Veterinary School Requirements

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

If you are thinking of becoming a veterinarian, here is what you need to know about veterinary school requirements. How long is the typical veterinarian school program? Veterinary school length varies according to both the program and institution, but most programs last between three to four years. Each year of study in vet school involves, on average, one hundred eighty-three days of instruction, but this number can be as low as one hundred eighty days. This equates to between sixteen hundred and seventeen hundred hours of class time each year, or approximately twenty-four hours per week for four years.

To gain easy access to more information on veterinary school requirements, how long is vet school and requirements to become a veterinarian, search on Collegelearners.

Steps to Becoming a Veterinarian

There are 30 veterinary schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in the U.S. There were nearly 6,800 applicants competing for approximately 2,700 openings in 2013. In other words, it is very competitive to gain admission to a veterinary school.

Admission requirements for veterinary schools have many things in common; however the specific requirements may vary among schools. It is therefore advisable to become familiar with the entrance requirements (PDF) early in your career as this may affect course selection especially after your first year of college.

Most U.S. veterinary schools utilize the centralized application service operated by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (Veterinary Medical College Application Service-VMCAS). This application service accepts your application and your letters of evaluation and distributes them to each school you indicate. Applicants should make sure to submit their transcripts to VMCAS. Many schools have a supplemental application as well and require that this information be sent directly to the school.

Academic Preparation | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Steps to Take

In High School: Start preparing as early as you can

Take all the mathematics, chemistry, biology, and physics courses which are available to you in middle and high school; they will open up many career opportunities in college including veterinary medicine.

In College: Undergraduate Degree Program

Choose a degree program which will provide you a strong grounding in the biological and physical sciences. Make a list of degree programs at various universities and colleges and visit them individually. Find a program that will suit your needs the best. There are various undergraduate pathways to study prior to be admitted to vet schools.

Penn State Program

All the required courses for you to get admitted to most vet schools are required in the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Program at Penn State.

Essential College Criteria

Criteria that you should accomplish during your undergraduate degree before your application to Veterinary Colleges

  • Grade Point Average (GPA): Maintain a competitive GPA, preferably 3.5 or higher. Most veterinary schools examine courses taken in the last 3-4 semesters closely.
  • Animal and Clinical Experience: Volunteer with a veterinarian to gain wide variety of animal and clinical experience, and appreciation for the veterinary medical field. This might be an opportunity to find out if veterinary medicine is for you.
  • Graduate Record Examinations: You think that you are done after taking SATs or ACTs for your college applications. Not quite! The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is widely accepted by most veterinary colleges while MCAT is another standardized test that is accepted by some in addition to by Medical Schools. Check each school’s web page for their target standardized test scores.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Choose three individuals to provide letters of recommendation. One is required from an academic adviser; one is required from a veterinarian; and the third one can be from an individual of your choice (typically one of your course instructors). It is important to get to know your academic adviser and/or professors during your college education. Some schools may require letters from two veterinarians. The application will give you a choice to waive your right to see letters of evaluation. You also have the choice not to waive that right and therefore request to see the letters after your application has been evaluated. While it is your right to see the letters, our advice is to waive the right to examine the letters. Evaluators will know before they write the letter if you have waived the right to see the letters or not. Some schools will think that evaluators may be hesitant to make negative comments about students do not waive their right to examine the evaluations. This can influence the evaluation of that letter by the admission committee.
  • Leadership and communication skills; and co-curricular activities: It is highly recommended that you get involved in student club activities, such as, Pre-Vet club which will provide you numerous opportunities to serve in your community which will provide you to interact with people from all walks of life. Make effort to hold an officer position or to serve on a committee which will provide numerous opportunities to gain leadership and communications skills. Remember admission committee is looking for tomorrow’s leaders.

how long is vet school

In the United States, veterinary school is a four-year degree program following undergraduate Bachelor’s degree level education (a total of 7 to 9 years: 3 to 5 years undergraduate plus 4 years of veterinary school).

After graduating from veterinary school, many new graduates choose an additional year of general or specialty clinical training as interns. Some pursue 2 to 5 years of additional residency training leading to board certification and practice within a wide variety of medical or surgical specialties, such as neurology, cardiology, dermatology, orthopedic surgery, equine medicine, zoo medicine, etc.

Essential skills and abilities | Cornell University College of Veterinary  Medicine

Veterinary technician Salary

Veterinarians make $97,116 a year on average. Individual veterinarian salaries will depend on geographical location, type of practice, education and experience. For example, a board-certified veterinarian with 10 years of experience working for a private laboratory is going to make a higher salary than a veterinarian in their first year of a small-town practice.

Necessary qualities for a veterinarian

Many veterinarians share a set of qualities that make them ideal candidates for their job. Here are some of the most common qualities for veterinarians:

Love animals

Veterinarians must love animals of all types. Most veterinarians treat a wide range of animals, so it is important that they enjoy many types of pets and animals.

Okay with messes

Animals are messy by nature. Many have fur that sheds or like to lick people. Animals will create messes in your office, waiting room and exam room when they are feeling well and may create larger messes when they are ill. Be prepared for this and ready to quickly clean up.


Veterinarians must be organized. Often, veterinarians are responsible for some office management and paperwork in addition to seeing patients.

Vet School Requirements: The Ultimate Guide — Shemmassian Academic  Consulting


Many veterinary offices employ people to assist with checking in patients, providing routine treatments and handling phone calls and scheduling. The veterinarian must be capable of managing their employees’ schedules and work performance.


Veterinarians must be dedicated to their careers. It takes a lot of schooling, study and time to become a practicing veterinarian.

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