Combined DVM/PhD Program


Cornell's Combined DVM-PhD Degree Program accepts a limited number of highly motivated and academically exceptional students each year. The program encourages applications from a diverse range of candidates, including:

  • Students with an established interest in veterinary medicine and a concurrent career focus on discovery science and academia
  • Students with an established interest in biology and a career focus in discovery science and academia, but who have more recently recognized the intellectual benefits provided by an education in veterinary medicine

Application Process

Application to the Combined DVM-PhD Program can be accessed through the DVM Admissions website. When setting up your Cornell Tracking Page, you need to indicate that you are applying to the Combined DVM-PhD Program. This will provide you access to a section requesting information related to your research experience. 


Applications to the Cornell Combined DVM-PhD Degree Program are reviewed by two separate admissions committees. The DVM Admissions Committee reviews the applicants to determine admissibility to the DVM Program. The Combined Degree Oversight Committee reviews applications for admissibility to the PhD program. Both committees must agree to support the student before the offer of acceptance is made.

The Combined DVM-PhD Admissions Committee is looking for students who have:

  • a dedication to both research and veterinary medicine
  • a commitment to academic excellence and intellectual curiosity
  • the ability to benefit from the special opportunities of a combined program

Specific Admissions Information for Cornell Combined DVM/PhD Degree Program Candidates

The following guidelines are to help you consider whether you might be competitive for admission to the Cornell Combined DVM/PhD Degree program. However, we encourage you to contact Arla Hourigan, if you are interested in applying for the program and have administrative questions.

Cornell DVM students who are entering their Year 1 or 2 of the DVM Program are eligible to apply to the Combined DVM-PhD degree program.  However, please note that 2nd year DVM students must meet specific conditions in order to be considered. Please contact Rory Todhunter or Renata Ivanek to discuss eligibility.  

The deadline for receipt of all information is September 15th, and all application materials must be complete at this time. Please check with your recommenders to be sure that letters are submitted on time, as we cannot guarantee that letters received after the deadline will be fully considered with the other materials.

Statement of Purpose
The Statement of Purpose is an important part of your application, and is your opportunity to tell the admissions committee more about yourself. Feel free to include whatever information you think the committee should know about you and why you are applying to PhD programs. But please be sure to include a discussion of your past research experience. You can talk about one project or several, but focus on your role in each project.  Please also describe your potential future research interests and why you chose the BBS program for your PhD degree. If there are any faculty you find particularly interesting, feel free to include that information as well. Please be certain to address why you are applying to the combined DVM/PhD program, and why you believe having both degrees is important for you and your future career plans. Please limit your essay to 1500 words.

Review Process
Your application will go to the DVM Admissions Committee, which will evaluate your dossier for the DVM program, and to the Combined Degree Oversight Committee, which will evaluate your dossier for the PhD program. We based our evaluation on the quality and extent of research experience the applicant has acquired, and the letters of reference provided by the individuals who mentored the applicant for a research project. After evaluating all the applicants, we make a short list of 5-6 individuals that will be invited for interview, on the condition that they have been admitted to the DVM program. After the interviews, we will select two to three students for the CD program. The more research experience you have, the better are your chances of being accepted into the program.

Applicants for the Cornell DVM-PhD Degree Program will not be automatically evaluated for admission into a Cornell PhD degree program if they are not accepted into the Combined DVM-PhD Degree Program. Any applicant who is interested in having their application evaluated for admission into a PhD degree program must follow the application procedures specific to the Biomedical and Biological Sciences PhD Program.