Veterinary Medicine

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There are many pieces to the veterinary school application, including your GPA, GRE score, personal statement, list of experiences, letters of recommendation, and biographical information. Use the navigation below to explore each aspect of preparing for veterinary school.


  • What is a veterinarian?
  • "Veterinarians are highly trained medical professionals who provide for the health and quality of life of all kinds of animals. They use problem-solving skills and in-depth knowledge of biological, physical and social science to diagnose, treat and prevent animal diseases and help to maintain the quality of our environment. Veterinarians collaborate with physicians and public health agencies to prevent and control diseases transmitted from animals to people. Additionally, they advance medical technology through education and research.

    The profession becomes more complex as trade barriers fall, new zoonotic diseases emerge, human travel increases, and production and distribution of food products take place in more concentrated, large-scale operations.

    Many veterinarians in the United States work in private practice, but others work in a wide range of fields. They also specialize in a particular breed of animal, like equine medicine or exotics or in a medical specialty, like ophthalmology, oncology, pathology or dermatology."

    - UC Davis Veterinary Medicine

    There are a variety of career options after you've received your D.V.M. The AAVMC (Association of American Veterinary Medicine Colleges) lists the following careers on their website here:

    Private practice
    Corporate veterinary medicine
    Federal Government (
    United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA)) 
    U.S. Army Corps and U.S. Air Force
    Public Health
    Food supply medicine
    Global Veterinary Medicine
    Public Policy
    Shelter medicine

  • Becoming a Veterinarian
  • Becoming a veterinarian is a lifelong commitment to continuing education and in many cases a demanding lifestyle. In general, the path to becoming a veterinarian includes the following steps:

    Obtain an bachelor's degree and complete all pre-vet requirements, including prerequisites, the GRE, and experiences (4+ years)

    Attend veterinary school (4 years)

    Optional: Complete residency (3-5 years)

    Become licensed in the state you wish to practice

  • Veterinary School Prerequisites
  • Veterinary School Prerequisites Classes to Take at UC Davis
    Most schools require:  
    General Biology BIS 2ABC
    General Chemistry CHE 2ABC
    Organic Chemistry CHE 8AB OR CHE 118ABC
    Physics PHY 7ABC
    Biochemistry ABI 102/103 OR BIS 102/103
    Math* MAT 16ABC OR MAT 17ABC OR MAT 21AB
    Statistics STA 13 OR STA 100
    English Composition any combination of ENL, UWP, or COM courses
    Some schools may also require:  
    Animal Nutrition NUT 115, NUT 122, OR NUT 123L
    Microbiology MIC 102/103L OR 104L
    Genetics BIS 101
    Cellular Biology BIS 104
    Animal Physiology ANS 100
    Public Speaking CMN 1
    Humanities/ Social Sciences any ANT, SOC, or HUM courses

    * Check you major requirements before choosing classes.

    See the Veterinary School Prerequisite Chart for a sample list of veterinary schools and their requirements.

    Note: The above courses are only suggested, not absolute. 

    To prepare academically as a pre-vet student, you'll need to take the veterinary school prerequisites and your major coursework. Even though many pre-vet students choose the Animal Science major, you can choose any major and apply to veterinary school. Always cross-check your major requirements with the veterinary school prerequisites when choosing classes.

    Each vet school has different prerequisites. See a list of vet schools and their prerequisites here. Check each school's prerequisites on their websites before applying.

    HPA recommends that pre-vet students maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0, although many vet schools will have GPA averages above this minimum. Many programs have a 3.0 cutoff, meaning that they might "screen out" your application if you apply with lower than a 3.0. The stronger you perform in your undergraduate prerequisite coursework, the more competitive you will be for veterinary school.

  • Graduate Records Examination (GRE)
  • The Graduate Records Examination (GRE) is required by most veterinary schools. Some schools will also accept the MCAT.

    The exam is available on a continuous basis throughout the year. Register for the GRE here.

    The GRE is composed of three sections:
    Verbal Reasoning
    Quantitative Reasoning
    Analytical Writing

    The exam cost $205 each time you take it.  You can only take the exam 21 days after your previously scheduled exam. You can only take the test up to 5 times within a year (365 day window).

  • Pre-Vet Experiences
  • Each veterinary school requires different amounts of experience. For example, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine requires 180 hours of veterinary experience, while Western University requires 500 hours. Many students will apply with many more hours than the minimum requirements. 

    Some examples of pre-vet experiences include:
    Animal Science Department internships
    Internships through Vet Aide Club or PSSD
    Volunteering at Yolo County Animal Services or other local shelters
    Volunteering at Knight's Landing Clinic or Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless
    Becoming a veterinary technician
    Shadowing veterinarians

  • Applying to Veterinary School
  • VMCAS:

    The Veterinary Medical College Application Service® (VMCAS®) is where your application to veterinary school begins. 

    VMCAS charges for each school you apply to. The first veterinary school costs $205, and each additional school is $105. 

    You must apply the year before you plan on starting veterinary school. (For example, if you plan to start school in the fall of 2020, you must apply in the spring of 2019.)

    Personal Statement:

    Starting with the 2017-2018 application cycle, VMCAS personal statement will be composed of three prompts:

    There are many career choices within the veterinary profession. What are your future career goals and why?

    In what ways do veterinarians contribute to society and what do you hope to contribute?

    Considering the breadth of society we serve as veterinarians today; what attributes do you believe are essential to be successful within the veterinary profession? Of these attributes, which do you possess and how have you demonstrated these in the past?

    VMCAS allows 1,000 characters for each prompt. 

    The personal statement is your first chance to provide admissions committees with subjective information about your qualifications and your reasons for choosing this particular career. In other words, the personal statement is your initial opportunity to present yourself as an interesting and unique applicant who deserves a closer look.


    There are six types of experiences in VMCAS:
    Animal Experience (not under the supervision of a veterinarian)
    Veterinary Experience (under the supervision of a veterinarian)
    Employment (not animal-related)
    Extracurricular Activities
    Volunteer (not animal-related)
    You will have 600 characters to describe each of these experiences. 

    If an experience was animal-related, you will also designate what types of animals you worked with (small, food animal, equine, etc.)

    Use the chart below to determine which category your experience falls under:

    You will also have an opportunity to discuss Awards, Honors, and Scholarships in the Achievements section of VMCAS.

    Letters of Recommendation:

    You must submit a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation, known as "Evaluations" in VMCAS, in order to submit your application.

    Once you add a letter writer's information, they will receive an email with instructions for submitting a letter. 

    Oftentimes schools will ask or recommend that your letters come from specific people, including:
    Science faculty (Usually schools ask for 2 letters from science faculty)
    Non-science or major faculty
    Non-academic professionals
    It is very important that you keep track of the letter requirements for the schools you plan on applying to. 

    Supplemental Application:

    If a school requires a supplemental application, it will send instructions for completing it after your VMCAS application is verified or after the September 15th VMCAS deadline. 
    Supplemental applications commonly include a processing fee. For example, the UC Davis fee is $60.
    You may have to answer short essays as part of the supplemental applications, such as:

    What unique qualities will you bring to veterinary school and the field.

  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • More questions? Check out our FAQ page or schedule an appointment with an adviser!