New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
Emergencies & Appointments:
Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA
The VMD curriculum

VMD Curriculum

Penn Vet’s curriculum is designed to prepare our students for new career pathways, as well as traditional clinical practice.  Its cross-disciplinary approach encourages collaboration among peer practitioners and researchers.  Its allegiance to the principle of One Health fosters a perspective that links the wellbeing of humans, animals, and the environment.

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Noah Shulman, V21

Favorite Core Class: Clinical Pathology

Noah Shulman, V'21
V'21 Penn Vet Class President

"There are so many fascinating disease processes and the body's response to injury is remarkable!"

  • Course Description: The primary goal of this course is to correctly analyze and interpret clinical pathology laboratory tests (complete blood count, chemistry panel, urinalysis, endocrine tests, to to assess and characterize function or dysfunction of various body systems.

Our students benefit from Penn Vet’s commitment to making veterinary medicine more inclusive.  Their educational experience is also enriched through interactions with the vibrant, multifaceted biomedical establishment in and around both the University of Pennsylvania and the larger Philadelphia region, with its many facilities in healthcare, research, and technology.

The Core Curriculum

The Core Curriculum is the central component of a Penn Vet education.  Course requirements for the entire first and second years are based on this curriculum, as are the courses for the fall term of the third year. In the spring term of the third year, students move into the clinical aspect of the curriculum. In the fourth year, the Core Curriculum is combined with foundation clinical rotations.  All students must complete the entire Core Curriculum, while also satisfying clinical competency requirements for each class year.

The VMD Curriculum

  • First Year
  • Second Year
    Core Curriculum
    Quarters 1+2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4
    • General and Systemic Pathology
    • Parasitology
    • Microbiology
    • Surgical Principles
    • Intro to Clinical Veterinary Medicine IV (ICVM IV)
    • Pharmacology & Toxicology
    • Intro Poultry/Swine/Dairy
    • Medicine/Surgery I
    • Clinical Pathology
    • Orthopedics
    • ICVM IV (cont'd)
    • Pharmacology/Toxicology (cont'd)
    • Epidemiology
    • Veterinary Public Health
    • Infectious & Metabolic Diseases
    • Medicine/Surgery I (cont'd)
    • Clinical Pathology (cont'd)
    • Anesthesia
    • Intro to Clinical Veterinary Medicine IV (ICVM IV) (cont'd)
    Quarters 1+2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4
    •  Intro to Animal Welfare
    • Ongoing Electives: Shelter Surgical Opportunities I-III
    • Equine Neonatology & Int. Care
    • One Health & Global Food
    • One Health Study Design
    • Swine Neonatology
    • Swine Husbandry
    • Equine Neonatology & Int. Care (Cont'd)
    • One Health & Global Food (Cont'd)
    • One Health Study Design (Cont'd)
    • Swine Neonatology
    • Swine Husbandry
  • Third Year
    Core Curriculum
    Quarters 1+2 Quarter 2
     Quarter 3
    Quarter 4
    • Vet. Medical Genetics
    • Reproduction
    • Med/Surg II
    • Vet. Ethical Issues
    • ICVM V
    • Clinical Exercises
    • Electives*
    • Med/Surg III
    • Dermatology
    • Clinical Animal Behavior
    • Clinical Exercises (Cont'd)
    • Emerging and Exotic Diseases of Animals
    • ICVM V
    • Electives*


    • Large Animal Block Electives


    • Small Animal Block Electives
    Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4
    • Ecological Epidemiology*
    • Animal Production Systems
    • Epidemic Infectious Disease*
    • Swine Neonatology
    • Swine Husbandry
    • Hematopoiesis*
    • Diag. of Common Vet Intox.
    • Intro to Companion Avian Medicine
    • Professional Foundations
    • Pet Small Mammal Med/Surg
    • Ecotoxicology for Vets
    • Microbial Pathogenesis

    Ongoing electives:

