If you have a deep passion for animals, you’ve probably considered becoming a veterinarian at some point. You’d spend your days saving the lives of furry creatures and get to experience the thrill of medicine in real life. But not just anyone can become a vet. If it were that simple, anyone could do it. But it takes an ambitious person to fill the role of a veterinarian.
So just how hard is it to get into vet school? Is it harder than medical school? Is it really as competitive as people make it seem? We answer these questions and so many more in this in-depth look at the difficulty of veterinary school.
You often hear people bemoaning the difficulty of acceptance into vet school, but really, how hard is it to get into vet school? There are only 32 vet schools in the United States, which means that there are states that don’t even offer a degree in veterinary medicine.
Within each school, there is a set number of students who can gain acceptance into the program. This means you’re not just competing with other aspiring vets within your own state. You’re also competing with outsiders, students who could have educational advantages over you.
You’ve probably heard horror stories of aspiring veterinarians who were rejected because of their grades. Veterinary medicine encompasses a vast knowledge of mathematics and science, so you must earn high grades in these fields.
Some vet schools even require the GRE, so you want to make sure you earn a worthy score to gain acceptance. You can’t go into this decision lightly. To succeed as a vet, you have to truly commit to the field.
Vet school is challenging to get into because there are a small number of vet schools available in the United States. Some states don’t even have a vet school, which can add to the difficulty of gaining entry into schools in states where they don’t reside.
Though vet schools are more likely to accept in-state students, you shouldn’t let this stop you from applying because you deserve the chance to pursue your dream. Work hard in your classes and extracurriculars to help you stand out from other candidates.
To put it simply, you have to put everything you’ve got into your applications. You can’t half-heartedly apply and expect to succeed. You’re competing with dedicated students across the country.
It takes more than just a deep love of animals to gain acceptance into vet school. It takes hard work to get in. It seems impossible, and you may be wondering where to begin. How do you prepare for something as difficult as vet school?
Read on to learn more and consider using Inspira’s vet school consulting services to enhance your chances of acceptance.
The best way to improve your chances of vet school acceptance 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 really 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.
Put the majority of your energy into making good grades in high school and college. Remember that you’re competing with other worthy candidates and you want to do everything you can to ensure your spot in vet school.
Make sure that you earn high grades in your math and science courses and give yourself some time to pursue extracurriculars. Vet schools look for well-rounded students who can juggle school and other obligations.
Volunteer at your local animal shelter or shadow a veterinarian. It takes more than just good grades to become a successful veterinarian. Vet schools want to see how you handle dealing with animals in real life, not just your imagination.
Sometimes you’ll deal with animals who are less than friendly, and sometimes you’ll bear witness to stomach-turning gore. Vet schools want to know that you can handle this sort of thing. Get as much experience you can to set yourself apart from other applicants.
Check to see if the schools you want to apply to require the GRE. Some vet schools are moving away from this requirement, but most vet schools still require your GRE score to gain entry. Start studying for this exam as soon as you can. It’s more strenuous than the SAT or ACT, and determines whether you can attend graduate school, whether that’s vet school or any other graduate degree you might pursue.
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. You want to choose a major that you’ll enjoy so you’ll be determined to earn good grades.
Don’t pick a major just because you think it’ll look good. It won’t help you if your grades are poor.
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.
The Western University of Health Services prides itself on its ability to provide a variety of vet school education while also devoting itself to include 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.
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.
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.
NOTE: All upper division courses must be completed at a four-year university.
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 in order 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.
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. They require the GRE, 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 in order for students to gain acceptance. But if you feel up for a challenge, take a look at the harder vet schools below.
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.
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. They require 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.
NOTE: All upper division courses must be completed at a four-year university.
Ranked as the #2 vet school in the United States, Cornell University provides exceptional veterinary medicine education. Though they no longer require the GRE or CASper test, you must submit three letters of recommendation with one letter from a veterinarian.
Colorado State University sits as the #3 vet school in the United States. They have four different academic departments that contribute to the program, and they see over 45,000 patients visiting their teaching hospital per year. Though they no longer require the GRE, you must have letters of recommendation, and you must participate in extracurricular activities.
