Loving animals may be a prerequisite for pursuing a career as a veterinarian, but it certainly isn’t the only requirement for becoming one.
In fact, the process of becoming a veterinarian not only has some of the strictest education, experience, and academic requirements, but it is also one of the most competitive career fields out there.
The good news is that the career outlook for veterinarians is on the rise, with a whopping 17% employment growth rate expected in the next decade.
Combine this rate with the fact there are a wide variety of jobs that fall under the veterinary category, and the competitiveness of the field doesn’t feel as intimidating.
Indeed, a veterinarian can range from taking care of household pets to a person who studies food-borne diseases.
In fact, students may be surprised to discover that one of the largest employers of veterinarians in the U.S. is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Students need to keep this positive outlook in mind as they review the requirements it takes to achieve the credentials it takes to be a veterinarian.
To ultimately achieve the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) a student will need to complete the VMCAS application and include academic records, hours of experience, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, personal essays, the application fee, and several possible schools to increase the chances of getting in somewhere.
One way to prepare for this intensive application process is through a Pre-Vet program. Pre-Vet is not a major at any school, but rather, an advising track a student can elect to take.
Some schools will grant a special degree in Pre-Vet, but this path is usually completed through a STEM degree like biology, chemistry, physics, etc. – though even students with English degrees can pursue a pre-vet concentration!
The essential consideration in selecting a degree path is to take (and pass) all the intensive science and math that a DVM program will look for.
The following colleges and universities have some of the best pre-vet programs in the nation.
Some offer the benefit of being able to pursue a DVM at the same university and others have special partnerships with international schools. To make the process easier, students should visit each of the below programs’ information page and begin creating a chart of which school meets their needs.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Amherst, MA)
Coming in the top 70 ranked universities overall nationally, UMass Amherst is a school known for academic excellence and a culture of social stewardship.
Their R-1 status and history of receiving awards in sustainability from organizations like The Princeton Review demonstrate their vision of an education that strives to understand how the world works and to use that understanding to bring about change.
With over $12 million in research awards, UMass’s pre-vet program is well equipped to meet UMass’s educational vision and to prepare pre-vet students for all they need on the path to becoming veterinarians.
Of the many amazing opportunities UMass’s pre-vet program offers students, two of particular note are the facilities and the university’s partnerships with other schools.
First-year students will start their pre-vet path at UMass in the Animal Science degree.
As part of the first-year requirements, students get to start their education by getting hands-on experience at Hadley Farm; on the farm, students will have access to 130 acres of farmland, 24 horses, and around 60 goats and sheep.
The university provides excellent on-campus education experiences, but it also offers students a path to highly ranked veterinary programs.
If students wish to stay closer to home, they have a chance to apply during their sophomore year to nearby Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
If accepted, and if they maintain at least a 3.4 GPA through the rest of their pre-vet program path, they will automatically be granted a spot in Tuft’s veterinary program.
For those who might be looking to have an international adventure, UMass offers two possible options to pick from – the University of Edinburgh or the University of Melbourne!
Both veterinary programs are among the top in their respective countries and provide students with access to a broader range of veterinary experience; students even have the chance to complete an accelerated program at the University of Melbourne.
The university’s Department of Veterinary and Animal Science at UMass has some of the best resources for those who want to know what it takes to be in a pre-vet program and to go on to be a vet. Interested students should start by checking out the information page to find out all that is needed. If reading an information page seems overwhelming, the program has its own podcast students can check out to learn more!
Washington State University (Pullman, WA)
Washington State University knows that degree paths need to be as diverse as the students pursuing them.
The university’s Health Professions Student Center advises pre-veterinary students to take a specific set of prerequisites but encourages students to earn them within a wide range of possible degrees.
The most important part of a student’s education is the ability to pursue something that they are passionate about.
Students who go through the pre-vet program are able to major in a range of concentrations, including neuroscience, zoology, genetics and cell biology, and bioengineering.
