Veterinary School Admission

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. 

Access Veterinary College Requirements for admission for a comprehensive list of prerequisite courses for all veterinary medical schools in the United States.

Veterinary School Requirements UMass Equivalents

English

 
(1 year) ENGLWRIT 112 and NATSCI 387

Speech

 
(Kansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon,
Purdue, and Texas A & M only)
COMM 260

Mathematics

R1 and MATH 127 or MATH 131

Statistics

STATISTC 111 or STATISTC 240 or RES-ECON 212

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 420/421 or BIOCHEM 523,524

Biochemistry Lab

(Cornell, Illinois, North Carolina, Tuskegee and Dublin only)

BIOCHEM 421 or 524

Biology

 
Introductory Biology/lab (1 year) BIOL 151 & 152/ BIOL 153 (lab)
Cellular Biology ANIML SCI 200 or BIOL 285 or BIOCHEM 275
Genetics  ANIML SCI 311 or BIOL 283
Microbiology MICROBIO 310
Microbiology Lab ANIML SCI 390A or MICROBIO 265
Anatomy/ Physiology ANIML SCI 220, BIOL 564 565 or 566

Animal Science

 
Animal Nutrition ANIMLSCI 332
Animal Management courses (1 year) ANIMLSCI  101, 103, 231/251, 232/252,233/253, 234/254, 297D/297DC, 297F
   
Science Electives

ANIMLSCI 385, 390L, 421, 432, 521, 572, 581
BIOLOGY 521, 523, 540, 542,544, 548, 550, 583

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.

Applying to Veterinary Medical Colleges as a University of Massachusetts Amherst student

Components of a successful veterinary college application in the fall of senior year:

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 ioen to the student. 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. 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 and working through a test preparation book or taking a course. You should start taking the GRE in the spring of your junior year and the following summer, so that you can take them more than once before the vet school application deadlines in mid 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 score.

3) Animal/Research 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 the material that you will be tested on the Veterinary Licensing Exam in your fourth year of vet school. Veterinary medical colleges 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 out of the three experiences centered on small animals or horses, even if you think that’s what you will specialize in as a vet. Conversely, if you are interested in a veterinary specialty (e.g. zoo medicine), make sure you gain experience in that area. These experiences can be pursued during the school year or in 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. Be sure to document your experiences daily (hours worked, species, skills learned, procedures observed) 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 would not 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 (May 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.”), and how much you love animals (“I love my cat/dog/horse/iguana.”). Describe specifically what you’ve learned from your veterinary medicine related and other experiences, especially about yourself and other people. Emphasize those experiences that make you different from all the other applicants. Tell a gripping story, using evocative details and humor. The admissions counselors are trying to get to know you from these essays.

6) Good choices of veterinary schools to apply to. 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. UMass Amherst has an early acceptance program with Tufts, and is putting agreements in place with the University of Edinburgh and Ross University.

7) Excellent interview. Make the most of a vet school interview opportunity by practicing. The Pre-Veterinary advisory committee offers mock interview sessions in the spring. 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 D.V.M.s. 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. Check out what other interviewees have written about their experience (e.g. feedback on Tufts at http://www.studentdoctor.net/schools/school/tufts-vet/survey/33).

Suggested Timeline

High school and Freshman year

— Participate in a veterinary medical related experience in a small or large animal practice, with a wildlife conservation organization or in laboratory research.

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

Sophomore year

— Participate in a different veterinary medical related experience in small or large animal practice, with a wildlife conservation organization or in 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 University 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 University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. If you don’t get in, schedule an appointment with an admissions counselor from March-August to go over your application with you.

Junior year

— Participate in a different veterinary medical related experience in small or large animal practice, with a wildlife conservation organization or in 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 and go through at least six drafts. Download and complete the VMCAS transcript request form and take the form to the UMass Registrar’s office.  The Registrar’s office will send your transcript 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.

Senior year

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 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 mail your application without three evaluations.

August-September: VMCAS applications are due September 15. Try to finish and submit your VMCAS application by the end of 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.

October-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.

Veterinary School Advisory Committee

Members of this committee advise students on how to approach gaining pre-veterinary medical related experiences and recommendation letters, how to fulfill prerequisites for veterinary school admission, how to assemble their portfolio for veterinary school admission, how to choose which schools to apply to, how to write a successful essay, and how to interview.  Members of the committee maintain contact with admissions officers at veterinary medical schools, promote ties between UMass Amherst and veterinary medical schools and host speakers from veterinary medical schools.  Students are encouraged to speak to any pre-veterinary school admissions advisory committee member about the assembly of their veterinary school application as early as possible in their academic career.