Your Guide to Vet School Requirements

September 5, 2023
4 min read
Contents

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Chief Resident in Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medicine, & Admissions Officer, Columbia University

Reviewed: 8/29/23

Wondering how to get into vet school and take your first step toward becoming a veterinarian? First, you must ensure you meet all prerequisites before you apply. Read on to learn more about vet school admissions requirements!

A vet treating a dog


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Veterinary School Requirements 

Knowing how to get into vet school starts with knowing where to start. Below, you’ll find a step-by-step process to ease you into your vet school journey.

Complete Undergraduate Prerequisite Courses 

Getting accepted into vet school starts with taking the necessary prerequisites. Course requirements for veterinary school vary by institution, but most schools require you to take numerous science classes, with or without lab. For example, these are UC Davis’ undergraduate course requirements: 

  • College Physics: Two semesters or quarters
  • General Biology: Two semesters or three quarters with lab
  • General Chemistry: Two semesters or three quarters with lab
  • Organic Chemistry: Two semesters or three quarters with lab
  • Statistics: One semester or quarter, upper or lower division
  • Biochemistry with Metabolism: One semester or quarter, upper division 
  • Genetics: One semester or quarter, upper division
  • Systemic Physiology: One semester or quarter, upper division (animal or human) 

Please note that all courses not marked upper division are lower division courses; they can be taken at a community college. 

Achieve a High Undergraduate GPA 

Getting into vet school can be challenging, but a high GPA will always bolster your application. However, don’t panic if you don’t achieve that elusive 4.0. The minimum GPA for vet school tends to range between 2.8 and 3.0. 

However, Michigan Tech University states that most successful veterinary school applicants have an average GPA of 3.6 or higher. Do your best to boost your GPA! 

Document Your Veterinary/Animal Experiences 

Any experience you have with working with animals boosts your application. While veterinary/animal experience may not be a staunch requirement at every school you apply to, many schools seek applicants with documented experience hours. 

For example, Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine states, “We do look for 400 hours or more of veterinary experience when you apply.” In contrast, UC Davis requires 180 hours of veterinary experience hours. 

Please note that while animal experiences are great to have, many schools want you to log many hours working under the supervision of a veterinarian. 

Decide Whether to Take the GRE or CASPer 

Test score requirements vary depending on the schools you’re applying to. Test requirements at the world’s vet schools are as follows: 

  • 33 vet schools have no test requirements
  • 13 schools require the CASPer 
  • Two schools require the GRE

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is a standardized test that is no longer required by most veterinary schools; the only schools still requiring the GRE are Oklahoma State University and Tuskegee University. However, many vet schools require the CASPer, a situational judgment test used to assess your personal qualities. 

Be Mindful of Application Deadlines

Applying for and getting into vet school requires careful planning. Here is a quick overview of the VMCAS application cycle: 

  • January: VMCAS opens 
  • May: Earliest date to begin selecting veterinary colleges 
  • September 15: VMCAS closes 
  • October-February: Veterinary school interview season, although this timing depends on the schools you apply to 
  • February-April: Admissions decisions are typically announced 

Ensure you keep on top of veterinary school application dates and school-specific deadlines! 

Write a Winning Personal Statement

Your VMCAS personal statement’s purpose is to show admissions committees who you are and why you want to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. This statement is limited to 3,000 characters, which isn’t a lot of space! The American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges suggests: 

  • Keeping your personal statement topic general so it’s relevant when applying to multiple schools 
  • Staying within the 3,000-character limit 
  • Using your own words (don’t plagiarize!) 
  • Use simple formatting—no need to get too creative 
  • Avoiding jargon, cliches, and complex sentences you normally wouldn’t use
  • Not writing what you think admissions committees want to hear from applicants 
  • Not waiting until the very last minute to write your statement 

A winning personal statement adds differentiation and interest to your profile. You’ll likely spend a lot of time writing and editing your work. 

Identify & Engage Recommenders Early 

Make sure you know how many letters of recommendation are required for each school you apply to. Great veterinary school recommenders include: 

  • College professors (particularly in science courses) 
  • The pre-health committee at your college
  • Veterinarians you’ve shadowed or worked with 
  • Your work supervisor/manager
  • Volunteer/extracurricular/research supervisors 

Good recommenders know you well and can speak about your work ethic, passion for veterinary medicine, skills, and traits.

Be Deliberate and Detailed: Don’t Forget About School-Specific Requirements

Admissions requirements for veterinary school may mean completing secondary applications and essays or submitting additional materials. You can use the Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirements (VMSAR) database to learn more about program-specific details. Ensure you check school requirements before submitting your veterinary school application! 

Finalize Your Application and Confidently Submit It 

Ensure your vet school application is complete and edited to perfection and that you’ve paid all necessary fees before submitting it. Afterward, there won’t be much to do if you’ve already completed any supplemental application documents besides preparing for your veterinary school interviews! 

BONUS: Leadership & Communication Skills

To differentiate yourself further, share relevant experiences that showcase your leadership capabilities and communication skills. Vet schools seek applicants who are adept leaders; the ability to lead is crucial in veterinary medicine, regardless of your job title or location. Leadership experiences can include: 

  • Running for student government 
  • Being involved in your college’s pre-vet club 
  • Starting your own organization or club 

Although you can’t necessarily talk to your future patients, communication skills are also essential! Vet schools want to admit students with great communication skills so future clients will understand precisely what’s going on with their furry friends and how to treat and care for them.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions you might have. 

1. What Test Do You Have to Take to Get Into Vet School? 

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) may be required or recommended by some vet schools. However, the majority of vet schools no longer require the GRE. The MCAT may be used as a substitute at some vet schools. You may also need to take the CASPer. 

2. What Is a Good GRE Score for Vet School?

As with prerequisites, GRE requirements will vary with each school. 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?

Most vet schools that used to require the GRE no longer require it. However, it’s best to check school-specific admissions requirements before deciding whether or not to take the test. 

4. Are There Any Personal Or Physical Requirements to Become a Veterinarian? 

Veterinarians need courage to deal with animals that may bite, kick, or scratch. They also need adequate stamina to withstand long working hours. Working with larger animals (barn/zoo animals) may require physical strength. Other than that, vets must have great dexterity to perform surgery and other intricate tasks. 

5. How Do I Choose the Right Vet School? 

Many factors determine the right school for a student. You should evaluate which criteria are most important to you when choosing a vet school, whether it’s location preferences, curriculum types, research opportunities, etc. 

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. 

6. How Do I Prepare For My Vet School Interview?

The best way to prepare for veterinary school interviews is to understand the questions you may be asked and practice responding in advance. Knowing what to expect can make you more confident and less nervous.

Final Thoughts

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. 

Now that you know more about vet school requirements, you can craft a compelling application. Believe in yourself, put in the hard work, and follow this guide; you will be on your way to getting accepted into vet school in no time!


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