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VMD/MSTR Program

The VMD/Master of Science in Translational Research (MSTR) combined degree is geared toward students who wish to become leaders of translational research. Housed within the ITMAT Education in the Perelman School of Medicine, the MSTR is designed to provide students with in-depth instruction in the fundamental skills, methodology, and principles necessary to become a well-trained translational investigator. 

Questions About the VMD/MSTR?

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

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Why Combine a VMD with a Master’s of Science in Translational Research

The Master of Science in Translational Research is an ideal, rigorous training program for veterinary students interested in integrating the practice of medicine with research focused on developing new approaches, therapies, devices and diagnostics to treat disorders and disease.  Veterinarians with an MSTR are poised to pursue careers in academia, government, and industry - as leaders and collaborators in inspiring medical advances that serve both animals and humans.

Curriculum and Program Structure

The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine/Master of Science in Translational Research  (VMD/MSTR) dual-degree program allows students to earn both degrees in five to five and a half years. Students enrolled in the dual degree program must complete the requirements of each individual dual degree program, however, students may count 3 CUs (18 Credits) from the MSTR toward the VMD Degree.

On its own, the MSTR degree is a 12 CU (72 CR) program, consisting of the following courses:

  • MTR 600 Introduction to Biostatistics or VSCN 634 Clinical Biostatistics
  • MTR 601 Scientific Review Writing
  • MTR 602 Proposal Development and Study Design
  • MTR 603 Disease Measurement or VSCN 649 Large Animal Diagnostic Imaging
  • MTR 604 Scientific and Ethical Conduct or VMED 617 Ethical Issues
  • MTR 605 Manuscript Writing
  • MTR 999 Lab Units (2 CU)
  • MTR 607 and 608 (2 CU) Thesis Credits
  • 2 CU Elective Courses
  • Research Project and Oral/Written Thesis Defense

Veterinary students may count the following courses toward their VMD degree (up to 3 CUs):

  • MTR 600 Introduction to Biostatistics for VSCN 634 Clinical Biostatistics
  • MTR 604 Scientific and Ethical Conduct for VMED 617 Ethical Issues
  • Elective Courses


In addition, to the core set of courses, students choose an academic pathway to concentrate in a specific area of translational science:


VMD students begin MSTR coursework in the Summer after Year Three in the VMD Program and devote 6 terms to MSTR coursework and research.  In the Spring of Year Five, they return to primary VMD and complete any remaining clinical requirements to graduate with their VMD/MSTR.

You can review a sample curricular plan here.


There are two steps to applying to the program:

  1. Veterinary students must first apply to the VMD+ Dual Degree program in their first or second year of their VMD studies. Applications open each October through December, and students are notified via email once the application is open.
  2. Students must also apply to the Master of Science in Translational Research Program during the Fall semester of their second year. The combined application form for the MSTR and TL1 training grant for MD/MSTR candidates and instructions for submission are available on the MSTR Application and TL1 Grant Funding webpage. Please refer to the MSTR website for application deadlines.

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. The MSTR student handbook, mentor compact and additional resources are available here.

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. 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). Finally, eligible students may apply and receive need-based aid. 

More specifically, through its Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT), the MSTR program offers a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA). Selected students are appointed a TL1 award and receive $20,200 toward tuition and a stipend of $26,352 (prorated, paid monthly during year 1 of the program. This amount is subject to change by NIH policy).