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 ( or Dr. Helene Marquis ( to discuss your particular circumstances if you are interested in applying for the program. Deadline for receipt of all information is September 17th, 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.

Because of the combined application processes involved (to both the Cornell graduate school and the DVM Curriculum), Combined DVM-PhD Degree applicants must complete the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and submit test results by September 17th. MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) results can be submitted with the application if available, but do not replace the GRE results which are required for the graduate school admission.

GRE scores are used as part of the assessment of candidates, and generally would need to meet at least the following levels to be competitive: a combined GRE score of 310 for verbal and quantitative sections of the test with a minimum 50th percentile rank for each section required.

Statement of Purpose
When you apply, you will have to write an essay specifically describing your research experience.  This essay and the letters of reference are the most important pieces of information we use to evaluate the strength of your application for the combined degree program.  

This essay is your opportunity to tell the committee more about yourself.  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 (if you have settled on any), and why you chose the Cornell University Combined DVM/PhD program. If there is anything else you think the committee should be aware of, please feel free to include that as well.

Following are some instructions on how to best organize your essay:

  • How did you become interested in research?
  • What is your research experience?
    • You might have worked on multiply projects but put the emphasis on the major project you were involved with.
  • What hypothesis the project was based on?
  • What was the rational for stating that hypothesis?
  • If there was no hypothesis, tell us what was the rational or justification for this research project.
  • What part of the project were you directly responsible for?
  • Were you able to determine whether your hypothesis was supported or not by your results.
  • Briefly discuss the results of your research project.
  • If you were to continue that project, what would be the important questions to address next?
  • What area(s) of research interest you?
  • Does Cornell have an active program in the area of research you are interested in.
    • Do your homework and look at our research program.
    • Avoid putting yourself in a corner with a specific project and a specific mentor. That is too risky. If you get accepted into the combined degree program, we will request that you choose a lab that has an active and funded research program, because your PhD mentor is not only responsible for training you as a scientist, but they will also be responsible for paying your stipend and tuition during your studies and financially supporting the research project.  
  • What do you like most about research?
  • Why is it important for you to do a combined degree?

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 receive approximately 35 applications per year for the combined degree 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 4-5 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.

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