New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
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Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA
Carey Law School at the University of Pennsylvania

VMD/ML and VMD/Certificate in Law

Today, veterinarians are faced with unique challenges that may require specialized legal training in how to come up with new ways to solve complex policy issues related to animals, humans, and their environments. In an effort to address the ever-evolving challenges in veterinary medicine, Penn Vet now offers two new degree options: 

  • VMD/Master's Degree in Law
  • VMD/Certificate in Law

Questions About the VMD/ML or VMD/CL?

Want more information about the VMD/ML Program or the VMD/Certificate in Law? Contact us today.

Chipo Siantumbu

Why Combine a VMD with a Master's or Certificate in Law

Veterinarians trained in the law gain a solid understanding of the US Legal framework and are uniquely positioned to lead and respond to policies and threats such as food supply challenges, bioterrorism and pandemic-related issues. They are then able to apply this knowledge to their specific areas of interest, for instance, Animal Law. Other areas of interest may include:

  • Employment contracts and noncompete agreements
  • Prescribing, dispensing, and administering FDA approved versus compounded drugs
  • Human resource and employment law issues; laws relating to ownership of pets with or without microchips
  • Companion animal welfare (e.g., dangerous dog laws),
  • Food animal welfare
  • Legal issues involved in the racehorse industry as well as the performance horse world
  • Recognition, and mandatory reporting, of suspected animal cruelty

About the Program

The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine/Master in Law (VMD/ML) dual-degree program allows students to earn both degrees in four years. Similarly, students enrolled in the VMD/Certificate of Law are able to complete their studies within their four years of veterinary education.

Penn Carey Law’s Master and Certificate program expose students to legal fundamentals and allows them to customize the experience through electives, including those offered via the JD program.

Depending on their course choices, veterinarians trained in these programs gain insights into issues and approaches that will affect their own practice, the industries they enter, and the clients and patients they treat. By attending classes with graduate students, faculty and staff from multiple departments and professions, VMD/ML students also become part of a uniquely interdisciplinary network of colleagues.

VMD/ML students typically will be in residence at Penn Vet for the four years that would be standard for the VMD program but would be considered a law student during summer sessions.  Students may take one law class per academic semester in their pre-clinical years.

While the American Bar Association does not permit students in neither the master’s nor certificate programs to sit for the Bar exam or to practice law, graduates of this program receive broad based education in the law and enhance their ability to advocate for their profession, colleagues, clients, and patients. 

About Mentorship

In addition to the mentorship students receive through their individual programs, each School designates an individual to work specifically with dual degree applicants to ensure that they receive individualized advising and guidance from the moment they are accepted into the Dual Degree program.

How to Apply

Separate applications and acceptances are required for both the ML/CL and VMD degrees. Students interested in the dual degree option will be required to submit a separate application and articulate their interests and career aspirations. Applications to the dual degree program will be evaluated in conjunction with student’s essays, transcripts, and CVs/resumes. Ideal applicants will be those with a strong academic track record and well-articulated intention of integrating an informed understanding of the law with their professional careers. Veterinary students may apply to the dual degree program during the fall of their first or second years.

  • Prospective ML students: Contact the ML Program Admissions at
  • Prospective VMD students: Contact the Vet Admissions Office at  215-898-5434 or
  • Prospective VMD students interested in the dual degree option: Contact Chipo Siantumbu at
  • Accepted ML students: Contact Catharine Restrepo, Esq., and Natalie Green
  • Accepted Vet students interested in the dual degree option: Contact Chipo Siantumbu at

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.

Apply Today

Financial Aid

All Dual Degree students are eligible for financial aid as per policies associated with their home schools. Additionally, to further support students in their pursuit of interdisciplinary learning, Penn Vet absorbs the cost of up to 3 CUs taken outside the Vet school during the Fall and Spring Semesters. Furthermore, additional courses (beyond the 3CUs) taken during the academic year will be charged to students at the tuition exchange rate (the discounted tuition rate that is charged by the teaching school when they are not the home school). Additionally, eligible students may apply and receive need-based aid. Finally, the Law school generously offers a scholarship for one summer ML course for each VMD/ML and VMD/CL candidate.