HomeSt. Matthew's University

St. Matthew's University School of Veterinary Medicine offers students an education that is completely dedicated to the success of our students. The result is a proven quality education.

  1. Recognition: Earned Affiliate Membership in the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges. Achieved listing with the American Veterinary Medical Association.
  2. Pass Rates: Through SMU's rigorous curriculum, students are well-prepared for licensing examinations, achieving a 90 percent pass rate on the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) in 2016.
  3. Licensing: Fully chartered by the Cayman Islands Ministry of Health Services and Agriculture. (Click here for more information on SMU’s credentials)
  4. Faculty: Faculty and administration with teaching and leadership experience at a broad range of top North American veterinary colleges. (Click here to see our faculty)
  5. Clinical Rotations: Premier clinical training sites at top North American colleges of veterinary medicine. (Click here for more information)

MARVET (Marine Veterinary Medicine) is an educational program, hosted by St. Matthew’s University School of Veterinary Medicine on Grand Cayman, which offers courses in marine animal medicine for veterinary students and veterinarians who would like to become more acquainted with the expanding field of marine animal health and conservation medicine. Instructors include internationally recognized experts from the frontlines of marine animal health, welfare and conservation in a global context; they represent a diverse range of facilities and organizations, including oceanaria, aquaria, zoological parks, rehabilitation units, wildlife organizations and SMU and other universities.

St. Matthew's University, School of Veterinary Medicine students are granted automatic admission to MARVET, and at a significantly reduced cost!

Check out the video slideshow above to learn more about this exciting opportunity hosted by SMU on beautiful Grand Cayman!

What makes St. Matthew's University unique among Caribbean veterinary schools?

St. Matthew’s School of Veterinary Medicine offers quality education with unmatched student support services on a beautiful, safe, modern island.

Our Basic Science campus is on Grand Cayman which is only an hour flight from Miami. Students spend seven semesters on the island completing Basic Science and Pre-Clinical classes with highly credentialed and experienced faculty. The program offers students a veterinary medical education program focused on patient-centered care as the foundation of the program. The veterinary medical education is integrated with a new surgical facility built by St. Matthew's University for the benefit of our students, the citizens of the Cayman Islands and the local animal population.

The Cayman Islands offer a unique setting for veterinary study. The island has a rich variety of wildlife, large animals and companion animals. Students spend 28 months of classroom, laboratory and surgical facility based instruction on Grand Cayman. Students then move on to a year of clinical instruction at premier veterinary schools in the U.S and Canada.

Grand Cayman boasts one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. The island is modern and has an economy similar of that of the U.S. which allows students to easily assimilate into the lifestyle of the island. Grand Cayman has one of the lowest crime rates of any country in the Caribbean, and the local residents are hospitable and inviting. St. Matthew's University is just steps away from the famous Seven Mile Beach. Students can literally walk out of their class for a quick swim, snorkel, sunset volleyball game, or even to study on the beach.

For more information on the St. Matthew’s University difference, please click here.

Are St. Matthew's University graduates easily able to practice veterinary medicine in the United States?

Yes. St. Matthew's University graduates are eligible to practice veterinary medicine in the United States once they pass the requisite licensing examinations. Most of our graduates are licensed and practicing or in residency in the United States or Canada. 

How is St. Matthew's University accredited?

The Ministry of Health Services, Agriculture, Aviation and Works of the Cayman Islands has granted St. Matthew's University School of Veterinary Medicine a full charter (click here to see document).

St Matthew's University School of Veterinary Medicine charter qualified the school to seek listing with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which in turn allows our graduates to register with the Educational Committee of Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG). ECFVG certification allows our graduates to be licensed in the United States and other countries accepting ECFVG certification.

St. Matthew's University School of Veterinary Medicine received its AVMA listing in December 2005 (listed under Related Resources - Veterinary Colleges of the world, British West Indies).

