How Hard Is It To Get Into Vet School? An In-Depth Look

May 6, 2024
6 min read


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 5/6/24

Want to get into vet school, but don’t know how hard it is? Read on for the best tips, advice, and strategies on securing your white coat.

The true difficulty of getting into vet school haunts many aspiring veterinarians and for good reason. Veterinary medicine is a rewarding profession, but the journey to earning that coveted white coat is not for the faint of heart. 

Vet school acceptance rates are among the most selective professional programs, often lower than those of medical or dental schools. The competition is fierce, the academic requirements are rigorous, and the emotional and financial investments are substantial.

But for those who possess a passion for animal welfare, a thirst for knowledge, and the determination to overcome any obstacle, the dream of becoming a veterinarian is well within reach. In this comprehensive guide, we'll dive deep into veterinary school admissions, exploring the challenges, the strategies, and the realities of pursuing this incredible career path.

Let’s get started!

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How Hard Is It To Get Into Vet School?

Getting into veterinary school is a highly competitive process as they are among the most selective professional programs, with acceptance rates often lower than medical or dental schools. There are only 32 vet programs in the US and five in Canada.

To put this into perspective, the average acceptance rate for vet schools in the United States is around 10-15%. This means that for every 100 applicants, only 10-15 are accepted. The competition is fierce, and applicants must stand out from the crowd to secure a spot.

If you want personalized insight into your vet school acceptance chances, try our vet school admission quiz! You’ll get a comprehensive look at your applicant profile and a prediction of how likely you are to get into vet school. 

Veterinary School Acceptance Rates

Here is a table detailing all vet school acceptance rates in the US.

School Acceptance Rate Average GPA GRE
Auburn University 9% 3.7 Not Required
Colorado State University 23% 3.7 Not Required
Cornell University 11.7% 3.8 Not Required
Iowa State University 12.3% 3.4 Not Required
Kansas State University 11.1% 3.4 Not Required
Lincoln Memorial University 11.5% 3.3 Not Required
Long Island University 8% 3.5 Not Required
Louisiana State University 10% 3.8 Not Required
Michigan State University 19.5% 3.4 Not Required
Midwestern University DVM Program 11% 3.3 Not Required
Mississippi State University 10.8% 3.5 Not Required

School Acceptance Rate Average GPA GRE
North Carolina State University 16.7% 3.7 Not Required
Ohio State University 14.6% 3.4 Not Required
Oklahoma State University 6.7% 3.7 Required
Oregon State University DVM Program 15% 3.5 Required
Purdue University 18.3% 3.7 Not Required
Texas A&M University 18.8% 3.7 Not Required
Texas Tech University 9.6% 3.4 Not Required
Tufts University 10% 3.8 Not Required
Tuskegee University 3.2% 3.3 Required
University of Arizona 5.7% N/A N/A
University of California, Davis DVM Program 6.7% 3.4 Required

School Acceptance Rate Average GPA GRE
University of Florida 13.7% 3.4 Not Required
University of Georgia 9.2% 3.7 Required
University of Illinois - Urbana 8% 3.5 Not Required
University of Michigan 12% 3.8 Not Required
University of Minnesota 7.3% 3.6 Required
University of Pennsylvania 7.2% 3.6 Not Required
University of Tennessee 14.8% 3.7 Not Required
University of Wisconsin - Madison 10.5% 3.6 Required
Virginia - Maryland Regional College 15.1% 3.3 Not Required
Washington State University 11.2% 3.7 Required
Western University of Health Sciences DVM Program 7.8% 3.3 Not Required

Veterinary School Admission Requirements

Aspiring veterinarians must meet several key requirements to gain admission to veterinary school. While specific criteria may vary between institutions, there are common elements that most schools look for in their applicants.

Academic Prerequisites: A strong foundation in the sciences is essential. Most veterinary schools require a minimum of a bachelor's degree, with specific coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Many schools also recommend or require additional classes in subjects such as animal science, genetics, and biochemistry.

