The UAAC encourages all pre-veterinary students to meet with a health professions adviser during their freshmen or sophomore year to discuss their plan to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Click here to schedule an appointment!
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- Professional Responsibilities
- Resources: Learn More About Veterinary Medicine
- Professional Education
- Applying to Veterinary Medicine Programs
Do the following words/phrases apply to you? If so, veterinary medicine may be a good fit:
- Enjoy working with animals
- Strong foundation in the sciences
- Good manual dexterity
- Strong interpersonal skills to deal with pet/animal owners
- Business skills (for vets intending to go into private practice)
- Would like a well-compensated career ($71,990 national median salary*)
- Diagnose animal health problems
- Vaccinate against diseases
- Medicate animals suffering from infections or illnesses
- Treat and dress wounds, set fractures, and perform surgery
- Advise owners about animal feeding, behavior, and breeding
- Use their skills to protect humans against diseases carried by animals
- Conduct clinical research on human and animal health problems
- Work in basic research, broadening our knowledge of animals and medical science
- Work in applied research, developing new ways to use knowledge
- Degrees Offered: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
- Years of Study: 4 years
A BS/BA degree is recommended but not required for admission to the majority of programs. Graduates of accredited DVM programs must pass a state licensure exam in order to practice.
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Courses required for admission vary significantly from one institution to another. The following courses are mentioned frequently as being required and/or recommended by a majority of vet med programs:
- 1 year biology with lab
- 1 year inorganic chemistry with lab
- 1 year organic chemistry with lab
- 1 year physics with lab
- 1 year English (including public speaking and composition)
- 1-2 courses in mathematics or statistics
Some vet schools may also require courses in genetics, microbiology, animal nutrition and humanities/social sciences. Some of these courses may not be available at Northwestern University and may have to be taken elsewhere.
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) produces a chart of all course prerequisites for the vet schools that use VMCAS (the centralized application service). The AAVMC also creates college descriptor pages for their member vet med schools.
The Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements guide (VMSAR) contains admission requirements and contact information for all 32 U.S. and Canadian veterinary medical colleges, as well as the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh. A new edition usually comes out in May and can be bought online.
Veterinary medical students come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds. Applicants are not required to major in "pre-vet" or any specific major in college to be eligible for admission to a vet med program. However, because vet med programs vary so much in required coursework, students should begin researching possible programs early to determine if their choice of major will fulfill all or most of the vet med program requirements.
Choose a program carefully based upon factors that are important to your own learning needs. Consider program content, geographic location, faculty; facilities, experiential training opportunities, class size, student demographics, extracurricular opportunities, and cost.
For state-supported public institutions, legal residence may have a significant impact on admissions decisions. Private institutions may offer out-of-state and foreign applicants a greater number of positions as compared to state-supported, public institutions.
1. Academic ability
- Successful completion of prerequisite coursework, usually with a grade of C or above.
- Competitive applicants must have a higher GPA (typically 3.5 or above).
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are required by most programs.
2. Veterinary medicine and animal experience
Volunteer or paid experience working with animals, ideally in a veterinary medicine setting, is required by many schools and encouraged by all. Some schools even require a minimum number of hours of experience.
Competitive applicants will have experience in a variety of settings and exposure to different types of animals (e.g. small animal, large animal, exotics, aquatics, lab animals, and wildlife). These experiences allow applicants to test their career decision and be confident that veterinary medicine is a good fit. Applicants who have researched and gained direct exposure to the profession will be better prepared to write a compelling application and respond to interview questions.
3. Letters of Recommendation
Many veterinary medicine programs require 3 letters of recommendation, typically at least one from a veterinarian that an applicant has worked with or shadowed. Ultimately, applicants should check each school's specific requirements regarding letters or recommendation.
Although the University Academic Advising Center offers a recommendation file service, this service is not the best option to use to submit letters of recommendation to VMCAS. Applicants should use the electronic letter of recommendations process provided by VMCAS and also check the specific schools' requirements and directions regarding letters.
To prepare for a vet med program interview:
- Review the school's website
- Review studentdoctor.net for interview feedback for various vet schools
- Talk with a health professions adviser about interview preparation
Be prepared to discuss:
- Why you are pursuing a career in veterinary medicine
- Why you applied to this particular vet school
- What career paths you are considering in vet medicine
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- Any part of your application materials
- Ethical considerations within veterinary medicine
- How your experiences thus far have prepared you for a career in vet medicine
- Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS)
Most US and Canadian vet schools use this centralized application service.
- Direct Application
Texas A&M, Tufts and Tuskegee University do not use VMCAS and require applicants to apply directly to their programs.
- Supplemental Application
Many VMCAS schools will also have a separate supplemental application that must be completed by their deadline.
The majority of programs have deadlines in October, but it is highly recommended that you submit VMCAS and any supplemental or direct applications several weeks before the deadlines to avoid processing delays.