American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB)

In addition, the American Association of Veterinary State Boards has established a program for evaluating international veterinary education called the Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education equivalence (PAVE). You may learn more about the PAVE program at: http://www.aavsb.org/PAVE/PAVEHome.aspx

 FAQs about Academics and Curriculum

What is the average class size?

Typical class sizes range between 10 and 20 students to ensure a high degree of individual attention from faculty.

What is the ratio of students to faculty?

The ratio of students to full-time faculty is only five to one, which affords our students an unprecedented level of faculty support and attention.

Will I be able to practice veterinary medicine in the United States after graduation?

In order to practice in the United States, graduates of St Matthew's University School of Veterinary Medicine must be certified by the Educational Committee of Foreign Veterinary Graduates (a committee of the American Veterinary Medical Association) or the program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence.

Will I gain exposure to a variety of animals and their care?

Students are provided with many opportunities to work with large and small animals throughout their education at SMU. Students in the early semesters learn animal handling techniques and participate in local projects in the community that help local businesses/farms and provide students with hands on experience with a variety of animals. At our clinical facility, faculty and students work closely with the Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture and have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of local domestic large and small animals. Students have opportunities to work up real cases with faculty and local veterinarians, gaining a wide variety of experience that only comes from exposure to actual cases in the field. Because of our location in the Caribbean, students also gain exposure to many exotic animal species, including marine turtles, iguanas, tropical birds and fish.

Will I have to arrange for my own clinical training?

No. During your 6th semester, St Matthew's University School of Veterinary Medicine officials will work closely with you to have you placed into a clinical program (which follows your 7th semester) at one of our U.S. affiliate schools.

 FAQs About Admissions

Can I transfer to St. Matthew's from a U.S. veterinary program?

The SMU Veterinary Medicine program welcomes applications from transfer students in another Caribbean or U.S. veterinary program. Transfer credits may be awarded depending on grades in particular courses, references from faculty at the current/previous school, and how closely the curriculum at the current/previous school matches the SMU curriculum.

Is there an application deadline?

We do not have application deadlines. We have a rolling admissions process and we encourage student to apply no later than two months prior to the semester start date to allow students to select the semester they prefer. If an application is received after the class has closed, the application is automatically reviewed for the next available semester.

How long does it take to process an application?

Once we have received your completed application and a personal interview has been conducted, it takes approximately two (2) weeks for your complete application to be processed.

How can I find out my application status?

In order to obtain accurate information about the status of your file, you can log into your online account 24-hours a day, seven days a week. If you need assistance, call our Admissions Office toll-free at 800.498.9700. Our Enrollment Specialists are available to assist you Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:30am and 5:00pm (Eastern Time).

May I still apply if I am missing coursework?

The successful completion of all pre-requisite coursework is required prior to enrollment. If you are missing only one pre-requisite course, or you are in the process of completing coursework, you may apply now. Simply indicate the course(s) in-progress upon submission of your application. This will be taken into consideration while reviewing your application. Often, if the remainder of the application (overall academic performance, recommendation letters, personal interview, etc.) is acceptable, the student is admitted and his or her file is placed on "Academic Hold" until he or she has submitted the grade(s) for the missing coursework. The student, although admitted, is not permitted to enroll in St. Matthew's University courses until all coursework requirements are fulfilled. If you have additional questions, contact an Admissions Counselor, toll-free at 800.498.9700.

Does it matter where I take my undergraduate courses ?

Undergraduate coursework can be taken at any accredited college or university in the world. Students with academic transcripts from outside the United States and Canada must have them evaluated on a course-by-course basis by an evaluation service such as World Evaluation Services (www.wes.org), Josef Silny & Associates, Inc.(www.jsilny.com) or a service that is a National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) member (www.naces.org).

Do you have a supplemental application process, such as through VMCAS?

St. Matthew's University is not affiliated with the VMCAS application process.  However, you can email or fax the VMCAS application in lieu of our online application. 

What is the Admission Committee looking for in letters of recommendation?

The Committee seeks comments about the applicant's character, integrity, work ethic, intelligence, motivation, people skills, and problem-solving skills.

Does an advisor have to write a letter of recommendation?

