Animal & Rangeland Science Grad Program Handbook

Program Description

Animal and Rangeland Science (ARS) Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees offer graduate study of animal science and the ecology, management, and restoration of rangeland, ecosystems. Areas of specialization include (but are not limited to):

Animal Science:

  • Animal nutrition
  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Health
  • Reproduction
  • Welfare
  • Livestock production
  • Meat industry and food safety

Rangeland Ecology and Management:

  • Riparian ecosystems
  • Ecology
  • Landscape ecology
  • Hydrology
  • Restoration ecology
  • Livestock and wildlife interactions
  • Grazing management
  • Invasive species ecology and remote sensing

The Animal and Rangeland Science Masters of Science Program prepares students to address critical regional and worldwide needs in animal science and rangeland ecology and management by meeting these degree or program objectives. Students will be able to:

  • Apply scientific concepts to research questions related to the sustainable management ofagricultural and natural resources.
  • Plan and execute experiments using appropriate science and statistical approaches.
  • Effectively compose and articulate scientific concepts through written and oral communication.
  • Evaluate and apply professional ethics in the design and application of their research.

The Animal and Rangeland Science Ph.D. Program prepares students to address critical regional and worldwide needs in animal science and rangeland ecology and management by meeting these degree or program objectives. Students will be able to:

  • Apply scientific concepts to systematically create new knowledge related to the sustainable management of agricultural and natural resources.
  • Plan and execute a diversity of experiments using appropriate science and statistical approaches.
  • Effectively compose and articulate scientific concepts through written and oral communication.
  • Evaluate and apply professional ethics in the design and application of their research.

Degree Requirements

The ARS M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are intended to be “committee-driven” where the student has flexibility to select courses and develop a program of study under the guidance of an advisory committee. It has few program-specific degree requirements, and required courses.

M.S. students satisfy the general requirements of the Graduate School. They select a M.S.graduate advising committee including the Advisor, a member representing the area ofspecialization, and one member representing the Graduate School. Students select courses tocomplement their fields of interest and enhance his/her conceptual and
research skills.

  • Two degree plans are available:
    • Plan-A, Thesis option includes 30 units, with six as thesis (ARS 797).
    • Plan-B, Non-Thesis option includes 32 units, with 2 units as professional paper (ARS 796).
  • Additional required classes include:
    • AGSC 790 Animal and Rangeland Science Seminar (1 unit). Attendance in all semesters isstrongly encouraged.
    • Graduate level statistics class (3 units)
    • AGSC 610 Sheep Management, OR AGSC 618 Beef Cattle Management, OR AGSC 606Advanced Nutrition Management.
    • NRES 698 Restoration Ecology, OR AGSC 613 Rangeland Livestock Interactions, OR AGSC608 Rangeland Ecosystems
  • Each candidate makes a formal prospectus presentation (study plan) and defend in public their thesis or professional paper to their advising committee. The thesis must also be accepted by the graduate school.

Ph.D. students in Animal and Rangeland Sciences (ARS) must satisfy the general requirements of the Graduate School. Students select a Ph.D. graduate advising committee consisting of at least five members of the graduate faculty, including the advisor, at least one other member from the advisor's department, a member representing a closely allied discipline to the area of specialization, and one member serving as the Graduate School Representative.

  • Students must present a dissertation proposal within their first year. It will clarify how theirresearch will create new knowledge in a variety of related sub-disciplines.
  • Courses should be selected to complement the student’s fields of interest and enhance his/herconceptual and research skills. A minimum of 72 graduate credits (with grades of “B” or better)beyond the baccalaureate are required. As many as 24 credits may be used from a completedmaster’s degree. A minimum of 24 credits of dissertation are required and Thirty (30) 700-799level credits of coursework are required, with as many as 18 that may be used from a completedmaster’s degree. Only 9 credits of satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading are allowed.
  • Required Core Curriculum (The animal science or rangeland science requirement below can bewaived if students enter the program with strength in that field):
    • AGSC REM 790 Animal and Rangeland Science Seminar (2 units). Students are alsoexpected to attend Seminar whenever they are enrolled in on-campus classes. oGraduate level statistics class (3 units)
    • AGSC 610 Sheep Management, OR AGSC 618 Beef Cattle Management, OR AGSC 606Advanced Nutrition Management.
    • NRES 698 Rangeland Restoration Ecology, OR AGSC 613 Rangeland Livestock Interactions,OR AGSC 608 Rangeland Ecosystems
  • Students will take and pass a 1-credit comprehensive examination to be admitted into Candidacyfor the Doctoral Degree. The written and oral comprehensive examination will be administered by the student's advising committee.
  • Each candidate will write and defend in public their dissertation. The student's advising committeewill pass judgement about the quality and sufficiency of the dissertation and its defense. Thedissertation must also be accepted by the graduate school.
  • TOTAL UNITS -- 72 graduate credits (M.S. (or 24) + 24 dissertation + 24)

