A veterinarian  is a physician for animals and a practitioner of veterinary medicine.  Although veterinarians are awarded with doctoral degrees and receive extensive training in veterinary medical practice, there are many career fields open to those with veterinary degrees other than clinical practice. Those that do work in clinical settings often practice medicine in specific fields, such as companion animal or "pet" medicine, large animal medicine, equine medicine, or laboratory animal medicine, or they may specialize in medical disciplines such as surgery, or internal medicine, after post-graduate training and certification.

Pre-Requisite Course Work

Veterinary medicine does not require a specific major, so choose one that you can do well in while taking the prerequisite requirements.   Prerequisite requirements vary by school, but most include:

  • One year of inorganic chemistry (Chem 150 and lab; Chem 151 and lab)
  • One year of basic biology (Bio 112; Bio 113 and lab)One year of organic chemistry (Chem 250 and lab; Chem 251 and lab)
  • Biochemistry (Chem 311)
  • Zoology (Bio 207 and lab)
  • Animal Science (Ag 101 )
  • Genetics (Bio 260 and lab)
  • Microbiology (Bio 331 and lab)
  • Statistics (Math 201)
  • Physics (Phys 201 and lab; Phys 202 and lab)
  • English composition (Comp 150 or equivalent; Comp 250 or equivalent)
  • The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) - not all schools require this, check with the specific program of interest
  • Hours of service with a practicing veterinarian
  • Bachelor's degree

Additionally, there are other courses that would augment your knowledge base regarding animals. These include:

  • Principles of Animal Nutrition (Ag 240)
  • Beef Science (Ag 325)
  • Histology (Bio 303)
  • Ichthyology (Bio 315)
  • Mammalogy (Bio 324)
  • Ornithology (Bio 334)
  • Vertebrate Comparative Anatomy (Bio 341)

Application Procedures & Timeline

Accredited Veterinary Medicine programs have an on-line application service, the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS). The VMCAS application process opens in early June and closes on October 1. Each Veterinary program requires some standardized test as a part of its application materials (eg. GRE, MCAT, or TOEFL for non-English speaking applicants), so be sure that you have your exam taken and the scores available prior to the October 1 deadline.  You will also need to have letters of recommendation and official transcripts from all of the colleges you've attended, submitted prior to the deadline.  Some schools will accept on-line recommendations, but some will only accept mailed letters, so check with individuals writing your recommendation letters to give them plenty of time to complete and send these letters.  Many colleges also require a supplemental application, so be aware of which programs do or do not have this requirement. 

Additional Links

Individual requirements