Graduate and Post-doctoral Training 

Students interested in graduate-level animal welfare training have the option of completing a course-based master’s degree (MSc), a thesis-based master’s degree (MSc), a doctorate (PhD), or (if a veterinarian), a Doctor of Veterinary Science (DVSc). We also welcome post-docs looking to gain further research experience.

Why join CCSAW for your graduate or post-doctoral training?

Core and associated faculty have incredibly broad research expertise, covering every single major animal group, spanning a range of disciplines, and running projects that range from the fundamental to the applied. See our Faculty, Research and What is Welfare Science? pages to learn more! We also welcome people with a wide range of animal experience, and diverse ethical positions around animals.

You would join a large, international, supportive group offering many student activities: weekly meetings (seminars, discussions and journal clubs), visiting speakers, active clubs, opportunities to present in an annual symposium, and more! Like all at the University, we also value equity, diversity and inclusion.

We have a great track record of successfully training for relevant employment, thanks to the experiences and networks we offer, plus the opportunities you will have to publish your work and present at conferences. The vast majority of our graduate alumni go on to further education or careers involving animals!

The University of Guelph has a lovely campus, and in national and international rankings, consistently scores highly for student experience.

Students can choose from a wide array of animals welfare-relevant graduate courses (some taught by faculty who’ve won prizes for their teaching and student advising!). Details of all animal-related graduate offerings can be found in the University of Guelph Graduate Calendar, but a few highlights include:

  • Animals in Society (ANSC*6700), which gives global and historical perspective on animal welfare, and encourages students to debate and compare different welfare-relevant practices from around the world;
  • Animal Welfare Judging and Evaluation (ANSC*4010), which trains student to make rapid, evidence-based welfare judgments (even giving some the chance to compete in an international competition!);
  • Scientific Assessment of Affective States (ANSC*6720), which reviews all the main indicators of animal emotion, mood and cumulative stress, and covers how to rigorously validate new ones;
  • Assessing Animal Welfare in Practice (ANSC*6710), which trains students in how to design, evaluate and run animal welfare audits.

How to apply 

The CCSAW Student Chapter runs an annual ‘Grad Info Panel’ every Fall, and have compiled a great list of FAQ (along with insider tips!)

Applications are made to the departments within which your preferred advisor or programme is based. Core faculty specialising in welfare science are based in three main departments (Animal Biosciences, Integrative Biology and Population Medicine), while associated faculty span many other departments and colleges.  At the end we flag three additional programs that might also be of interest: very relevant to animal welfare, although welfare is not their main focus.

Animal welfare Master’s by coursework 

If you are interested in an Animal Welfare Coursework MSc, this is run by the Animal Biosciences department (so you should apply to department). The faculty member advising your research-based Major Paper can be based elsewhere, however (and so students in this programme have had advisors in diverse other departments, including Integrative Biology, Pathobiology, and Farm, Agricultural and Resource Rural Economics).  

Master’s by thesis and PhD degrees

For thesis degrees, the best route of action is to explore potential topics and advisors, by reading faculty websites, research publications and past students’ theses. Then contact the faculty member whose work most closely aligns with your interests, to learn if they are accepting new students. Once you have found an advisor, then apply via their department.  

If you are interested in grad school, please email your prospective advisor, providing the following information: 

  • Which degree you’re interested in pursuing 
  • What potential research projects interest you and why 
  • Your GPA from the last two years with a copy of your transcript (unofficial is fine) 
  • What relevant experience you have (research-related or animal-related) 
  • Who else have you approached about grad school 

It’s advisable to do this a number of months or up to a year before you’d like to start, giving you time to apply for graduate scholarships

Other related programs at the University of Guelph

Many of our Associated Faculty are involved in other graduate programs that might appeal to welfare-curious students. One is the Integrative Biology department’s new coursework Master’s in Wildlife Biology, which features courses on wildlife rehabilitation and compassionate conservation.

A new program in Family Relations and Applied Nutrition is also worth highlighting for applicants with a social science leaning: Critical Family and Kinship Studies, in which students can explore the role of non-humans (e.g. dogs and cats) as family members. Contact Associate Faculty Dr. Andrea Breen to find out more.

If animal health or disease epidemiology is more your focus, then OVC’s Population Medicine department has a large and excellent program, and is especially strong on all topics dairy-related.

Finally, some CCSAW faculty are also involved in the University’s thriving Collaborative Neuroscience program.

A note for post docs

If you’re interested in exploring post doctoral opportunities with us, please contact the faculty members whose research interests most align with your own. Note that the University offers some good career skills training for post docs too.