No, however it is helpful if letters of recommendation are written by a pre-veterinary professor acquainted with the applicant's academic and research background or by a veterinarian who is familiar with the applicant's experience in a veterinary practice setting, if available. All letters can be mailed, emailed or faxed to St. Matthew's University as long as they are written on letterhead and include a signature and contact information.

Do you accept applicants over 30 years of age?

St. Matthew's University will consider any qualified applicant for admission, regardless of age.  Some of our most successful students and graduates have had prior careers, often as certified veterinary technicians or other occupations.

Who is interviewed?

Applicants invited for an interview are selected from a pool of those applicants the committee deems to be promising candidates.  If you are invited for an interview, it is likely that you are being strongly considered for admission.  However, an interview is not a guarantee of admission. 

Are scholarships available?

St. Matthew's University offers scholarships to our most promising students. The University reviews applications and awards the following Scholarships:

  1. Academic Scholarships
  2. Cayman Islands Scholarships

For more information on scholarship opportunities, please click here.

 FAQs About Life at St. Matthew's University

What Student support services exist on the Grand Cayman campus?

The Assistant Dean of Student Affairs works closely with the Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine as well as with all faculty to provide support to students experiencing academic and/or personal difficulties. Short-term counseling, crisis counseling and general counseling relating to academic difficulties are available. If longer-term counseling and support is required, referrals can be made to professionals in the community. Academic counseling, including test-taking skills, time management skills and study skills can also be initiated in conjunction with the Dean. The Assistant Dean of Student Affairs also serves as a liaison between the Student Associate American Veterinary Medical Association Chapter (SAAVMA) and the St. Matthew's University administration.

What is the make up of your student body?

Although the majority of our students are U.S. residents, St. Matthew's University boasts an extremely diverse student population. 20% of our students are from Canada and around 5% are from Europe. Over 40 countries are represented in our student body.

What about schooling for my child(ren)?

Grand Cayman boasts some of the best primary school options in the Caribbean. The Caymanian school system is based upon the English learning system. For further information regarding primary schools, contact the Cayman Island Ministry of Education.

What about taking my family or a companion to The Cayman Islands?

Many family members and companions choose to join their loved ones in The Cayman Islands. Children range in age from infants to late adolescents. The Cayman Islands can issue a visa which permits companions to work and reside in The Cayman Islands. There is plenty of housing available for couples and families, both close to campus and more centrally located in Georgetown.

What must I do to bring a pet with me to The Cayman Islands?

Pets are allowed to be brought to Cayman. An import permit or valid animal passport issued by the Department of Agriculture and an official health certificate issued by a government employed or accredited veterinary inspector in the country of origin is required for the importation of dogs and cats. Because Grand Cayman is a rabies free area, all pets must have proof of regular vaccination and a demonstrated rabies titer.

How is housing arranged in The Cayman Islands?

New students are assigned to either of our student residencies, Residence Hall or Residence Suites.

New students arriving on the island live in the St. Matthew's University Residence Hall for one semester and are welcome to stay as many semesters as they wish. This arrangement makes your arrival in and transition to living in another country smooth and comfortable. Single and double rooms are available.

If I lived off-campus, which town should I consider living in?

Students who are exempt from Residence Hall (showing proof of marriage or pet) choose to live in Georgetown.

How is apartment living in The Cayman Islands?

The housing market on Grand Cayman is strong and presents many opportunities for student tenants to find homes.

Most rental units come furnished (i.e., stocked with standard hard and soft furnishings, such as beds, tables, appliances, couches, window dressings, etc.) or fully furnished (i.e., everything but your own clothes and personal belongings is included). Utility costs (e.g., for electricity, water, etc.) are expensive compared to U.S. standards.

Off-campus housing advice and support is available to all St. Matthew's University students. The Office of Student Services provides all prospective and enrolled students with 24-hour 7-days-a-week access to an online housing service that they can use to help find the perfect home. Off-campus housing resource lists are also available for students who want to search the rental market on their own.

