Vet Med Scholars Program

Biomedical researchers with a DVM and PhD have the skills to contribute new knowledge and solve problems in human, animal, and environmental health.

The Veterinary Medical Scholars Program (VMSP) enables students to combine the study of veterinary medicine with graduate study, leading to a PhD in a complementary field. Students in the VMSP are expected to fulfill all requirements of both the College of Veterinary Medicine and the graduate discipline. In cooperation with faculty advisors, students set a program of study that integrates the two degrees.


  • Students who are applying for admission to the DVM program and students who are in the first or second year of the DVM program may apply for VMSP admission.
  • Applicants must have extensive previous research experience and motivation toward a research-focused career.
  • Applicants must identify research interests and professional goals that demand integration of veterinary medicine with a second field and that cannot be accomplished with one degree alone.
  • Applicants must compete successfully for admission to the DVM program and must complete all DVM pre-requisites prior to joining the VMSP, regardless of whether the student will start in the DVM or PhD portion of the program.
  • Applicants must compete successfully for admission to a PhD program that meets their professional goals.


There is not a standard program of study for VMSP students. The program provides the flexibility students need to address their unique goals. Each student’s program of study is determined in consultation with the research advisor and graduate committee, according to the degree requirements of the graduate department. The program of study must be determined no later than the spring semester of the student’s first year in the program and is updated annually in consultation with the VMSP Director.

  • VMSP students may enter into the DVM program in the first year, or directly into the graduate program.
  • Because of the nature of the Illinois veterinary curriculum, it is unreasonable to expect that VMSP students can pursue DVM coursework and make significant progress on graduate/research requirements in the same academic year.
  • VMSP students are expected to make research progress during the summer between DVM program years.
  • VMSP students cannot complete more than 2 years in the DVM program without completing the PhD.


VMSP students in good academic standing are eligible for scholarship support to defray a portion of the DVM tuition and fees in the years following completion of the PhD. VMSP students are not paid a stipend while enrolled in the veterinary curriculum. Financial support during the years spent solely in the PhD program is negotiated between the student and the graduate program/department. Students with outstanding academic credentials usually are offered a tuition waiver and assistantship or fellowship to support graduate studies.


The VMSP application is distinct from the DVM application. Different committees handle admission to each program. Coordination between the programs is made by frequent communication between the college’s Office of Academic and Student Affairs (DVM admission) and Office of Research and Advanced Studies (VMSP admission). Applicants should not assume that the VMSP admissions committee can access any materials from the DVM application.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Director of the VMSP ( prior to submitting an application.

To apply for the VMSP, you must submit:

  1. A completed Admissions Application.
  2. Three letters of recommendation.  Two of the letters must be from a previous research supervisor.
  3. Official transcripts for all college-level coursework. Do not assume that transcripts can be accessed from your DVM program application.

Send the Admissions Application, letters of recommendation, and official transcripts as E-mail attachments to this address: Your files will be uploaded to a secure site.  You should receive prompt confirmation (by return E-mail) that your file was uploaded.  If you have questions whether your file was received, please send an inquiry to this address:

If regular mail is the only option for sending official transcripts, please send them to the following address: Office of Research and Advanced Studies University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
2001 South Lincoln Avenue, 3505 VMBSB
Urbana, IL 61802 

All application materials must be received before the deadline.

Application Timeline

  • The application deadline for the VMSP is November 10, 2024.
  • The VMSP admissions committee reviews applications and selects a pool of candidates for a video interview in late November/early December. Top candidates from the video interview are invited to visit campus to meet with the admissions committee and potential PhD mentors. Applicants may visit immediately or wait to coordinate the visit with the DVM program interview, typically held in mid- to late February.
  • VMSP offer letters are mailed in early March, in coordination with offers of admission to the DVM program.
  • Students must accept DVM and VMSP admission offers on or before April 15.