Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Veterinary Medicine

ESAVS as school providing continuing education for veterinarians

Small animal veterinarians are increasingly focusing their activity on specific aspects of veterinary medicine in line with a significant trend to create group practices and clinics. This development and the growing demand for veterinarians with certified competences in advanced clinical small animals medicine and case management increases the demand for post-graduate education in specific disciplines. Educational authorities in veterinary training in Europe recognize an intermediate level of competence between the veterinary graduate and the European Specialist (diplomats of respective colleges of the European board of Veterinary Specialization). This level of intermediate competence is achieved by state-of-the-art education.
Over the past 30 years the European School of Advanced Veterinary Studies (ESAVS) has offered an international postgraduate education recruiting the best specialist-teachers from all over Europe and beyond offering comprehensive training programs aiming at the said intermediate level. These programs also offer the opportunity to obtain a Certificate or Master degree.

Certification of your continuing education

A Master or Certificate degree testifies that its holder has achieved competences and skills which have been evaluated and examined by a board of experts. A wide range of study programs are offered consisting of a series of consecutive courses covering all important aspects of the discipline. Based on such comprehensive programs ESAVS offers the opportunity to obtain the Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Veterinary Medicine in a specific discipline.
The CAS is based on the ESAVS study program in the discipline of your choice, examinations of the courses in this program and by completing a case log which promotes the use of newly learned methods and skills in daily practice at home and throughout the entire program.

The objectives of the program

The objectives of the CAS program are:

• To train veterinarians to attain an intermediate level of competence in specific disciplines
• To promote a systematic problem-solving approach in the clinic
• To promote the concept of evidence-based medicine in daily practice
• To promote optimal interaction with the EBVS specialists
• To promote continuous life-long professional development in the field of small animal veterinary medicine

The program

Study while working in practice

The program allows the candidates to study from their practice. This means that the formal instruction is part-time in the form of courses taken at intervals during the program. It is expected that students gradually apply the skills they acquire in the formal part of their education to their daily work in practice. Therefore, in addition to the coursework, students are required to compile a case log.


Coursework (25 ECTS)

In total, a minimum of 25 ECTS have to be collected in course work.
A minimum of 15 ECTS have to be accumulated in a major subject, i.e. the chosen discipline, and any remaining ECTS have to be obtained in minor subjects. Up to 5 ECTS of coursework (completed up to 5 years prior to enrolment) may be accumulated from courses taken outside of ESAVS. Such external courses must be of the equivalent content, duration, similarly high standard and examined by the external provider or ESAVS.

Case Log (5 ECTS)

Candidates are required to collect 100 well documented cases in the form of a case log. These cases are expected to be mostly accumulated in the second half of the program. All raw data relevant to each case must be filed in a digitalized format and must be accessible upon request by the Examination Board. Cases for the case log can be collected only after the official enrolment. Cases collected before the official enrolment will not be accepted.

Discipline specific requirements

While the requirements are generally the same for all disciplines, there are some discipline specific aspects relating to the coursework as well as the case log. Therefore, specific program descriptions for each discipline are available on the ESAVS website.

The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

All work done by the students is expressed in ECTS credits. 1 ECTS credit is equivalent to 25 hours of student work. In the ECTS it is generally accepted that each hour of formal coursework (lectures, practical work, tutorials etc) generates an additional 2-3 hours of work for the student including preparation for lectures, practicals, tutorials etc, post-lecture review, additional reading and literature searches and preparation for and sitting the examination. One week coursework (40 hours of instruction) generates a total of 120-160 hours of students work. With one ECTS equalling 25 hours of students work, one week course is assigned 5 ECTS, regardless of the subject since all courses are of the same standard. It is important to note that credits are only given for work which has been validated by a formal examination.

Coursework (25 ECTS)

The students are required to accumulate a minimum of 25 ECTS in coursework. Coursework means active participation in classroom work, practical work, tutorials, and on-line assignments (distance learning), self-study and taking examinations. The ESAVS offers discipline-oriented study programs (e.g., dermatology, internal medicine etc.) consisting of several consecutive courses, each course covering specific topics of the subject. ESAVS courses typically consist of one to two weeks of residential training (40 and 80 hours of instruction, respectively) with distance learning contacts in between consecutive courses.

