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College of Veterinary Medicine Graduate Programs - VMSTP

DVM-PhD Program: Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program (VMSTP)

The College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Medical Scientist Training dual DVM-PhD degree program is designed to enhance the career development of students with an interest in science, veterinary research, and graduate education by pursing a DVM and PhD degree concurrently.

The DVM-PhD program consists of nine semesters of DVM study, plus three to six years of research study.

Candidates for the DVM-PhD program must have strong academic credentials and a documented interest in biomedical research. New appicants may apply to both programs concurrently.  Current veterinary students in the College may apply during the DVM curriculum. Current PhD students may apply at any time during their program.

What Opportunities Does a DVM-PhD Degree Provide?

Individuals with veterinary clinical training (DVM) and research training (PhD) can work in any number of settings that focus on translational research. These settings include universities and research institutes, as well as government research labs and public policy bodies such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and NASA.

There are additional DVM-PhD career opportunities within a number of international agencies, including the World Health Organization, the United Nations, the Pan American Health Organization, and the World Organization for Animal Health. For more detailed information, visit the DVM-PhD careers page.

Why A Dual Degree Program?

  • Training: integrates both clinical veterinary medicine and biomedical research
  • Expertise: unique blend of comparative medicine and translational research skills
  • Career: proficient in research relevant to both human and animal health
  • Focus: solving disease problems that require a diverse biomedical background

Training in both veterinary medicine and a basic science discipline will result in exceptionally qualified graduates to practice both clinical veterinary medicine and perform biomedical research relevant to human and animal health.

Read more about the:


Kelsey Hart
Associate Professor
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Lisa Norris
Program Coordinator for MS-CBS, PhD-CBS, DVM-PhD, DVM-MPH
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Phone: 706.542.5752


DVM-PhD Program Information

The Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program (VMSTP) was established to facilitate the important integration of basic science and comparative translational medicine by training an exclusive group of exceptional students who demonstrate their extraordinary potential as veterinary scientists. Both the DVM and the PhD programs of the University of Georgia have very rigorous admission standards and graduation criteria, and require a documented interest in biomedical research. Although there are varied routes to obtain both the DVM and PhD degrees, candidates that are recruited from baccalaureate programs are encouraged to initiate training in the PhD curriculum prior to entering the DVM program.

Future veterinarians seeking to become biomedical researchers, who bridge the human-animal interface, are encouraged to seek research training by acquiring a PhD. Training in both veterinary medicine and a basic science discipline will result in an exceptionally qualified individual that is able to practice both clinical veterinary medicine and perform biomedical research relevant to both human and animal health.

Program Objectives

The philosophy of this program is “One Medicine,” where veterinary medicine interacts with human medicine, and both interlock with basic research to contribute to the advancement of biomedical research. A well-structured graduate program, with cutting-edge research training, will greatly enhance the career development of young scientists.

Our goal is to produce an outstanding group of biomedical researchers capable of identifying new emerging diseases, revealing their mechanisms of pathogenesis, and providing novel solutions for their control. This innovative program produces scientists with a clinical background to investigate complex human and animal health issues. The advancement of biomedical research requires comparative training in human and animal species and a high level of research experience. The UGA CVM rigorous curriculum, superb training facilities, and highly competitive research opportunities provide the link for outstanding students to develop into clinical scientists generating cutting-edge discoveries.

Program Structure

How does the Veterinary Medical Scientist Training dual DVM-PhD degree program work?

  • Each VMSTP scholar can structure his/her own training program with the oversight of his/her mentoring committee and the program administrators
  • Student completes 30 hours of graduate coursework for the PhD
  • 9 semesters of DVM study, with 3 to 6 years of research for the PhD segment
  • PhD research typically continues during summers and elective periods while enrolled as a DVM student
  • Typically the dual DVM-PhD program takes at least seven years to complete both degrees

Financial Aid

  • The Dorothy and Thomas Morris Scholarship is available to VMSTP students during the DVM portion of the DVM-PhD program. This scholarship provides $18,000 per year for tuition and expenses.
  • UGA graduate assistantships are available to students during the PhD portion of their program. Students may be eligible for assistantships funded by the Graduate School or by an individual department. Talk to the program director for more information.
  • Talk to the program director for more information about available financial aid.

