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Cornell University
College of Veterinary Medicine

Customized Learning Pathways

Course Structure

Our curriculum consists of approximately 70% foundation courses (required) and 30% distribution courses (elective).

This balance ensures that you receive a solid foundation in biomedical and clinical sciences through the foundation courses, while also enjoying significant flexibility to explore your interests with more than 80 distribution courses to choose from.

Distribution courses are typically taken during the spring semester of your first, second, and third years.

Clinical Pathways

At the end of your second year’s spring semester, you will select one of the six clinical pathway that will determine which clinical rotations you will need to take, as shown in the table below. (SA: Small Animal; LA: Large Animal; ECC: Emergency and Critical Care)



veterinarian with horse

Clinical rotations associated to each clinical pathway
Small Animal PathwayEquine PathwayGeneral (Mixed) PathwayExotic Pets/SA PathwayZoological Medicine PathwayProduction Animal Pathway
Primary Care SurgeryLA MedicineLA MedicineNeuro or SA MedicineSA or LA MedicineAmbulatory
SA Medicine or NeurologyLA SurgerySA or LA ECCPrimary Care SurgeryCardiology or Oncology or NeurologyAmbulatory
AnesthesiaLA SurgeryClinical NeurologySA ECC or Lab AnimalDentistry or AnesthesiaSpecial Topics Ambulatory
Clinical NeurologyLA ECCLA SurgeryDentistryTheriogenology or Lab AnimalSpecial Topics Ambulatory
SA ECCTheriogenologyAmbulatoryCardiology or OncologyWildlife or ExoticsTheriogenology
CardiologyEquine SpecialtyCardiology or OncologyWildlife or ExoticsWildlife or ExoticsLA Surgery
OncologyAnesthesia/NeurologyPrimary Care SurgeryWildlife or ExoticsWildlife or ExoticsPrimary Care Surgery

Elective Rotations

There are also opportunities to choose three elective rotations among those listed below and you may opt to arrange for some clinical experiences outside of the college.


  • Theriogenology
  • Cardiology
  • Clinical Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Clinical Pathology
  • Small Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery
  • Large Animal Emergency Critical Care
  • Primary Care Surgery Service
  • Lab Animal Medicine
  • Equine Specialty
  • Clinical Rotation in Shelter Medicine
  • Clinical Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Wildlife Medicine
  • Clinical Exotic Animal Medicine
  • Special Opportunities in Clinical Veterinary Medicine
  • Special Topics in Ambulatory and Production Animal Medicine

Teaching Projects, Special Projects, and Research Projects

You can design customized learning projects to work directly with our faculty on research, teaching, and other areas of interest.

You can also to take for-credit courses during winter and summer terms through programs such as the Expanding Horizons and international field trips with FARVets.