Why, How and When to Apply?


Why join us for your graduate degree?


We have a large, dynamic graduate population of over 150 students, many of whom are international; and a friendly Graduate Student Council that represents students and organizes social events.  We have committed faculty who love advising graduate students (and typically stay in touch with their former students long after graduation), and a responsive Graduate Committee always looking to enhance the academic life of our students.


We offer two types of Masters degree to flexibly meet your needs (see table below): a year-long course-based program, achieved by passing courses and writing a Major Research Paper, and a two-year long, more research-oriented thesis program, in which students graduate after a thesis defence.


We also have a thriving Ph.D. program, for more in-depth research; this typically takes 3-4 years.


Within the department, we offer expert training in Animal Behaviour & Welfare, Animal Breeding and Genetics, Animal Nutrition, and Animal Physiology.


  • The science we do here ranges from the very applied (designed to solve practical problems in animal agriculture) to basic, cutting-edge research aimed at testing fundamental hypotheses in animal biology. 

  • If you are Canadian or a Permanent Resident, and doing a thesis degree full-time, we guarantee a minimum stipend for 2 years if you’re an MSc student, 3 years if you’re Ph.D. For students entering in 2022-2023 this is set at $20,270 (MSc) and $24,230 (PhD). See 'Funding your degree' for more details.

  • Our students are very successful during their programs: our thesis students publish on average a paper a year and present at least once annually at conferences.

  • Our students are also very successful after they graduate. Within 6 months of graduating, over 90% of our students go on to future training or careers related to their graduate training. This includes going on to PhDs, post-docs or faculty positions; working in the industry (such as for animal nutrition or animal breeding companies); working in zoos and humane societies; going on to vet school, and working for governmental and similar agencies involved in animal-related policy (e.g. OMAFRA and the CCAC).

  • We are also part of three collaborative programs with other departments: BioinformaticsNeuroscience, and Toxicology.

How to join us, and when to apply?

First, use the Office of Graduate Studies' helpful pages to assess your eligibility in terms of grades and language requirements.
Then, unless you’re applying to take an MSc by Coursework in Animal Welfare & Behavior, your next step should be to search our faculty webpages for professors whose work interests you. Also, talk to students here about their experiences, and to get an idea of which professors and labs might be the best fit for you and your career goals.

If you're looking at MSc degrees, think about whether you want to take one by thesis or by coursework; the differences are summed up below:

M.Sc. by coursework M.Sc. by thesis
Typically takes 1 year, largely spent taking courses (with one semester devoted to research) Typically takes 2 years, largely spent conducting research
Student self-funds Student is paid our minimum stipend; thus acceptance by an advisor may depend on whether they have GRA funding available
Primarily assessed via coursework Primarily assessed by the quality of research and resulting thesis
Once you have decided on your preferred program and advisor, email your potential advisor to express your interest and find out if they have positions in their labs. This email should be tailored to that professor – not copied and pasted from other inquiries.
Once you have an agreed advisor, apply to the University. The Office of Graduate Studies provides excellent guidance on its applications webpage, and Jake is also very willing to help you with this process.

When to apply? 

We accept graduate students throughout the year, but a peak time for professors to accept students is January to May, for students starting in the Fall. (And note that some major scholarships have their deadlines as early as the Fall before you might want to start). After you've applied online, it can take a while to receive the official university acceptance letter. We, therefore, recommend that you apply online at least 3 months before the start of semester if you're a Canadian student. If you're an international student, you'll need to allow time for visa approval as well, please apply at least 6 months before the start of semester.
For students taking the M.Sc. by Coursework in Animal Welfare & Behaviour, you can either approach faculty or apply without one and we will find you one.  This is the one program with an application deadline – end of April – though we can occasionally accept later applicants.