Dairy Sciences Graduate Degree Program

Email: msippel@wisc.edu

Website: Dairy Sciences Graduate Degree Program's website

Phone: 608-263-3308

266 Animal Sciences Building, 1675 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706


Research is directed toward gaining greater understanding of the biology of dairy species with emphasis on dairy cattle, and improving usefulness of these species to society by modifying milk composition, improving animal health, assessing environmental impact, and enhancing economic efficiency. Current research emphases include developing and using molecular markers and genome maps to improve accuracy of selection and speed the rate of genetic improvement; developing and applying statistical methods for estimating genetic merit of individual animals and genetic parameters of populations from performance records; studying digestive and metabolic processes in lactating ruminants to improve production efficiency and health; enhancing utilization of forage nutrients by high-producing cows through modifications of the forage plants, harvesting and storage methods, and supplemental ration ingredients; development of reproduction management programs that optimize facility and profitability of dairy farms; understanding regulation of ovarian function and the regulation of fertility in lactating dairy cows; developing and evaluating milking, feeding, record-keeping, and decision and organizational systems that contribute to profitable dairy enterprises in a changing dairy economy; management factors affecting animal health and well-being.


Graduate students in the Department of Dairy Science are supported on research fellowships that have a competitive stipend that covers tuition, fees, living costs and health insurance. This support is primarily from research grants to individual faculty members or from fellowships provided by training grants or in collaboration with individual companies. Support is guaranteed for five years if progress is satisfactory. The current time from beginning of the Ph.D. program until completion of the Ph.D. averages 4.7 years.


Master’s degrees in biology, biochemistry, or genetics, as well as dairy or animal science, provide excellent background for doctoral study in Dairy Science. Regardless of major, preparation should include biology (molecular, cellular, and population), physiology, chemistry (general and organic), mathematics (through calculus), and physics. Typically, students admitted to the doctoral program have a GPA of 3.2 or higher. Candidates without a master’s degree can be considered under special circumstances.

Candidates must provide a personal statement, three letters of recommendation and official transcripts. The GRE is not required, but may be considered if provided.

Most applicants have contacted program faculty directly with respect to an interest in their area  of research. This means that a faculty member may be aware of an applicant’s name and background prior to reviewing a completed application for Graduate School.  It is recommended that applicants contact the faculty member(s) with the area(s) of research that interests them and that they wish to pursue.

If a faculty member is interested in a completed application, the applicant will be contacted by them personally.  If a faculty member is interested in accepting an applicant, a recommendation for admission will be sent to the Graduate School. The Graduate School will make the final determination for admission.