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Pre-Veterinary Medicine: Preparing Yourself For Vet School

October 4, 2021
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Part 1. IntroductionPart 2. What is Pre-Veterinary Medicine?Part 3. Preparing for Pre-Vet ProgramPart 4. Majors for Pre-Vet MedicinePart 5. Best Pre-Vet SchoolsPart 6. Pre-Veterinary Medicine CoursesPart 7. Potential JobsPart 8. FAQsPart 9. Conclusion

Introduction

The idea of vet school is enough to strike fear in the hearts of aspiring veterinarians. This demanding educational journey determines your success or failure in the field of veterinary medicine. 

You want to give yourself the best chance at achieving your dreams, so you’ve considered majoring in Pre-Veterinary Medicine. But, what is Pre-Veterinary Medicine? Will this degree increase your chances of acceptance to vet school? Is Pre-Veterinary Medicine right for you? 

We answer these questions and much more as we delve into this guide to prepare you for your vet school expedition. 

What is Pre-Veterinary Medicine?

Pre-Veterinary Medicine is a specific track or program that certain schools offer. You major in something else, like biology or animal science, and choose pre-vet like a concentration. The pre-vet track guides students to fulfill all prerequisites necessary to apply for vet school. This program gives you a sneak peek into the world of veterinary medicine and shows just how demanding the career can be. 

Preparing for Pre-Vet Program

The best way to prepare for graduate school is to decide your career path early. Use your high school career to gain basic knowledge in classes like biology and chemistry. These courses follow you throughout vet school and through your career as a veterinarian. The best way to become proficient in these subjects is through consistent practice.

If you find yourself struggling in math or science, you could always enlist the help of a tutor. You can find a tutor for any subject you’ll need, like calculus or biology here. You want to make sure you excel in math and science because they persist throughout veterinary medicine. 

Devote some of your free time to either volunteering at your local animal shelter or shadowing a veterinarian. These extracurriculars will give you first-hand experience with animals. Shelters provide experience working with animals from all walks of life and teach you different ways to handle potentially contentious animals. Shadowing a vet shows you the day-to-day operations as a veterinarian and will help determine if you’re cut out for the field. 

We understand the difficulty in choosing a career path early. There are so many options, and it’s hard to pick just one. However, vet school is competitive for a reason, so you want to make sure you participate in opportunities that will set you apart from other candidates. 

Majors for Pre-Vet Medicine

Pre-Vet Medicine is more of a track you pursue, not an actual major. When it comes to choosing a major, there are so many options. So which is the best major? There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a major for vet school. 

Most vet schools are concerned with the prerequisites, so if you meet all of these requirements, you stand a chance at getting accepted into vet school, even if you are an art major. Of course, a few majors lend a little weight to your chances, and we’ve listed these options below. 

Biology

Majoring in biology prepares you for the science behind all forms of life. Throughout this program, you’ll take classes that cover the basics of biology as well as how to handle diseases in microbiology.

You’ll earn most, if not all, of the prerequisites you need to apply for vet school. By choosing a science major, you’ll also gain useful study habits that you can use throughout your vet school journey.

Chemistry

A chemistry major allows students to blend mathematics and science and proves to be a difficult subject. Choosing to major in chemistry allows you to fulfill any chemistry prerequisites for vet school and builds a strong foundation for your veterinary career.

Chemistry is prevalent in medicine, and you need a solid understanding of the subject if you want to succeed as a veterinarian. 

Animal Science

An animal science degree prepares students to handle animals from varying species. This major gives you great experience working with animals, and you can even choose specializations within the major, like animal medicine. 

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a major. Pre-Vet Medicine consists of the prerequisites required to apply to vet school. You could choose to major in English so long as you meet the prerequisites for the school you apply to. The most important aspect to remember is your grades. Don’t major in chemistry if it’s not your best subject. Your grades matter more than your major. 

Best Pre-Vet Schools

As with any specialty, pre-vet programs aren’t available at every college. Keep in mind that you don’t have to pursue a pre-vet track in order to apply for vet school, but we understand the appeal of a program that gives you a peek into the world of veterinary medicine. 

