Virginia Tech®home

Dual DVM/PhD Program

Program Overview

Major medical and biomedical breakthroughs generally involve multidisciplinary investigative teams with knowledge of basic and clinical sciences. Veterinarians have a well-grounded understanding and knowledge of disease processes; however, the majority of veterinarians are not adequately trained in a focused, purposeful fashion to perform hypothesis-driven biomedical research. Consequently, there is a critical shortage of veterinarians with a biomedical research background in academic, government, and corporate settings to assume leadership roles.

In recognition of the critical need for veterinarians trained in both basic and clinical sciences, the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine offers an opportunity for doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) students to purse a dual PhD program. The DVM/PhD Dual Degree Program trains veterinary students in the skills of a researcher and encourages these students to pursue academic, government, or corporate careers.

Students admitted into the DVM/PhD Dual Degree Program typically:

  • Will enroll in the summer and spend the first three years in the PhD program, deferring the start of the DVM program.
  • Will enter the DVM curriculum at the beginning of their third year. During the first two summer semesters of the DVM curriculum, the student will return to the laboratory to continue work on the PhD project.
  • Are expected to complete the PhD within one year after completing the DVM program.

Some students choose to complete the PhD portion before moving into the DVM program, which requires the student to complete all requirements of the PhD program before entering the DVM program. These students do not need to return to the PhD program at the end of the DVM program because all PhD requirements have been completed. 

The total length of the program is approximately seven to eight years.

Application to the DVM/PhD Dual Degree Program

The following information applies to the application process for the dual degree program:

  • During the DVM supplemental application stage, qualified applicants will be provided with information regarding the DVM/PhD Dual Degree Program and asked to indicate on the application form if they are interested in the Dual Degree Program.
  • Students must meet the criteria of both DVM admission and Graduate School admission to be considered for admission.
  • Currently, a maximum of one to two positions are available each year; therefore, only the best-qualified applicants will be considered for the DVM/PhD Dual Degree Program.

Financial support

Students in the DVM/PhD Dual Degree Program will be provided with a full stipend (approximately $27,000) and tuition waiver during:

  • the first two years of the PhD program;
  • the first summer semesters of the PhD program; and
  • the final year of the PhD program after completing the DVM.

Program during the first two years of PhD curriculum

Based upon the student’s research interest, the DVM/PhD Dual Degree Committee will assist the student in identifying a suitable faculty mentor to serve as his or her major professor for PhD work. This must be a mutually agreeable arrangement between the student and the major professor.

The mentor and the student will then appoint a four-member faculty committee for the student’s PhD program. The research project of the DVM/PhD dual degree student will follow the same requirements as the regular PhD student. All project-related research will be formed and begin to take place during the first two years of the PhD program. Students will then complete and pass a preliminary examination. Once completed, the student will be eligible to begin the DVM portion of the program. 

Program during the subsequent four years of DVM Curriculum

At the beginning of the third year, the student will join a regular DVM class and participate in the normal DVM curriculum during the spring and fall semesters. During the first two summer semesters of the DVM curriculum, the student will return to the laboratory to continue work on the PhD project.

Completion of PhD after earning the DVM degree

After earning the DVM degree at the end of the sixth year, the student will return to the laboratory to complete the PhD program. It is expected that the student will complete the PhD within one year after completion of the DVM degree. While many students follow the previously described timeline, the program is flexible. Some students choose to complete the entire portion of their PhD before beginning the DVM portion. 

Coursework

The students are expected to participate in the normal DVM curriculum and complete all required courses for DVM.

To fulfill the requirement of PhD coursework, the students are required to take a total of 90 credits, including:

  • a minimum of 30 credits for research;
  • a minimum of 27 credits for courses at 4000 level and above;
  • a maximum of 4 credits for seminars; and
  • a maximum of 18 credits for special study and independent study courses.

Required courses for the PhD program include:

  • one biostatistics course (above 4000 level);
  • one course dealing with ethical, scientific, and humane use of animals in research (the course can be waived at the discretion of the student’s PhD committee); and
  • four BMVS seminars.

In general, the DVM/PhD dual degree student will follow the same requirements as the regular PhD student. However, the DVM/PhD student can use up to 24 credits of the courses taken in the DVM curriculum towards the fulfillment of requirements for a PhD.

Further clarification of the program will be available if applicants are invited for an interview.

*
bmvs-course-requirements.pdf Course Requirements