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May 01, 2020

Penn Vet offers certificate in animal welfare

Published on April 15, 2020

Updated June 18, 2020

A new graduate certificate offered by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine provides an opportunity to learn about animal welfare.

The program launched last October. It combines self-directed online activities and in-person sessions to educate participants on animal welfare and behavior.

This certificate program was a long time coming and a real team effort, said Dr. Jennifer Punt, professor of pathobiology and associate dean for one health at the veterinary school. “The content is remarkably relevant,” Dr. Punt said.

The first group to enroll in the certificate program consisted of 10 individuals. Several were veterinarians, some were current Penn Vet employees, and one was a law professor. The summer class will begin in May, and fall classes begin in September. The price of the course is $4,000. The hope is to increase the class size to 20.

The certificate is made up of four, seven-week long courses to be taken over two semesters. The course requires about eight to 10 hours of work per week.

Goals for participants include gaining a knowledge of animal welfare issues and their complexities. The program also focuses on learning relevant behavioral signs, building a network to discuss challenges and ideas, identifying solutions to particular welfare challenges, and gaining experience in writing research proposals integrating animal welfare practice and theory.

The certificate program provides foundational information for veterinarians pursuing credentialing for board certification by the American College of Animal Welfare, particularly as part of an individual’s experiential training program.

Faculty members involved with the certificate program are Dr. Thomas Parsons, professor of swine production medicine; Dr. Meghann Pierdon, assistant professor of clinical production medicine; James Serpell, PhD, professor of ethics and animal welfare; Dr. Carlo Siracsusa, associate professor of clinical animal behavior and welfare; and Dr. Brittany Watson, assistant professor of clinical shelter medicine.

Penn Vet is also developing an online master’s program in animal welfare and behavior.

Get more information about the certificate program.


Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that completing the certification program allows for board certification. The graduate certificate provides foundational information for veterinarians pursuing credentialing.