The University of Arizona

Doctor of Philosophy

Admissions Requirements

Students are usually admitted to the Ph.D. program after completing the Master's degree. Students with M.S. degrees from other universities are encouraged to apply. Either a B.S. degree or a B.S. with a Master's degree in animal, biological, chemical or physical sciences is recommended. The M.S. requirement may be waived for unusually qualified candidates, but a M.S. degree is strongly recommended. Students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) in their Master's work.

Courses required for admission include:

Under special circumstances applicants may have a limited number of deficiencies.

Student transferring to the University of Arizona with graduate credits from other universities can petition to apply up to 12 graduate credits to the major in this program, but only graded courses are acceptable.

Major Advisor & Graduate Committee

The graduate committee consists of at least five members: the dissertation advisor, two graduate faculty members from Animal Sciences and two members from the department of the student's minor area of study. Four of the five committee members, including the advisor, must be tenure track faculty members (Assistant Prof., Associate Prof., or Professor.) In appropriate instances, a faculty member from an outside department other than that of the minor area may be substituted for one departmental participant. Such an appointment requires approval of the Dean of the Graduate College via petition.

Program of Study & Course Requirements

The equivalent of at least six semesters of full-time graduate study is required for the Ph.D. A minimum of 36 units of course work in the area of the major subject, 9 units in the minor subject and 18 units of dissertation must be completed. Graduate credit earned at other approved institutions, if accepted by the major department and the Graduate College, may be counted toward the requirements of this degree. Students must meet the minimum requirements established for the Master's degree in Animal Sciences. Additional required graduate courses are: three units of statistical design; three units of biochemistry (a grade of C or above must be earned if an undergraduate level course is taken); and two units of seminar (ANS 596.) All required units of credit in the major must be at the 500 level or above at the University of Arizona (or, in the case of transfer units, their equivalent at other institutions.) Six units of 400level credit taken at the University of Arizona may be used in the minor but will not receive graduate credit or be calculated in the graduate GPA. At least 23 units must be in courses in which regular grades (A, B, C) have been earned. A maximum of 10 units of individual studies (599, 699, 900) will be allowed toward the Ph.D degree. Additional requirements for completion of the degree will be determined by the major professor and the student's graduate advisory committee but must include a minimum of six units from departmental graduate courses.

The student's graduate committee advises the student, helps plan and approves the Doctoral Degree Study Program and evaluates the student's progress during all phases of his/her training. Usually at the end of the first year, the student files the Doctoral Degree Study Program (this form is available from the Graduate College.) The student and his/her advisor usually plan the course work for the doctoral degree in consultation with the student's graduate committee. This is usually the basis for the initial graduate committee meeting.

A Qualifying Examination, administered by the student's graduate committee is required prior to filing of the study program (see below) with the Graduate College.

The overall Plan of Study, once developed by the student and the advisor and approved by the student's graduate committee, must be approved by the Head of Animal Sciences and the minor department before submission to the Graduate College. (See the Graduate Calendar for deadline dates.)

Academic Performance

The Graduate Catalog states that “No student will be recommended for award of an advanced degree unless he/she has achieved a grade average of 3.0 or better: (a) on all work taken for graduate credit and (b) on all work included specifically in his graduate program.”

It should be understood that any student who fails to achive a GPA of 3.0 for two consecutive semesters is in very serious academic trouble. The graduate committee of such a student should meet at the earliest possible time to determine whether the student should be continued or withdrawn from the program.

Comprehensive Examination and Advancement to Candidacy

Before advancement to candidacy for the degree, the student must pass a general comprehensive examination in the chosen field of study. The comprehensive exam will be held when essentially all course work has been completed, not later than three months prior to the date of the final oral examination. This examination will test the student's general knowledge of Animal Sciences and will test in greater depth fields of specialization within the major and minor subjects of study. The comprehensive examination consists of two parts, a written portion covering the major and minor fields and, no later that two months after the successful completion of the first of these portions, an oral portion which shall be conducted before the student's committee. It is recommended that the student arrange a meeting of the examining committee approximately six weeks prior to the proposed examination date. At this meeting the general research interests, background and projected time table for the exam can be discussed. The committee can use this opportunity to inform the student of it's general expectations and make suggestions on preparation, such as suggested readings.

The Written Comprehensive Examination will consist of 1-3 questions from each committee member. Each committee member will be allotted a three-hour block of time and all questions must be completed within a one-week period. Members submitting the questions will then grade them and determine if the student passed or failed the questions. The student must successfully answer questions from four of the five committee members in order to advance to the oral exam.

The Oral Comprehensive Examination is described by the Graduate College as follows: “Upon successful completion of the written examination in the major and minor(s), the Oral Comprehensive Examination is conducted before the examining committee of the faculty. This is the occasion when faculty committee members have both the opportunity and obligation to require the student to display a broad knowledge of the chosen field of study and sufficient depth of understanding in areas of specialization. Although a discussion of proposed dissertation research may be of importance, such a discussion can not be used to satisfy the requirements of the Oral Comprehensive Examination. The examining committee must attest that the student has demonstrated the professional level of knowledge expected of a junior academic colleague.”

The Oral Comprehensive Examination must be completed within 3 to 8 weeks after the written portion. The Graduate College will provide a Graduate College Representative on your behalf to be present at the exam, which will last between two and three hours. Should they fail in the first attempt, the student will not be allowed to retake the oral portion of the exam unless the graduate committee approves the request. If the exam is to be retaken, the Graduate College stipulates a four-month waiting period.

