Combining veterinary clinical training and graduate-level research

The College’s DVM-PhD dual degree program is designed to enhance the career development of students with an interest in science, veterinary research, and graduate education by pursuing a DVM and PhD degree concurrently. Also known as the Veterinary Medical Scientist Training Program (VMSTP), this innovative program produces scientists with a clinical background who go on to investigate complex human and animal health issues.

The philosophy of this program is “One Health,” where veterinary medicine intersects with human medicine, and both interlock with basic research to contribute to the advancement of biomedical research. 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. Our College’s 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.

About the program

How it works

Typically the dual DVM-PhD program takes at least seven years to complete. This includes 30 hours of PhD coursework, nine semesters of DVM study, and several years of research study. In any one semester, VMSTP scholars are enrolled in either the DVM or a PhD curriculum and students may begin their training in either curriculum.

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. However, the ideal program of study for a new VMSTP student begins with 2 to 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.

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.

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.

Picking a PhD 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. A complete list of PhD programs offered at UGA is available through the UGA Graduate School.

The curriculum for PhD programs varies considerably and not all doctoral programs are willing to allow students to be dually enrolled. Contact the graduate coordinator of your desired PhD program to determine its suitability for the VMSTP. You can also request that the VMSTP Coordinator confer with the PhD Graduate Coordinator.


Any student already pursuing a DVM or PhD degree at UGA may apply to this dual degree program. We also accept applicants from prospective UGA students new to both programs.

Candidates for the DVM-PhD program must have strong academic credentials and a documented interest in biomedical research. This program is not appropriate for students who have little research experience or for those who have not already decided to pursue research training. Applicants will be ranked for acceptance based on their overall GPA, science GPA, GRE scores, and the depth and duration of their veterinary and research experience. The DVM-PhD program is highly competitive, accepting only a limited number of students each year.

To be considered for the program, candidates must also meet the eligibility requirements and be accepted into the college’s DVM program and into the PhD program that they are wanting to pursue, if they are not already enrolled in those programs.

How to apply

All prospective students must apply to the VMSTP program, to their PhD program of choice (unless already enrolled) and to the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine’s DVM Program (unless already enrolled). Your eligibility for enrollment is contingent upon the DVM Admissions Committee, the PhD program to which you applied, the DVM-PhD Advisory Committee, and the UGA Graduate School accepting your application to their respective portion of the program. For the VMSTP portion of the application process, candidates are required to complete and submit a supplemental application form along with their resume, a letter of intent, and three letters of recommendation to the UGA Office of Research and Graduate Affairs by December 1.

Your resume should include all research publications, relevant employment, volunteer activities, research activities, research abstracts, manuscripts and presentations. Please also provide copies of any published articles you have authored or co-authored.

Your letter of intent is restricted to 500 words or less and should indicate your reasons for wanting to obtain both a DVM and PhD degree, why you have chosen your particular research field of interest and your long-term career goals. 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.

Your references 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. Your letters of recommendation can be those used to apply to the DVM and/or graduate program as long as one letter addresses research experience.


DVM tuition will be required while enrolled in DVM courses. PhD tuition will be required when PhD classes are taken.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What career 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.

Why a dual degree program?

Training in both veterinary medicine and a basic science discipline at the same time will prepare graduates to be exceptionally qualified to practice both clinical veterinary medicine and perform biomedical research relevant to human and animal health. While the program does not significantly reduce the amount of time needed to acquire both degrees, it does help provide financial support during the DVM portion of the training. 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.

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

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.

How do I verify the status of my application?

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.

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

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

What is holding up my VMSTP application – why have I not heard back yet?

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.

Where can I find more information?

For questions about the structure of the program, whether this program is right for you and your research interests, or potential fellowships and awards associated with admission, contact:

Kelsey Hart, DVM, PhD, DACVIM
Program Director
[email protected]

For questions about the application process, formal requirements, application status, etc., contact:

Lisa Norris
Program Coordinator
(706) 542-5733
[email protected]

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