Curriculum: Coordinating the Two Degrees
Students in the Veterinary Scientist Training Program (VSTP) are enrolled in the DVM curriculum of the School of Veterinary Medicine and a PhD program administered by the Office of Graduate Studies.
The DVM program at UC Davis extends for four years. The first two years, largely preclinical, start in the fall of the entering year and proceed for four semesters, until May of the second year. The third year is devoted to track specific clinically related courses. Fourth year begins immediately at the end of the third year (May) and is composed of core and elective rotations.
DVM students in years one and two (V1 and V2) are highly encouraged to apply for the Student Training in Advanced Research (STAR) fellowship program. This fellowship program provides students the opportunity to participate in research over the summer between 1) V1 and V2 and 2) V2 and PhD1. More information on STAR can be found here. The 10-week STAR fellowship program can be counted as a part of the participating graduate group’s rotation requirements. Students may choose the STAR faculty mentor as his/her PhD advisor. Together, substantial time is saved to make the time to the PhD degree within ~4 years.
The students’ PhD program is guided under the mentorship of thesis advisors, participating graduate program advisors, and the students’ dissertation committees along with mentoring input from the VSTP Director. The average time to PhD is 3.65 years.
To ease the transition from graduate studies to the last two clinical years (V3 and V4) of the VSTP program, VSTP students have an opportunity to take a 2-week intensive clinical rotation at our Veterinary Teaching Hospital each summer, which has proven to be very helpful to our past VSTP students. Additionally, peer assistance is particularly helpful as the VSTP students in DVM year four (V4) have just completed this transition and are able to provide a practical guidance to students in DVM year three (V3). Figure 1 below shows the typical progression in the DVM-PhD program, along with related training and milestones each year. Upon completion of both degree programs our students successfully move on to internships, residencies, postdoctoral research positions, and career appointments.