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Schools with a Pre-Veterinary Major

Learn how pre-veterinary majors work, and review the course topics that are typically included in these programs. Check the prerequisites for entering veterinary school that pre-vet majors are designed to fulfill. Get info on choosing a school for your pre-veterinary studies.

To diagnose and treat animals as a veterinarian, a doctorate degree is needed. Undergraduate pre-veterinary education, though, can go a long way toward preparing you for further study. Read on for info about schools that provide pre-veterinary programs and what you can expect to learn.

Is There a Pre-Veterinary Major?

Pre-veterinary majors are common at institutions with veterinary medicine colleges, and are rarely, if ever, available online. The way pre-veterinary programs are presented may depend on the school. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is not necessary to have an undergraduate degree to gain admission to a veterinary medicine program (www.bls.gov). The BLS says that veterinary schools will accept students who meet minimum admissions requirements, but since competition is so keen, applicants with a degree will have an advantage.

At some schools, particularly those with their own veterinary school, the pre-veterinary major is a non-degree granting program for freshman and sophomore students. These students take classes in subjects like math, chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, physics, genetics, animal nutrition and social science. Faculty and staff familiar with admissions requirements for the school's veterinary college might develop these curricula. After completing these requirements, students are primed to move directly into veterinary medicine study.

Other schools have pre-veterinary programs that involve a student majoring in a different discipline, like biology or chemistry. These programs are considered pre-professional tracks and not pre-vet majors. Some schools allow these students to pick any major, so long as they fill basic requirements like taking classes in biochemistry and math.

In addition, veterinary schools take into consideration the applicant's extracurricular experience in the field, such as working with veterinarians in clinics, research or agribusiness. Even working in a stable, on a farm or in a shelter may be considered part of your pre-veterinary program.

How Should I Choose a School?

Although all colleges and universities have undergraduate majors that might fill the pre-veterinary requirements, there are only 28 legitimate colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States. All have met the accreditation standards set by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). All are located at universities that offer undergraduate programs.

Although there may be no direct correlation between doing undergraduate and graduate work at the same university, it might be a good idea for you to consider one of these institutions for your undergraduate work. Once you've earned your bachelor's degree from an approved school, you may be better situated for acceptance to one of the other 27 accredited veterinary schools. You can access the complete list of colleges at the AVMA website (www.avma.org).

What Are Some of The Schools With Pre-Veterinary Programs?

A number of colleges feature programs with curricula to prepare you for specialized graduate study in veterinary medicine. Here are just a few schools where you can gain a pre-veterinary education:

  • Pennsylvania State University offers a Bachelor of Science program in veterinary and biomedical sciences designed to prepare students for veterinary school or other research opportunities.
  • The University of Tennessee provides a Bachelor of Science program for pre-professional programs with a pre-veterinary medicine concentration.
  • The University of Georgia offers Bachelor of Science and Arts programs with pre-veterinary medicine curricula via majors such as animal health, entomology and dairy science.

What Courses Will I Take?

Many veterinary schools have a list of prerequisite veterinary-related courses to pursue during your undergraduate career. Generally, you should take one year each of general biology and general chemistry with lab components in each subject. These will be the areas to emphasize most heavily. You'll also be required to take nearly a year of organic chemistry and at least one course each in biochemistry, physiology, genetics and physics.

There will usually be some repetition or overlap between subject matter required for your pre-vet major and courses required for vet school consideration, particularly if you are going to be applying to the vet school at the same university you completed your undergraduate work. Some vet schools also require applicants to have taken a certain amount of general education courses in subjects like the humanities, communication and social sciences.

In addition, your acceptance to vet school may depend on a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.50 and a high score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), so you may want to take classes to prepare you for these tests.

By embarking on pre-veterinary education at the undergraduate level, you'll give yourself a strong foundation for then enrolling in a graduate program, and eventually for a career as a veterinarian.