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VMD/MES provides students with skills for environmental impact.

VMD/MES Program

Veterinarians are poised to influence policies and practices that have direct impact on the environment. Trained to recognize the interdependency of animal, human and environmental health - an understanding referred to as One Health – we are acutely aware of the effect environments have on animal health, as well as the effect animals, particularly livestock, have on the environment.

With the growing role of veterinary medicine in wildlife and ecosystem health, and the increasingly critical environmental issues developing throughout the world, veterinarians with expertise in environmental science are ideally suited and trained to play an important role in addressing these growing global challenges.

Questions About the VMD/MES?

Want more information about the VMD/MES Program? Contact us today.

About the One Health VMD+ Dual Degree Program

The One Health VMD+ Dual Degree program is designed to position students to solve problems at the interface of animal, human, and environmental health. 

The program welcomes first and second-year students seeking to pursue interdisciplinary studies in one of the following specialties:

  • Environmental studies (VMD/MES)
  • Public Health (VMD/MPH)
  • Business (VMD/MBA)
  • Law (VMD/ML or VMD/CL)
  • Translational Research (VMD/MSTR)
  • Social Work (VMD/MSW)

Interested students may apply to these dual degree programs by submitting an application online during our intake periods between October - December each year. A second application - directly to the School - may be required for some programs.

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About the Program

The VMD/MES dual degree program is offered jointly by Penn Vet and Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences. This unique combined degree offers students the opportunity to earn a professional degree in Veterinary Medicine (VMD) and a Masters in Environmental Studies (MES) concurrently.

  • A Multi-disciplinary Approach

    The MES Program offers a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of the environment bringing together researchers and practitioners in the physical, biological, health and social sciences with professionals in planning, business, health care, and law to address myriad problems affecting the environment now and our sustainability for the future.

    This multi-disciplinary approach provides graduates with the breadth of knowledge necessary to address the complex nature of the environment as well as the depth of specific expertise in fields such as resource management, sustainability, policy, and urban resilience and adaptation.


  • How the VMD/MES Works

    This dual degree program is designed with cross-counted electives that also fulfill vet school requirements so that students can complete both degrees in five years or less, providing students with unique training, positioning them to lead and contribute to interprofessional teams that can advance innovative approaches to enhance environmental and agricultural sustainability, as well as global biodiversity – key challenges in our present and future.

  • When Can I Apply?

    Veterinary students may apply prior to entering vet school or during the fall of their first or second years. Ideal applicants will be those with a mature understanding of issues at the interface of animal and environmental health, a strong academic track record, and a well-articulated intention of integrating skills in environmental studies with their professional careers.

  • About the Capstone Project

    During the first spring semester of the program, each student selects a capstone project, which is an independent, research exercise that demonstrates the student's mastery of the subject matter. The capstone documents the student's ability to define a research question; design a protocol to address that question; acquire the data necessary to clarify, if not resolve, that question; critically assess the quality of the data acquired; draw defensible conclusions from those data; and communicate that process and those conclusions to professional colleagues with clarity and precision. For the dual degree, the project will be related to veterinarian medicine and the environment and can be related to the student’s clinical work.

VMD/MES Graduates: A Growing Need

  • Conservation of indigenous wildlife populations with attention to genetic diversity and fitness in both disease resistance and reproduction.
  • Infectious disease ecology, surveillance, control, and preventive measures at the wildlife-domestic animal and wildlife-human interface.
  • The design, implementation, study, and refinement of rehabilitated aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems characterized by reduced threats of toxicologic and infectious diseases and invasive species, as well as improvements in biodiversity.
  • Siting and management of food-animal production medicine in ways that enable recovery of biodiversity in nearby agricultural landscapes, natural areas, streams, corridors, and buffer zones.
  • The diagnosis and prevention of the adverse impacts of chemical pollutants through knowledge and skills in clinical and diagnostic veterinary toxicology, regulatory toxicology, environmental toxicology, and wildlife/ecological toxicology.

How to Apply

Separate applications and acceptances are required for both the MES and VMD degrees. Students interested in the dual degree option will be required to articulate their interests and career aspirations in a separate essay and interview that will be evaluated in conjunction with all application material provided to Penn Vet, by the VMD/MES Advisory Team.

Veterinary students may apply prior to entering vet school or during the fall of their first or second years. Ideal applicants will be those with a mature understanding of issues at the interface of animal and environmental health, a strong academic track record, and a well-articulated intention of integrating skills in environmental studies with their professional careers.

Career Options for VMD/MES graduates

Veterinarians with an understanding of and training in environmental science can interact with wildlife and ecosystem in the following ways:

  • Health management of free-ranging wildlife populations
  • Zoo animal medicine
  • Aquatic wildlife and marine mammal health
  • Wildlife rehabilitation
  • Environmental, wildlife, or ecological toxicology

The careers of veterinarians who assume such responsibilities may focus on diagnostics, basic and applied research, and/or stewardship activities.

Gary Tabor, VMD, MES, Center for Large Landscape Conservation

Profile - Gary Tabor, VMD, MES

Gary is the President of the Center for Large Landscape Conservation in Bozeman, Montana. His notable conservation achievements include:

  • Helping to establish Kibale National Park in Uganda
  • Establishing the World Bank’s Mountain Gorilla Conservation Trust
  • Championing the creation of the Yellowstone-to-Yukon Conservation Initiative Y2Y
  • Founding the Consortium for Conservation Medicine with EcoHealth Alliance, Harvard Medical School, John Hopkins School of Public Health, and Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Instigating the creation of the Australia Environmental Grantmakers Association
  • Establishing Wilburforce Foundation’s conservation science program and Y2Y field office in Bozeman
  • Catalyzing the Western Governors Association Wildlife Corridor Initiative
  • Co-founding Patagonia Company’s Freedom-to-Roam campaign to advance wildlife corridor conservation

Gary is currently Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas' Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group.  Gary has academic affiliations with the University of Wisconsin - Global Health Initiative, Colorado State University's Salazar Center for North American Conservation, and the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland Australia.