We’ve listed ten colleges with some of the best pre-vet programs in the United States to help you decide where you want to pursue your undergraduate studies. 

Clemson University

Clemson University provides a pre-vet program that gives you first-hand experience with different species of animals to prepare you for the veterinary field. You’ll learn the foundation for the math and science subjects you need to succeed in vet school. Clemson offers varying livestock for students to work with, and this university also developed a fowl cholera vaccine. 

Annual Tuition Cost

Residents

Non-Residents

Michigan State University

Michigan State University offers a pre-vet track to incoming freshmen and sophomores. This program gives you the information and resources you need to apply to vet school, but this track does not give you a degree. You must choose a major that gives you a degree, like biology or animal science, and stay in touch with pre-vet advisors as you proceed to vet school.

Annual Tuition Cost

Residents

Non-Residents

University of Maryland–College Park

The University of Maryland-College Park offers an Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine program that prepares you with the prerequisites recommended for most vet schools and allows you to begin applying for vet school during your junior year. 

Annual Tuition Cost

Residents

Non-Residents

University of Massachusetts–Amherst

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst offers a pre-veterinary science major that you need to qualify for in order to obtain. You will begin as an animal science major and must retain a B- or higher in select subjects to gain entry into the pre-vet program. 

Annual Tuition Cost

Residents

Non-Residents

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides a pre-veterinary concentration that allows you to prepare for veterinary school. This concentration consists of the necessary prerequisites to apply to vet school. 

Annual Tuition Cost

Residents 

Non-Residents

University of Arizona

The University of Arizona offers a Bachelor of Science with a pre-veterinary track. This program helps you learn basic scientific and medical knowledge before you venture into vet school as an aspiring vet.

Annual Tuition Cost

Residents

Non-Residents

University of Southern Maine

The University of Southern Maine offers a post-baccalaureate pre-veterinary studies certificate once you graduate from college. You have to meet specific requirements before you can earn the certificate. You must earn 14 credit hours in biology, 22 credit hours in chemistry, ten credit hours in physics, and four credit hours in math. Six of these credits must be earned from the University of Southern Maine as well, and you must finish with at least a C-.

Annual Tuition Cost

Residents

Non-Residents

Tarleton State University

Tarleton State University offers a pre-veterinary program that gives students experience in the field of veterinary medicine while also intertwining classes on genetics and anatomy. 

This university partners with the Texas A&M University vet school through a memorandum of agreement (MOA). They share an agreement in which five students from Tarleton will be accepted into the Texas A&M vet school as long as they meet the MOA requirements.

Annual Tuition Cost

Residents

Non-Residents

Pennsylvania State University–Main Campus

Pennsylvania State University provides a pre-veterinary program that prepares students for vet school and provides unique opportunities for these students. The university offers many clubs, from pre-vet to small and exotic animals clubs. The university also connects its students with internships and externships so they can gain more experience. 

Annual Tuition Cost

Residents

Non-Residents

Ball State University

Like Michigan State, Ball State University offers a pre-vet program that does not lead to a degree, so you must declare a major before joining. This program helps prepare aspiring students for the requirements of Purdue University’s vet school.

You don’t have to attend Purdue, but your advisor needs to know which vet schools you want to apply to so they can make sure you meet the requirements of those schools. 

Annual Tuition Cost

Residents

Non-Residents 

There are plenty of other options for schools when it comes to a pre-veterinary track. Check the universities in your area to see if they offer this program or something similar. Keep in mind that you can earn a degree in any field to apply for vet school, so long as you meet that school’s prerequisites. 

Pre-Veterinary Medicine Courses

As with any school, universities offer different courses within their pre-veterinary medicine programs. Below you’ll find courses listed for the vet programs from some of the ten schools we listed above. 

