The Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences (ADS) has a long history of research beginning with the establishment of the Department of Animal Husbandry in 1889. Early collaboration with scientists in other UW departments lead to the discovery of vitamins and minerals required for animal growth, production, and health, as well as methods critical for the successful implementation of artificial insemination, and the development of the Babcock method of determining butterfat.

Today, the Department of ADS is well known for basic and applied research. Areas of study in the department include Aquaculture, Endocrinology/Reproductive Physiology, Genetics/Animal Breeding, International Agriculture, Meat Sciences/Muscle Biology, Cell Biology and Immunology, Nutrition, Dairy Farm Management, Milk Quality, Lactation Physiology, and Reproductive Physiology.

Current emphasis topics include the role of nutrition in growth and disease, non-antibiotic growth promoters, stem cell research, genetic and epigenetic factors affecting fertility, genomic analysis of production traits, sustainable methods of animal production, safety and tracking of animal products, application of animal biotechnology in developing countries, precision animal agriculture, and development of nanotechnology for basic science and health related applications.

Collaboration within the department and across the University allows for a wide range of individualized inter-disciplinary research. Twenty-six faculty members mentor Master, Doctoral and Postdoctoral students in their laboratories. Faculty members’ research and graduate training are funded by a wide variety of sources such as NIH, NSF, USDA, state, non-profit foundations, and private/corporate grants.

Our students participate in cutting edge research, receive training in advanced methodology, and are often involved in the development of new technologies. We encourage our students to pursue creative solutions when problem solving. Some students in our department answer basic scientific questions to improve animal and human health, and others apply new technologies to advance animal production systems.

In addition to research, our students receive didactic academic training relative to their field of interest. Advanced courses are taught by the Department of ADS and by other departments in several schools and colleges across the UW Madison Campus.

Current Program Overview

Our department strongly values Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in our programs. Our statement and outlined principles to create an inclusive environment can be viewed on the departmental website.

Please view the departmental website for our Departmental Mission and Vision.

As a graduate student at UW-Madison, you have a multitude of opportunities to become involved on campus and in your academic discipline. This involvement often enhances your academic, professional, and personal growth through developing advanced leadership, communication, and collaboration skills. It also provides opportunity for professional networking. Please see below for specific opportunities to get involved.

Animal Science Graduate Student Association (ASGSA)

The ADS Graduate Student Association (ASGSA)promotes communication and professional relationships across disciplines between graduate students involved in animal and dairy sciences, while providing opportunities for leadership and professional development.

Associated Students of Madison (ASM)

The Associated Students of Madison (ASM) is the campus-wide student governance organization at UW–Madison. Graduate and undergraduate representatives are elected to the 33-member ASM Student Council based on their respective college or school. The student council has regular biweekly meet­ings open to all students.

Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA)

The Teaching Assistants’ Association (AFT Local 3220) is the labor union for TAs and PAs at UW-Madison. As a result of decades of organizing and working together as a union, graduate students at UW-Madison have achieved good health benefits, tuition remission, and many other gains. The TAA is a democratic union run by the members. All key policy decisions are made at monthly membership meetings.

Registered Student Organizations

There are more than 750 student organiza­tions on campus. The best way to discover current organizations is to visit the Wisconsin Involvement Network (WIN)  website, and visit the Registered Student Organization directory. This list will not include unregistered student organizations. If you are interested in officially registering an organization with which you are involved, you must register at Once registered through WIN, your organization is eligible for funding from ASM, your group can reserve rooms in the Union and access other resources.

Outreach and Community Connections

The Wisconsin Idea is the principle that education should influence and improve people’s lives beyond the university classroom. For more than 100 years, this idea has guided the university’s work.

The Morgridge Center for Public Service connects campus with community through service, active civic engagement, community-based learning and research.

The Graduate School

The Graduate School is the ultimate authority for granting Master and Doctoral degrees at the University of Wisconsin – Madison (University). The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is the highest degree conferred by the University, and it is never conferred solely because of any prescribed period of study, no matter how faithfully pursued. Rather, a Ph.D. is a research degree and is granted on evidence of distinctive attainment in a specific field and on ability for independent investigation as demonstrated by a dissertation presenting original research or creative scholarship with a high degree of literary skill. The Department of ADS administers these graduate degree programs under the authority of the Graduate School. If completed successfully, Animal and Dairy Sciences’ minimum requirements meet all Graduate School requirements for conferring a Master and Doctoral degree. The program is designed to prepare students for outstanding professional careers in research, teaching, and science communication.

Animal and Dairy Sciences Faculty and Committees

The ADS faculty has authority to set degree requirements beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School. The policies described in this handbook have been approved by the ADS faculty and are subject to periodic review and update. Day-to-day program administration is delegated by ADS faculty to the Research and Graduate Education Committee, whose membership is appointed by the Chair of the Department of ADS.

The Department of ADS has several standing committees. These committees are appointed annually by the Department Chair, and frequently include one or more graduate student members. Graduate students frequently provide fresh ideas which assist committees in their duties. At the same time, involvement with these committees can provide students with valuable experience regarding the operations of the University and Department. Graduate students interested in serving on various departmental committees should let their interests be known to the Chair of the Department of ADS.


Act on undergraduate appeals, make scholarship recommendations, oversee curriculum and extracurricular activities, and assess quality of our undergraduate program.

Research and Graduate Education Committee (RGEC)

Provides guidance to students and faculty regarding Graduate School and program requirements and arbitrates requests for exceptions to program requirements. Certification of student programs; approve changes, develop recommendation for minimum course work and required courses, review and recommend graduate teaching requirements, evaluate preliminary examination format; evaluate courses proposed by students and/or PIs to applicability for ADS major, oversee allocation of 101-4 research assistantship funding; deal with special request and situations, determine admissibility of applicants, recommend modifications of program entrance requirements, organize recruitment activities; ensures students are meeting program expectations, determines whether the student is satisfying academic requirements in a timely fashion and meeting program conduct expectation, imposes sanctions when appropriate.


Initiate and coordinate actions to nominate faculty and staff for awards.

IT and Departmental Marketing

Enhance communication with prospective students, alumni, and the public, solicit material from faculty and staff for posting on the website, propose and implement initiatives. Evaluate and recommend policies regarding staffing, hardware and software that pertain to departmental information technology infrastructure, monitor computer security procedures.

Academic Quadrathlon

Coordinate annual on-campus Academic Quadrathlon competition and participation in Midwest ASAS Academic Quadrathlon competition.