Grade Point Average (GPA): Veterinary schools typically look for a competitive GPA, often 3.5 or higher. This demonstrates a student's ability to handle rigorous coursework and succeed academically. However, some schools may consider applicants with lower GPAs if they have other outstanding qualifications.

Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT): Many schools require applicants to take the VCAT, a standardized test that assesses a candidate's knowledge of biology, chemistry, and quantitative reasoning. A strong score on this exam can bolster an application.

Animal Experience: Hands-on experience working with animals is crucial. This can include volunteering at animal shelters, working on farms, or shadowing veterinarians. Schools want to see that applicants have a realistic understanding of the profession and a genuine commitment to animal welfare.

Letters of Recommendation: Most schools require letters of recommendation from professors, veterinarians, or other professionals who can speak to an applicant's academic abilities, work ethic, and character. These letters provide valuable insight into a candidate's potential for success in veterinary school and beyond.

Extracurricular Activities: Involvement in clubs, organizations, or community service, especially those related to animal welfare or veterinary medicine, can demonstrate an applicant's leadership skills, teamwork abilities, and dedication to the field.

In addition to these requirements, successful applicants typically showcase strong communication skills, empathy, and a genuine passion for veterinary medicine in their essays and interviews. Meeting these admission requirements is the first step in the challenging but rewarding journey to becoming a veterinarian.

Tips to Get Into Veterinary School

Getting into veterinary school is a competitive process, but there are several strategies you can employ to increase your chances of success:

1. Excel in Prerequisites: Aim for top grades in all your prerequisite courses, particularly in the sciences. If you struggle with a subject, seek help from professors, tutors, or study groups. A strong academic record is essential for catching the attention of admissions committees.

2. Gain Diverse Animal Experience: Seek out opportunities to work with a variety of animals in different settings. This could include volunteering at a local animal shelter, working on a farm, or assisting at a wildlife rehabilitation center. The more diverse your experience, the better you can demonstrate your commitment to animal welfare.

3. Shadow Veterinarians: Spend time shadowing veterinarians in different specialties, such as small animal, large animal, or exotic animal medicine. This will give you a realistic understanding of the day-to-day work of a veterinarian and help you confirm your career choice. It also provides an opportunity to network and potentially secure a valuable letter of recommendation.

4. Prepare Thoroughly for the VCAT: Start studying for the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) well in advance. Take practice tests, review content, and identify areas where you need improvement. Consider taking a prep course if you need additional structure or support.

5. Engage in Research: Participating in research projects, especially those related to animal science or veterinary medicine, can set you apart from other applicants. This demonstrates your curiosity, critical thinking skills, and ability to contribute to the field.

6. Develop Leadership Skills: Seek out leadership roles in clubs, organizations, or community service projects. This showcases your ability to take initiative, work collaboratively, and make a positive impact. Leadership experience can also provide compelling stories for your application essays and interviews.

7. Craft Compelling Essays: Your application essays are an opportunity to showcase your personality, passion, and motivation for pursuing veterinary medicine. Start early, write multiple drafts, and seek feedback from trusted mentors. Use specific examples to illustrate your experiences and convey your unique voice.

8. Secure Strong Letters of Recommendation: Identify professors, veterinarians, or other mentors who can speak to your academic abilities, work ethic, and character. Provide them with your resume and a brief summary of your goals to help them craft a compelling letter on your behalf.

9. Apply Strategically: Research veterinary schools to find programs that align with your interests and strengths. Apply broadly to increase your chances of acceptance, but also strategically to schools where you are a competitive applicant.

10. Prepare for Interviews: If invited for an interview, prepare thoroughly. Review common questions, practice your responses, and be ready to discuss your experiences and motivation for pursuing veterinary medicine. Dress professionally, arrive early, and demonstrate your enthusiasm and professionalism throughout the interview process.