Is it easy to travel to and from The Cayman Islands?

Yes. Grand Cayman is far and away the most easily accessible Caribbean Island. The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory located in the Western Caribbean. By jet, the Cayman Islands are only a 70-minute direct flight from Miami.

There are more than 55 weekly flights into the Cayman Islands including 28 flights each week between Miami and Grand Cayman. U.S. cities with direct flights to Grand Cayman include Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte, Houston, Miami, New York, and Tampa. Please check this link for more information: http://www.caymanislands.ky/getting_there/

What language is spoken on The Cayman Islands?

The island is English-speaking.

What is the weather like on The Cayman Islands?

Beautiful. The weather in Grand Cayman is pleasant year round with temperatures ranging from 70 to 90 degrees. 

What is the accepted currency in The Cayman Islands?

Although the U.S. dollar is not the official currency of The Cayman Islands, it is widely accepted throughout stores as well as money orders and credit cards. Many merchants quote their prices in both Cayman Island dollars and U.S. dollars and you can pay in either currency. If you pay in U.S. dollars, you will receive your change in Cayman dollars.

What banking services are available?

As the fifth largest financial district in the world, banking options in Cayman are endless. Butterfield Bank, Cayman National Bank, Fidelity Bank, FirstCaribbean International Bank, Scotiabank and Royal Bank of Canada offer electronic and online banking.

Are there ATMs?

Yes, ATMs are plentiful on the island and very near to campus.

What kind of transportation is available on The Cayman Islands?

Taxi service is readily available, as are small buses or vans.  You may also choose to buy a car or motorcycle.  Many students also use bicycles as a primary mode of transportation

Can I bring any meat (including seafood) to the Cayman Islands?

Small quantities of meat and seafood can be imported into the Cayman Islands as long as it is for personal consumption only. Seafood from all countries may be imported, but anything in excess of 20lbs must be accompanied with a Certificate of Wholesomeness, which can only be obtained by a prior application for an Import Permit from the Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture. Small quantities of meats (up to 25lbs.) can be brought in by passengers in their luggage as long as the meat is from an approved country (see below) and is pre-wrapped under a brand name and has the Official Seal of Inspection of the country's Meat Inspection Authority. Meats allowed:

  1. Only swine products are allowed from the UK and Ireland
  2. All types of approved meats are allowed from the USA, Canada, CARICOM States, Australia and New Zealand.

No fruit or vegetables can be imported into the Cayman Islands. No plants, fresh cut flowers or plant cuttings can be brought in either unless a proper import permit has been obtained prior to shipping.

School of Veterinary Medicine Academic Scholarship

Award Recipient - Matthew Rietveld

Matthew Rietveld is a graduate from the University of Victoria. He majored in microbiology and served as president of the University of Victoria Biochemistry and Microbiology Student Society in his final year.

From childhood to adulthood he has spent the majority of his spare time out in the wilderness of British Columbia exploring and studying the studding biodiversity. His affinity for animals has always been apparent, and it led him to volunteer, then work with a wild animal sanctuary caring for deer, raccoons, otters, and many more animals.

Matthew loves to travel and has a host of different interest and hobbies, which led him to get his Dive Master certification from New Zealand, entertain as a fire dancer in Australia and South East Asia, and train as a martial arts instructor back in his home town of Victoria. His driving belief is that “in order to achieve optimal performance you must train the body as well as the mind”.

Matthew’s acceptance into our DVM program will bring him to the culmination of his goals: completing a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine, here in the beautiful Grand Cayman Islands at St. Matthew’s University.

Award Recipient - Lauren Lev

I’ll be honest; I have not always wanted to be a vet. In fact, my answer to the question, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" varied between forensic pathologist, dolphin trainer, and, at times, a rock star. Because my musical abilities did not extend beyond the walls of my shower, I passionately pursued a career in emergency medicine. However, about four years and a few thousand dollars too late, I decided it was not for me. I spent the better part of a year lost. I slowly realized the only thing that made me happy was my dogs, so I started showing up to the local shelter. Some days I would walk the dogs or play with the cats, other days I would just sit with them. Eventually, one of the volunteer coordinators learned about my medical experience and asked if I would volunteer in the clinic as a surgical technician. Although I was hesitant to leave comfort of my just-come-play-with-the-dogs bubble, I agreed. Slowly, I began to notice a change in myself. For the first time in two years, I felt I had a purpose and that I was making a difference. I had found my drive and motivation. Most importantly, I was happy again.

