Graduate Program

Goals of VCS Graduate Program (MS/PhD degrees) 

Advanced training in Veterinary Clinical Sciences at the MS or PhD level is designed to enhance competitiveness and scholarship. The objective of this program is to provide students with the tools to conduct original research in clinical sciences of small, large, and exotic animals. The faculty of this department is specialized in a wide range of clinical disciplines including surgery, internal medicine, pharmacology, oncology, diagnostic imaging, dermatology, ophthalmology, theriogenology, anesthesia & analgesia and in basic and applied research in comparative orthopedics. Collaborative research with Pathobiological Sciences and Comparative Biological Sciences departments in the School of Veterinary Medicine, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and LSU Ag Center provides latitude in the design of study programs. Overall, our training programs are designed to prepare students for a teaching or research career at an academic institution, in industry or in government.

Two Advanced Training Programs in Veterinary Clinical Sciences

  1. Advanced training toward the MS or PhD degree combined with a clinical residency training program (avian/exotic animal medicine and surgery, equine medicine, equine surgery, small animal surgery or theriogenology). A DVM degree or equivalent is required for this program. Specific goals of this advanced training in clinical sciences include
    1. To provide post DVM students coursework and advanced training in clinical specialty areas of veterinary medicine to augment the clinical training for certification by one of the veterinary specialty boards
    2. To provide post DVM students seeking certification by one of the veterinary specialty boards experience in clinical research
    3. To provide post DVM students advanced training in clinical instruction and to allow students to perform some didactic instruction in preparation for a faculty position in a veterinary school
    4. To provide post DVM students seeking specialty board certification advanced training in applied research in veterinary medicine so that graduates have skills necessary to conduct independent research
  2. Advanced training toward a MS or PhD degree without clinical training. 
    1. To provide post-baccalaureate, DVM, or DVM + residency students graduate level research training in preparation for a career in research or academia.

A primary objective of a graduate program is to train the student to perform effective, independent research. The essence of research is problem solving and, therefore, you must learn to precisely define the problem, design meaningful experiments to test a proposed hypothesis, conduct experiments and collect data in a careful and precise manner, analyze and evaluate collected data, and finally, draw logical conclusions from the research data. 

It is vital for students to develop skills in communication to teach students and clientèle and to convey scholarly findings to the veterinary, scientific, and lay community. This skill will be developed in the clinic while working with students, faculty, clients and referring veterinarians, in clinic rounds discussions as a discussant and as a discussion leader, in a journal club discussion format and in the department seminar series.


Applications and supporting materials for all graduate study must be submitted via the online application site for the LSU Graduate School. Upon Graduate School request, official transcripts from other institutions must be sent electronically directly from the institution to the Graduate School using or by mail to the Graduate Admissions Office, 114 West David Boyd Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803. Official GRE score results must be sent electronically directly to the Graduate School using Institution Code 6373. Official test scores and materials that come from third-party sources must be sent to: Graduate Student Services, 114 West David Boyd Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.These documents are stored electronically and departments have access to all materials submitted by and/or on behalf of a student applying to graduate study.

Applicants must have a DVM (or equivalent) degree or a bachelor’s degree. Applicants for combined residency/MS programs must apply through the Veterinary Intern & Residency Matching Program. Candidates for the combined residency/MS programs must have a DVM or equivalent degree; must have completed a rotating internship or equivalent training; and must submit a letter of intent, transcript of grades from veterinary school, and three letters of reference in accordance with the guidelines listed on the website. To qualify for the combined residency/MS program, applicants must satisfy all criteria for residency training and Graduate School admission. 

Applications are accepted at any time but are evaluated only after all supporting documents and credentials (official transcripts, official GRE scores, Graduate School application for admission, application fee) have been received. Application should be initiated at least six months prior to anticipated entry. One of the graduate faculty members of the department must have accepted you as a student in his/her laboratory before admission will be considered.

Unconditional admission to the Graduate School for MS and PhD programs requires that applicants score at least 300 on the GRE (verbal plus quantitative scores) and have an overall grade point average in veterinary or undergraduate school of at least 3.00 on an “A” = 4.0 scale. Foreign nationals from countries where English is not the first language must have a TOEFL score of at least 550 on the paper-based test or 79 on the Internet-based test, have an IELTS score of at least 6.5, or have a PTE score of at least 59 and meet standards of proficiency in English as required by the Graduate School.

Financial Assistance

The salary for combined residency/MS programs is listed on the Veterinary Internship/Residency Matching Program website. Stipends, fellowships, and assistantships from various sources are available on a competitive basis for master and doctoral students not enrolled in residency programs.


The department supports a well-equipped veterinary referral hospital with specialty services in anesthesia; bird, zoo and exotic animal medicine; small animal medicine; cardiology; small animal soft tissue and orthopedic surgery; dermatology; emergency and critical care; equine medicine; equine surgery; large animal medicine; integrative medicine; medical oncology; ophthalmology; radiation oncology; diagnostic imaging; shelter medicine and theriogenology. The department has laboratories equipped for physiological research, cell biology, membrane physiology, PCR technology, gene expression, kinesiology, biomechanical testing, stem cell biology, and assisted reproduction. In addition, support from a full-capability gene research laboratory; cell and organ culture facilities; fluorescent activated cell sorting and analysis; cytokine, lymphokine and monoclonal antibody techniques; and a microscopy center with confocal and electron microscopy provide for diverse research endeavors. The department forms the base of the interdepartmental Equine Health Studies Program and is supported by well-equipped animal facilities.

Graduate Degree Disclosure

While licensure or certification may be available in your field of study, our program does not directly lead to licensure or certification upon graduation. The professional preparation you receive in our program may contribute to the educational requirements for licensure in certain areas of biomedical research and may assist you in such pursuits; however, the licensing authority and requirements for specific areas of biomedical expertise falls under the jurisdiction of the licensing board for the state, territory, or foreign entity in which the individual practices. If you intend to pursue such credentialing in your state or elsewhere, we strongly advise you to contact the applicable state credentialing authority to familiarize yourself with its specific requirements. Alternatively, you are welcome to contact Dr. Rhonda Cardin ( with questions in this regard and we will do our best to assist you in your career planning.

My Complaint Wasn’t Resolved by LSU

In the event that you have exhausted all informal and formal procedures through LSU at the institutional level, you may submit a written complaint to the Louisiana Board of Regents or to SACSCOC. They will attempt to facilitate a resolution. See below for details:

Students can file a complaint (after going through the grievance policies of the institution) to SACSCOC using the following form sent via ground mail to:


Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

1866 Southern Lane

Decatur, GA 30033-4097

And to the state authorization agency (if a distance education student and is unable to resolve the complaint through the grievance policies of the institution) using the following form to:

Louisiana Board of Regents

P.O. Box 3677

Baton Rouge, LA


ATTN: SARA Student Complaints