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Pre-Vet Degrees: Should You Get One?

When you read about veterinary schools they often refer to a pre-veterinary degree.  It poses the question; is this an actual degree, and if so what exactly is it? 

A student cannot major in pre-veterinary studies, instead it is a program geared to prepare students for admission to a veterinary school.  It is simply a list of prerequisite courses that are standardly required for vet school.  If you are planning to go on to veterinary school you will need to pick a major such as biology or animal science for admission.  While a bachelor’s degree is not necessarily a requirement for many schools, most applicants will have a degree. With the competition for admission being so fierce you will want to have all the advantages you can.  Schools offering a pre-veterinary medicine program prepare students for admission to veterinary colleges in the United States.  Below is a list of typical prerequisites for most veterinary schools:

  •  organic and inorganic chemistry
  • physics
  • biochemistry
  • general biology
  • animal biology
  • animal nutrition
  • genetics
  • vertebrate embryology
  • cellular biology
  • microbiology
  • zoology
  • systemic physiology

While these schools will prepare you for entrance into a professional school, they do not usually lead to a degree.

If you wish to become a veterinarian you will need to start planning early.  Many students in high school are already making their educational plan to become a veterinarian.  It is true that grades are very important for admission, but you need to make sure you are taking the right courses and are active in the veterinary field.  Admissions committees are looking for well rounded individuals that have proven their interest in the veterinary field.  They are also looking for leadership skills, so being active in your school is also important. 

Being prepared and having a plan will make sure you have done everything you can to be an excellent applicant for admissions.  Make sure you know you prospective schools’ requirements when you plan your undergraduate classes.  Most schools have similar requirements, but you can find links to U.S. veterinary colleges on the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) website.

Many schools have early entry programs, and one of the advantages is your 4th year of college is also you first year of veterinary school; meaning you finish in seven years instead of eight.  There are early entry programs for students graduating from high school and others that are for students in college finishing their freshman or sophomore year.  These are very limited opportunities for highly motivated students.  The schools offering early entry usually have very stringent requirements.  Most of these programs require a minimum 3.5 grade point average or to be in the top 10% of your class.  Students must also fulfill certain requirements during their undergraduate years to keep their place in the veterinary science program; including a high GPA and completing all of the prerequisite courses.

Researching and planning are key to educational success in any field you choose!

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