With my new found passion for veterinary medicine, I hit the ground running and began researching schools, requirements, and the application process. I learned about St. Matthew's from a chance encounter with an alumni from undergrad. I quickly fell in love with the school and the opportunity to study marine medicine. Although I am not fulfilling a life long dream of mine, I believe sometimes the best paths in life are the ones that choose you.

Award Recipient - Cassandra Martinez McDow

Growing up, my childhood friends used to joke that I lived on a “farm,” which for the Jersey Shore isn’t saying much. Nonetheless, like most veterinary students, I always had a passion for animals and KNEW it was what I was meant to do in life.

I began my path to veterinary medicine in high school where I had the opportunity to attend Cornell University through their Veterinary Research Apprenticeship Program. That was when I became sure that I wanted to pursue this career. I continued my education at the University of Findlay (Ohio) where hands-on experience was greatly emphasized. During my tenure, I enlisted in the US Army Reserves, where I served as a medic for four years. Being a reservist allowed me to continue my studies. I expanded upon my curriculum by interning at the Montgomery Zoo (Alabama) as well as conducting research of shelter dogs, and how their stress levels can be effected by human interaction. Ultimately, I graduated as an Honors Scholar and Cum Laude.

My actual road to veterinary school has diverged a few times both professionally and personally, but I am ecstatic to be part of the SMU family. The accelerated schedule allows me to complete my degree and start my career sooner. The small class size allows for individualized attention and interaction with professors for an intense but interactive learning environment. My goal is to one day have a mixed animal practice and specialize in critical care and exotics.

Luckily, I am able to have my family with me on island. As such, we live off campus in West Bay with our two dogs and one cat. Since my husband, John, also works, our 2 year old, Elena, attends preschool. While at times, having my family here makes time management tricky, it is doable and I am so thankful to have their support.

Award Recipient - Kallie Hobbs

When the unthinkable happens in life you can choose to be dragged down or you can choose to rise above it and make a difference. I choose to make a difference. My career goals are to obtain a DVM specializing in equine surgery with an interest area in cardio/pulmonary research. Though always passionate about animals, the final push to seek this as a career was the result of unfortunate circumstances rather than a lifelong ambition.

I graduated from the University of South Carolina with a BS in Public Relations and Sports Marketing and worked in the field shortly after graduation. I grew up riding horses competitively and knew in my heart that I wanted an equine-related career. Not long after graduation, my horse was admitted to North Carolina State University with pleuralpneumonia. After spending four months in the hospital, we had to end her fight due to substantial lung necrosis and laminitis.

I was fortunate that during this experience I had a team of doctors that included me during the entire treatment process and spent hours explaining everything they were doing to try to save her. These experiences led me to realize that my passion is veterinary medicine. While completing prerequisites for veterinary school, I was fortunate enough to be able to work in a highly published research lab and work on a project dealing with cytokine interactions. I was also able to work in hospitals that ranged from small animal emergency surgery to North Carolina Sates's equine medicine department. This only further developed my passion for veterinary medicine. My career goal is to become a board certified equine internal surgeon and practice and do research at the university level. The road that led me to veterinary school has been long and often trying. St. Matthew's University was the obvious fit for me with the small class sizes and competitive learning environment. I am truly excited to not only become a member of the veterinary class but also an active member of the school environment.

Award Recipient - Rebecca Verhoeven

From a young age, I learned that my passion was caring for animals. I spent more time as a child in pens, pastures, barns and sheds than I did with other children my own age. However, when I graduated high school I made the decision to study law. I moved to Grand Cayman with my fiancée and our dog shortly after I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the University of North Texas. I worked as a legal assistant for some time but I quickly began to recognize that my childhood passion could still be a reality.