    • Shelter Student Shelter Opportunities I-III
    • Developmental Biology*
    • Comparative Cancer Biology and Immunology
    • Dis & Mng Sheep & Goats
    • Animal Health Economics
    • Clinical Biostatistics
    • Eq. & Farm An. Anesthesia
    • Swine Neonatology
    • Swine Husbandry
    • Intro to Reptile & Amphibian Medicine
    • Legal Issues for Veterinarians
    • Large Animal Medicine
    • Adv. Poultry Medicine
    • Dairy Cattle Nutrition
    • Large Animal Reproduction
    • Large Animal Reproduction
    • Large Animal Surgery
    • Equine Lameness
    • Equine Orthopedics
    • Exercise Physiology
    • Large Animal Diagnostic Imaging
    • Swine Neonatology
    • Swine Husbandry
    • Large Animal Pathology
    • Topics in Neurology
    • Small Animal Clinical Nutrition
    • Small Animal Surgery
    • Small Animal Surgery/Anesthesia Lab.
    • Small Animal Anesthesia
    • Emergency/Critical Care Medicine
    • Small Animal Dentistry/Oral Surgery
    • Practice Management
    • Intro. to Shelter Animal Medicine
    • Small Animal Critical Care Medicine
    • Case Studies in Special Species
    • Advanced Cardiology
    • Advanced E & A
    • Clinical Appl. of Pharmacology
    • Swine Neonatology
    • Swine Husbandry
    • Laboratory Animal Medicine
  • Fourth Year
    Core Curriculum
    Quarter 0 Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4
    • Rotations 1-8
    • Rotations 9-12
    • Rotations 13-16
    • Rotations 17-20
    • Rotations 21-25
    Quarter 0 Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4
    • Rotations 1-8
    • Rotations 9-12
    • Rotations 13-16
    • Rotations 17-20
    • Rotations 21-25

Ester Yang, V'19Fourth Year-Clinical Rotations: Ester Yang

Ester Yang, V'19

"The best part about fourth year is the faculty mentorship. We get to work with a variety of clinicians and gain different perspectives on veterinary medicine."

About Elective Courses

Elective courses are available throughout the Penn Vet curriculum, with the most diverse range of electives concentrated in the third and fourth years.  

Lindsay Evans, V'22

Favorite Elective: Wildlife Medicine 

Lindsay Evans, V'22

"This course was so interesting. I was able to explore an area of veterinary medicine I was previously unfamiliar with. And when we visited Tristate Bird Rescue, I held a bird for the first time!"

  • Course Description: The purpose of this course is to provide an overview on wildlife medicine and rehabilitation. The course covers topics ranging from zoo medicine, marine life, wildlife pathology, and types of work, including academia, state agencies, the Federal Government, conservation, and rehabilitation.

Choosing an Academic Major

In their third year, Penn Vet students choose an academic major  from the following choices: 

Penn Vet Academic Majors
Small Animal
  • Small Animal
Large Animal
  • Large Animal
Food Animal
  • Food Animal
  • Equine
mixed large and small major
  • Mixed (Large Animal/Small Animal)

Dual Degree Programs 

Students may choose to pursue a dual degree program, such as the VMD/PhD, VMD/MBA, or VMD/MPH. In addition to an increased course load and a greater time commitment, these programs have a number of requirements above and beyond the VMD degree. 

Independent Studies and Externships

Our extensive elective Independent Study program allows you to earn academic credit for activities beyond the regularly structured core and elective courses.

You may also earn academic credit for externship experiences during the clinical year at certain approved sites, including other vet schools, zoos, shelters, government agencies, and private practices.

Field Service Food animal 400 tp

Favorite First-Year Core Course: ICVM I

  • Course Title: "Introduction to Clinical Veterinary Medicine"
  • Offered: First Year, Fall, Winter, Spring Semesters

Course Overview

  • 16 hours lecture
  • Infectious disease tutorial
  • Instructional videos: Physical exam of dog and cat
  • 2 hrs small group: Physical exam labs: 1 hr cat, 1 hr dog
  • Equine behavior and body language tutorial
  • Biosecurity video and lessons
  • Clinical experiences: Ryan Hospital, New Bolton Center


  • Hands on experience with animals from Day One in your first year
  • Helps to make the connection between the theory we learn in class and the actual animal we would be caring for

About Academic Departments at Penn Vet

Penn Vet's dedicated and distinguished faculty members bring a diverse range of academic backgrounds and unique perspectives to their research and teaching. Organized into four departments, our faculty conduct research at every level, from the fundamental aspects of molecular and cellular biology to translational research, clinical trials and human-animal interaction.