Colorado State Launches First Combined Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Masters of Business Degree

The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the College of Business at Colorado State University have launched the first program in North America combining the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Masters of Business Administration degree.

Beginning in the fall semester of 2002, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences will accept five outstanding students from that year’s pool of applicants who express interest in the combined program. Admission to the veterinary medicine program will be guaranteed, but the first year of veterinary school will be delayed until the student successfully completes the first year of the MBA program. The remaining requirements of the MBA program will then be fulfilled concurrently with the first two years of the veterinary program. This is a five-year program, compared to the four-year Professional Veterinary Medicine Program.

A similar program for students of human medicine has been offered at a number of medical schools in the United States for about ten years. No such dual degree program in veterinary medicine has existed until now.

The Evening MBA Program, which will serve as a basis for the combined program, is designed as a 22-month, 36 credit program. Emphasis is placed on information technology, global issues and teamwork.

"One of my goals on accepting the position of Dean was to enhance the business knowledge and skills of our graduating veterinarians," said Dr. Lance Perryman, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "This is an ideal venture for two colleges with such exceptional national reputations. The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is rapidly becoming recognized as the leading school in the nation training veterinarians today."

One factor that led to this educational initiative was a 1999 groundbreaking study of the veterinary medical profession. Commissioned by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association, the study revealed that, "although the scientific and clinical skills of the profession remain very high, veterinarians lack some of the skills and aptitudes that result in economic success."

Conducted by KMPG LLP Economic Consulting Services, the survey also highlights the results of a series of focus groups comprised of practicing veterinarians. Although owning a private practice is still seen as the standard for success, most participants said that nothing in their veterinary medical education prepared them for the management requirements of private practice. Nor, most agreed, had they received enough communication, management, and other skills necessary for non-private practice.

Another advantage of the combined program, administrators of both colleges agree, is providing students insight into other options within the field of veterinary medicine and giving them the credentials to pursue them.

"To qualify for admission to the combined program, we are seeking outstanding applicants to the veterinary medicine program with significant work experience, the organizational skills and aptitude to succeed with the additional course work, and most importantly, the motivation to enlarge their skills set and contribute to a new direction in our professions." said Dr. Marty Fettman, Associate Dean for the Professional Veterinary Medicine Program.

Dr. Randy Willer, who 5 years ago developed a private practice, Veterinary Specialists of Northern Colorado in Fort Collins, enrolled in the Colorado State MBA program last fall. He entered the program, he said, for both personal and professional growth.

"I want to maintain what I’ve built," Willer said. "I’ve learned business strategies, leadership, life strategies and team dynamics. Our profession is a business, too. Each day we interact with staff, clients, lawyers, vendors, bankers and city and state government agents. We need to be good managers and good members of the business community, as well as good representatives of our profession."

Dr. Jeff Zaruby, an equine veterinarian and veterinary consultant, who is also currently enrolled in the MBA program at Colorado State, agrees. The CSU combined program, he observed, seems to be very well paced, well structured and will definitely spark new career opportunities.

"This is a very prudent approach. Rather than compressing two programs into one four-year program, and thereby diluting both, a student can focus on fulfilling those first year business requirements uninterrupted," said Zaruby. "Students are going to emerge with an even better set of career options-options they weren’t even aware of before."

"As faculty and administrators, we recognized a need in the marketplace and came together to deliver a solution. This program stands as a testimony to the power of teamwork and cooperation," said Ajay Menon, Executive Assistant Dean of the College of Business.

More so than many other programs, the combined DVM/MBA will require students to rely on teamwork, communication and sharing information.

"One of the fundamental purposes of this program is to broaden horizons and open minds," said Linda Morita, Coordinator of Graduate Programs at the College of Business. "That these students, from very different backgrounds and with a different focus, will interact and learn from one another is a real advantage for each of them."

The College of Business also offers a Distance MBA Program that is very highly regarded. In fact, 26 years ago, Colorado State was the first university to offer an MBA degree via a distance-learning program. Its Distance MBA is ranked among the top 50 cyber-MBA programs in the nation.

"The evening program works better for the combined degree because of the student-to-student interactions," Menon said. "A veterinarian in practice, who requires more flexibility, could still earn an MBA through the distance program."

For more information about the combined DVM/MBA program, call (970) 491-7051 or visit or