Pre-Veterinary Medicine

Veterinarian working on animal.

Veterinary Medicine is a health profession that focuses on treating diseases, disorders, and injuries in animals.  A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM, some schools grant the title of Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris, or VMD) may commonly work with pets or livestock, but they may also treat exotic animals, working animals, companion or service animals, or research animals.  Outside of family pet animal practices, the largest employer of veterinarians in the United States is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and veterinarians are found in roles where they contribute to public health, the environment, homeland security, research, and public policy.  For more information see the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) website at

Veterinary School Prerequisite Courses

The requirements for DVM programs vary considerably, so it is best to check each program you are interested in well in advance of applying.  All programs do share a common theme that, given the number of upper-level electives required, Biology is most likely the best major to choose.  A breakdown of courses required at various veterinary programs can be found at

In general most programs require:

  • One year of Biology with labs
  • One year of General Chemistry with labs
  • One year of Organic Chemistry with labs
  • One to two semesters of Biochemistry
  • One year of Physics with labs
  • Zoology with lab
  • Psychology
  • Statistics

Other courses required by a significant number of schools:

  • Microbiology with lab
  • Physiology with lab
  • Vertebrate Anatomy with lab

Other coursework that may be beneficial:

  • Animal Development
  • Animal Behavior
  • Nutrition

Applying to Veterinary School

Graduate Record Exam (GRE): Many, but not all, doctor of veterinary medicine programs require an applicant to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general test. This exam is usually taken during the spring semester of the junior year.

Letters of Recommendation:  Identify at least two science professors and at least one non-science professor that might be willing to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf.   Veterinary schools may ask for a letter of recommendation from a licensed veterinarian that you observed or worked with professionally, so it is best to be prepared for this.  Schedule a meeting with the professors to directly ask them to write the letters. Don’t just drop in as the request might get shuffled off and forgotten. Be intentional about asking. Bring a list or short narrative of the work you completed in the classes taken under the professor. Professors see many students over the years and don’t always remember specific course assignments or course experiences like you will. Remind them of these experiences. Provide an estimated date for submission of their letters. Give your professors enough time to write a thoughtful letter.

Shadowing and experiences:  With competitive admission because of the limited number of veterinary colleges, schools will place a heavy emphasis on a student’s animal experience.  It is very important students have significant experience shadowing, volunteering, or work within a veterinary or animal clinic.

Personal statement: A personal statement is a well thought out explanation of why veterinary medicine is right for you based on the experiences that have led you to this conclusion.  Experiences from your life, work, research, or shadowing that are pertinent to explaining your call to veterinary medicine need to be included as part of this statement.  Journaling is a convenient way of keeping track of formative experiences and their impact on you as they occur.

Application timeline:Applications are submitted approximately one year prior to entrance into veterinary schoolApplications are built within and submitted to schools through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS).   Applications to veterinary programs typically open in mid-May of each year and the deadline for applications is around mid-September.

Veterinary Schools Attended by Butler Graduates

Recent Butler graduates have attended the following Veterinary Schools:

  • Lincoln Memorial University
  • Michigan State University
  • Midwestern University
  • Ohio State University
  • Purdue University
  • Ross University
  • St. George University
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Wisconsin