Pre-Veterinary Medicine

There are currently 30 colleges of veterinary medicine in the U.S. that will train aspiring veterinarians. As a result, competition can be fierce as a results you must have a very good grade point and lots of volunteering or experience working with a vet. Earning a DVM (or VMD in Pennsylvania) will require extensive preparation at the undergraduate level. At Butler University, the Pre-Health Advisors recommend you complete a degree in Biological Sciences and that you volunteer at small and large animal clinics in preparation for your advanced study. For more information see the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges website.

The Veterinary Medicine Schools Application Requirements (VMSAR) can be found here.

Applying to Vet School

There are currently 30 colleges of veterinary medicine in the U.S. that will train aspiring veterinarians. As a result, competition can be fierce. Earning a DVM (or VMD in Pennsylvania) will require extensive preparation at the undergraduate level. Most veterinary schools use Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) for the application process. Students are encouraged to visit their website and review the admissions criteria for each school they are considering and to familiarize themselves with the application process.  Complete application materials, GRE results, and letters of recommendation are typically due by mid-September of the senior year. For more information visit the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and Veterinary Medical College Application Service.

Typical Veterinary Medicine school requirements (Students should double check required courses for specific schools):

  • General chemistry with lab (CH105 and CH106 or CH107)
  • Biological sciences with lab (BI210, BI220, BI230, BI301, BI411, BI438, and BI320)
  • Organic chemistry with lab (CH351 and CH352)
  • Biochemistry I and II (CH362 and CH462)
  • Physics with lab (PH 107 and PH108)
  • Mathematics (MA106 and MA162)
  • Nutrition (ANCS221 through Purdue online)

Pre-Veterinary Medicine programs generally require an applicant to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)  general test. GRE preparation is typically started at the beginning of the junior year using study materials and guides available for purchase online. This exam is usually taken during the spring semester of the junior year, though students have successfully completed this requirement earlier in their college career. The GRE is similar in format to the SAT and includes verbal and quantitative sections. GRE scores are sent directly to the school and are not submitted through VMCAS.

Because of the competitive nature of veterinary medicine programs it is essential that you have lots of experiences with animals. These experiences include animal experience (such as work on a farm), employment experiences (such as work at a vet clinic), research experiences (of any kind), volunteer experiences (such as volunteer work at a zoo or animal shelter), and veterinary experience (any experience supervised by a vet). It is necessary to keep track of the amount of time you spend doing these activities. For more information on this topic see the VMCAS website.

Students will require submission of individual letters of recommendation from professors. Each school has specific numbers of letters that they will accept and has rules about how many must be from science faculty, non-science faculty, and professional veterinarians. Check with the specific school’s website to determine which letters need to be sent to which school.

In general:

  • Identify a professors that might be willing to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf. These professors should know you well (had for more than just one course, you stood out among your peers, they had extensive contact with you outside of the classroom, etc.). At least one of these professors should be a biology professor.
  • 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.
  • Understand that no professor is required to write a letter of recommendation for you. If they do not feel that they know you well enough (or in some cases maybe know you too well?) or do not feel that they can provide you with a strong endorsement relative to your peers, then it is best for all parties involved if they decline.  Refusing to write a letter of recommendation because you refuse to waive your right to see the letter, thus making the letter non-confidential, is within the professor’s rights.
  • When you submit your application materials to the online application service, you will need to fill in the professor’s information and email. Be sure you get the correct email address! The application service will send the professor instructions on how to upload the letter. We suggest you waive your right to see the letter of recommendation. Check with the professor by email or by appointment to ensure that they received the request from the application service. Don’t be pushy, but be firm…this is important!
  • You can check on the status of your application and the submission status of the letters at any time (though you cannot read the letters – they are supposed to be entirely confidential) by following the instructions on the application service website.