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Master of Veterinary Studies (Veterinary Pathology)

Key facts

  • Available at Manawatū
  • Not available for international students
  • Part-time study only.

Lead the world of pathology

Join this unique residency programme to learn from the largest group of veterinary pathologists in the southern hemisphere.

Find out more about the Master of Veterinary Studies parent structure.

What is it like?

Massey University has the largest pathology department in the southern hemisphere. We have five board certified (American College of Veterinary Pathologists) anatomic pathologists on staff that will help you develop your own expertise in this fascinating and sought-after veterinary speciality.

Experience with a broad range of animals

Massey University deals with a broad range of animals, from companion and production animals to exotic animals that may go off-track and wash up on our shores. This will enhance and broaden your pathology training.


Massey University’s veterinary programme is ranked in the top 50 universities worldwide by both the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking and ShanghaiRanking's Global Ranking of Academic Subjects.

Wide range of facilities

This course is run on our Manawatū campus in Palmerston North. Host to the only veterinary school in New Zealand, Massey University’s well-equipped facilities include an equine hospital, 24-hour pet hospital and sheep, beef, dairy and deer farms, all located near campus. The Wildbase wildlife hospital is the only dedicated wildlife hospital in New Zealand.

You will have access to our other world-leading science facilities such as modern laboratories for virology and bacteriology, molecular and immunohistochemical work.

A residency programme

This is a residency programme that operates under the entry requirements of the Master of Veterinary Studies (MVS).

The content of the course is similar to a residency - clinical work with a small thesis - and, like other residencies, has very restricted entry numbers.

This is not a paid residency. It operates as the MVS and any of its associated entry requirements and student fees (which will be dependent upon your residency status) will apply.

How will you learn?

Pathology is a part of veterinary medicine that is particularly hands-on and as such demands a high level of learning ‘on the job’. This is why this particular endorsement of the Master of Veterinary Studies is a clinical residency programme. There are no lectures or structured taught component to this programme, instead you will be guided by our world-leading pathologists, working on clinical  cases.

Around 80% of your time will be working with pathologists performing gross necropsy examinations as well as learning how to make microscopic diagnoses and describe disease processes within necropsy reports. The remaining 20% will see you complete a research thesis in an area of interest to you.

In demand

This programme has very limited openings. Applicants are only selected into the program when space becomes available.


The position is initially for two years. If you achieve set academic milestones, the programme may be extended to three years and make you eligible to sit the American College of Veterinary Pathologists board exam.

Why postgraduate study?

Postgraduate study is hard work but hugely rewarding and empowering. The Master of Veterinary Studies will push you to produce your best creative, strategic and theoretical ideas. The workload replicates the high-pressure environment of senior workplace roles. Our experts are there to guide but if you have come from undergraduate study, you will find that postgraduate study demands more in-depth and independent study.


A good fit if you:

  • Have an undergraduate veterinary qualification with excellent grades
  • Have an interest in clinical analysis and diagnosis
  • Would like to become a globally sought-after specialist
Hayley Hunt
Master of Veterinary Studies
Massey University PhD student

“The Master of Veterinary Studies programme provided a great mix of case-based learning, practical skills and theory…”

After completing a five-year veterinary science degree at Massey, returning for postgraduate study was far from my mind. I worked in clinical practice for two years and completed two Master of Veterinary Medicine courses via distance, before deciding I wanted to pursue my interest in veterinary pathology.

The Master of Veterinary Studies programme provided a great mix of case-based learning, practical skills and theory. My supervisors and lecturers were all extremely approachable and knowledgeable, and included four board-certified veterinary pathologists. The research component of the programme gave me the opportunity to investigate an inherited blindness in sheep and I gained invaluable skills in problem solving and critical analysis. I am now using these skills as I work towards my PhD, and my current research is focussed on an unexplained muscle disease in dogs. It’s exciting to think that I could be the person who discovers what causes this disease, and the new knowledge generated may help prevent and treat cases in future.


With this major the obvious career path is as a pathologist. You can work throughout Australasia with the Master of Veterinary Studies. If you go through to sit the American College of Veterinary Pathlogists exam your qualification will be recognised globally.

Earn more

A 2017 Ministry of Education publication The post-study earnings and destinations of young domestic graduates, found that in New Zealand:

  • Young master’s graduates earn more than one and a half times more than the national median (five years after study)
  • Earnings and employment rates increase with the level of qualification completed
  • Five years after completion, the median earnings of young master’s graduates are 15% higher than for those with a bachelor’s degree.

World-leading lecturers and supervisors

Massey’s veterinary science staff are internationally renowned for their research and teaching and learning methods. You will be working with recognised veterinary specialists, for example:

Dr Fernanda Castillo-Alcala

Dr Castillo-Alcala’s research interests are infectious diseases and diagnostic pathology. Her work has covered a wide variety of species and has been published internationally.

Her doctorate is from the Ontario Veterinary College, where her research focused on the molecular characterisation of respiratory infection with Mycoplasma bovis in feedlot cattle. From 2009 to 2014, Fernanda worked as assistant professor in veterinary pathology at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. She attained certification in anatomic pathology by the American College of Veterinary Pathologists in 2013.

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