Education and Training

Statistically it’s very hard for a person to get into a veterinary medicine school. The person should know well before graduating high school that he or she wants to enter the veterinary field. With only 28 veterinary medicine schools in 26 of the United States, grades need to be competitive. But grades aren’t the only thing a student needs to focus on, as the veterinary colleges and universities also look at a person’s extra activities, experience working with animals, and backgrounds in biology, science and math.

After high school, a student is then required to earn a DVM, or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from a 4 year program at an accredited veterinary medicine school. As mentioned, there are 28 accredited schools in the US that meet the accreditation standards set by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Prerequisite Classes and Test Scores

Depending on which veterinary program or college you choose, the prerequisites for admission will vary. Some programs require a bachelor’s degree, while most do not. All colleges and universities require a large number of credit hours, ranging from 45-90 semester hours at an undergraduate level. Most students are admitted because they went ahead an earned a bachelor’s degree and completed an undergraduate program, while other students struggle gaining admittance due to one or both tasks being incomplete.

Science plays a major role in the education of veterinarians, and many veterinary medical colleges require applicants to have taken science, as well as the following classes:

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biochemistry
  • General Biology
  • Animal Biology
  • Animal Nutrition
  • Genetics
  • Vertebrate Embryology
  • Cellular Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Zoology
  • Systemic Physiology
  • English or Literature
  • Humanities
  • Social Science
  • General Business Management
  • Career Development

Some programs require other classes such as:

  • Calculus
  • Statistics
  • College Algebra
  • Trigonometry
  • Pre-Calculus

Besides the various prerequisite classes, an applicant must submit test scores from one, some or all of the following:

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT)
  • Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

Determining which test(s) a student is required to take, depends on the school. As of today, 22 schools require the GRE, 4 require the VCAT and 2 accept the MCAT.

Veterinarians who wish to be board certified must complete a 3-4 year residency program that involves intense training in one of the 39 AVMA-recognized veterinary specialties.

Many new graduates elect to take on 1 year internship programs before receiving their license. By doing this extra experience, they generally receive more pay annually than those who chose not to do so.