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What college classes should I take if I wanted to be a Veterinarian? Are there any requirements to be able to go to Vet school? How should I know what classes I need to take?

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Doc’s Answer

Danielle if you have your sights set on getting into a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program, there are plenty of things you can be doing now to prepare. The path to becoming a veterinarian begins before vet school, so it’s important to stay organized as you begin to think about everything you’ll need to include in your applications.

Specific requirements may differ from one program to the next, but most vet schools expect applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. While your undergraduate major isn’t important, you do want to make sure you’ve completed all the necessary veterinary school prerequisites. Required coursework will vary depending on the programs you apply to, but you can look into specifics using the Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR) directory. In general, you can expect to complete a number of different science courses, such as biology, chemistry, and physics.
It’s also worth noting that some schools have minimum grade requirements, both for your science GPA and your overall GPA.

In addition to academic requirements, DVM programs also look for applicants who have amassed some veterinary experience. Veterinary experience must take place under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Examples would include working in a clinic alongside a small animal vet or participating in veterinary research efforts. Programs may or may not specify how many hours of veterinary experience, but the average expectation is that they fall within the range of 500–1,000 hours.

Good luck Danielle
Thank you comment icon Thank you Michelle. Every person can make a difference, and every person should try. Doc Frick
Thank you comment icon Thank You Matt. Helping one another. There’s no time like the present, and no present like the time. Doc Frick
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Brandon’s Answer

Getting ready for vet school? Here's a friendly guide to help you out:

Let's talk about academics first:

Try to get a bachelor's degree, focusing on subjects like biology, chemistry, physics, and math.
Keep your grades up, especially in your science classes.

Here are some courses that are usually required:

Biology: You'll need General, Microbiology, Genetics, and Comparative Anatomy.
Chemistry: General and Organic are important.
Physics: A general understanding is needed.
Mathematics: Either Calculus or Statistics.
English: Good communication skills are a must.

Now, let's move on to hands-on experience:

Try to get some real-world experience by volunteering or working at places like vet clinics, animal shelters, or farms.
Join in on research and relevant clubs or activities.

Next up is the VCAT:

Make sure to prepare for the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT).

And a few more things to consider:

Get some solid recommendation letters from veterinarians or professors.
Prepare yourself for possible interviews as part of the application process.
Remember, each vet school might have different requirements, so make sure to check the admission criteria for the schools you're interested in. Practical experience and a dedication to the field can really make your application stand out.
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Michael’s Answer

Hi Danielle:

While in high school, one will need to focus on science and math classes to prepare for a Veterinary career. Physics, chemistry and biology will be the core science courses. If your high school offers an Animal or Wildlife course, it will be in your best interest to take this class. For math, algebra, calculus and statistics will be needed. The combination of these concentrations will enable you to focus and refine your analytical skills for research; complex problem solving; investigative and innovative critical thinking; attention to detail; etc.

Other skills that will need to be built upon center around team building, team work and communication. In any work culture, collaboration among team members, staff and partner departments occur on a daily basis. As a Veterinarian, communication is essential and critical when dealing with clients and patients. A college course in Public Speaking, Communication and English will help with one's communication and writing skills.

A Veterinarian will need to complete a Bachelor of Science degree (four year undergraduate course work). Afterwards, one's education is continued until a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (D.V.M. or V.M.D) is earned which will be another four years of study. Then, both the national and state exams are required for one to earn the licenses to practice Veterinary medicine.

According to U.S. News & World Report, here is a link to the Best Veterinary Colleges and Universities in the United States:

- University of California - Davis
- Cornell University
- Colorado State University
- North Carolina State University
- Ohio State University
- Texas A&M University - College Station
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Wisconsin - Madison
- University of Florida
- University of Georgia
- University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

While in college, here are some undergraduate degrees to major in order to become a Veterinarian:

- Organic Chemistry
- Biochemistry
- Biology
- Zoology
- Physics
- Animal or Wildlife Science
- Chemistry

It will be best to seek advice from your high school guidance counselor as well as teachers to help you focus your interests for a specific major in college. Another recommendation is to visit your local animal hospital and speak with the Veterinarian for additional advice. The Veterinarian can provide you with his or her educational background, experience, insights, etc. on how he or she became a Veterinarian.

When reviewing colleges and universities, it is best to check the following:

- In-State vs Out of State Tuition
- Internships
- Scholarships
- Career Placement upon graduation
- Course work and offered classes
- Post-Graduate Degrees - Master and Doctoral

There are scholarships based on need, academic performance, school activities, sports involvement and community service. So, it will be to your advantage to seek out these types of scholarships. All of the academic staff at your high school that you interact with can write letters of recommendations for you based on what was just stated above. These recommendations can greatly help when filling out college and scholarship applications.

Scholarship applications can start to be submitted during your Junior year and will continue throughout your Senior year in high school. It is best to ask your Academic Advisor/School Counselor on the timeline process as well. Scholarship applications will have specific deadlines and requirements to meet in order to be submitted for review and consideration.