Specific information on the courses can be found on the ESAVS website

Format: The candidates can compose their own curriculum within the limits set by the Program Directors (PD) of the disciplines (the respective documents can be obtained at the ESAVS office). Exceptions such as courses older than 5 years or external courses must be accepted by the PD. The composition of courses must be approved by the PGEC prior to enrolment to the program. Candidates are advised to plan the coursework well in advance.

To meet the requirements of the CAS program the coursework includes a minimum of 25 ECTS and comprise a major subject and minor subjects. The specific requirements depend on the particular discipline (the respective documents can be obtained at the ESAVS office).


– A minimum of 15 ECTS are accumulated in the major subject: the chosen discipline and/or closely related fields. The remaining (up to 10) ECTS can be taken in minor subjects, which may not be directly related to the chosen discipline.

Examination: ECTS for coursework (5 ECTS per week) can be collected after passing an examination for each course. Examinations are taken twice a year. All exams are in the CASUS® format, a computerized automated examination system. Results are graded on a 0-20 scale (<10=fail, 10-11.9=sufficient, 12-13.9=fair, 14-15.9=good, 16-17.9=very good, 18-20 excellent). The exam is passed when a grade of at least 10 is obtained. In case of an insufficient grade, the candidate can retake the exam at the next possible examination date (max. 4 attempts).

External coursework: Up to 5 ECTS of coursework (completed up to 5 years prior to enrolment) may be accumulated from courses taken outside of ESAVS. Such external courses must be of the equivalent content, duration, similarly high standard and examined by the external provider or ESAVS. External courses with ECTS assigned must be approved by the Program Director prior to presenting it to the Postgraduate Education Committee (PGEC). It is recommended that participants wishing to select such courses should submit a detailed outline to ESAVS well before the enrolment as retrospective approval may not be given.

Retrospective recognition of ESAVS courses: ESAVS courses taken in the 5 years prior to enrolment in the Master program are usually recognized. Courses taken more than 5 years ago can be submitted but are subject to the approval of the Program Director. Proof of participation (certificate of attendance) must be submitted with the application and a passing grade for the respective examinations must be obtained within the study period.

Practical work and case log

It is expected that candidates will continuously and progressively apply the skills they have acquired in the CAS in their daily practice at home, in this way supporting and reinforcing the learning process. The case log represents a condensed written account of this practical work.

Format: During the program, the candidates are required to accumulate 100 well documented cases in the form of a case log. These cases must reflect the chosen discipline and are expected to be mostly accumulated in the second half of the program. A written summary of each case is presented in a standardized format including case identification, signalment and history, results of the examination and ancillary aids, laboratory findings, differential diagnosis, diagnosis, and prognosis, therapy, and outcome. All raw data relevant to each case must be filed in a digitalized format and must be accessible upon request by the examination board.

Examination: The candidate is requested to submit his/her case log to the ESAVS office. The case log is then reviewed by the respective Program Director (or an expert appointed by him/her) and graded on a 0-20 scale. The maximum grade is 20 points. The grading scale is <10=fail, 10-11.9=sufficient, 12-13.9=fair, 14-15.9=good, 16-17.9=very good, 18-20 excellent. Passing grade is 10 points. In case of an insufficient grade, the candidate is notified about the shortcomings of the case log and requested to resubmit a revised version or submit additional cases within 6 months of notice.

Credits obtained in the MAS

ECTS collected in coursework and the case log during a MAS program in the same discipline as the CAS will be fully validated to meet CAS requirements in the said discipline.
ECTS collected during a MAS program in a different discipline as the CAS can in part be validated pending evaluation and approval of the PGEC.

Following successful completion of coursework and case log, the PGEC reviews all grades collected by the candidate and assigns a final overall grade on a scale 1-20. The maximum grade is 20 points. The grading scale is <10=fail, 10-11.9=sufficient, 12-13.9=fair, 14-15.9=good, 16-17.9=very good, 18-20 excellent. Passing grade is 10 points. Upon passing, the candidate is awarded the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Veterinary Medicine (CAS) / discipline. An annual graduation ceremony will be held.
Duration of the program
The minimum time requirement for the CAS program is two, but not more than four years. An additional year can be granted upon request and approval by the committee. An applicant can enter the program immediately after graduating from veterinary school but the CAS can only be obtained when the applicant has been practicing small animal veterinary medicine for at least two years since obtaining her/his veterinary degree.
CAS as stepping stone for the MAS
ECTS collected in the CAS program are validated for the Master of Advances Studies (MAS) program in the same discipline.
Who is responsible for the program?