Clemson University

Freshman Year: First Semester

Freshman Year: Second Semester

Sophomore Year: First Semester

Sophomore Year: Second Semester

Junior Year: First Semester

Junior Year: Second Semester

Senior Year: First Semester

Senior Year: Second Semester

University of Maryland-College Park

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Freshman Year: First Semester

Freshman Year: Second Semester

Sophomore Year: First Semester

Sophomore Year: Second Semester

Junior Year: First Semester

Junior Year: Second Semester

Senior Year: First Semester

Senior Year: Second Semester

University of Arizona

Freshman Year: First Semester

Freshman Year: Second Semester 

Sophomore Year: First Semester

Sophomore Year: Second Semester

Junior Year: First Semester

Junior Year: Second Semester

Senior Year: First Semester

Senior Year: Second Semester

University of Southern Maine

Tarleton State University

Pennsylvania State University

Ball State University

As you can see, the courses for pre-veterinary medicine vary from school to school. Some schools provide a more in-depth experience that allows you to pursue a specialty in the veterinary field. Remember that you can also apply to vet school by only earning the prerequisites so long as you have good grades. 

Potential Jobs

As with any degree, you want to know that you have options when it comes to employment. Most students participate in a pre-veterinary medicine program to become a veterinarian. But what if you don’t get accepted to vet school? You can still put this education to use through plenty of other valuable career opportunities. 

Veterinarian

Veterinarians care for the well-being of animals, working in clinics or animal hospitals. You must have a DVM to be a veterinarian. Though graduate school is hard work, the average salary of a veterinarian is $99,250. This career comes with a lot of responsibility as you’ll be the one in charge of making split-second decisions for your patients. 

Veterinary Technologist or Technician

Veterinary Technologists or Technicians help perform routine and emergency care for animals under the guidance of a veterinarian. Some of their duties include performing x-rays, administering medication, and preparing animals for surgery. 

The difference between a technologist and a technician lies solely in whether you earn a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree. Both technologists and technicians have to undergo certification before they can practice. The median annual salary for this position is around $36,260.

Veterinary Assistant

You can achieve a career as a veterinary assistant with little to no training. Many clinics offer entry-level jobs where people learn as they go. It wouldn’t hurt to have some prior experience or a certificate in vet assisting, but it’s not always necessary. The annual salary of a vet assistant ranges from $25,348 to $37,946. 

When it comes to putting your pre-vet experience to use, there are plenty of career paths you can choose from. Take all factors into consideration when making your decision, from the cost of varying degrees to the salary you can earn. You can still follow your passion of helping animals even if you don’t end up going to vet school.

FAQs

1. How long is pre-vet school?

Pre-vet school typically consists of earning a four-year undergraduate degree before applying to vet school. However, you can choose to take just the prerequisites recommended for the vet schools you wish to attend. 

2. How long is vet school?

If you choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree before vet school, the endeavor will take about eight years to complete. You can read more about the process here.

3. What are the best vet schools?

There are quite a few options when it comes to vet schools. However, there aren’t as many vet schools as you think, and that’s why people say vet school is so competitive. UC Davis and Cornell University remain the highest-ranked vet schools in the U.S., but you can find a more informative list of vet schools and their rankings here.

4. How much is vet school?

The cost of vet school depends on the college you wish to attend. More prestigious schools have a steeper price tag, and out-of-state tuition always costs more than attending in-state. You can find a more comprehensive list of vet school costs here.

5. Do I have to be pre-vet to apply to vet school?

Absolutely not! You can apply to vet school with any degree so long as you meet that school’s prerequisites. Your grades carry more weight when determining your acceptance to vet school. You don’t have to have a biology or chemistry degree in order to be a veterinarian. 

6. Should I shadow a vet before vet school?

If you can shadow a veterinarian or volunteer at your local shelter, you should. You can gain first-hand experience with animals, which could set you apart from other vet school candidates. You can also use the opportunity to shadow to see if veterinary medicine is the right choice for you. You might have a passion for helping animals but a weak stomach. 

Conclusion

Pre-veterinary medicine holds varying meanings from school to school. Some universities offer classes that you’ve never even considered, opening up pathways to specializations. This track helps you gain experience and build a strong foundation for vet school. 

No matter what degree you choose, you can achieve your dreams of becoming a veterinarian. Just make sure you take time to enjoy your journey. 

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