Cost of Study for the DVM-PhD program

DVM-PhD Program Enrollment

During the program, students are enrolled:

  • In the College of Veterinary Medicine DVM program
  • In the PhD graduate school program

Possible PhD graduate programs within the CVM or outside of the CVM that may be compatible with the dual DVM-PhD degree program are: computer science, statistics, biological sciences, cellular biology, toxicology, psychology, pharmacology, genetics, biochemistry, ecology, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, policy, engineering and others.

I am currently Enrolled in a DVM or Graduate Program AND Desire to Pursue a DVM-PhD Degree

Any student already pursuing the DVM or PhD degree at UGA may apply to the VMSTP. However, financial support and ranking for available research training projects are determined annually on a competitive basis. DVM courses are taken at the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine in Athens, Georgia. PhD courses are fulfilled in graduate departments of the University of Georgia and affiliated sites.

Why Dual Degree Program at UGA CVM?

UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine faculty are among the most talented and experienced professionals in their fields. Former trainees from graduate programs at the College of Veterinary Medicine have been very successful at the national and international level in developing policy for infectious disease control, food safety, and global health.

Read more about DVM-PhD Application process

DVM-PhD (VMSTP) Application Process


The DVM-PhD (VMSTP) dual-degree program is highly competitive, accepting only a limited number of students each year. The application process to the program includes completing three applications, evaluation forms, recommendation letters, letters of intent, and various score and transcript reporting.

Your eligibility is contingent upon the DVM Admissions Committee, the PhD program to which you applied, the DVM-PhD Advisory Committee, and the UGA Graduate School reviewing the applications for their respective portion of the program. The VMSTP program is open to any student concurrently pursuing the DVM and PhD degree. 


Academic criteria:

An applicant’s overall GPA, science GPA, GRE scores, and depth and duration of veterinary and research experience are evaluated by the admissions committees and subsequently used to rank applicants.

Research Experience Criteria:

Students applying to the VMSTP are required to have significant prior research experience in addition to in-depth experience (300+ hours) in at least one clinical field (e.g., small animal medicine, large animal medicine, wildlife and zoo medicine, laboratory medicine) under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Applications Required for VMSTP Admission (3)

  1. a. Deadline September 1st at 1:00 p.m. ET: Requests for course substitutions/waivers and approval of online courses intended to meet a prerequisite requirement must be received by this date.

    b. Deadline September 15: VMCAS Applications must be submitted to VMCAS by this date. Transcripts must be submitted by this date. Transcripts are to be submitted directly to VMCAS.

    You must apply for the veterinary program ONLY through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) website.

    Visit the UGA CVM Office for Academic Affairs website for DVM Application and Requirements.

  2. Deadline December 1st — Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program Supplemental Application: VMSTP Supplemental Application, Letter of Intent, and 3 letters of recommendation.

    VMSTP Supplemental Application Requirements:

    • Due December 1 — Letter of Intent: Candidates are requested to submit a letter or email of intent to apply, identifying the specific PhD graduate department to which you have applied to the Director of Graduate Programs. This will facilitate follow-up by the Director to the candidates for VMSTP and graduate school application information.
    • Due December 1 — Letter of Recommendation: these letters can be those used to apply to the DVM and/or graduate program as long as one letter addresses research experience.
    • Postmarked by December — VMSTP Application: Email or mail to the Office of Graduate Affairs.
    • To request a supplemental application, email after September 15.
  3. Graduate School Application: Deadlines vary by department, but you should apply by November. Contact the specific PhD program's Graduate Coordinator for information.

    • Graduate Degree Objective:Your graduate degree objective must be the PhD. Formal application is limited to PhD programs in two two departments.
    • It is recommended that all interested applicants communicate with the Director of the DVM PhD program with questions regarding whether a graduate department is appropriate for the dual-degree program. This will facilitate coordination of consideration for admission to both degree objectives. If specific graduate department or departments are of known interest, please make these clear in the letter of intent to the Director.

Notification to Accepted Students

Students accepted into the program will receive:

  • A joint letter from CVM DVM Admissions Office and the Director of Graduate Programs for acceptance into the DVM/PhD Degree program, including scholarship information.
  • Letter from the Graduate Department regarding funding for the PhD program.

Currently-enrolled Veterinary or Graduate Students

  • The same deadlines above apply to currently-enrolled students wishing to apply to the combined degree program.


For questions about the PhD portion of your program, contact the Graduate Coordinator for the specific PhD program to which you intend to apply.

