Veterinary Medicine

Common Prerequisites for Veterinary School

Although you don’t have to be a science major to apply to vet school, it will make your life a bit easier mainly due the high volume of science courses required. From my experience as a pre-health advisor, the vast majority of the vet school applicants were from the College of Science. Although I did have have an occasional non-science/prevet major apply to vet school, their curriculum was packed with a higher volume of humanities courses required for a BA degree thus leaving less room to take more advanced science courses. Having said that, study what you love. If you love English then study English. Being true to who you are is important. You will certainly stand out as an applicant, and this can work to your advantage. Many students will take a 1-2 year gap year before they apply thus allowing more time to fit in the additional science classes required for their particular list of schools. (FYI: Average age of first year vet school student was 23 yrs.)

Basic List of Prerequisite to Prepare for and Apply to Vet School (check each school for specifics)

  • Two Introductory Biology Courses (labs required)

  • Four Chemistry Courses (labs required)

  • Two Introductory Physics Courses (labs required)

  • Two English Courses (must contain a writing component)

  • One Introductory Statistics Course/Math course

  • One Introductory Biochemistry Course (lab optional)

  • One Introductory Genetics Course (lab optional)

  • Intro to Psychology or Sociology if you are planning to take the MCATs

  • At least 3 upper level Biology courses

  • Animal experience is broken down into two parts: 1) Animal experience, 2) Vet experience.

    • At least 600+ hours working with a diverse group of animals however vet school administrators say that competitive applicants can have between 1200 and 2000 hours of animal experience including 150-180hrs with a vet. (Cornell says successful applicants have 300-400+ hrs. of vet experience.)

    • Check out this link for an article discussing the subject of required hours of animal experience per school.

  • GRE or MCAT test

  • 3+ letters of recommendation (1-2 from vet that you have worked with)

You need to determine what additional science classes you will take, so consider the following: 70% of vet schools require biochemistry, 44% require genetics, 34% require microbiology, 17% require cell biology, 13% require physiology, 12% require Anatomy and 10% require animal nutrition. (Based on the AAVMC chart.)

Although vet schools share common prerequisites, there are many outliers. Beyond the normal science prerequisites, here are some additional courses that you might need to plan for. Out off the 59 schools listed, 12 require public speaking (FL, Iowa, Kansas, Ohio State, Purdue, Texas A&M) and 6 require animal nutrition (Purdue, Oklahoma, NC, Texas A&M). It is your responsibility to research and know the specific requirements at each school you are applying to.

Although the following courses are not ‘required’ for vet school, the AVMA recommends the following courses as a way to get a “leg up” when you enter vet school. I am not advocating taking all of the following courses, but I am strongly suggesting that you take at least some them: upper-level anatomy & physiology, zoology, microbiology, animal science/animal production, nutrition, and histology courses. (This list it taken directly from the AVMA Veterinary Admissions 101 website.)

In reality, some of these courses will not be part of the normal undergraduate science curriculum and will require that you take them either online or at a larger institution in the summer or during a gap year. Taking more advanced sciences can have two distinct benefits: 1) provide a smoother transition to graduate school coursework in years one and two, 2) demonstrate a willingness to go beyond what is expected of you. Going the extra distance to take a class not required demonstrates a commitment to education that could be a distinguishing factor to an admissions committee. Since it is very competitive to get into vet school, I would encourage you to go the extra mile and take every advantage to not just complete the bare minimum prerequisites but go beyond. I would encourage you to keep a detailed spreadsheet of all the requirements so you can make a 4-5 year plan to accomplish all prerequisites before matriculating.. Some schools will articulate an appropriate substitute class for some required courses so make sure you check their website for specifics.

Summary of Prerequisites for Vet School. This lists each vet school (including overseas schools) and their individual prerequisites. This list is only valid in 2019 for entry in 2020.

Veterinary Admissions 101. This comical article from the AVMA outlines the common steps on how to prepare and get accepted to vet school.


Strive for 72nd percentile for in-state and up to 82nd percentile for out-of-state applicants in the quantitive section.


AAVMC Prevet Resources. Make sure you join the Vet School Student Engagement system to sign up for resources and information to help you prepare for vet school and a career in veterinary medicine.

AAVMC Admitted Student Statistics

American Pre-Veterinary Medical Association Facebook page

American Veterinary Medical Association

Annual Data Report 2015-2016. This document outlines faculty data, overall student data, application data, tuition and debt data


International Student Financial Aid Resource

List of External Scholarships (maintained by Cornell)

UMASS/Amherst created a great summary of the application process for vet school.

Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS)


There are 30 colleges and schools of veterinary medicine in the US, 5 Canadian Colleges and 20+ international institutions of veterinary. Not all schools take international applicants so it is important to check. There are approximately 3,000 seats in US vet school each year.

The AAVMC maintains a list of overseas veterinary schools (members and provisional members).

General Information Chart of Accredited and Non-Accredited AVMA schools as of April 2019. This chart lists tuition, deadlines, website, tests required (GRE/MCAT), if they accept foreign applicants, if they participated in VMCAS, total available seats in class, and consortiums.

School Profiles and Information

Use the following list that includes links to all US, Canada and overseas accredited colleges of veterinary medicine.

Last updated, September 2019