Pre-Vet Advising

Applying to Veterinary Medical Colleges as a University of Massachusetts Amherst Pre-Veterinary or Animal Science Major

        Veterinary medical school admission is extremely competitive, with approximately 3,000 seats available in the US compared to over 20,000 human medical school seats. There are 2-2.5 times the number of applicants as there are available seats. The UMass Amherst Pre-Veterinary program is nationally ranked in the top five of college programs for future veterinarians. Of the 20-25% of our majors who apply to vet school, virtually all gain admission to at least one vet school and most students choose between multiple acceptances.
       Most students intending to major in Pre-Veterinary enter as Animal Science majors. If they earn a 2.700 or better GPA in ten selected science classes, they have the option to enter the Pre- Veterinary major. The courses required to graduate with a Pre-veterinary major are specifically tailored to fulfill the course requirements of most veterinary medical, graduate, and medical schools and to prepare our majors for success in these programs. (see http://www.vasci.umass.edu/undergraduate/pre-veterinary-major). Students who change their mind about applying to veterinary medical school will benefit from an Animal Science careers seminar, career training classes and independent study opportunities and can graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Pre-Veterinary, Animal Science Biotechnology concentration or Animal Science Animal Management concentration. The UMass Amherst Animal Science program is also highly ranked nationally.

Applying to Vet School FAQ - please click here to access these frequently asked questions and their answers.

