Veterinary Medicine

Veterinarians work to ensure the health and well-being of both animals and humans. Their duties typically include:

  • Treating sick and injured animals
  • Preventing the transmission of animal diseases to people
  • Advising owners on the proper care of pets and livestock
  • Protecting animal and human food supply by maintaining the health of food animals
  • Ensuring wildlife preservation and conservation
icon of a dog silhouette on a medical cross

Degree Program

Students earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from a college that meets accreditation standards set by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). A DVM degree takes four years to complete. Although a bachelor's degree is not required for all veterinary schools, the vast majority of admitted applicants have completed four years of undergraduate education prior to matriculating.

Course Prerequisites

There is no particular major required for veterinary school, just the prerequisite of certain science classes. For specific college requirements, visit the Association of American Veterinary College’s (AAVMC) Summary of Course Prerequisites (PDF) or College Descriptor Pages.

Typical prerequisite courses include:

  • General biology with lab (6-8 credits)
  • Inorganic chemistry with lab (6-8 credits)
  • Organic chemistry with lab (4-8 credits)
  • Biochemistry with lab (3-4 credits)
  • Physics with lab (6-8 credits)
  • Genetics (3-4 credits)
  • Microbiology with lab (3-5 credits)
  • English (6 credits)
  • Humanities & social sciences (6-15 credits)
  • Mathematics (3-6 credits)
  • Statistics

Application Requirements



Most veterinary schools require scores from the GRE, although some will accept Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®) scores instead. Students should check on the preference of the college to which they are applying.

GPA and Extracurricular Experience

According to the AAVMC's Admitted Student Statistics, the average science GPA of admitted students for the class of 2020 was 3.48, while the average cumulative GPA was 3.55. The average GRE score for the same class was 58.1 (quantitative) and 65.7 (verbal). In addition, according to the AVMA's Veterinary School Admission 101, most schools prefer applicants to have some experience working with animals:

"If you've been in 4-H, FFA or a similar group, that's great experience that should go on your veterinary school admission form. Similarly, working with animals in any way can be of value. For example, volunteering at shelters or rescues can provide animal handling experience that will help make you a better candidate.

It goes without saying that volunteering or working for a veterinarian is very important. Not only does it expose you to your potential career (so you know what you're getting into, so to speak), but it also might provide a good recommendation for you from the veterinarian.

Varied experience is also helpful. If you have the opportunity to work in a research lab or for veterinarians who work with different species, that's a bonus that can make you more appealing to a veterinary school admissions committee. Get as much experience as you can while you have the opportunity."

Application Process

The Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) is a centralized application service sponsored by the AAVMC. The VMCAS reviews the applicant’s application form for completion, processes payment of application fees and electronically transmits applicant’s data to the colleges selected by the applicant.

While VMCAS has application requirements, there may be other requirements for admission, including additional application forms, personal statements and a personal interview. Be sure to check with individual schools to determine what supplemental materials are required. Not all veterinary schools participate in VMCAS; applications to those programs should be sent directly to those schools. The College Descriptor Pages provide links to specific application requirements.

The VMCAS application typically opens in May, though you should verify the exact date on the VMCAS website. It is important to read all of the information on their website to ensure proper transmission of your applications either through VMCAS or the individual institutions. The VMCAS application deadline is in early September, but applicants are advised to submit their applications well in advance to ensure time for verification and processing.

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