Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Curriculum

The DVM Curriculum incorporates Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and hands-on labs to immerse students in active learning, problem-solving, and case-based learning from their very first day.  Read more about the overall DVM curriculum here.

For students interested in Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, a variety of elective courses can be taken during Distribution periods during the academic year, as well as field courses during breaks.  Funding is available for international experiences completed over the summer through Expanding Horizons and Engaged Cornell.

Elective Distribution Courses
Conservation Medicine (VTMED 6735)
Veterinary Medicine in Developing Nations (VTMED 6723)
One Health: Conservation with Communities (VTMED 6743)
Clinical Management of Native Wildlife (VTMED 6728)
Veterinary Aspects of Captive Wildlife Management (VTMED 6527)
Fish Health Management (VTMED 6432)
Avian Biomedicine and Diseases (VTMED 6565)
Clinical Aspects of Non-Traditional Species (VTMED 6569)


Field courses
Field Techniques of International Wildlife Management (VTMED 6737) – this course allows to travel to Belize to work with the Zoological Medicine faculty at the Belize Zoo. Students have the opportunity to learn about the management of captive wildlife as well as assist with everything from physical exams to dental procedures on many amazing and endangered species. The Belize Zoo is a wonderful organization that has a strong conservation mission.

One Health: Conservation with Communities (VTMED 6743) is offered as a distribution class every spring semester. The class is cross-listed between the veterinary school and the undergraduate Department of Natural Resources. Students in the class can apply for a summer internship program that will allow for them to gain hands-on experience in the field of international species conservation! Four DVM and four undergraduate students from the class are selected for internships. One DVM student and one undergraduate student are paired together to intern at each of the four field sites. Two field sites are in Indonesia, where students partner with organizations like WWF and ALeRT on rhino conservation, while two field sites are in Africa (Uganda and Republic of Congo) where students work on chimpanzee conservation through the Jane Goodall Institute.

AQUAVET is a program in Aquatic Veterinary Medicine offered each summer by Cornell and held at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, where students gain classroom and laboratory hands-on experience with aquatic species. AQUAVET I is a 4-week course that serves as an Introduction to Aquatic Veterinary Medicine.  Students may choose to go on to AQUAVET II, a 2-week course on the Comparative Pathology of Aquatic Animals, and AQUAVET III, a 5-week course on the Clinical Aspects of Captive Aquatic Animal Medicine.  AQUAVET also holds a summer fellowship research program at the Fish Diagnostics Laboratory at Cornell, where students spend 8 weeks investigating a selected fish viral disease.

FARVets International is a 501c3 non-profit organization run by Cornell professor Dr. Paul Maza DVM PhD.  FARVets partners with grassroots animal welfare groups in Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Grenada, Nicaragua, and Bulgaria, and brings veterinary students to participate in spay and neuter clinics during school breaks.  FARVets aims to address overpopulation while contributing to education on preventative medicine, pet health, wellness, and the human-animal bond, while giving veterinary students meaningful international experience.


During their final year, students have the option of choosing a professional “track”, which helps to guide their clinical year rotations.  The tracks are as follows:

  • Small Animal
  • Large Animal
  • Mixed Animal
  • Zoo/Wildlife
  • Small Animal & Exotics

Students who complete the Zoo/Wildlife/Exotics elective rotation spend their time at the Exotic Pet Service at Cornell University Hospital for Animals, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, and the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center.

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