairy Sciences can afford you numerous career opportunities. Many companies involved in animal agriculture are seeking individuals who bring the experience of advanced coursework and the ability to conduct and interpret research to their businesses. In addition to jobs in the animal feeding, breeding, production and health management industries, an advanced degree in Animal and Dairy Sciences can also give you an advantage in the basic and molecular sciences.

Who should pursue this degree?

Students interested in obtaining jobs in a whole host of areas, including Extension work, teaching, sales, marketing, finance or production should pursue this degree.

Program Structure

The program curriculum is based on a total of 30 credit hours. The program is 100% online. Master of Agriculture students must also successfully complete a defense style oral examination, which can be done over WebEx.

All courses are offered on the spring, fall and summer semester rotation. Students must discuss course availability with the Director of the program prior to each registration period.

Requirement Suggested Course Credit Hours
Graduate Seminar Animal and Dairy Sciences Seminar (ADS 8111) repeatable 1
Journal Club Animal and Dairy Sciences Journal Club (ADS 8441) repeatable 1
Statistics See graduate coordinator for a list of approved courses 3
Biochemistry Nutritional Biochemistry of Livestock Species (ADS 8333), Principles of Biochemistry (BCH 6013) 3
Directed Individual Study Student will enroll with major advisor and complete scholarly work 3
Graduate level coursework within the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences See course rotation table for suggested courses. 13
Graduate level coursework outside of the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences See graduate coordinator for a list of approved courses 6
Total Hours:
*at least 12 hours at the 8000 level

Course Rotation

Fall Spring Summer
ADS 6533
Current Literature
ADS 6513
Companion Animal Management
ADS 6114 Animal Nutrition
ADS 6723 Introduction to Animal Microbial Ecosystem1 ADS 6713 Human Animal Bond/Shelter Management ADS 6513 Companion Animal Management
ADS 7000** ADS 7000** ADS 6523 Interenet Management of Livestock Species
ADS 8111 Seminar in Animal and Dairy Sciences* ADS 8004 Method of Data Analysis in Animal Science ADS 6633 Immunology and Diseases of Domestic Animals
ADS 8133 Endocrine Secretions1 ADS 8111 Seminar in Animal and Dairy Sciences ADS 6713 Human Animal Bond/Shelter Management
ADS 8162 Monogastric Nutrition1 ADS 8441 Journal Club in Animal and Dairy Sciences ADS 7000**
ADS 8243 Advanced Physiology of Reproduction   ADS 8333 Nutritional Biochemistry
ADS 8243 Advanced Reproduction2   ADS 8423 Advanced Meat Science2
ADS 8533 Beef Cattle Production Systems Management2    

**Will enroll with major advisor and complete scholarly work
1Taught in odd-numbered years e.g.: 2025, 2027, 2029 etc.
2Taught in even-numbered years e.g.: 2024, 2026, 2028 etc.

Admissions Requirements

Applications for the degree programs are reviewed three times a year. The application deadlines for those semesters are as follows:

  • Fall Semester – August 1
  • Spring Semester – December 1
  • Summer Semester – May 15

Students seeking full admission into the Master of Agriculture with a concentration in Animal and Dairy Sciences program should apply as a classified student. Non-degree seeking students wishing to take classes offered through the Online program should apply as an Unclassified student.

An applicant for admission to graduate study must hold a bachelor's degree from a fully recognized four-year educational institution that has unconditional accreditation with appropriate regional accrediting agencies. They must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate School and the Master of Agriculture with a concentration in Animal and Dairy Sciences.

Regular admission to graduate study in the program requires a minimum grade point average (last four semesters of undergraduate work) of 3.00/4.00. When a student is deficient in one of the criteria cited, the student's application, nevertheless, may be considered for admission based on the strength of other materials contained in the student's application.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores are NOT required for entry into this program.

Attention International Students

International students are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and score greater than 550. Detailed information regarding international applications can be found in the Graduate Catalog. Questions regarding international applications can be addressed to the Office of the Graduate School at

  • ETS is providing home testing for the TOEFL iBT test, and MSU is encouraging students to take advantage of this testing option. For those students applying who have taken the TOEFL within five years of the semester they plan to enroll and are unable to access the TOEFL iBT test from home, we will accept your previous test scores.