DVM Admissions:
Phone: 706.542.5728

VMSTP Admissions
Phone: 706.542.5734

UGA Graduate School Admissions
Phone: 706.542.1739

DVM-PhD Curriculum

In any one semester, Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program (VMSTP) scholars are enrolled in either the DVM or the PhD curriculum; students may begin their training in either curriculum. We accept applicants from any compatible UGA PhD program from current DVM students or from prospective UGA students new to both programs.

Our program is flexible enough to allow the students and their mentors to structure the curriculum in the most effective way for their training. Some scholars have entered the VMSTP after their first year in the DVM curriculum, enrolled as a graduate student and initiated their research prior to continuing/finishing the DVM. Other scholars have gained admission after one to two years of graduate school, and entered the DVM portion after completing the majority of their PhD work.  Finally, some students gain admissions to both programs concurrently, in which case training typically begins in the PhD program for 3-4 years, followed by the DVM curriculum.

We expect every VMSTP scholar to become a clinically competent veterinarian as well as a biomedical researcher capable of acquiring research funding and publishing their work. In order to function at a high level of cross-competency, the scholar must focus his/her efforts on medicine when enrolled in the DVM curriculum and on research productivity when enrolled as a graduate student.

The curriculum for the four-year DVM program is well-structured. The first three years are each comprised of two semesters of core and elective courses. The fourth year consists of three semesters of courses in the Teaching Hospital, and externships in which the student gains hands-on experience with a particular clinical discipline.

The curriculum for PhD programs varies considerably and not all doctoral programs are willing to allow students to be dually enrolled. Some doctoral programs have a core curriculum and a structured training plan in which every student participates. Others require the student and their advisory committee to select the coursework and timeline for training. However all programs must comply with the UGA Graduate School’s academic and enrollment policies. Contact the graduate coordinator of your desired PhD program to determine its suitability for the VMSTP.

Core Course Requirements

  • 9 semesters of DVM study: Review the DVM curriculum here.
  • Student completes 30 hours of graduate coursework, then is admitted to candidacy fo rthe PhD
  • 3 to 6 years of research study for the PhD segment
  • Doctoral research typically continues during summers and elective periods while enrolled as a DVM student
  • Typically the dual DVM-PhD program takes at least 7 years to complete both degrees

Career Opportunities for DVM-PhD graduates

Career Areas:

  • Academia: Medical and Veterinary Schools, Universities and other biomedical technology companies
  • Industry: Pharmaceutical
  • Government service:
    • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • World Health Organization
    • U.S. Department of Agriculture
    • U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    • U.S. Army Veterinary Corps
    • U.S. Forest Service

Address Worldwide Issues:

  • Biomedical Research
  • Biosafety
  • Bioterrorism
  • Human Health
  • Animal Health
  • Public Health

VMSTP Program: Frequently Asked Questions

Requirements and Deadlines

Requirements and application deadlines are all listed on the DVM-PhD (VMSTP) application and admissions page. For consistency and clarity, deadlines are listed only on that page and in the Graduate Programs sidebar to the right of this page.

Q: What is the advantage of enrolling in the Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program versus separately acquiring the DVM and PhD degrees?

A: The goal of the VMSTP program is to increase the number of veterinarians that are trained in biomedical research. The program actively seeks to enroll academically talented veterinary and preveterinary students who have discovered a passion for research and have decided to seek a career in biomedical research.

In addition to providing financial support during the DVM portion of the training, the VMSTP program provides an avenue for students to focus on research training. This program is not appropriate for students who have little research experience or for those who have not already decided to pursue research training.

It does not significantly reduce the amount of time needed to acquire the two degrees but it does allow a student to structure his/her veterinary program of study to allow a stronger focus on biomedical research.

Q: How long does it take to acquire the DVM and PhD degrees?

A: The DVM curriculum consists of 9 semesters of study while a PhD degree traditionally requires 3 to 6 years of intensive research training depending on the research area of study.  Typically the dual DVM-PhD program takes at least 7 years to complete both degrees.

The ideal program of study for a new VMSTP student begins with 2-4 years of graduate training. This allows the student to complete graduate coursework and be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree. During this time the student should also acquire extensive experience with research protocols that will be used to obtain data for research publications and the doctoral dissertation. The student will enter the veterinary curriculum the first fall semester after admission to doctoral candidacy.