Students must meet the standard requirements of the Graduate School. These can be found on the Program of Study form.

Thesis (Plan A)

  • Minimum of 30 graduate credits
  • Minimum of 21 of these credits earned at UNR
  • Minimum of 18 credits (including thesis credits) taken at 700-level
  • Masters Students must enroll in 6 thesis credits for degree completion
  • Maximum of 3 credits may be taken with S/U grading
  • Maximum of 9 credits completed prior to admission (including transfer credits)
  • All requirements (credits) for degree (including transfer credits) must be completed within theperiod of six years (6) immediately preceding the granting of the degree.

Non-Thesis (Plan B)

  • Minimum of 32 graduate credits
  • Minimum of 23 of these 32 graduate credits earned at UNR
  • Minimum of 15 credits taken at 700-levelMaximum of 3 credits may be taken with S/U grading (including transfer credits)
  • Maximum of 9 credits completed prior to admission (including transfer credits)
  • All requirements for degree must be completed within the period of 6 years immediately preceding the granting of the degree.

For both Thesis and Non-Thesis MS and Ph.D. degrees, the Graduate School requires continuous enrollment of at least 3 graduate credits each fall and spring semester.

Plan A vs. Plan B

The vast majority of incoming ARS Master’s students are admitted to the Plan A degree program. In this option, the student is expected to write a thesis making an original contribution to the research field of a quality acceptable to a major, peer-reviewed scientific journal. A small number of students, primarily those without research funding and/or who have a full-time job commitment, are admitted to the Plan B degree program. This program requires the writing of a professional paper of a quality demonstrating a high level of scholarship. Occasionally, Plan B students transfer to Plan A if research funding becomes available. Only under very special circumstances is a Plan A student allowed to transfer to Plan B.

Graduate School Academic Requirements

All graduate students must maintain a cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0. If their GPA drops below 3.0 they are either placed on probation or dismissed. Undergraduate courses will not count towards graduate GPA.

Probation: Students whose cumulative graduate GPA is .1 to .6 points below that needed for a 3.0 GPA are put on probation. Students are placed on academic probation for one semester. If they fail to raise their cumulative GPA to 3.0 by the end of one semester, they are dismissed from their graduate program. Thesis, dissertation, S/U graded credits, and transfer credits have no impact on a student’s GPA.

Dismissal: Students whose cumulative graduate GPA is .7 or more grade points below that needed for a 3.0 GPA are dismissed. Dismissed students are no longer in a graduate program but may take graduate-level courses as a Grad Special. Students wishing to complete their degree must obtain approval to take graduate-level courses, raise their graduate GPA to at least 3.0 and then re-apply to a graduate program. Any courses taken to raise their GPA will be included in the graduate special/ transfer credit limitation (9 credits for master’s degrees).

Transfer Credits

These are credits transferred from another institution. Credits completed at UNR in another program or as a graduate special do not need to be transferred. Transfer credit can be requested on the Graduate Credit Transfer Evaluation Request form2 available on Graduate School website, and must be signed by the student, major advisor, and graduate director. Transfer credits applied to a master’s program must comply with the time limitation on master’s work (6 years). Thus, if a student took a course five years prior to admission, they would have to complete the degree within one year for the course to apply to the degree. Credits from a completed master’s degree will be exempt from the 8-year time limitation for those students pursuing a doctoral degree.

