Tips for Veterinary School Applicants

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This fact sheet is designed to give you some background information about the requirements you must fulfill to apply to schools of Veterinary Medicine, and how you can meet those requirements at Elmira College. 

Admissions Requirements

Colleges of veterinary medicine vary in their specific requirements:  when in doubt, be sure to research the particular school(s) you are interested in. 


You may major in anything, as long as the pre-requisite courses are taken.  Most applicants choose a science major because of the large number of science pre-requisites, although having a major in another area may get you a second look, as it is a bit unusual.  Successful applicants have a wide variety of majors, so choose a major you are truly interested in rather than one that you think will look good on an application.

Pre-requisite courses – you must take these courses

Freshman Composition/Communications
Biological Concepts with labs (major’s level)
General Chemistry or Basic Chemical Principles with labs (major’s level)
Organic Chemistry with labs
Physics with labs
a college-level Calculus course

Other very common pre-requisite courses; check the schools you are interested in
Animal Nutrition
Behavioral and social science courses
Humanities courses
A business course or two may be helpful, although not usually required

Test Scores and GPA

The exam that colleges of veterinary medicine require is the GRE (graduate record exam).  See for details about this exam.  It has three sections that examine skills in verbal, quantitative, and writing areas.  Most graduate programs expect a 300 combined math and verbal score on the GRE for consideration. 

The GPA (grade point average) that is necessary for a successful applicant is often 3.5 or higher. It is a competitive field, so the higher the better.

Experience With Animals

This is a critical requirement for admission.  The successful applicants have experience in a veterinary clinic setting.  Make a spreadsheet that documents each type of animal you have had experience with and the number of hours for each.  Experience may include assisting or shadowing, paid or volunteer work.  Most applications to veterinary school require a letter of recommendation from a veterinarian.  Both large and small animal experience, including exotics, is recommended, especially if you are unsure where you may end up living or what type of practice you would enjoy most.  At Elmira College, this requirement can be met through community service or the internship experience, although you are advised to seek out more than this minimum amount of experience.

Research Experience

While not a requirement at every college of veterinary medicine, research can give you an academic edge.  Some colleges do factor research experience into their admissions formulas to a greater extent than others.  Regardless, research can give you insight into how science works outside the classroom setting.  In addition, your professors can get to know you better and thus be able to write meaningful letters of recommendation.  If you are considering a DVM/PhD degree, then undergraduate research becomes more critical.  Students can conduct research at Elmira College during the academic year or can apply for the summer undergraduate research program.


The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

This association has a central distribution, collection, and processing service for applications to the veterinary medical colleges.  Many colleges require that you use this service when you apply.  There is a vast amount of information for students interested in pre-vet.

The American Veterinary Medical Association

This is the professional association of practicing veterinarians.

Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences Pizza Lunches and pre-health speaker series
Attend as many programs as you can.  Important information that can help with the application process will be shared at pizza lunches.  These sessions also educate you about various health care professionals you will be working with some day.

Common Questions

I have heard that it is more difficult to get into vet school than med school.  Is this true?

The average GPA in 2003 was a 3.5 and the average GRE score was 1275 (out of a possible 1600) of students accepted to vet schools, so it is competitive.  There are 47 schools of veterinary medicine across the US compared with over 130 medical schools.  The academic requirements as well as animal experience requirements are quite stringent.

Must I be a resident of a particular state to go to vet school there?

It does help.   Some schools have a very few slots for non-residents, and competition is fierce.  Some states do not have vet schools at all, and often have agreements in place with neighboring states.  Always check the specific schools you are interested in.