Veterinarians examine a dog

Vet School Requirements: Your Guide To Getting Accepted

September 14, 2021
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Part 1. IntroductionPart 2. How to Get into Vet SchoolPart 3. Prerequisites for Top Vet Schools Part 4. FAQsPart 5. Conclusion

Introduction

You decided you want to use your love of animals to pursue a career as a veterinarian. You know you need to apply to schools, but you might not know all of the vet school requirements yet. While many vet schools vary on their specific requirements, they all follow a similar baseline. 

There are only 32 vet schools in the U.S., but do not let that scare you away from pursuing your passion. If you follow these steps, the application process will be less overwhelming.

How to Get Into Vet School 

Beginning the application process for vet school can be a little intimidating, especially if you don’t know where to start. Below you’ll find a step-by-step process to ease you into your vet school journey

Start the Process as Early as Possible

Being a veterinarian requires a lot of mathematical and scientific knowledge. You should take as many math and science courses as you can during your high school career. Make sure that you earn high grades in these areas because they carry weight in your acceptance to vet school. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to pursue a degree in biology or animal science to apply to vet school.

While it’s true that degrees in biology and animal science can better prepare you in the care of animals, your choice of major is not as important as you think. As long as you take the prerequisites for the school you apply to and maintain high grades in those classes, you have a good chance at getting accepted. 

Depending on which schools you apply for, you should also consider taking the GRE before applying to vet school. Accepted GRE scores will vary from school to school, so you should check the score requirements of the vet schools you wish to attend before you take the test. 

Research Programs

Since there are only 32 vet schools in the U.S., it is important that you conduct research on the schools for which you want to submit an application. You should also determine the application process and testing requirements for each school. Applying to multiple schools will give you the best chance at getting accepted. 

If costs are important to you, see if there are any vet schools in the state you reside in first. In-state tuition tends to be less expensive than out-of-state tuition. 

Veterinary or Animal Experience

Any experience you have with working with animals will help boost your application. While this is not a vet school requirement, you should use your free time in high school and college to work at a veterinarian office near you or shadow a veterinarian. 

If you are unsuccessful in obtaining a job at a clinic, you can offer to volunteer at your local animal shelter. Volunteering or working with a veterinarian will show you the day-to-day operations of the career you want to pursue.

Though this experience won’t offer a lot of medical knowledge, it can highlight your ability to work well with animals, which is a necessary characteristic of a successful veterinarian. Make sure to include the names of the facilities you worked for, as well as the veterinarians you worked under. They will be able to offer an unbiased account of how well you handled the work.

High School and College Grades

Vet school is competitive, so it’s very important that you stay on top of your grades throughout high school and college. Your grades could be the determining factor on your acceptance to veterinary school.

Remember: Grade requirements vary from school to school, so you have to make sure you meet the requirements for each of the schools that you apply to. 

Personal Essay

With any educational pursuit, you are often required to write a personal essay. This is your chance to show vet schools who you are and what you are capable of. 

Use this essay to showcase how passionate you are about animals. Include any anecdotes from your life that led to your decision to become a veterinarian.

Explain why you want to be a veterinarian and why you think you would be a good fit. The people reading your essay want to get to know you and your passion, so put your heart and soul into this essay.

Letters of Recommendation

Make sure you know how many letters of recommendation are required for each school you apply to. As with references on job applications, you want to provide letters from people linked to the veterinary field or your academic career.

Do not include letters written by your mom or a close friend. Vet schools want to see an unbiased letter that highlights your ability to work in this field. 

Asking for letters from college professors is a good place to start, but make sure you’ve built a rapport with the professor you choose. You want someone who can show the admissions team who you are as a student, and a professor that does not know you will not be able to accurately describe you.

An academic adviser can also write one of your letters because they’ll have access to your grades throughout college and can talk about how you handled each semester and how you grew as a student. 

Finally, ask for a letter from either the vet you worked with or the shelter you volunteered with. These individuals have first-hand accounts of how you handled the pressures of working in a vet clinic, or the interactions you had with animals in the shelter. 

