Veterinary PhD Programs: Prerequisites and Curriculum

Apr 24, 2020

Essential Information

Joint veterinary graduate programs are science and research intensive, allowing students to earn their PhD and DVM degrees in tandem. The curriculum includes clinical and academic training, in addition to the science-based research specialty.

It is required that students have a bachelor's or master's degree in biology or a related subject, approval from Ph.D. program, DVM program and dual program committees, research experience, and passing GRE scores. The length of these programs takes 7 years to complete. The program requires a research specialization from the students. In addition, a dissertation is also needed from students as well.

Veterinary Ph.D. and DVM Dual Degree Program

A joint veterinary Ph.D. and DVM program is highly competitive. In some cases, it's possible to begin by gaining entrance into the Ph.D. program and then, while still completing the Ph.D., apply to a DVM program to complete the degrees concurrently. Clinical work and lectures are the main components of a combined veterinary Ph.D. and DVM program. All Ph.D. candidates must research, write, edit and defend a dissertation on a subject of their choosing. Graduates of these joint programs are prepared for careers in university-level teaching and research; they're also prepared for veterinarian licensure. Some common course topics include:

  • Animal physical examinations
  • Cell physiology and biology
  • Diagnosing animals
  • Health and disease in animals
  • Preventive medicine
  • Veterinary clinical rotations

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Graduates are prepared for both clinical practice as veterinarians and research employment as veterinary scientists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth for veterinarians to increase by 18% between 2018 and 2028 ( One factor for this above-average increase was the rapid growth of cats as household pets, which has led to a rise in demand for veterinary care. As of May 2019, the BLS reported that the mean annual wage for veterinarians was $104,820.

Students who want to study veterinary medicine can obtain the DVM or dual Ph.D. and DVM programs in order to obtain a veterinarian licensure. These veterinary students will go through 7 years of school in which they will have to write a dissertation, choose a research specialization, while learning in a clinical and academic environment.

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