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 a number of hours in 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.
One of the biggest deterrents for students applying to vet school is the cost of vet school. While the costs vary from school to school, and the costs differ from students applying in-state versus out-of-state, your wallet won’t come out unscathed.
Though the cost of vet school varies from school to school, you can expect to spend an average of $200,000 for an in-state vet school education. While you may balk at the price tag, there are tons of scholarship opportunities at every school and you can always look into taking out student loans. Once you get a job as a veterinarian at an animal hospital or clinic, you’ll earn enough money to begin paying back your loans.
Sometimes you just can’t afford the price, and while it would be devastating to give up your dreams of becoming a veterinarian, you can still pursue a career in the veterinary field. Veterinary technicians don’t make as much money as veterinarians, but it requires less education and allows you to continue to help animals. You can find a more detailed outline of the costs of vet school here.
Veterinary school and medical school both require extensive knowledge of math and science courses. Many of the prerequisites for these schools are similar because biology and chemistry are needed in the veterinary and medical fields. Though aspiring med students have to take the MCAT before applying to medical school, most people agree that vet school is harder than medical school.
Vet school isn’t harder because it requires more strenuous work. Medical school is just as demanding. What makes vet school harder is the simple fact that fewer vet schools exist. With less schools available, students struggle to gain acceptance in vet schools even if their grades are worthy. Each school has only a certain number of students they can take each year, making for a competitive experience.
Though medical school is difficult as well, there are more medical schools available. More schools mean more chances for students to be accepted. Both fields require intelligent students who can maintain competency in difficult subjects, but medical schools exist all over the country, with multiple schools residing in each state. Some states are lucky to have one vet school, while others don’t have a vet school at all.
The length of vet school solely depends on whether or not you wish to earn a bachelor’s degree before applying to vet school. Some schools, like UC Davis, require their students to earn a bachelor’s degree in order to be accepted, while Oregon State does not. If you choose to earn a bachelor’s degree, it takes about eight years to complete. If you choose to only take the prerequisite courses, your vet school experience will be shorter. You can find a more in-depth article on this topic here.
Vet school in Canada is even more challenging to gain entry to because they only have five vet schools in Canada, and they only graduate about 350 students per year. If you’re a US student applying to Canadian vet school, your chances are even slimmer because most accepted students reside in Canada. You can always add a few schools to your list of desired schools, but make sure you apply to some schools in the states as well.
It may seem easier to earn your DVM from the UK since UK students can apply to vet school as young as 17, but there’s a catch. Students can only apply to vet school without earning an undergraduate degree if they’ve taken (and passed with a score of 5) on advanced placement (AP) exams in relevant subjects. There are also only ten vet schools in the UK, so you have even slimmer chances of acceptance.
No one wants to think about the possibility of rejection, but it could definitely happen to you. If your dream school rejected you, don’t panic! You can always email the school to see if they would be willing to discuss what your application lacked and use the knowledge you gained to apply to a different vet school.
Though there’s not much you can do to change the grades you have, you can always get more experience by shadowing a vet or volunteering for something unique that sets you apart. Just make sure you take a look at that school’s requirements before you apply so you know you’re not missing anything important.
Each vet school is different when it comes to a GPA or a GRE score. You’ll need to research the schools you’re interested in to be sure if you need to take the GRE. Most vet schools require a minimum GPA of about 3.0, but you’ll want to double-check for the schools you want to apply to.
This requirement depends on which vet schools you plan to attend. Some are pretty adamant about earning an undergraduate degree, while others allow you to attend without one so long as you have completed the prerequisite courses. You’ll need to look into the requirements for each school you plan to apply to and determine whether or not you need a bachelor’s degree.
Don’t let this article discourage you from pursuing your passion! While the results may look bleak, there are still plenty of options available for vet school. Though it is difficult and requires a lot of hard work, you’ll be grateful you took the plunge and pursued a career you truly care about.
And if you’re unsuccessful in vet school, you can continuously pursue a different path as a veterinary technician where you still get the chance to work with animals. Whatever you decide, don’t go into this field half-heartedly. This field requires all of your attention in order for you to be successful. Good luck!