Admission Options

Domestic/International Classified Admissions

  1. Submit online application. You will choose Master of Agriculture with a concentration in Animal and Dairy Sciences as your Program of Study and Online Education as your campus.
  2. Statement of Purpose
  3. Three letters of recommendation
    • You will be asked to submit three names and three email addresses of individuals you are using as references. Once you click submit, these individuals will be sent an email from MSU, which will provide a link to an online form for completing their recommendations.
  4. One official transcript showing bachelor’s degree or progress toward degree. (For international students, please submit a copy in native language along with translated copies, if appropriate.)
  5. One official transcript showing ALL work after bachelor’s degree. (For international students, please submit a copy in native language along with translated copies, if appropriate.)
    • Electronic transcripts should be sent to: Mississippi State University, Graduate School. Only one copy of an electronic transcript is required.
    • Paper Transcripts Address (USPS):
      Mississippi State University
      The Office of the Graduate School
      P.O. Box G
      Mississippi State, MS 39762
    • Physical Street Address (for DHL, Fed Ex, UPS, DHS, etc.):
      Mississippi State University
      The Office of the Graduate School
      175 President Circle
      116 Allen Hall
      Mississippi State, MS 39762
  6. Payment of $60 non-refundable application processing fee for domestic students.
    Payment of $80 non-refundable application processing fee for international students.
  7. Once you are admitted, you will receive an email with complete instructions on registering for classes and contacting your advisor


ADS 6553 Current Literature in Animal and Dairy Sciences
(Prerequisite: Junior, Senior or graduate standing) Three hours lecture. Evaluation of current research in animal and dairy sciences and its application to production and management.

ADS 6633 Immunology and Disease in Large Livestock Species
(Prerequisite: ADS/VS 3014) Three hours lecture. This course will cover common diseases in dairy cattle, beef cattle, and horses. Curriculum will include immunology, disease transfer, prevention methods, detection techniques, treatment options, and potential impacts on the animal, producer, and industry.

ADS 7000 Directed Individual Study
Hours and credits to be arranged.

ADS 8004 Method Application & Data Analyses in Animal Sciences
(Prerequisite: ST 8114 or equivalent) Three hours lecture and two hours laboratory. Data analyses and experimental design principles used commonly in the field of animal science. Data management and practical applications using statistical software. Assessment of validity in differing methods of analysis.

ADS 8111 Animal and Dairy Sciences Seminar
Survey of current literature; preparation, organization, and presentation of papers on selected topics in animal and dairy sciences. (Course is repeatable and may be taken 6 times)

ADS 8133 Endocrine Secretions
Three hours lecture. Study of factors by which cells communicate: the traditional endocrine system, autocrine, paracrine and neurocrine secretion. Physiological and genetic control of synthesis and secretion.

ADS 8162 Monogastric Nutrition
(Prerequisite: ADS 4114/6114 or equivalent) Two hours lecture. Monogastric nutritional relationships with special emphasis on swine nutrition. Metabolic functions, dietary requirements, deficiency symptoms and distribution of nutrients in feedstuffs.

ADS 8243 Advanced Physiology of Reproduction
(Prerequisite: ADS 4613/6613 or its equivalent) Three hours lecture. An advanced study of the reproductive process with emphasis on reproductive endocrinology and the physiology of germ cells. (Same as PHY 8243)

ADS 8333 Nutritional Biochemistry of Livestock Species
Three hours lecture. The biochemical aspects of post-absorptive nutrient utilization, intermediary metabolism, and tissue-level accretion in livestock species will be discussed. Particular emphasis will be placed on the contribution of nutrients to the metabolic disposition of economically important tissues including muscle and adipose.

ADS 8423 Meat Science
Summer semester. (Prerequisites: CH 4513/6513 or equivalent and BIO 3304 or equivalent) Three hours lecture. Basic study of the value of meat and how this information is applied to the evaluation, processing and preservation of meat, meat products and meat by-products. (Same as FNH 8423)

ADS 8463 Advanced Animal Nutrition
(Prerequisite: ADS 4114/6114 or prior approval from instructor) Two hour lecture. Two hour laboratory. Develop an understanding of nutritional physiology, metabolism, and utilization of nutrients by animal species.

ADS 8973 Scientific Writing
(Prerequisite: Graduate standing and consent of instructor) Three hours lecture. The course provides advanced training in research proposal, grant proposal, and manuscript writing. (Same as FO 8973 and CVM 8973)

BCH 6013 Principles of Biochemistry
(Prerequisite: CH 2503, BIO 1134 or equivalent) Three hours lecture. A survey of biochemistry designed to provide the non-major with a comprehensive background in the field. (Credit will not be given to students matriculating in the Biochemistry or Molecular Biology degree programs)

See More

Major Professors

Students should identify and contact a major professor with their area of interest.