Flexibility in program also means a flexibility in how much time it takes to complete both a bachelors and a DVM.
WSU offers students the option to pursue the Honors Pre-Admit Program, where they can finish both their bachelor’s and their DVM in 7 years.
What makes this deal even better is that students can pursue their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine through WSU, a feature that many other schools aren’t able to offer.
Students who are looking for advice on how to navigate all the requirements needed for a pre-vet program will have access to pre-vet advisors.
These experts will assist students in determining a degree path, fix their resumes, and prepare them for the intensive process of applying to veterinary schools.
For peer support, students can hang out with clubs like the WSU Pre-Vet Club and get access to tours of veterinary schools, networking events, career workshops, and a community of fellow animal lovers.
WSU finds a way to make a challenging program path like pre-vet accessible to a wide range of possible student interests.
Students looking for an experience where they have room to express their unique passion for helping animals will find WSU an excellent option to consider.
University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
The University of Connecticut provides students with a pre-vet experience that includes learning from award-winning faculty, access to a wide array of farm animals, and a historical track record of award-winning undergraduate support.
An education is only as good as the source it is coming from, and the UConn Animal Science Department has an excellent place to look in its faculty.
Former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Animal Science and 2021 recipient of the American Society of Animal Science Morrison Award, Steven A. Zinn is just one example of the kind of expertise that students can expect from instructors.
Other faculty have conducted research and are experts in areas like muscle growth, food-borne microorganisms, and reproductive endocrinology.
Head knowledge is essential, but adequate facilities are just as vital to have in an excellent pre-vet program. Students will only have to walk 10 minutes from campus to access stables, poultry units, and cattle units.
Attending a university that has close access to farm animals means UConn has its own meat processing factory and creamery.
Students who spend the day studying cattle in the dairy unit can find their way after class to the university’s ice cream shop to get a taste of the fruit of their labor with UConn university-made ice cream!
Finally, a successful pre-vet program is one where students can ensure that they can meet the strict requirements of all Doctor of Veterinary degree programs.
Students will have the opportunity to gain research experience, hands-on training with various animals, and a curriculum that will make them successful applicants.
Students from UConn’s pre-vet program have gone on to attend some of the best Veterinary Programs both in the US and internationally.
Tufts University (Medford, MA)
Tufts University should be a familiar name from above because it is a significant recipient of the UMass pre-vet students.
If students are looking to streamline the process a little to get into the DVM program at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, they can opt to attend Tufts directly as an undergraduate.
Tufts’ pre-vet program is a little different from many on this list in that it is more a society than a program that supports students as they pursue their education.
That said, The Tufts Pre-Vet Society provides many of the same supports and is open to students who are actively pursuing an education towards a DVM and those who are merely curious.
Benefits the society offers members include resources that connect students to jobs and research opportunities, visits and information sessions from Veterinary Medicine schools, and expert information on how to develop a degree plan that meets all the requirements to pursue a DVM.
Tufts knows that to nurture future vets, they have to have access to the academic supports they need to be successful.
Tufts offers high school students some great pre-college admissions programs so they can learn more about what it takes to pursue education in a pre-vet program.
University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire (Eau Claire, WI)
Though UW-Eau Claire pre-vet program is classified as a pre-professional program and has a;; the things a pre-vet program would want – and some.
Because the university understands that it isn’t so much about the name of the degree you have but the content and quality, students can get all the required courses they need while pursuing a range of interests.
This range of interests not only opens the door for getting creative about a pre-vet path, but it means that students can have access to a wider selection of scholarships that include pre-vet and non-veterinary focuses.
UW-Eau Claire has two pre-vet specific scholarships students can pursue, but it also provides many different financial aid options that students can access on its scholarship information page.