Timeline for Degree Completion

The following timeline is based on expectations of the Graduate School and the ARS Master’s Program. While every student does not progress through their graduate program at the same rate and often more than 4 semesters are required to complete the M.S. degree, students should seek to minimize substantial delays. Please note the Graduate School requirement that all course work must be completed within six years preceding the awarding of the degree (i.e. course work from more than six years ago cannot be applied towards the M.S. degree). Formal approval of all student advisory committees is made by the Graduate Dean.

Suggested Deadline

Milestone

End of first semester

End of second semester

  • First committee meeting. Discuss research plan (proposal) and develop program of study (Program of Study form)
  • Graduate school deadline for declaration of advisor form

End of third semester

  • Graduate school deadline for program of study form
  • Second committee meeting: update committee on thesis research progress

End of fourth semester

  • Schedule a date for a thesis defense. The date of the defense should be at least three weeks prior to graduate school deadline for graduation
  • Submit graduation application form, at least several weeks in advance of the deadline for graduation (Graduation Application)
  • Submit draft of complete thesis to committee members at least one month before scheduled thesis defense date • Defend thesis (public presentation and third committee meeting); revise thesis as needed
  • Submit Notice of Completion form after all requirements have been met (Master’s form)
  • Schedule Exit Interview with the ARS Graduate Program Director
  • Upon graduation, take the Graduate School’s Exit Survey

Notes:

  1. Although three committee meetings are indicated in the suggested timeline, more can be scheduled as needed at the discretion of the student, advisor and committee.
  2. You can find an updated list of Graduate School forms and requirements here: Forms and Deadlines Website

The following timeline is based on expectations of the Graduate School and the ARS Ph.D. Program. While every student does not progress through their graduate program at the same rate and often more than 6 semesters are required to complete the Ph.D. degree, students should seek to minimize substantial delays. Please note the Graduate School requirement that all course work must be completed within six years preceding the awarding of the degree (i.e. course work from more than six years ago cannot be applied towards the Ph.D. degree). Formal approval of all student advisory committees is made by the Graduate Dean.

Suggested Deadline

Milestone

End of first semester

  • Completion of Declaration of Advisor/Major Advisor/ Committee Chair form
  • Schedule Entrance Interview with the ARS Graduate Program Director
  • Formation of advisory committee

End of second semester

  • Present a dissertation proposal and develop program of study (Program of Study form)
  • Graduate school deadline for declaration of advisor form

End of third semester

  • Graduate school deadline for program of study form
  • Second committee meeting: update committee on thesis research progress

End of fourth semester

  • Take and pass a 1-credit comprehensive examination (written and oral components)

End of fifth semester

  • Third committee meeting: update committee on thesis research progress
  • Complete course work
  • Continue research and writing dissertation

End of sixth semester

  • Schedule a date for a dissertation defense. The date of the defense should be at least three weeks prior to graduate school deadline for graduation
  • Submit graduation application form, at least several weeks in advance of the deadline for graduation (Graduation Application)
  • Submit draft of complete dissertation to committee members at least one month before scheduled dissertation defense date
  • Defend dissertation (public presentation and fourth committee meeting); revise thesis as needed
  • Submit Committee Approval Page found at Doctoral Dissertation Filing Guidelines
  • Submit the dissertation final review approval form (Doctoral Final Review Approval)
  • Complete the UMI dissertations submittal form (Submittal Form)
  • Schedule Exit Interview with the ARS Graduate Program Director
  • Upon graduation, take the Graduate School’s Exit Survey

Notes:

  1. Although four committee meetings are indicated in the suggested timeline, more can be scheduled as needed at the discretion of the student, advisor and committee.
  2. Doctoral degree admission to candidacy form
    1. For doctoral students who completed all requirements except for the dissertation
  3. You can find an updated list of Graduate School forms and requirements here: Forms and Deadlines Website

Committee Selection Guidelines

Because there are few required courses, the graduate advisory committee plays a particularly important role in the ARS Master’s and Ph.D. programs. The committee is responsible for assisting the student in designing a program of study that is tailored to career goals of the student, fills in any academic gaps that may exist in the student’s prior academic background, and provides the needed knowledge for successful completion of the thesis or dissertation research. The committee is also responsible for guiding the thesis research and ensuring that it meets the standards of the graduate program. Therefore, the committee should be carefully selected by the student in close coordination with the advisor.