   Components of a successful veterinary college application

      1) Excellent grades. Aim for a GPA of 3.5 or better. The higher the GPA, the higher number of veterinary medical college acceptances and the more options open to the student. A minimum of a 3.4 UMass Amherst GPA is predictive for admission to at least one US veterinary medical school; the average GPA of admitted veterinary medical school students in 2013 was 3.59. An “A” in a higher level science course (i.e. 400 and above) counts for more than an “A” in a lower level course. Veterinary college admissions look very carefully at your overall GPA and your grades in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, biochemistry and advanced science courses as an indicator of whether you can pass the demanding veterinary school curriculum. Your grades will largely determine whether you can get into the vet school of your choice or get into any vet school straight out of college, since grades and GRE scores make up 60-70% of the decision. You can take a few classes during the summer session or at a community college, but not so many that it appears that you won’t be capable of doing well in the many demanding courses taken at once in vet school (thirteen in the first semester at Tufts). If you have a very low GPA, you can rehabilitate your application portfolio by performing well on higher-level science courses that you take after graduation. Earning a master’s or Ph.D. degree also helps.
      2) Excellent Graduate Record Exam (GRE) test scores. This test is similar to the SAT, with verbal, quantitative, and written components. Plan on preparing to take the GRE no later than the fall of your junior year by going to the Educational Test Service website (http://www.ets.org/gre/), downloading the free Powerprep II software for Windows, working through a test preparation book or taking a course. You should start taking them by the spring of your junior year, so that you can take them more than once before the vet school application deadlines in September of your senior year. Taking the GRE twice is sufficient; taking the test three or more times looks suspicious. Do not take the test before you have prepared— a low score will hurt your chances, even if you have a higher score later. A very high GRE could compensate for a lower than average GPA. It takes a high GPA to make up for a low GRE.
      3) Veterinary medical related experiences. You need three experiences of at least 200 hours each, chosen from the following four areas:  a) Large animal  b) Small animal c) Wildlife/conservation d) Laboratory research.  Veterinary medical colleges prefer applicants with an open mind about animal species since their mission is to teach you the material that you will be tested on the National Veterinary Licensing exam in your fourth year of veterinary medical school. They are judged on the basis of the percent of their students who pass the licensing exam, so they have a vested interest in your interest in all of the species covered. Thus, it’s a mistake to have two or three veterinary medical-related experiences centered on small animals or horses, even if you think that’s what you will specialize in as a veterinarian. Conversely, if you are interested in a veterinary specialty (e.g. zoo medicine), make sure that you gain experience in that area. These experiences can be pursued during the school year or during the summer, but keep in mind that it might be easier to find an opening in a vet clinic near home than near Amherst, where you’ll be competing with all the other pre-vet students. Summer experiences may also be more exotic (i.e. internship at an aquarium). These experiences are required so that the veterinary colleges are assured that you have a comprehensive grasp of the veterinary medical profession and so that you can cultivate contacts who will write superlative recommendation letters for you. Document your experiences daily (hours worked, what species) so that you can fill in details on your applications years later. Remember that veterinary medicine is just as formal as human medicine. Just as you would defer patient questions to the M.D. if you were working in a human clinic, you should defer all client questions on the diagnosis or treatment of their animals to the D.V.M. It is a good idea to periodically ask your supervisor for feedback on your performance and to implement their suggestions.
      4) Superlative recommendation letters (minimum 3). One to two will be from contacts from your veterinary medical related experiences, and one to two will be from an academic advisor or a professor from a science class. At least one of the recommendation letters should be from a veterinarian. Once you’ve identified candidate references, ask them if they feel that they could write you a strong letter of recommendation for vet school. You don’t want a lukewarm letter of recommendation and it’s no fun to write one, so both of you will benefit from this.  Recommendations consist of two parts. In the first part, the recommender is asked to rate you on your emotional stability, initiative/originality, motivation, personal and social maturity, dependability, communication skills, integrity, intellectual capacity, leadership and ability to work with others. Your goal in your veterinary medical related experiences and in your interactions with your professors is to convince the recommender that you deserve the highest rating in all of these categories. There is a question about whether you can handle large and/or small animals adequately, but the choices are “yes”, “no” or “not able to judge”. The veterinary schools are interested in your psychological profile and how you interact with other people, who will be your classmates, professors, and clients. The assumption is that you can interact satisfactorily with animals, or you wouldn’t be applying to veterinary medical college. The second part of the recommendation is a letter. When you ask someone to write a letter of recommendation, send them your resume/CV to make writing a strong letter as easy as possible. List all your work, veterinary medical related, and extracurricular activities, with phrases underneath each activity pointing out how this activity proved you have the character traits listed above (e.g. “Cashier at a supermarket for five years—demonstrated dependability and integrity in handling large sums of money”). Your letter writers will use this information in their ratings and their letter. If there’s a weakness in your application (i.e. low grade in Chemistry 111 because of a death in the family), discuss it with them so that they can help you make your best case.
      5) Personal statement/ essay questions. Start working on your personal statement early (June after junior year) and have other people read it and make suggestions. Think about it from the perspective of the admissions counselor, who has to read thousands of these personal statements. Don’t put the admissions counselor to sleep. Don’t make the mistake of using platitudes (“Helping animals is very rewarding”), dwelling on how long you’ve wanted to be a veterinarian (“…since I was in utero.”), how much you love animals (“I love my cat/dog/horse/iguana.”), or how you were motivated to become a vet because of an emotional response to the death or rescue of an animal. Avoid a reiteration of your veterinary medical related experiences. Instead, demonstrate that you’ve thought deeply about the profession of veterinary medicine. For example, identify emerging trends and challenges in veterinary medicine, issues in animal welfare, and influential cases you’ve seen and conversations you’ve had. Relate these to your goals and the contribution you plan to make to the field of veterinary medicine.
      6) Choice of veterinary medical colleges. You will have to decide whether you only want to go to one veterinary school (maybe the one in your state of residence), or whether it’s more important to you to start veterinary college the fall after you graduate with a B.S. The highest ranked veterinary schools are very selective. Most students apply to a range of schools, from their dream school to their safety schools. Consult with members of the Pre-Veterinary advisory committee on your choices. Your odds of getting into a veterinary school are affected by whether a veterinary school has reserved spots for residents of your state. You may want to establish residency in another state by working there after you graduate (attending school there doesn’t count). If you want to go to a specific school, go ahead and apply even if your odds are low.
      7) Excellent interview. Prepare for the interview by reading American Veterinary Medical Association discussions on current veterinary medical controversies. Find out about the job opportunities and starting pay for DVMs. The average debt for a graduating DVM is $165,000, so you should have a plan for paying it back. Research the veterinary school so that you’re prepared with questions about their program, financial aid, etc. Make sure you know your own application inside and out—it looks very bad if you can’t tell your interviewer about your own record and experiences.  Read what other interviewees have written at: http://schools.studentdoctor.net/schools/?view=medical

Timeline:

High school and Freshman year

— Veterinary medical related experiences in small or large animal, wildlife, or laboratory research.

— Investigate Veterinary colleges and career choices on the AAVMC website and the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Sophomore year

— Veterinary medical related experiences in small or large animal, wildlife, or laboratory research.

— Investigate Veterinary college programs. Make sure you will have all necessary prerequisite classes for the veterinary colleges you are considering applying to.

— January: Decide whether you will apply to the early admissions program at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Work on application during the January break. Ask evaluators if they would be willing to write a supportive evaluation and letter for you, as described below for a senior.

