Graduate Program

Equine Program

Goals of the Program

One of the main goals of this program is to prepare graduate students for either a career in academia or for a position in the horse industry. Part of this training occurs through performing research. The research performed in Dr. Nielsen’s laboratory is primarily focused in the areas of equine exercise physiology and nutrition, and thus, only students interested in those areas are accepted into the program. Some work is done in other areas such as equine behavior but our laboratory is usually not serving as the lead investigators in those studies. Research can be quite tedious and can be extremely time consuming and prospective graduate students need to be willing to make a strong commitment to the program.

Another part of the graduate experience is coursework. Typical coursework includes classes in:

  • Biochemistry
  • Statistics
  • Exercise Physiology (Human and Horse)
  • Various Advanced Nutrition Classes

Finally, it is believed that getting teaching experience is critical to a well-rounded program. Current and former graduate students have coached the MSU Equestrian Team, as well as the MSU Horse Judging Team. Additionally, they have taught or assisted with teaching Horsemanship, Introductory Horse Management, Horse Selection & Judging, Draft Horse Basics, Advanced Horse Management and Equine Exercise Physiology.

Acceptance into Program

Potential graduate students are accepted into this program for either a M.S. or Ph.D. in Animal Science specializing in horse nutrition and/or exercise physiology. In order to do a Ph.D., this program usually requires the graduate student to already have a M.S. We believe the training our graduate students receive is of the highest quality. Because our graduates tend to be extremely competitive in the job market upon graduation, and because many people are interested in performing graduate work in this area, our program receives many applications from perspective students. Unfortunately, there are few openings. Hence, this program tends to be very selective in choosing perspective students. In deciding who would be a good candidate, many factors are considered. First of all, it is important that a successful candidate have a B.S. degree in some area of science. It is preferred that the degree is in Animal Science but would probably consider Biology, Zoology or Biochemistry or similar field if the student had sufficient practical animal experience. Additionally, the graduate students that are accepted typically have high G.P.A.s and have been very active in extra-curricular activities. It is important that they have demonstrated they can balance a strong academic career with involvement in other activities. This seems to be a necessary ingredient to a successful graduate career. All students selected tend to have a strong horse background but are still very willing to learn more. As openings in this program tend to be filled rather quickly, potential applicants are encouraged to apply by mid-December for the upcoming fall. However, openings may arise at other times and applications are accepted by the Department of Animal Science year round.

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