Consistent with rules of the Graduate School, each ARS Master’s committee requires at least three advisory committee members, including the advisor. The advisor must be an ARS graduate faculty member. All members of the committee must be listed as members of the UNR graduate faculty. At least one (the graduate school representative or “outside” member) must be from a department or program different from the department or program from which the student is graduating. Each Ph.D. graduate advising committee consists of at least five members of the graduate faculty, including the advisor, at least one other member from the advisor's department, a member representing a closely allied discipline to the area of specialization, and one member serving as the Graduate School Representative. As stated on the Graduate School website, “The Graduate School Representative protects the interests of the student, the advisory committee, and the Graduate School. The Graduate School Representative should also act as an "unbiased person" to whom the Dean may turn for judgment and counsel. The primary responsibility of the Graduate School Representative is that of an observer.” However, the Graduate School Representative may also play an important role in guiding the student, particularly if he/she has expertise in the student’s area of specialization.

The membership of the committee should be finalized by the end of the second semester, and is indicated to the Graduate School through the signing of the student’s Program of Study form. Formal approval of all student advisory committees is made by the Graduate Dean.

Thesis and Dissertation Requirements

The objective of writing a thesis (Plan A) or professional paper (Plan B) is to demonstrate the ability of a student to complete kinds of tasks he or she will be expected to perform in their professional career. While these typically include novel research, they can also include synthesis or re-evaluation of existing material. In sum, the thesis must demonstrate the ability to independently utilize the scientific method to address questions and hypotheses.

In general, the thesis must be of a quality that is publishable in a peer-reviewed journal of a scientific field relevant to the student’s area of expertise, as judged by the advisory committee or demonstrated by acceptance for publication in such a journal. While there is no length requirement to the Master’s thesis, the thesis must consist of at least one chapter suitable for publication, plus Introductory and Concluding chapters. The professional paper produced by the Plan B (non-thesis) student will be of sufficient quality to demonstrate a high degree of scholarship, as judged by the student’s advisory committee.

The thesis should include note of chapter authorship and journals to which chapters will be submitted. This may be done on the title page or via footnotes, or by including a Preface between the Table of Contents and the introductory chapter.

In general, the Ph.D. dissertation chapters must be of a quality that is publishable in peer-reviewed journals of a scientific field relevant to the student’s area of expertise, as judged by the advisory committee or demonstrated by acceptance for publication in such a journal. While there is no length requirement to the Ph.D. dissertation, the dissertation must consist of at least two chapters suitable for publication, plus Introductory and Concluding chapters. It is expected that the science performed in developing this new knowledge demonstrate scholarship through integration of existing knowledge and creation of new knowledge. Creativity is reflected in the questions, hypotheses, methods, synthesis, and/or applications.

The formatting and other guidelines for the thesis and dissertation are dictated by the Graduate School and must be followed precisely, as indicated on their website:

The ARS Master’s program does not maintain its own requirements for the thesis/dissertation format. Students should consult with their advisor and advisory committee.

Once all requirements have been met, students must submit a Final Review Approval and Notice of Completion form in order to graduate.

Successfully completing a thesis or dissertation will typically include meeting the following guidelines:

  1. The first draft of the thesis/dissertation should be provided to the Committee Chair orMajor Advisor at least eight weeks prior to the date the thesis is due to the GraduateCollege. The Advisor will work with the student directly to revise the thesis, which maytake several revisions.
  2. Submit the revised thesis/dissertation to the Committee at least 6 weeks prior to the datethe thesis/dissertation is due to the graduate college. The Committee should review thethesis/dissertation and return any comments, criticisms, or suggestions to the studentwithin two weeks.
  3. The student should carefully and thoroughly address comments made by the Committeeand return the revised thesis/dissertation to the Committee four weeks prior to the duedate.
  4. This timeline represents the minimum acceptable time for each step, and can be modifiedgiven consent of student, committee, and advisor.
  5. It is possible that individual chapter(s) in the form of publishable journal articles besubmitted to the journal whenever they are ready. Generally, these articles would be reviewed by the advising committee prior to final revisions for submission. This will allowthe advising committee to provide constructive input, retain their role in student advising and thesis/dissertation review, and prevent surprises later. The individual chapters of the thesis/dissertation can thus be papers designed to be submitted, papers submitted and in review, or papers accepted for publication or published. While publication ahead of the defense is encouraged, it is not expected nor required by ARS. It does allow timely publication of new knowledge.

