Erin Vogelsong, MLAS Program Director, Assistant Professor
Who is the ideal student for the Master of Laboratory Animal Science (MLAS) program?
The MLAS program is ideal for students who are looking to enhance their application to veterinary school or for students who are looking for career alternatives outside the field of veterinary medicine, e.g., biomedical research. Typical applicants may have struggled academically or even applied to vet school unsuccessfully in the past.
How does the program help students get into veterinary school?
Vet schools evaluate applicants based on several criteria: GPA, GRE scores, animal/veterinary/research experience, non-cognitive skills and personal evaluation. The MLAS program can increase a student’s likelihood of acceptance by improving several of these criteria.
Students in the MLAS program take a wide range of graduate science courses including embryology, microbiology and physiology. Being successful in the MLAS program can help improve many facets of the GPA (overall GPA, math/science GPA and last 30-45 credits), and it can confirm the student is capable of handling rigorous coursework.
Many vet schools require approximately 300 hours of animal/veterinary/research experience. Students in the MLAS program have the opportunity to conduct research in the many laboratories on Drexel’s campus. These research hours can be included within the "research experience" requirement of the vet school application.
Furthermore, Drexel has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). The Ontario Veterinary College is the oldest veterinary school in Canada. It is located on the campus of the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario (less than eight hours from Philadelphia). Through this agreement, OVC will reserve one seat in their incoming class for a MLAS student. Due to the MLAS program’s small size, this is a tremendous opportunity for students who may wish to attend vet school internationally.
What are some additional career options for MLAS students who don’t attend veterinary school?
Students who choose not to apply to veterinary medical school pursue careers in the biomedical research field. Recent graduates have sought employment at companies such as the University of Pennsylvania, GlaxoSmithKline, Mount Sinai Hospital, Amgen Inc., SoBran, Charles River Laboratories and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Examples of positions within these institutions include veterinary research technician, staff biologist, research compliance specialist, IACUC administrator, floor leader, supervisor, director, trainer, etc.
What is the difference between the online program and the traditional program?
The curriculum is identical. Students in the online program simply participate in their courses online rather than coming to campus and sitting in a classroom. The only notable difference is in prior experience. We require that the students in the online program have two years of lab animal experience prior to matriculating in the program.
Are applicants permitted to apply to the online program if they don’t have two years of lab animal experience?
Yes, but if an individual does not have two years of lab animal experience, they must also complete the MLAS practicum.
Are students who take the online program just as successful at getting into veterinary school?
When evaluating an application, many vet schools will consider course load in addition to the rigor of a curriculum. Generally, it would be advised to take a full-time course load when applying to veterinary school. While the online program can be taken full-time, the majority of students are enrolled part-time, so they can work full-time. Typically, we recommend students apply to the on-campus program if they are interested in applying to vet school.
What kind of hands-on learning can students expect in this program? How does that work for online students?
There are several courses in the curriculum that allow students to gain hands-on experience. In the online program, this is addressed by having students participate in the some of these same activities outside of the lab. For example, in the medical microbiology course students complete experiments via Hands-on Labs. Students participate in activities such as bacterial enumeration and plate counts without ever leaving their home!
In addition, students gain additional experience by participating in the MLAS practicum. The practicum allows the student to gain "real world experience" within a controlled learning environment. Students working in the laboratory animal field may be able to satisfy this requirement with relevant work experience.
Is the program taught by veterinarians, researchers, or some combination?
The program is taught by a variety of lab animal professionals including veterinarians, managers, technicians and regulatory specialists. The majority of our faculty have achieved certifications in their areas of expertise (ACLAM, LATG, ILAM, CMAR, and CPIA). In the MLAS program, we are fortunate to have subject matter experts who are not only exceptional teachers, but who are active members of the biomedical research community.