Three years after moving to Grand Cayman, my husband and I began planning financially and I made enquiries into St. Matthew's University, School of Veterinary Medicine. I attended the University College of the Cayman Islands for several months and completed a number of prerequisite courses. I began spending my afternoons walking dogs at the Cayman Islands Humane Society and I worked part time at a local veterinary clinic, in addition to working part time as a legal assistant.

I am grateful that I now have the opportunity to finally achieve my goal of becoming a veterinarian on the Island that I have come to know as home. I look forward to the adventure and completing my studies at St. Matthew's University because I know that in addition to receiving a world-class education, I will gain skills and perspective right here at home that will be invaluable to my professional career.

Award Recipient - Christina Hoffman

I have known that I wanted to be a veterinarian ever since I was a little girl. A fascination and compassion for animals grew into a career goal. My time spent at veterinary clinics during high school and college only further solidified this desire.

I graduated, with honors, from Cedar Crest College and majored in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology. I also completed a thesis in the area of animal behavior. As an additional perspective and broadening experience I earned a master’s degree in Health and Biopharmaceutical Economics from Lehigh University.

My road to veterinary school had the proverbial detours along the way. However, one could say that when you have to fight for something that is very important, it has greater meaning. I look forward to studying veterinary medicine at St. Matthew’s University and accomplishing my dream.

Award Recipient - Leah Drake

My vision has always been to earn a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine; however, after my undergraduate work this vision became somewhat blurry. Job availability and the cares of life began to cloud my sight. The purpose of this statement is to share my new focus and highlight those character traits and skills that will make me a successful student and veterinarian.

I grew up on a small cattle ranch, which included commercial production and show string operations. This environment forged in me responsibility and the rewards of a job well done. After high school, I attended Sam Houston State University earning a B.S. in Animal Science (Magna Cum Laude), and Texas A&M University earning an MS (Beef Cattle Science).

Upon graduation from TAMU in May 1997, I accepted a management position with a company in a non agriculture related field. My responsibilities included managing employees, inventory, and accounting in 3 university textbook stores in 3 different locations. This was a time of growth and refinement of my skills. There was, however, a void in my life, and my job was not as fulfilling as it was once.

I missed the interactions with the animals and people of the agriculture industry. Equally as important, I had a strong desire to give back to the industry that gave me so many opportunities. After extensive soul searching, I knew I wanted a career as a veterinarian.

To pursue my new focus, I have recently taken college courses to prepare me for a professional curriculum. I resigned from my management position of 11 years, sold my house, and relocated to my hometown to live with my parents and work with my local veterinarian. I am very excited to be a student at St. Matthew's University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Cayman Scholarship

Award Recipient - Mary Catherine (Kadie) Frazier

My passion has always been clear, however, the pursuit of this passion has not been straightforward. Various hurdles along the way threatened to delay or impede the attainment of my ultimate goal of becoming a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). These obstacles proved to be character building and cemented that helping and healing animals is the only career choice in which I would find true joy. Employment at veterinary clinics in both Cayman and the US allowed me to be privy to multiple approaches to animal care as well as business management. The blessing of receiving invaluable experience in both countries provided the opportunity to compare and contrast, as well as bring extraneous knowledge home.

Although the completion of my undergraduate career off island was enjoyable, the time away caused me to appreciate this little "rock" in the Caribbean Sea even more. The existence of St. Matthew's University School of Veterinary Medicine allowed for a situation to occur which I didn't perceive to be possible: I could receive quality education, continue to build on-island professional relationships, and contribute to the betterment of my community and, all the while, remaining in the same geographical location as my family. The fact that the curriculum at SMU is slightly accelerated was very appealing because I would ultimately only have to spend one final year abroad to complete the program. I am excited to commence the DVM program at SMU and believe that the University will provide many opportunities for Caymanians and non-Caymanians alike.