Prerequisites for Top Vet Schools

Like any graduate degree, admission to vet school hinges on the prerequisites you meet prior to application. Though many vet schools vary on their prerequisites, most agree that you need to complete an amalgamation of chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics courses in order to apply.

Below you will find a list of high-ranking vet schools and their prerequisites. 

UC Davis

Prerequisites (Semester Hours) 

These courses must be completed at the upper division of a four-year college.

Cornell University

Prerequisites (Semester Hours) 

Colorado State University

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

North Carolina State University

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

Ohio State University

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

Texas A&M University – College Station

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

University of Pennsylvania

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

University of Wisconsin – Madison

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

University of Florida (#9)

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

University of Georgia (#10)

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities (#10)

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

Tufts University

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

Purdue University – West LaFayette

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

Auburn University

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

Iowa State University

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

Washington State University (#14)

Prerequisites (Semester Hours)

FAQs

1.  Is vet school right for me?

Coming to a decision about your true calling might make you feel a little overwhelmed, especially with a career as fast-paced as veterinary medicine. It takes more than just a love for animals to be a successful veterinarian. 

Only you can decide if vet school is right for you, but there are a few characteristics a successful veterinarian needs that might help you make your decision. You need perseverance and tenacity and you need to be a vet that does everything they can to save their furry patients. 

Being around people is also a part of this job, so take this into consideration if you are not a people person. The animal can’t tell you what bothers them or tell you about their past medical history, so you need the ability to develop a rapport with the owners. 

You should also understand that a career in veterinary medicine requires constant education. As with any field in modern medicine, procedures and technologies change over time. Your education continues even after graduation. 

2. What is a good GRE score for vet school?

As with prerequisites, the vet school requirements for a GRE score will vary with each school. As an example, Tufts University requires a verbal score of 161, a quantitative score of 159, and an analytical score of 4.5. While the University of Georgia requires a combined score of 308 or higher on the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE.

Before you apply to your desired vet schools, make sure you do your research to determine whether or not they require you to take the GRE. 

3. Are there vet schools that do not require the GRE?

Some vet schools, like Cornell University and Colorado State University do not require applicants to take the GRE. The school requirements also change over time. Some schools that used to require the GRE no longer require them, so keep yourself updated on these matters.

4. Where can I get more information about vet school?

U.S. News is a great source and they list vet schools along with their rankings. This will help you narrow down the schools you want to apply to. Once you decide on where you want to go to school, visit each school’s website to find information such as prerequisites, tuition costs, as well as scholarship opportunities. 

You can also find more information from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC)

5. Does it matter where I get my undergraduate degree?

No, it does not matter where you obtain your undergraduate degree. As long as you meet the prerequisites required for the schools you apply to, as well as the required GPA, you can go to any undergraduate college or university that suits you. The admissions team wants to see what you are capable of achieving, not where you attended undergrad. 

6. How do I choose the right vet school?

Many factors determine the right school for a student, and these factors may vary from student to student. You can start by viewing the rankings of each school. Apply to multiple schools from various rankings to give yourself the best chance of acceptance. 

If tuition costs play a role in your decision, check the websites of the vet schools you are interested in to find out how much the education will cost you. Ultimately, the decision rests on your shoulders. Trust your gut.

7. What should I wear to a vet school interview?

As with job interviews, you want to look your best for your vet school interview. Leave the ripped jeans and sneakers at home. A suit makes you look smart and professional. 

If you do not own a suit, you should wear a nice blouse, dress pants, and dress shoes for women. For men, a nice button-up shirt, trousers, and loafers will make you look professional for the interview.

Make sure you are comfortable in the outfit as well. You will have a hard time focusing on the interview if your pants are itchy or your shoes are too tight. It might be wise to let a little bit of your personality shine in your outfit as well. You could always perk up your look with some nice jewelry or watch.

Conclusion

The road to vet school seems long and arduous, but that should not stop you from pursuing your passion. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t absolutely certain you wanted to pursue a career as a veterinarian. You have a deep love for animals and want to give them the best care imaginable. 

Succeeding in vet school requires focus and determination. It is a competitive environment, and only the best of the best make it. But if you believe in yourself, put in the hard work, and follow this guide, you will be on your way to a career in veterinary medicine in no time. 

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