You may want to start to compile your resume/portfolio since a majority of scholarship applications will require academic grade point average (GPA), academic accomplishments, school activities (clubs, sports, etc.), community involvement (volunteer, church, etc.), academic and personal recommendations, etc. There may be essay requirements on why you are a qualified candidate to receive the scholarship, what your future goals are academically and professionally and other questions centering around who you are, your beliefs, etc.

Here are a couple of links for College Scholarships:

Also, it will be best to check with the colleges and universities that you will be applying to. You can check with the School/Department of your desired major, the Campus Career Center and the Register's Office for additional information for college scholarships and grants and specific requirements for qualifications.

According to U.S. News & World Report, here is a link to the salary ranges for a Veterinarian which can be from $78,000 to $128,000 pending where one practices in the United States:

Here is another resource link from for Veterinarian salaries:

Best wishes for your education and career path as a Veterinarian!
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hi Danielle,

If you're dreaming of becoming a vet, there are some key steps and specific classes you should think about. These will equip you with the right knowledge and skills to shine in vet school and eventually in your career. Just keep in mind that requirements might change a bit from one vet school to another, so it's a good idea to check out the specifics for each school you're interested in.

Here's a quick rundown of the usual courses you need to take before you can apply to vet school:

1. Biology: You'll need a good grasp of general biology, cell biology, genetics, and microbiology. These will give you a solid grounding in the biological sciences.

2. Chemistry: This includes general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. It's crucial for understanding the chemical reactions happening inside living organisms.

3. Physics: Physics will help you understand basic principles and how they apply to vet medicine.

4. Mathematics: You'll need strong math skills in vet medicine. Calculus and statistics courses will help you build these up.

5. Anatomy and Physiology: These courses give you a deep understanding of how animal bodies are structured and how they function.

6. Animal Nutrition: You'll learn about the dietary needs of various animals and how their diet impacts their health.

7. Genetics: This will help you understand inheritance patterns and genetic diseases that can affect animals.

8. Animal Behavior: You'll learn about the behavior of different species and how it impacts their health and happiness.

9. Microbiology: You'll study the tiny organisms that can cause diseases in animals and learn about how to diagnose and treat them.

10. Biochemistry: This will give you an understanding of the chemical reactions happening inside living organisms.

Apart from these courses, there are other things you should think about when preparing for vet school:

1. Animal Experience: Many vet schools want you to have some hands-on experience with animals. You can get this by volunteering or working at vet clinics, animal shelters, or farms.

2. GPA and Entrance Exams: Keep your grades up, as a high GPA is important for getting into vet school. Most schools also require you to take the GRE or VCAT. Do well on these to boost your application.

3. Letters of Recommendation: Vet schools often ask for letters of recommendation from professors, vets, or other professionals who can vouch for your abilities and potential.

4. Extracurricular Activities: Get involved in activities that show off your leadership skills, teamwork, and love for animals. This could be joining animal-related clubs, doing research projects, or volunteering in your community.

5. Researching Requirements: To find out the exact classes and requirements for the vet schools you're interested in, check out their websites or get in touch with their admissions offices. They can give you all the details you need.

In short, to get ready for vet school and become a vet, you'll need to take prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry, physics, math, anatomy and physiology, animal nutrition, genetics, microbiology, and biochemistry. Plus, getting hands-on experience with animals, keeping your grades up, doing well on entrance exams, getting strong letters of recommendation, and being active in extracurricular activities will all help boost your chances of getting into vet school.

Here are a few authoritative sources I used for this information:

1. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): This professional organization provides guidance on vet education and accreditation. Their website has lots of useful information on prerequisites and requirements for vet school admission.

2. Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC): AAVMC represents vet medical colleges in the U.S. and Canada. Their website has lots of resources on vet education, including prerequisites for admission to vet schools.

3. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: As one of the top vet schools in the world, Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine has detailed information about their admissions requirements and prerequisite courses. This can be a useful reference for aspiring vets.

Remember, these sources are for general guidance. Always refer to specific vet school websites for the most current and accurate information on their admission requirements and prerequisite courses.

And don't forget to check out my autobiography in the "About James" section. You'll find some great tips on foods that are packed with nutrients to support academic, psychological, and physical activity, and just about every bodily function. Thanks for reading!