— March: Early admissions deadline for Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. If you are not accepted, schedule an appointment with an admissions counselor from May-August to review your application with you.

Junior year

— Veterinary medical related experiences in small or large animal, wildlife, or laboratory research.

— Decide which Veterinary colleges to apply to.

— Fall: start preparation for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

— Winter: look at the VMCAS site and start to familiarize yourself with it. This will be useful to start gathering all the details the application requires.

— Spring to summer: take the GRE one to two times. Check allowable frequency of test taking on GRE website— minimum spacing could be no more frequent than once every 30 days. Check the individual vet schools’ GRE deadline requirements on the VMCAS website to make sure that you will start taking the GRE early enough. When you take the GRE, arrange for your scores to be sent directly to the vet schools to which you are applying.

— Mid May between Junior and Senior year: VMCAS site opens. Start working on your application now! Filling out the information will take a considerable amount of time, so do it now, when you are not busy with classes. Write the first draft of your personal statement and other essays. Plan to show these to multiple people for suggestions and edits and expect to prepare at least six drafts. Request official transcripts from all universities that you’ve attended and request that transcripts be sent to VMCAS. Prepare and send supplemental applications to veterinary colleges that require them. Two US schools (Texas A&M and Missouri for residents) use their own application process, so if you apply to one of these schools, you will have to ask your evaluators to submit their evaluations and letters through their websites in addition to the VMCAS.

— May-July: Contact your evaluators to ask them to write a strong letter of recommendation for you. Supply them with an unofficial transcript and a resume that makes all the points you want to appear in the evaluation and the letter. You can register up to six evaluators on VMCAS; a minimum of three evaluators is required. Follow up with your evaluators as to whether they have received an email from VMCAS or schools with their own applications giving them access to the evaluation website. Let them know the deadline— VMCAS won’t send your application without three evaluations.

Senior year

— August-September: VMCAS applications are due September 15. Try to finish and submit your VMCAS application by August to avoid last-minute issues. Remind your evaluators of the deadline by sending them an email thanking them for completing the evaluation and letter by that date. Submit any required supplemental applications and follow up with the veterinary colleges to make sure your applications are complete.

— December-Spring: Prepare for interviews. If you are not successful this round, make an appointment to talk to a veterinary medical school admissions counselor in a school to which you have applied about the weaknesses in your application and consider what you should do to remedy them, whether you should change which veterinary medical colleges you apply to in the following fall, or whether you should implement “Plan B” and pursue a different career path. Many people who do not gain admittance immediately after college will eventually do so.

Resources
- aavmc.org/v16updates.aspx
- Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirements, published yearly by Purdue University Press
- Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
http://avmajournals.avma.org/loi/javma
- Careers in veterinary medicine, vet school requirements, VMCAS link, scholarships and financial aid for veterinary students
http://www.aavmc.org/Students-Applicants-and-Advisors.aspx
- VMCAS updates
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Veterinary-Medical-College-Application-Service-VMCAS/119971444705528
- AAVMC updates
http://www.aavmc.org/Pre-Vet-Student-Resources/Newsletter.aspx
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE)http://www.ets.org/gre/

Course Requirements for Veterinary Colleges

The courses listed below meet the requirements of most veterinary schools. However, after selection of the school(s) you wish to attend, it is recommended that you consult each school’s catalog for specific requirements and check with your academic advisor.

The Summary of Course Prerequisites Chart for Veterinary Colleges indicates the requirements for 30 U.S. schools and 13 foreign schools.  The chart includes hyper-links to the requirement list found on each school’s website. 

U.S. Veterinary College requirements for admission. Admissions requirements for veterinary medical schools outside the United States.

Please click here for information regarding costs of U.S. veterinary schools.

Veterinary School Requirements UMass Equivalents

English  (1 year)

ENGWLP 112 and NATSCI 397A

Speech    (Kansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oregon,Texas and Western only)

COMM 260

Mathematics (1 year and to include one semester of calculus)

R1 and MATH 127
Statistics (choose one of the following:)
STAT 111 or RES EC 212 or STAT 240

Physics  (1 year/labs)

PHYSICS 131 and 132

Chemistry

 
   General Chemistry/lab (1 year) CHEM 111 and 112
   Organic Chemistry/lab (1 year) CHEM 261, 262, 269
   Biochemistry

BIOCHEM 420 or BIOCHEM 523,524

   Biochemisty Lab    (Cornell, Illinois, North Carolina,    Tuskegee and Dublin only)
BIOCHEM 421