However, during the summers and for some elective periods, the student will return to the research laboratory in order to continue their doctoral research. Completion of the research project and dissertation defense can occur during this time or after completing the DVM curriculum.

Q: Can I apply to the VMSTP program if I am already enrolled in a veterinary or graduate program?

A: Yes. Applicants who are enrolled in graduate school may apply for the VMSTP program during DVM training but may not be eligible for assistantships from the Graduate School. Please contact the Coordinator for more information about available financial aid.

Q: What graduate programs should I consider when I prepare my application?

A: The Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program seeks to train the next generation of biomedical scientists therefore nearly every discipline is involved in biomedical research. This includes all programs in the CVM as well as computer science, statistics, biological sciences, cellular biology, toxicology, psychology, pharmacology, genetics, biochemistry, ecology, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, policy, and others.

However, the VMSTP program may not be compatible with some UGA graduate programs. Contact the Graduate Coordinator of your grad program of interest and inquire about their willingness to accept a dual program student. You can also request that the VMSTP Coordinator confer with the Graduate Coordinator.

Q: How do I apply to the program?

A: Eligibility for consideration for the Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program consists of a completed application, for the following year’s Fall semester, to all of the following entities: UGA graduate school (unless you are already enrolled), UGA veterinary school (unless you are already enrolled), and the VMSTP. Visit the DVM-PhD (VMSTP) application page for full details on the required applications and their respective deadlines.

Q: How do I verify the status of my application?

A: You must verify that all three applications are completed. See for more information about confirming the status of your graduate application. You can verify the status of your veterinary application by emailing CVM Admissions. To verify the status of your VMSTP application, e-mail the Coordinator.

Q: What if I miss a deadline for the graduate school or veterinary school application?

A: You will not be eligible for admission to the VMSTP program until the following year.

Q: What should I include in my personal statement?

A: We are most interested in your academic and research background, research interests and professional plans. You should describe why you are interested in biomedical research and why the program is a good fit for your interests and background.

Q: What kind of recommendations should I get?

A: Your references (at least three) should fill out the recommendation form required by the Graduate School. The references — not you — should mail copies of the letter directly to the VMSTP office. You should get letters from professors who have taught you and know you well. Their letters should describe your academic work in detail so that the VMSTP Advisory Committee can be assured that you can complete a rigorous graduate program.

The committee will expect a letter from the professor who supervised your research. Letters from work supervisors may be of value to document your work ethic.

Q: Are there minimum requirements for the GPA or GRE?

A: Applicants who have a GPA of 3.5 or more, GRE (Verbal + Quantitative) of 300 combined or more may be considered very competitive for the program.

Q: How is financial aid awarded?

A: Support may be available for up to 2 new scholarships for $15,000 for each year in the DVM program. This stipend will be awarded as a scholarship grant. VMSTP fellows will also be eligible for support of PhD stipend and fees through graduate assistantships supported through a variety of mechanisms including a veterinary graduate assistantship from the College of Veterinary Medicine, university-wide, departmental, training grant, individual graduate research or teaching assistantships, or mentor research support.

For Graduate School assistantships, the Advisory committee will evaluate the applicants and assign scores to applicants. Those whose applications are exceptional will be nominated for assistantships funded by the Graduate School.

Q: What if I do not receive financial aid?

A: There are a limited number of assistantships available and you may be accepted in to the program without receiving financial aid. If so, you will be responsible for the cost of tuition and your room and board.

Q: How do I find a major professor?

A: Each professor’s research interest can be found on his/her department’s website. If you want more information about their published research, do a search on PubMed using their last name and initials (example: Lee MD). You can click on each publication to verify whether the research was done at UGA. The Coordinator of the VMSTP program will also offer assistance to aid in selecting a major professor and project.

Q: What is holding up my VMSTP application - why have I not heard back yet?

A: The Coordinator will periodically email the applicant with an update on the status of the application. However, because of privacy laws, the Coordinator may not be able to verify the status of the applicant’s graduate application if the application is made to a department that is not in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

The applicant is responsible for verifying that the graduate school and veterinary application are complete. Applications can be stalled if one of the letters of reference, transcripts, GRE scores, or personal statement has not been received OR if the application to the graduate school or veterinary school is incomplete. Applications may also be delayed in the department evaluation.

If you have not received any confirmation of your application, you should contact the department to which you applied. Copy all e-mails to the Coordinator.

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