A special feature that UW-Eau Claire offers pre-vet students is their state-of-the-art Health Careers Center. The center has advisers that are specifically set aside for pre-vet students. These advisers help students create a plan for required courses, where to get work experience, and a timeline to do essential steps on the way to a veterinary school like the GRE and the Veterinary Medicine Centralized Application Service.
Although UW-Eau Claire doesn’t have a veterinary medicine program, the University of Wisconsin-Madison does! Students will be able to take advantage of the close connection between the two schools if they decide to go over to UW-Madison after graduation.
University of California – Davis (Davis, CA)
UC Davis’ Animal Science program is rated number one nationally according to U.S. News and World Report.
Though the school doesn’t have a specific pre-vet program, it does have plenty of opportunities to earn the education and experience to apply for a DVM program.
UC-Davis’ Veterinary Medicine department has a passion for nurturing diversity and for making the process of getting to a DVM program accessible to all people and all ages.
College, high school, middle school, and elementary-aged people all can participate in events that encourage and promote curiosity and understanding about being a vet.
These events range from a 5-week training program in the summer for college students to after-school elementary programs that teach math and science through a veterinary medicine lens.
Students will also be able to interact with those who are attending the UC-Davis DVM program through the US Davis Students Supporting Diversity program.
This opportunity pairs those who have already had to go through the demanding process of applying for DVM programs with those who are just finding their way, contributing to a greater sense of community and more student success.
UC Davis believes so much in giving people accessible experiences that they even offer students Barn Residency.
Students who apply and are accepted for a barn residency will get free room and board at one of several barns in exchange for 10 hours of work a week.
Attending UC Davis means having access to one of the top programs for aspiring vets. Students who want to learn more should start by exploring the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine website.
Clemson University (Clemson, SC)
Clemson offers several unique opportunities for entering a DVM program. Specifically, students should start by checking out their pre-professional approach to the pre-vet path, the FEEPASS program, and WAVS.
Clemson is dedicated to providing students with the requirements they need to enter a DVM program, but they don’t feel the need to box students into a four-year degree.
Students who wish to pursue a pre-vet pre-professional path at Clemson can attend at least three years of undergraduate coursework and then apply for a DVM program.
Once students are admitted and complete a year of course work, they will be awarded a preprofessional studies degree in veterinary medicine.
An exciting international opportunity that puts another spin on this setup is the FEEPASS program. A partnership between Clemson and the University of Glasgow gives students the chance to attend the UK university during their final year of undergraduate work.
Upon completion of their undergrad career, they will automatically gain admission to Glasgow University’s Veterinary Medicine program.
Making big decisions like pursing FEEPASS or the pre-vet professional path requires having a supportive community, and students will find just that in WAVs.
The Women in Veterinary Science society brings Animal Science women together to live, learn, and gain vital professional experience while celebrating women’s power in STEM.
Clemson is a jewel in the deep south for those looking for a quality pre-vet experience. Students should visit the university’s pre-vet information page to learn more about how to get started.
Hollins University (Roanoke, VA)
Hollins University is the oldest operating university for women and is located in some of the most beautiful countryside Virginia offers.
The university takes full advantage of its beautiful surroundings by offering a specialized outdoors program and through the effort of maintaining one of the best riding school programs in the US.
Horses are a big deal at Hollins, and students who wish to be in the pre-vet program have the chance to ride and care for horses on-campus and abroad. Horse lovers will be overjoyed to know that they can attend a year of study abroad at Ireland’s University of Limerick equestrian program!
That said, students don’t have to be horse-lovers to attend the Hollins pre-vet program; in fact Hollins tries to prepare students for the wide range of animal experience that most Veterinary Medicine schools ask for in applicants.
Students who attend Hollins have gone on to DVM programs at top-rated schools like Texas A&M and Western University of Health Sciences. Hollins doesn’t horse around when it comes to their pre-vet program. Women who would love to surround themselves with nature, wildlife, and female empowerment can learn more about Hollins’ pre-vet path on the program’s information page.