Selectives Program

An opportunity to personalize one’s education, explore specific areas of interest, and grow professionally.

The program is designed to develop clinical, research, and discipline-based skills; foster networking; provide experiences that will influence career opportunities; and cultivate desirable personal attitudes in, and behaviors of, future members of the veterinary profession.

Students complete a minimum of 3 selective credits during the first five semesters of the DVM program, emphasizing one or more areas of special interest. Students may either enroll in a sustained program, such as a combined degree program, or they may experiment with several different interest options.

Student Testimonials

Exotic Animals

Community Medicine


Popular Selectives

There are a multitude of exciting and unique opportunities for our students to explore through clinical, research, service outreach, and didactic course selectives. In addition to some of the more popular selectives listed below, students will find a complete listing with descriptions in our Selectives Guide:

Shelter Medicine

These courses and clinical experiences attract students interested in learning about, and gaining experience in, shelter medicine. Options range from the study of animal welfare, veterinary forensics, and small animal medicine including emergency care, diagnostics, pathology, and vaccinations, to hands-on experience in urban shelters and farm sanctuaries.

Wildlife Clinic

Selectives at the Wildlife Clinic engage students in the daily functions of the clinic and introduce them to hands-on wildlife care. They participate in daily patient rounds; procedures such as anesthesia, radiology, surgery, and necropsy; and didactic lectures in subjects such as avian radiology, ophthalmology, and neonatal care.  Additionally, students observe close interactions with state and Federal wildlife agencies, wildlife rehabilitators, public health officials, and other animal organizations such as MSPCA and Animal Rescue League.

Lab Animal Medicine

These selectives are designed to introduce students to the use of animals in biomedical research and the role of the laboratory animal veterinarian. Possible activities include presentations on regulatory control of research animal use, animal models in biomedical research, and ethical use of animals; a laboratory animal anatomy module including three dissection labs; tours of rodent and primate facilities; and mock Animal Care and Use Committee meetings.

Community Medicine

Various opportunities exist for the student interested in community medicine and service. Support programs such as the Pet Loss Hotline and Paws for People; our affordable-care community clinic, Tufts at Tech; and educational outreach programs like Gap Junction provide important training to our students and invaluable services to the surrounding communities.

Large Animal Medicine

The Large Animal Hospital on campus provides students hands-on experience with out-patient/inpatient cases, including critically ill newborn foals in the neonatal intensive care unit. Other opportunities include a popular selective for second year students on clinical equine exercise physiology and various clinical experiences in area practices and veterinary hospitals.

How Selectives Work

Students at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine have available the equivalent of one afternoon a week each semester for the first five semesters of the DVM program to devote to professional or personal development in the form of a selective. Students are fully integrated into the daily activities of their selected discipline, clinical, research, or service-based experience.

A minimum of 3 selective credits, earned during the semester or summer, is required. First year students are strongly encouraged to wait until their second semester to start their selectives. An orientation meeting for the first year class in early November helps students choose a selective and organizes a lottery to distribute the most popular selectives. There are many possible selectives, both on and off of the Cummings School campus, listed in the Selectives Guide. Students may also design self-styled selectives to further pursue opportunities in their particular areas of interest.

Mentors of the Selectives programs are required to give a pass or fail grade for each selective. Whenever possible, students and mentors have the option to renew their selective for subsequent semesters. No funds are available to support the student's participation in the Selective program.

Selectives Program Credit

Students are required to complete a minimum of 3 credits of selectives during the first five semesters of the DVM program. Selectives may be done during the academic semesters or the summer, but students may not earn more than 1 credit per semester. A minimum of 40 hours—one afternoon a week—is required for ½ credit, and a minimum of 80 hours—two afternoons a week—is required for 1 credit for the semester. During the summer, students can earn up to 2.0 credits for one summer. At least 1 of the 3 credits must be taken during the academic semester. Selectives are graded pass/fail.

Students are responsible for providing their selective site supervisor with an evaluation form and a thank you letter on the first day of their selective. In order to receive credit, the evaluation form must be completed, signed, and uploaded into the DVM Selectives portal in Canvas for selective credit. Once a student has committed to a selective, it should be viewed as the equivalent of a required course. Students may drop a selective without incurring a failing grade anytime during a semester in the event of a medical circumstance approved by the Student Affairs Office. If this occurs students should contact Karen Reagan for assistance.

Students deemed by the Student Promotions Committee to be encountering academic difficulty at the conclusion of a semester may be required to select the noncredit self-study option in order to concentrate efforts on mastering the core curriculum. These students would be required to fulfill the 3 credit selective requirement by utilizing the summers if necessary. All students in the first three years of the DVM program have the ability to select self-study time as a noncredit selective option for any semester.

Students in the DVM/MS–LAM, and DVM/MPH programs will use required graduate program courses to fulfill selective credits.

Choosing a Selective

Students are encouraged to research and choose a self-styled selective or one from our Selectives Guide that best aligns with their educational interests, personal aspirations, and professional goals.

Please keep the following points in mind when choosing a selective and realize there may be unforeseen and unpublished changes in selective site availability. If you have any questions, please contact the Selectives Program.

Lottery Process

Selective sites that accept a limited number of students will determine their participants via a lottery. Therefore, students should be prepared to be flexible and have two or three selective choices ranked in order of their preference.

Students should call a selective site prior to the lottery to confirm availability, discuss expectations, or to inquire about possible scheduling arrangements. No commitments should be made to the site until after the results of the lottery have been posted. Students may make a commitment at a site for which there is no competition.

Self-styled Selectives

Students may design self-styled selectives if they would like. Those wishing to do so should send the details of the proposed experience to Karen Reagan for approval. All pertinent information—such as the site address, contact information for of the supervisor, whether ½ or 1 credit will be expected, and specific learning objectives—should be included.

Site Approval

Once a student's selective choice has been approved, the student is responsible for following up immediately to confirm, verify, and clarify the opportunity with the mentor or contact person.

When contacting a selective site, students should clearly identify themselves as a Cummings School veterinary student wishing to participate in a pre-clinical selective. Some sites may require a resume and cover letter, and/or an interview, prior to acceptance.

Students must confirm with the site that they must complete a minimum of 40 hours during the semester to receive credit. As some selective sites may have variable caseloads, students may not be able to fulfill the minimum requirements for selective credit. If this occurs, students may choose another selective if time permits; otherwise, students should contact the Selectives Program.

Contact the Selectives Program

For additional information or questions about the Selectives Program, please contact:

Karen Reagan
Administrative Assistant
Phone: 508-887-4200

Nicholas Frank
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Phone: 508-887-4200