Veterinary PHD Programs: Prerequisites and Curriculum
Veterinarians are responsible for diagnosing and treating animals, as well as providing them with preventative health care. A strict Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in veterinary medicine does not exist, but Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) programs are available. Some schools provide a dual Ph.D. and DVM program that combines the research and medical aspects of both.
Doctorate Degrees in Veterinary Medicine
Both graduate degree programs are science and research intensive, allowing students to earn their Ph.D. and DVM in tandem. The 7-year curriculum includes clinical and academic training, in addition to the science-based research specialty. All Ph.D. candidates must research, write, edit and defend a dissertation on a subject of their choosing, which is necessary to graduate with a veterinary Ph.D. and DVM. Graduates are expected to make significant contributions to the advancement of veterinary medicine and science through teaching and research.
A joint veterinary Ph.D. and DVM program is highly competitive and requires applicants to have a bachelor's or master's degree in biology or a related subject. Admission to a joint Ph.D./DVM program may require approval by committees overseeing both programs independently, as well as a committee devoted to dual degrees. 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. Research experience and GRE scores are typically necessary for application review.
Clinical work and lectures are the main components of a combined veterinary Ph.D. and DVM program. Some common course topics include:
- Animal physical examinations
- Cell physiology and biology
- Diagnosing animals
- Health and disease in animals
- Preventive medicine
- Veterinary clinical rotations
- Veterinary anatomy and physiology
- Veterinary microbiology
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 33% between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). One factor in this growth is the rapid growth of cats as household pets, which leads to a rise in demand for veterinary care. As of May 2009, the BLS reported that the mean annual wage for veterinarians was $90,110. The highest average starting wages, according to a survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association, were earned by vets who exclusively focused on small animals, while equine veterinarians had among the lowest wages.
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