Graduate Assistantships

Research Assistantships:

Most ARS Master’s students are supported by graduate research assistantships derived from research grants administered by individual faculty members. Therefore, it is important that prospective students contact potential advisors early in their application process, to identify ARS graduate faculty members with both willingness to serve as mentors, and with grant funding for research assistantships.

Teaching Assistantships:

Opportunities for ARS Doctoral or occasionally Master’s students to be supported by teaching assistantships are fairly limited, but sometimes are made available through the ANVS Department to help teach ARS courses or the Graduate College to support the graduate Program. These are usually part-time teaching assistantships that are offered in combination with part-time research assistantships.

Graduate students are also encouraged to apply for outside funding to help support their graduate research. Many such opportunities are listed here, Research Funding Website. UNR’s Graduate School Association also provides scholarships, small grants and other funding opportunities (including for travel to conferences): GSA Website.

Per policy of the Graduate School, all graduate students holding an assistantship (teaching GTA or research GRA) are considered Nevada residents for tuition purposes. Non-resident tuition is only waived for the duration of the assistantship. To be eligible for an assistantship, students must be admitted to a degree-granting program and be in good academic standing. The student must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 and must be continuously enrolled in at least 6 graduate level credits (600-700) throughout the duration of the assistantship.

State-funded assistantships (GTA/GRA) may be held for a maximum of three (3) years for master’s degree students.

Refer to the Graduate School website for the most updated information on graduate assistantships: General information27 Graduate Assistantship handbook28

Health Insurances

All domestic degree seeking graduate students, who are enrolled in six or more credits (regardless of the course level) in a semester, will be automatically enrolled and billed for the University sponsored health insurance for each term they are eligible (fall & spring/summer). If a student has other comparable coverage and would like to waive out of the student health insurance, it is the student’s responsibility to complete the University online waiver form prior to the deadline. If approved, a health insurance waiver is good for the current academic year only. A new waiver must be submitted each academic year. All international graduate students are required to carry student health insurance, and the cost will be automatically added to your student account. Any international graduate students with insurance questions must contact the Office of International Students and Scholars directly. Information on Graduate health insurance.

Enrollment Requirements and Leave of Absence

Continuous Enrollment: To maintain “good standing” all graduate students are required to enroll in a minimum of three (3) graduate credits each fall and spring semester until they graduate. International students may be required to enroll in nine graduate credits each fall and spring semester depending on the requirements of their visa. All students holding assistantships (whether teaching or research assistantships) are required to enroll in a minimum of six (6) graduate credits each semester they hold the assistantship.

Leave of Absence: Students in good standing may request a leave of absence by completing a Leave of Absence form32 during which time they are not required to maintain continuous registration. Usually, a leave of absence is approved for one or two semesters. The leave of absence request may be extended by the student filing an additional leave of absence form. Students applying for a leave of absence should not have any “incomplete” grades which could be changed to “F” and have a detrimental impact on their cumulative GPA. Requests for leave of absences must be received by the Graduate School no later than the last day of enrollment for the semester the leave is to begin.

Reinstatement: When a student has been absent for one semester or more without an approved leave of absence, he or she may request reinstatement via the Reinstatement form. This form allows the program the option to recommend the student be re-admitted to their graduate program based on their previous admission OR require the student to re-apply for admission which would require students to submit a new application for admission and pay the application fee. The Notice of Reinstatement to Gradate Standing must be received by the Graduate School no later than the last day of enrollment for the semester the reinstatement is to begin.

Graduate Student Association (GSA)

The GSA represents all graduate students and promotes the welfare and interests of the graduate students at the University of Nevada, Reno. The GSA works closely with appropriate university administrative offices, including the Graduate School and Student Services and reports to the President of the University. The GSA government functions through the Council of Representatives, Executive Council and established committees.

Graduate School Forms

Please refer to Forms Website for all forms available at The Graduate School.