Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine: Degree Program Overview

A Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine is obtained from schools that offer joint doctoral and doctor of medicine programs in the field. These are usually referred to as Doctor of Veterinary Medicine/Doctor of Philosophy in Veterinary Medicine (DVM/PhD) degree programs.

Essential Information

A Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine Degree takes seven years to complete and includes one year of core graduate courses and lab rotations, three to four years of prospective veterinary study and graduate electives. In addition, most universities offering doctorate programs in veterinary medicine require the completion of a committee-approved, publishable dissertation. Doctorate programs in veterinary medicine are typically very competitive and accept only a small number of students each year. Students should have a bachelor's and a master's degree before applying and should also be dedicated to the field of veterinary science and research. Graduates who choose to become veterinarians must meet the requirements for earning licensure.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Laboratory Animal Medicine
  • Large Animal and Equine Medicine
  • Veterinary Anatomy
  • Veterinary Biomedical Sciences
  • Veterinary Clinical Sciences
  • Veterinary Infectious Diseases
  • Veterinary Medicine - DVM
  • Veterinary Microbiology and Immunobiology
  • Veterinary Pathology
  • Veterinary Physiology
  • Veterinary Preventive Medicine and Public Health
  • Veterinary Toxicology and Pharmacology

Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine

The courses and seminars included in a DVM/PhD program in veterinary medicine cover the most up-to-date scientific and technical advances in the field of animal medical treatment. Students are expected to advance that science even further through years of laboratory study and clinical rotations. Doctoral students enrolled in a DVM/PhD program in veterinary medicine must typically complete core courses in addition to doing extensive research in the field as part of their degree requirements. Some of the core courses might include:

  • Veterinary anatomy and histology
  • Medical biochemistry
  • Veterinary immunology and ethology
  • Professional foundations and clinical research
  • Descriptive embryology
  • Veterinary neurobiology and epidemiology

Popular Career Options

The Ph.D. veterinary program is for individuals who are interested in becoming administrators, planners, scientists and researchers in the field of veterinary science. Career choices include the following:

  • Biomedical researcher
  • Veterinary scientist
  • Pharmaceutical/industrial researcher
  • Government health agency administrator
  • Clinical researcher
  • Professor of veterinary medicine

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Graduates of a DVM/PhD program in veterinary medicine can work as veterinarians. The number of positions in this field was projected to grow 9% from 2014 to 2024, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Veterinarians earned median annual salaries of $88,490 in 2015, per the BLS.

The investment of earning a doctorate in veterinary medicine affords graduates the opportunity to take diverse career paths in the field. Graduates can choose to become a researcher or other specialist, or work solely as a veterinarian.

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