Pre-Veterinary Medicine Preparation

Veterinarians are medical professionals who protect and care for the health and well-being of animals. They diagnose and treat medical conditions for all animals, including pets and livestock. They may also cure injuries or illness with a variety of methods including surgery.

Most veterinarians work in private offices or hospitals. Some travel to farms, work in laboratories, or in food safety and inspection. Most veterinarians work full time and may work nights and/or weekends.

  • 18%
    growth in employment
  • 89K
    average annual salary

How to Apply

Veterinarians must obtain a doctor of veterinary medicine degree (DVM or VMD) and be licensed in order to practice. Most applicants have a bachelor’s degree when applying to veterinary school. Veterinary school usually takes four years to complete. Some students continue their educations with internships or residency programs for specialized training.

Course Requirements

Here is a guide of recommended courses that students take to prepare for veterinary school. This is not an exhaustive list. You are responsible to check with the schools you wish to apply for specific requirements. Students should also check with individual schools if they intend to use AP or community college credits to see if those are accepted.

Entrance Exam

Most veterinary schools require the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) as the entrance exam. However, some schools accept the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) in place of the GRE.  

The GRE is offered as a computer-based test year-round. Register for the GRE here. On average, students should spend 50 to 200 hours preparing for the GRE. It largely depends on how efficiently you study; the more time you spend the more confident you will be. Competitive GRE scores average 300-310 or higher. Students should aim to be above the 50th percentile.

The MCAT is offered from January and March through September. Register for the MCAT here. It is recommended that students spend 300-350 hours studying to prepare for the MCAT, over several months. MCAT scores range from 472 to 528. The average MCAT score is a 500; competitive score is 508 or more.

Additional Requirements

Many veterinary programs have a minimum cumulative GPA requirement. Most require a 3.0 GPA or more to apply. On average, students who get into veterinary school have a 3.6 GPA or higher.

Apart from your pre-requisites and entrance exam score, most veterinary schools require three letters of recommendation, a written personal statement or essay, and if selected, an in-person interview. Experience working with animals in a veterinary medicine setting is not a requirement but it is highly recommended. This can be in the form of job shadowing, volunteering and/or employment. Some veterinary medical schools place major emphasis on experience when making admissions decisions.

Application Services

The professional association for veterinary school is AAVMC (Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges).

Most schools go through a centralized application called the VMCAS (Veterinary Medical College Application Service). The application opens in May with deadlines in September.