Veterinary Medicine - Preliminary Information

Undergraduate Coursework ~ Standardized Tests ~ Recommended Extracurriculars

Undergraduate Coursework

The required coursework varies from school to school. Most will require a full year of the following courses :

  • 2 Semesters Biology with Lab
  • 2 Semesters Chemistry with Lab
  • 2 Semesters Physics with Lab
  • 2 Semesters Organic Chemistry with Lab
  • 2 Semesters English (sometimes a composition/writing intensive course is required)
  • 1 Semester College Level Math (usually Statistics)

Other courses that may be required or strongly recommended include:

  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Public Speaking

Click Veterinary School Requirements to see the specific requirements of each school. Keep in mind that you can have some of the required courses in progress during the year of application. You should plan to submit your application during the summer a full year prior to matriculating, as it takes a year to apply.

Click Planning Your Schedule to find out when, and in what order, you should take this coursework. You can also make an appointment with Susie Fang to discuss your coursework.

Standardized Tests

All schools require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general test. Some schools will accept either the GRE or the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

The GRE is a computer-based test similar to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). You can prepare for it using independent study materials or by taking a prep course. Whatever you choose, you should take advantage of the free practice software available on the GRE website (

For information on the MCAT, click the link.

Recommended Extracurriculars

Before applying to veterinary school, you will need extensive veterinary and animal experience (veterinary experience being the most important). Try to gain experience in the following areas:

  • Small-animal experience
  • Large-animal experience
  • Wildlife or exotic animal experience
  • Research/laboratory animal experience

Even if you wish to practice veterinary medicine on one type of animal (i.e. household pets), your schooling will require you to practice on all types. Because of this, veterinary schools look most favorably on applicants who have had a broad range of experiences.

At the end of a volunteer or internship experience, you should request a letter of evaluation from the veterinarian with whom your worked. This is important for your application. (Try to put in a few hundred hours of work before asking for a letter.)

Visit our Volunteer page for ideas and lists of opportunities.