Biology

 
    Introductory Biology/lab (1 year) BIOL 151 & 152/ BIOL 153
    Cellular Biology ANIML SCI 200
    Genetics ANIML SCI 311 or BIOL 283
    Microbiology/lab MICROBIO 310/312
    Anatomy/ Physiology ANIML SCI 220, BIOL 654, 564 or 567

Animal Science

 
    Animal Nutrition ANIML SCI 332

    ANIML SCI 103, 452, 454, 455, 459 - 

      Animal management courses (1 year)

ANIML SCI 103, 452, 454, 455, 459
Science Electives ANIML SCI 521, 572
BIOL 523, 548, 550

UMass/Tufts BS/DVM Early Decision Program

The Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine located in Grafton, Massachusetts offers undergraduates enrolled at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst an opportunity to apply to the DVM program in March of their sophomore year.   A limited number of students are admitted, and upon acceptance, are guaranteed a space in Tufts veterinary school class after they graduate, if they maintain a minimum 3.4 GPA and take the required prerequisite classes.  To be eligible to apply, candidates for this program must be sophomores and must have completed a full year each of introductory biology and chemistry.  SAT scores will be evaluated in the place of GRE scores.  Freshmen contemplating application to the Early Acceptance Program are encouraged to speak with a pre-veterinary advisor about accruing veterinary medical related experiences.  If the applicant is not accepted, the applicant can make an appointment with a Tufts admission counselor in the summer to review his/her application, in order to strengthen it for the next round of veterinary medical school applications. Further information regarding this program can be viewed at the Tufts web site.

 

Schools of Veterinary  Medicine

United States 

Students Attending

2008 - 2017

Auburn University, AL  5
Colorado State University, CO 1
Cornell University, NY 9
University of Florida, FL 4
University of Illinois, IL 3
Iowa State University, IA 1
Kansas State University, KS 1
Michigan State University, MI 4
Midwestern University, AZ* new in 2016 3
University of Missouri, MO 3
University of Minnesota, MN 1
North Carolina State University, NC 3
The Ohio State University, OH 15
University of Pennsylvania, PA 10
Purdue University, IN 2
University of Tennessee, TN 1
Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, MA 39
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, VA 1
Western University of Health Sciences, CA 2
University of Wisconsin, WI 1
Total 109

 

Schools of Veterinary Medicine

International

Students Attending

2008-2017

Royal Veterinary College, London,Great Britain 1
University College Dublin, Ireland 4
University of Edinburgh, Scotland 4
University of Glasgow, Scotland 1
IMS Veterinary School, Warsaw, Poland   1
Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada  2
University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada 2
Ross University, St. Kitts 9
St. George’s University, Grenada 9
University of Melbourne 1
Total 34

UMass Pre-Veterinary Advisory Committee

Dr. Janice Telfer, Ph.D.
Ph.D.: Harvard University
Post-doctoral training: California Institute of Technology
Current Specialty & Area of Scholarship: Research scientist in immunology & developmental  biology using rodent and large animal models
Associate Professor at UMass Amherst, Undergraduate Program Direct

  Dr. Katherine Beltaire, D.V.M. Board Certified by the American College of Theriogenology
  Veterinary College: Tufts University
  Veterinary Residency: Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
  Current Specialty & Area of Scholarship: Large animal medicine, reproduction, and management
  UMass Farms Clinical Veterinarian, Lecturer at UMass Amherst

  Dr. Rafael Fissore, D.V.M., Ph.D., Board Certified by the American College of   Theriogenology
  Veterinary College: Argentina
  Veterinary Residency: University of California Davis College of Veterinary Medicine
  Ph.D.: University of Massachusetts Amherst
  Post-doctoral experience: Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School
  Current Specialty & Area of Scholarship:  Research scientist in Animal Health -   Reproduction & Developmental Biology
  Professor at UMass Amherst, Chair of the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences

  Dr. Carlos Gradil, D.V.M., M.S., Ph.D., Board Certified by the American College of   Theriogenology
  Veterinary College:  University of Lisbon, Portugal
  Veterinary Residency: Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
  M.S. & Ph.D.: University of Minnesota
  Post-doctoral training: University of Ottawa, Canada
  Current Specialty & Area of Scholarship:  Academic veterinarian, reproduction specialist   with clinics at UMass Amherst and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts   University; lectures in equine health and reproduction and diseases of livestock and   horses
  Extension Professor at UMass Amherst