Getting Accepted to Veterinary School

by April Karbowsky
Getting Accepted to Veterinary School

Getting accepted to a veterinary program at any level has many requirements that you'll need to be sure to pay keen attention to. Generally, the process for students of veterinary technology programs is simpler than that for veterinary students wishing to earn graduate or doctoral degrees.

Testing Requirements

Students of veterinary technology/technician programs who wish to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree are required to have a high school diploma or GED and submit either SAT or ACT scores.

The SAT measures your skills in Critical Reading, Math, and Writing.

The ACT test, America's most widely accepted exam, assesses your general education development and your ability to complete college-level coursework.

You'll be tested via multiple-choice questions in four skill areas: English, math, reading, and science. There is an optional writing test that measures your skill in the planning and writing of a short essay.

Other Vet Program Requirements

Schools may also look for personal qualities such as leadership, motivation, and good communication skills when making admission decisions.

Veterinary program applicants are also expected to have some experience working with or near animals (such as in pet stores or animal shelters) as this shows your ability and demeanor for the proper care and handling of animals.

Since the number of colleges and universities that offer veterinary programs is relatively small (compared to other majors), the competition for admission can be fierce, for regular vet tech and DVM degree programs. Very high standards are set and you'll need to meet all of the criteria that a school requires for admission, such as:

  • Residency status
  • Academic Performance
  • GRE or MCAT Scores
  • Background Experience
  • Character Affidavits
  • Communication Skills
  • Extracurricular Activities

Residency Status

In many cases, there are no more than one or two institutions of higher learning in a given state that offer master or doctoral programs in veterinary science. In such cases, schools often give preference to in-state students first.

Academic Performance

With so much competition, schools often set a high minimum GPA for incoming students. Students should not expect to be accepted if their average is below 3.0, with some schools opting for an even higher GPA.

GRE or MCAT Scores

Testing for acceptance into masters or doctoral level programs is done through either the GRE or MCAT. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is made up of two separate parts: the General Test and the Subject Test in psychology.

The General Test is a three-part test comprised of sections that measure verbal skills, quantitative knowledge, and analytical writing skills.

The Subject Test (which only is required by some programs) measures knowledge of psychological concepts that are essential to graduate study.

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice exam, designed to assess your problem solving, critical thinking, and writing skills. It will also test your knowledge of science concepts (physical and biological) and other principles that are considered prerequisites to the study of medicine.

Along with test scores, graduate schools place a lot of importance on the types of courses covered at an undergraduate level. Typically, courses in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and animal science must have been taken within a specified number of years prior to your application to ensure that you have the most current knowledge.

Background Experience

You'll be expected to have some type of animal care experience (other than mere observation) already under your belt.

This experience should showcase your interest in animal well-being, your work habits, and your personal integrity. Consider working or volunteering at a zoo, animal medical environment, veterinary practice, animal research institution, humane shelter, regulatory animal control facility, or commercial animal production operations.

Character Affidavits

Some schools require applicants to submit written referrals from either their personal and/or professional associates that attest to their interest in the field, their commitment to the profession, and their general attitude and demeanor towards animal welfare. Make sure you ask for character affidavits from people who have seen you interact with animals on a professional level, and look beyond your family and close friends.

Communication Skills

Communication is a key requirement for any veterinarian professional. (See Top 10 Qualities of a Great Veterinarian).

During the admission process, you'll be assessed on your communication skills either through personal essays or in personal interviews. Veterinarians need to communicate effectively with staff and animal owners, and so this can be a key component used by schools when considering your for admission into their veterinary program.

Extracurricular Activities

As with any other undergrad admission programs (and many graduate programs), activities done in the community are looked upon favorably by schools.

Your extracurricular r work can further show your commitment to the field of veterinary medicine. Your level of devotion to causes that are important to you can portray compassion - another key characteristic of veterinarians.

It may seem that there are a lot of requirements that have to be met for acceptance to veterinary programs -- at any level. This is true because of the nature of the profession. Veterinary practitioners deal with life on many levels.

Veterinary colleges and universities make a point of selecting individuals who can meet the challenges of the profession while serving to protect and enhance the lives of the creatures that come before them, advance the causes of science related to veterinary practices, and live up to the ideals set forth in the Veterinarian's Oath. Veterinarian's Oath (from the AVMA)

Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.

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