11. Pick the Right Major: If you decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree before applying to vet school, keep in mind that your major is not the most important factor in determining your acceptance. Though a chemistry or biology degree seems impressive, vet schools are more concerned with your grades than your degree. You could apply to vet school with an art degree so long as you meet the prerequisites for that vet school and have a high GPA. 

The best way to improve your vet school acceptance rate is to start preparing as soon as possible. Sometimes you don’t know what you want to do with your life, while others have known their true calling since they were children. It doesn’t matter when you choose to pursue veterinary medicine. 

What’s important is that once you make your decision, you devote all of your free time to making your dream a reality. 

Easiest Vet Schools to Get Into

No matter where you decide to apply, the journey will not be simple. Vet school demands hard work and commitment. However, there are a few vet schools that don’t have as many prerequisites as others, and some don’t require the GRE either. 

1. Western University of Health Services College of Veterinary Medicine

The Western University of Health Services prides itself on its ability to provide a variety of vet school education while also devoting itself to including a diverse student body and providing a cost-effective education for its students. 

Unlike some vet schools, this university does not require letters of recommendation. This university does require the GRE, so make sure you earn a high enough score before you apply. 

2. Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine

Tuskegee University serves as the only vet program offered at a historically black university, boasting its achievement of educating nearly 70% of black veterinarians. 

You must have at least a 3.0 GPA and a high GRE score to apply. They do require letters of recommendation and some form of animal experience, but this helps boost your chances. 

3. Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Oklahoma State University remains number one in value for the cost of veterinary education. 

This university also provides research centers in areas of parasitology as well as veterinary sports medicine, and they put a lot of work into research on infectious diseases. 

You must have at least a 2.80 GPA, and you have to take the GRE as well as the CASPer test

4. Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Oregon State University provides an exceptional veterinary medicine education, seeing as 98% of the 2020 graduating class passed the NAVLE, an exam you must pass to become a licensed veterinarian. 

This university does not require the GRE, nor does it require a bachelor’s degree to apply. As long as you meet the prerequisites, you’re eligible to apply. 

5. University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine

The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign offers a variety of specialties in veterinary medicine and a teaching hospital. 

They also focus on specific areas of medical research like oncology and equine orthopedics. The GRE is required, but you only need a GPA of 3.0 and a C- or higher in the prerequisite courses. 

They also offer two different prerequisite plans: Plan A for students who already have or will have a bachelor’s degree by the time of application, and Plan B for those who do not have an undergraduate degree. 

As you can see, even the “easier” vet schools still require a lot of work for students to gain acceptance. But if you feel up for a challenge, take a look at the harder vet schools below.

Hardest Vet Schools to Get Into

You’ve seen the requirements for some of the more accessible vet schools. But if you want to give yourself the best chance of acceptance, you should consider applying to some of the harder vet schools as well. After all, there aren’t a lot of vet schools available in the United States, so you should at least apply to more than one. 

1. UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Ranked as the #1 vet school in the United States, UC Davis provides some of the highest quality veterinary medicine education. 

They offer a wide range of specialties, including exotic animal medicine as well as aquatic animal medicine. 

They also provide over 28 different research programs, including community outreach and diagnostic testing. 

UC Davis requires 180 hours of veterinary experience, a bachelor’s degree, as well as the GRE, and at least three letters of recommendation, with one of these letters written by a veterinarian. 

2. Cornell University DVM

Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University's DVM Program is another highly selective program. 

The school admits around 120 students each year from a pool of over 1,000 applicants. 

Successful candidates typically have a GPA of 3.7 or higher, extensive veterinary experience, and a strong record of research and community service. 

Cornell's program is known for its rigorous curriculum, with a strong emphasis on clinical training and research.

3. Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is a top-ranked program with a highly competitive admission process. 

The school receives over 1,800 applications each year for just 138 spots. 

Successful applicants typically have a GPA of 3.6 or higher, significant animal experience, and strong scores on the GRE. 

