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 have requirements similar to any pre-med program. These include:

  • One year of General Chemistry (Chem 150 and lab; Chem 151 and lab)
  • One year of Biology for majors (Bio 106 and lab; Bio 113 and lab)
  • One year of Organic Chemistry (Chem 250 and lab; Chem 251 and lab)
  • Biochemistry (Chem 311)
  • Genetics (Bio 260)
  • Statistics (Math 132)
  • Physics (Phys 201 and lab and Phys 202 and lab OR Phys 217 and 218 and associated labs)
  • Nutrition (ES 353)
  • English composition (Comp 150 and 250 OR Comp 250 and 350)
  • The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) - not all schools require this, check with the specific program of interest
  • Hours of service with a practicing veterinarian

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

  • Microbiology (Bio 208)
  • Immunology, Pathophysiology, Histology, Toxicology, Neurobiology, Infectious Disease (Bio 425 and 427 Advanced Topics in Biology)
  • Nutrition (ES 353)
  • Advanced Human Physiology (Bio 326)
  • Animal Form and Function (Bio 323)
  • Plant Form and Function (Bio 325)
  • Mammalogy (Bio 324)
  • Ornithology (Bio 331)

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 a standardized test as a part of its application materials, usually the GRE. All western veterinary schools require the general GRE, none require the MCAT. Be sure to have the GRE 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

Summary of prerequisite requirements by school