In order to schedule the oral examination, the student must submit the original and three copies of the form, “Application for Comprehensive Oral Examination” to the Graduate College Degree Certification Office, Administration Bldg, Room 316 AT LEAST 3 WEEKS BEFORE THE ORAL EXAM. A copy must be provided to the Administrative Associate of the Department of Animal Sciences before the forms are submitted to the Graduate College.

After the successful completion of the written and oral exams, the student is eligible for advancement to candidacy and must complete the Doctoral Application for Candidacy form. The Graduate College recommends that students “Candidacy for an advanced degree” in the Graduate Catalog. The form must be completed in full and signed by the student's mentor and the Department Head; the original plus three copies are required. This form is submitted during the first week of classes in the penultimate semester.

The Dissertation Proposal

In the semester following the comprehensive exams, students should complete and present to the Dissertation Committee a proposal that provides a compelling rationale and research plan for the dissertation topic. The dissertation proposal is not part of the Comprehensive Examination, but is a key requirement of the Animal Sciences program. It will provide a valuable opportunity for students to develop grant-writing skills and to receive feedback from their committees at a relatively early stage of the experiments. The goal is to develop a rigorous and feasible experimental plan that will serve as a guide for the dissertation research, although the experiments may be modified if necessary as the work progresses. The proposal should be written in the USDA or NIH format but with the following page limitations (single spaced):

Many students will already have initiated the dissertation project. Preliminary data are not required, but may be included in the background section of the proposal.

The completed draft of the proposal should be provided to the dissertation committee members for comment and a meeting of the student and the committee should take place at which time the student will field questions about the rationale, design and interpretation of the proposed experiments. Once the dissertation proposal has been revised to the satisfaction of all members of the dissertation committee, the members of this committee will sign the “Dissertation Proposal Approval” form to be provided to the student by the Animal Sciences graduate committee. A copy of this form should then be submitted to the Animal Sciences graduate committee to be included in the student's annual performance review.

Ph.D. Dissertation

Early in the dissertation process, each student should meet with his/her graduate committee to discuss the scope and progress of the dissertation research. The candidate should meet with the committee each year to review this information and formulate any new plans that seem appropriate. All Ph.D. programs require the completion of a dissertation, which meets required standards of scholarship and demonstrates the candidate's ability to conduct original research. It is expected that the dissertation research will result in at least two peer-reviewed journal articles.

Preparation of the dissertation follows the Graduate College format and style rules (Manual for Theses and Dissertations, which may be purchased at the Bookstore.) When the dissertation is written, the candidate submits a completed copy of the rough draft to each member of the committee at least three weeks prior to the final examination.

Defense/Final Examination

The “Announcement of Final Examination” form must be submitted to the Graduate College no later than three weeks prior to the exam, with a copy provided to the Graduate Secretary of the Department of Animal Sciences. Formal defense of the dissertation research constitutes the final examination. This consists of a public seminar by the candidate followed by an oral examination by the graduate committee.

Final Copies of Dissertation Document

Following the examination and at least two weeks prior to the Library deadline, the candidate submits to the Graduate College for review a final copy of the completed dissertation (approved and accepted by the Animal Sciences Department and the members of the examining committee,) the approval page, Statement by the Author and special abstract of 350 words or less and the Notice of Completion of Final Examination and Dissertation Requirements. After making any required corrections, the candidate submits two completed and signed copies to the Graduate College. A degree candidacy and dissertation fee must be paid to cover the cost of processing. The student is required to provide a bound copy of the dissertation to the Department of Animal Sciences and the major advisor.

Dissertation Submission Deadlines:


To defend during the Fall or Spring semester you must register for a minimum of three graduate units. To defend during the summer, you must register for one unit during either summer session. These unit requirements are the same for the semester you finally submit the dissertation paperwork as well.

Ph.D. Degree Program Timeline

Year 1

  1. Develop a proposed PLAN OF STUDY in consultation with your major professor. This will lay out a set of courses that are required for the program.
  2. If you have elected or the graduate committee has suggested lab rotations, meet with the two or three faculty you have selected and design the goals of the rotation. Submit the completed lab rotation form upon completion.
  3. Submit the annual progress report in February.

Year 2

  1. You must select an examining committee in consultation with your major professor. You should schedule a meeting of all committee members early in the second year. For Ph.D. students, three faculty are selected from Animal Sciences and two faculty are selected from the minor committee.
  2. Submit the annual progress report in February.
  3. Submit the PLAN OF STUDY to the graduate Degree Certification Office during the third semester.
  4. Complete most course work by the end of the second year.
  5. Complete the Comprehensive Exams. Remember the appropriate forms and dates.

Year 3

  1. Meet with your committee in order to ensure progress toward your degree.
  2. Dissertation Proposal completed and approved by committee
  3. Submit all forms and be knowledgeable concerning dates.
    • Doctoral Application for Candidacy
    • Submit Announcement of Final Examination 3 weeks prior to exam.
  4. By the end of the second semester, students should have completed their dissertation
    • Follow Manual for Theses and Dissertations
    • Penultimate copies of your dissertation must be submitted to committee members at least three weeks prior to the scheduled final exam.
  5. Upon completion of your final exam, two copies of your dissertation manuscript must be submitted to Degree Certification at least three weeks prior to graduation.
  6. Submit the annual progress report in February.

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