Colorado State's program is known for its emphasis on hands-on learning, with students gaining experience in the school's state-of-the-art teaching hospital and research facilities.

4. University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

The University of Pennsylvania serves as the only vet school developed in association with a medical school, and they have graduated nearly 6,000 veterinary students. Though they don’t require the GRE, you must complete several hours of veterinary experience and provide letters of recommendation. 

As you can see, some of the hardest vet schools to gain entry to are some of the highest-ranked vet schools. But don’t let this deter you from applying. The chances might seem bleak, but you might be successful. You won’t know until you try.

5. North Carolina University College of Veterinary Medicine

The NC State College of Veterinary Medicine is a highly selective program, admitting just 100 students each year from a pool of over 1,000 applicants. 

Successful candidates typically have a GPA of 3.5 or higher, extensive animal experience, and strong scores on the GRE. 

NC State's program is known for its innovative curriculum, which includes a focus on problem-based learning and early exposure to clinical cases.

How Much Does Vet School Cost?

On average, the total cost of attendance for four years of veterinary school in the United States ranges from $150,000 to $420,000. In-state students at public schools typically pay around $78,000 to $155,000 in tuition and fees over four years, while out-of-state students can expect to pay $131,000 to $285,000.

Is Vet School Harder Than Medical School?

The average GPA is higher for medical school than for vet school. However, they have key differences such as: 

  • Veterinary school requires learning about multiple species, while medical school focuses solely on human anatomy and physiology. 
  • Vet students must attend all classes in person, while medical students can often watch recorded lectures. 
  • Veterinary school allows for more career flexibility and less bureaucratic red tape compared to medical school.

Ultimately, both paths are demanding, and the "harder" choice depends on individual interests and goals. Aspiring doctors in either field should carefully consider the unique challenges and benefits of each profession before deciding.


If you’re still wondering how hard it is to get into vet school, we’ve outlined everything you need to know in the section below.

1. How Long is Vet School?

With a bachelor's degree, vet school takes about eight years to complete. Without one, the experience will be shorter.

2. How Hard Is it to Get Into Vet School in Canada?

Getting into vet school in Canada is extremely challenging due to the limited number of schools and graduates. Canada has only five vet programs, graduating about 350 students per year.

3. How Hard Is it to Get Into Vet School in the UK?

While UK students can apply to vet school as young as 17 without an undergraduate degree, they must have passed advanced placement (AP) exams in relevant subjects with a score of 5. With only ten vet schools in the UK, the chances of acceptance are slim.

4. Can You Reapply to Vet School?

Yes, you can reapply to vet school if you are rejected. Reach out to the school to discuss what your application lacked and use that knowledge to improve your application for a different vet school. 

5. Do You Need a Minimum GPA or GRE Score for Vet School?

GPA and GRE score requirements vary by vet school. Most schools require a minimum GPA of around 3.0, but you must research the specific requirements of the schools you're interested in.

6. Do You Need a Bachelor’s Degree for Vet School?

Some schools require an undergraduate degree, while others allow attendance with only prerequisite courses completed. Research the requirements for each school you plan to apply to to determine whether a bachelor's degree is necessary for admission.

Final Thoughts

Pursuing a career in veterinary medicine is not for the faint of heart. It requires dedication, hard work, and a genuine passion for animal welfare. The path to becoming a veterinarian is challenging, with highly competitive admission rates and rigorous academic requirements.

However, for those who are truly committed to this profession, the rewards are immeasurable. As a veterinarian, you have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of animals and the people who love them. You'll be at the forefront of medical research, working to advance our understanding of animal health and disease. You'll be a trusted advisor, guiding pet owners through difficult decisions and providing comfort in times of need.

While the journey to vet school may seem daunting, remember that every challenge you face is an opportunity to grow and learn. Whether you attend one of the easiest or hardest vet schools to get into, the quality of your education and the impact you make will be determined by your own dedication and perseverance.

Good luck!

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