New information following the change in COVID-19 alert levels.

Master of Veterinary Studies (Epidemiology)

Key facts

  • Available at Manawatū
  • Not all listed subject course options are on offer every year
  • Available for international students studying in NZ
  • Some courses are offered in block mode.

Join a unique programme

Join the only veterinary epidemiology speciality programme in Australasia, taught by staff from the only OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) Collaborating Centre for Epidemiology and Public Health at the only OIE collaborating Centre in in Asia Pacific.

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

What is it like?

Massey University offers the only veterinary epidemiology programme in Australasia.

Epidemiology is the science concerned with study patterns of health and disease in different populations, or groups. This course will teach you the skills necessary to design population based studies and conduct in depth analysis of the data.

Skills in in-depth analysis

When you complete a master’s in epidemiology at Massey University you will be able to work at a high level in the field of epidemiology. You will gain skills in study design and advanced skills in analysis of epidemiologic data.

You will learn how to critically evaluate the literature to make evidence-based decisions. This epidemiology programme will teach you how to design surveillance systems and population studies in order to determine magnitude of health problems. You will be able to identify risk factors, evaluate interventions and gain the skills necessary in advanced data analysis and statistical computing.

Real world learning

You will gain from the Master of Veterinary Studies’ (Epidemiology) emphasis on developing quantitative skills through case studies. During your studies you will work with data collected during real epidemiological studies to help you learn how to interpret results in the light of bias, confounding, effect modification and model error.

Gain from our world-leading expertise

Massey University hosts the EpiCentre - the largest veterinary epidemiology training and research centre in Australasia and widely considered to be one of the leading groups in the world. The group has a proven track record with more than 15 years’ experience in education and research.

The EpiCentre is an OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) Collaborating Centre for Epidemiology and Public Health and the only such centre in the Asia-Pacific region. Therefore, we have are doing research both in NZ and internationally and this gives us a very outward facing program. We have taught students from all over the world and many have returned to do a PhD with Massey.

The Centre has active research in the areas for geographical information systems (GIS), expert systems, multivariate analysis and simulation modelling.

The group is active in field work with humans, production animals, companion animals and wildlife in New Zealand, and provides consultancy services and training courses in epidemiology throughout the world.


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 taught through a combination of distance and block courses. The block courses are taught at 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 and underwent a $1.44 million expansion in 2016.

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

Broad applicability

Although the focus of this programme is on animal health, this programme is also suitable if you are working in another sector and wish to improve your critical evaluation skills and managing data.

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:

  • Want to become more data driven in your clinical or farm-related practice
  • Wish to become a specialist epidemiologist
  • Are in a related industry and would like to influence animal health issues
Juan Sanhueza
PhD in Epidemiology
Postdoctoral Associate - University of Minnesota

“I chose this degree because of my interest in veterinary epidemiology, which I found was particularly well covered by the Master of Veterinary Studies at Massey University…”

The program gradually builds up from basic epidemiological concepts and statistical methods to advanced data analysis techniques.

The whole learning experience was very rewarding academically because of the fundamental skills acquired, and also socially since I had the opportunity to share experiences and build friendships with people from all over the world. After finishing my master’s I was offered a part-time role as a research technician at the EpiCentre that lead to a PhD position. My PhD research focused on leptospirosis, a zoonotic disease that commonly affects people who work in close contact with animals and led to the development of best practice procedures for the control of leptospirosis in New Zealand. My PhD enabled me to further develop my epidemiology skills.

I am currently a postdoctoral associate at the University of Minnesota. I'm working on a project called Bob Morrison's Swine Health Monitoring Project. This project monitors incidence of porcine reproductive and respiratory (PRRS) virus and porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED) virus in about 50% of sows herds in the US. The Epicentre at Massey gave me the skills to handle and analyse big amounts of data and the epidemiological knowledge to try to answer the questions that swine producers may have


Graduates of this programme have gone onto become world leaders in veterinary epidemiology and veterinary public health.

Examples of careers that our graduates have taken up include research and development managers for pharmaceutical companies, policy advisors for government agencies and working on the ground during disease outbreaks such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

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

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:

Professor Tim Carpenter

Dr Carpenter is an internationally-respected epidemiology academic. His research interests are broad, including epidemiology, simulation modelling, risk analysis, economic decision making, spatial statistics, avian influenza, brucellosis, foot-and-mouth disease, toxoplasmosis, tuberculosis, and other diseases of humans, wildlife, and livestock. Carpenter spent 37 years of his career at UC Davis, beginning in 1976 as a Research Associate/Lecturer and ending as Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology. (He is currently Professor Emeritus.)  In 2015 he was awarded the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Achievement Award recognising his exemplary achievements over four decades to veterinary medical research, teaching and mentoring of students and colleagues.

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