God bless,
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Nirah’s Answer

Hi, Danielle. Each vet school will have specific and potentially slightly different requirements. Your best bet is to go to the website of the school you’re interested in, and read the pages devoted to admissions information. It looks like you live in Massachusetts, so Tufts is the state school for you. It is possible to get into schools in a state where you’re not a resident, but you will generally have a lower chance of admission and will pay much higher tuition, so I encourage you to consider your state school first.
If you’re thinking of having credit for your AP classes count towards the admission requirements at vet school, it’s important to check carefully to make sure that they will be accepted. Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not, sometimes it depends on your score. Also, most vet schools will not accept classes that you took as “Pass fail” instead of for a letter grade. In my experience, most classes in vet school are considerably more difficult than undergraduate classes. Vet schools tend to admit students who had high-grade point averages and took difficult and upper level classes.
Your college or university should have a guidance office and hopefully also a pre-vet club where you can get more answers, and if the school you’re considering has neither, it may not be the best choice for a bachelors degree leading up to admission to vet school. Also, the vet schools will have an admissions office, so if you have any doubts about whether a class you’re taking will count towards the entrance requirements, you can inquire with them. They’re used to fielding this kind of inquiry, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you cannot find the answer after carefully reading their website.
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Jordyn’s Answer

Veterinary medicine is a growing and rewarding field, and there are so many ways that you can use a veterinary degree. You've already gotten many great answers to your question, but here is some information and tips that worked for me when I was applying. Also, I saw one answer said that you should prepare for the VCAT exam to apply. The VCAT is generally not used anymore. I had to take the GRE to apply to vet school, but many schools aren't requiring that anymore. I would check the requirements for the specific schools you are interested in to see if there is a test that you will have to take to apply.

As you likely know, it is important to maintain a good GPA and take all classes required for admittance into your desired vet school. Most biology, animal science, or similar type majors will get you pretty close, but every vet school has different requirements. As you go through the first year of undergrad, start thinking about where you may apply and look up their application requirements. Most veterinary schools have an admissions counselor who can help you with this if you have questions, and your academic advisor at your current university can help you design your schedule so that you can meet all the necessary requirements. If you want an idea of where to keep your GPA, you can typically find the average GPA of previously admitted veterinary classes for your veterinary college of interest on their website. I used this as a goal to help keep my GPA competitive on applications.

Veterinary schools will also post minimum experience requirements. This is sometimes divided into animal experience (experience working with animals) and veterinary experience (experience working with or shadowing veterinarians). While these numbers reflect the minimum hours required to be considered for admission, in my experience, most admitted students have far more experience hours than this. Again, you may be able to find the average experience hours for previously admitted classes on the veterinary college's website and use this as a benchmark.

As you might imagine, having veterinary and animal experience is just as important as maintaining a good GPA. Many people have most of their veterinary experience in one area, for example small animal general practice, because they think they want to go into that area of veterinary medicine. This is good as it is important to get experience in your area of interest. However, veterinary schools like to see that you have diverse experiences as well. Consider getting experience with different animal types (small animals, equine, farm animals, or wildlife/exotic) and/or in different settings (general practice, emergency, zoo, research, etc.). If you go to a university with a veterinary college or with a strong animal science program, you can typically find plenty of opportunities through the school. For instance, I worked and volunteered in the veterinary college I later attended because I went to undergrad at the same university. This allowed me to volunteer in their community practice clinic, participate in their wildlife summer internship, work in their neurology department, and help with research in their pathology department during various stages of my career. You may also find experience opportunities through your university's Pre-Vet Club if you have one. This is a great way to learn about veterinary medicine and applying to vet school, as well as meet people with similar interests as you. Finally, many veterinary clinics will take pre-vet students either to shadow or to work as kennel staff (and work your way up -most of us small animal people started as kennel staff when we were first getting experience). But don't be afraid to think out of the box! Local zoos and aquariums often take volunteers. If you are interested in research, attend research seminars and consider reaching out to the these researchers or your professors to see if they need a student assistant. Consider working with a rescue, shelter, or humane society for more experience. Reach out to to state or local public health departments and see if they have a need for veterinary interested interns. There are so many ways to work in veterinary medicine, which is one of the wonderful things about it!

The majority of applicants do not get in on their first try. That's ok! Veterinary medicine is competitive, but once you apply, most veterinary schools have admission counselors who will review your previous application with you and recommend things to improve on for the next application cycle.

Finally, I do recommend making some goals for yourself to help you get everything done that you want to for your applications. But don't take it so seriously, that you forget to try out other things in college. College provides opportunity for exposure to so many other career paths. You may find, like me, that you have an interest in environmental design or physics and it may change your plans, or not. Regardless, try some things. Keep an open mind. Now is the time to explore a bit.

Jordyn recommends the following next steps:
There are more veterinary schools now than this handout says, but it provides a good overview of career paths in vet med.
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Sarah’s Answer

To apply for veterinary school, certain course prerequisites are indeed necessary. Although these requirements tend to be quite uniform across most institutions, it's advisable to verify any specific prerequisites with each school you intend to apply to. A useful reference for this information is the website:

Additionally, you might want to explore if your undergraduate school has resources like a pre-vet club or advisor. However, these are not mandatory for your journey towards becoming a veterinarian.

Another crucial aspect to consider is gaining some practical experience in the veterinary field. Not only is this a requirement for most applications, but it also serves as a valuable opportunity for you to affirm your commitment to this career path.