Leyla Rios de Alvarez

  • Assistant Professor


  • Small ruminant production, feeding, welfare
  • Nutrition-parasite interaction in small ruminants
  • Plant extracts / Bioactive forages for parasite control in sheep and goats

Derris Burnett

  • Associate Professor


  • Molecular Approaches to Improve Muscle Composition and Meat Quality
  • Prenatal Programming of Postnatal Growth and Body Composition
  • Depot-Specific Adipose Tissue Development
  • Nutrient Partitioning and Metabolic Flexibility in Muscle and Adipose Tissue

Clay Cavinder

  • Professor


  • Effects of nutrition and exercise on reproductive efficiency of the stallion and mare

Peixin Fan

  • Assistant Professor


  • Understanding the host-microbe interactions in different niches of livestock
  • Identifying microbial markers to predict animal phenotypic traits
  • Developing microbiome-based strategies to improve animal health
  • Production, and welfare
  • Antimicrobial resistance and preharvest food safety

Jean M.N. Feugang

  • Associate Research Professor


  • Biology of mammalian gametes and embryos
  • Post-collection semen manipulation (i.e., in vitro analyses, purification, and cryopreservation)
  • Non-invasive luminescence and fluorescence bioimaging
  • Nanotechnology in animal production, reproduction, and disease prevention
  • Various biological techniques are employed:
    1. cell and embryo culture;
    2. biochemical and cellular assays (i.e., ELISA and apoptosis analyses);
    3. proteomics (protein isolation, western-blot, and high-throughput approach);
    4. transcriptomics (DNA/RNA isolation, PCR, and high-throughput approach);
    5. Biophotonic imaging (bioluminescence and fluorescence).

Kelsey Harvey

  • Assistant Professor


  • Applied beef cattle management
  • Stage-specific nutrient interventions to improve productive and health responses
  • Heifer development

Brandi Karisch

  • Milton Sundbeck Endowed Associate Extension/Research Professor


  • Improving efficiency of beef production
  • Applied beef cattle management

Jamie Larson

  • Professor


  • Improving reproductive efficiency in dairy and beef cattle
  • Studying heat stress and reproduction physiology
  • Understanding the role of hormones in early embryonic death
  • Looking at the effects of dam nutritional stress on her offspring

Caleb Lemley

  • Associate Professor


  • Reproductive endocrinology and developmental programming in livestock
  • Environmental influence on dam fertility and conceptus development
  • Developing in vitro systems to examine reproductive and nutrient transferring tissue physiology
  • Microbiome of the reproductive tract

Shengfa Liao

  • Associate Professor


  • Nutrient regulation of animal growth/development and health
  • Diet/feed evaluation for swine production
  • Swine model for human nutrition and health
  • Molecular biotechnoloy

Marcus McGee

  • Assistant Clinical Professor


  • Precision Livestock Management technology
  • Animal Behavior/ Animal Welfare
  • Effects of stress on animal performance
  • Non-invasive monitoring techniques

Molly Nicodemus

  • Associate Professor


  • Understanding the normal gait mechanics of the performance horse
  • Identifying gait parameters that may indicate lameness in the performance horse
  • Determining the influence of training and training devices on performance horses
  • Studying the development of equine gait mechanics through aging
  • Looking at the interaction between the rider and equine gait mechanics
  • Evaluating the impact of animal assisted activities and therapy on physical, psychological, and cognitive disabilities

Jane Parish

  • Professor and Interim Head,
    North MS Research and Extension Center


  • Forage systems for beef production
  • Applied beef cattle management

Trent Smith

  • Associate Professor


  • Estimation of genetic parameters in performance, carcass, and consumer related traits in beef cattle
  • Evaluation of beef breeds, breed types, and mating systems

Amanda Stone

  • Assistant Professor


  • Mastitis
  • Heat stress
  • Pasture grazing
  • Disease detection
  • Precision dairy monitoring

Barbara Roqueto dos Reis

  • Assistant Professor


  • Animal/environmental interface
  • Heat stress
  • Fetal programming
  • Applied beef cattle management

Rhonda Vann

  • Research Professor


  • Growth and development of beef cattle with emphasis in heifer development
  • Reproductive efficiency
  • Live animal carcass evaluation
  • Immunity, animal behavior, and herd health
  • Growth development and reproductive physiology in sheep

Contact Information

Photo of Mindy Wolfe

Mindy Wolfe

Online Education

  • Coordinator
Headshot of Kelsey Harvey

Dr. Kelsey Harvey


  • Assistant Professor & Graduate Coordinator