The CAS program is offered by ESAVS, an officially recognized school by the Federation for Education in Europe (FEDE), an international association of about 500 private schools of higher education. FEDE which holds participatory status in the council of the European Union has certified these programs. The teaching procedures have been audited and approved by a Swiss EduQua-accredited, supranational independent institution. In addition, ESAVS is in the process of accrediting our programs by VetCEE, an accreditation agency for continuing veterinary education endorsed by the highest authorities in veterinary education represented in the European Coordinating Committee on Veterinary Training (ECCVT).

• Each discipline has a Program Director (PD).
o The PD is defining and regularly updating the discipline’s specific requirements complying with the general rules and standards determined by the post-graduate education committee.
o The PD is defining, together with the other course masters the major and the minor subjects of the discipline.
o The PD is responsible for overseeing the creation of CASUS-based examinations.
o The PD is appointing and inviting course masters in the responsible discipline to join the examination board.
o The PD is overseeing the evaluation/grading of all written work (case log, case reports) of the students enrolled in their discipline program. She/He can perform the evaluation her/himself or may also delegate the evaluation assignments to other members of the examination board.

• The program is supervised by the Post Graduate Education Committee (PGEC) which consists of the ESAVS Educational Director and four professors of veterinary medicine from various European universities coming from different disciplines of small animal veterinary medicine. The committee is assisted by a coordinator from ESAVS.
The duties of the PGEC include:
o Supervision of the quality of program.
o Regular review of the rules and requirements.
o Collecting all examination grades and assignment of ECTS credits and a final global grade to each candidate following review of all the data.
o Management and interaction with the Program Directors.

• The PGEC is assisted by the Examination Board which consists of at least 10 specialists usually associated with ESAVS, representing various disciplines of small animal veterinary medicine. The committee is chaired by the Educational Director. The examination board is responsible for:
– Reviewing and grading the case logs and case reports.
– Creation of examinations.

• The faculty of ESAVS (Principal Course Masters and Course Masters) consists of internationally recognized veterinary specialists from all over the world, most of which are university teachers. The ESAVS faculty teaches in the courses and prepares the respective examinations.

All administration associated with the CAS is handled by the Certificate/Master programs department at the ESAVS office.

Admission requirements
  • Candidates must hold a recognized, state-validated veterinary degree from a university or equivalent institution of higher education, according to DIRECTIVE 2013/55/EU (see for details: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32013L0055).
  • Candidates must provide proof that for the whole duration of the Master´s curriculum they are working at least half time in a veterinary practice with a case load of at least 1000 diseased small animals (500 per clinician) per year, adequate facilities for examination, surgery, diagnostic imaging and hospitalisation equivalent to the Tier 2 category of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons of the UK practice standards scheme (see for details: https://RCVS.org.uk).
The cost of the program includes registration fees, course fees and examination fees (including evaluation fees for the written assignments).

  • Registration and evaluation fees must be paid to the ESAVS office.
  • The fees for the coursework are paid for each individual course directly to ESAVS.
  • The courses offered by ESAVS are published on the website and in the annual brochures. The fees vary according to the discipline. Generally, highly technical courses are more expensive than others.

  • The examination fees are paid for each individual examination.
  • Registration
    Write an email to the ESAVS Master & Certificate department (master-certificate@esavs.eu):

    • Expressing your intention to participate in the program.
    • Include a copy of your veterinary diploma (scanned version will do).
    • Include a brief description of your working environment:

    – Address of the practice/veterinary hospital
    – List of staff and their qualifications
    – Short list of facilities: rooms for examination, equipment, hospitalisation space, ajor laboratory equipment, diagnostic imaging equipment
    – Case load: indicate approximate number of dogs, cats, other pets seen per year over the past three years

    • Include one copy of your passport or personal identification card.
    • Include a list of the ESAVS courses you may have attended in the past and/or plan to attend.
    • Selected course curriculum: Please request the respective curriculum form for your discipline at the ESAVS Master & Certificate department (master-certificate@esavs.eu)

    These documents will be forwarded to the PGEC. You will be notified in due course whether your application has been accepted and receive an invoice to pay a registration fee.