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Veterinarians are involved in a wide range of activities. They treat animals (diagnose, vaccinate, treat wounds, perform surgery and provide information) in large, small and combined practices.
They may also:
- Research animal diseases/problems in livestock, horse racing
- Help in the care of/research zoo animals, exotics, and wildlife
- Work in laboratories to test drugs for animal and human diseases
- Work to control the spread of animal vectors for human diseases
- Work in food safety, inspect livestock, help develop and enforce government regulations
- Establish animal herds for poor communities worldwide
Is this career right for me? Only you can be sure, but these questions might help you decide:
- Are you a compassionate person who is patient and empathetic?
- Are you able to maintain a cool and balanced mindset during emergency situations?
- Will you be able to communicate effectively with animal owners? (pets don’t give history)
- Are you capable of intense intellectual effort, through your undergraduate, graduate and professional years? Lifelong learning is a reality here!
- Are you willing to put in the required volunteer/shadow hours in both large and small animal experiences (see specific requirements by school)?
- Are you willing to talk to as many vets as possible and read more about the profession?
How come I’m not a pre-vet major?
At most schools, pre-vet is a program, a curriculum of classes for vet school application, not a major you can declare. Most pre-vet students at Alma College will be biology majors with chemistry minors.
Veterinary graduate school programs generally last 4 years. Examining the classes in vet school will help you choose your undergraduate classes wisely.
Pre-veterinary academic requirements
- Mathematics: MTH 112
- Inorganic Chemistry: CHM 115
- Organic Chemistry: CHM 223-224
- Biochemistry: BIO 321 (CHM 230 is required by default)
- Physics: PHY 112-113 (121-122 can be substituted)
- Biology: BIO 121, 122, 204 (Genetics), 301 (Cell Biology), 308 (Microbiology)
- Nutrition: EHS 301 (note this requires BIO 207 Physiology)
- English: ENG 101
- Social Sciences: total 8 Alma credits (like our SO-2 DR econ, political science and sociology/anthropology)
- Arts and Humanities: total 8 Alma credits (like our AH DR: literature, philosophy, religion, history)
In addition to the pre-vet curriculum, schools recommend additional courses in such areas as: developmental biology, physiology (a pre-requisite for Nutrition), vertebrate biology or anatomy, statistics and additional liberal arts experiences. Alma’s program is a great preparation!
Veterinary applications require extensive documented experience by veterinarians who are not family members or employed by family members. High levels of engagement and initiative, not just observing, are required. A variety of experiences is preferred; both large and small animal exposure is expected.
MSU-CVM requires many hours of documented volunteer/service activities with vets, local humane societies and some other animal related services (before Oct. 1 of your application year). They want to see over 80 hrs of experience with the veterinarian who will write a letter of recommendation for you. Keep a log of your experiences (see a form on the pre-med resources site) and keep a journal of your experiences.
For MSU-CVM, you must also have general competence with animals and animal handling, in addition to shadowing a veterinarian. Work at a stable, zoo, kennel, laboratory or farm. No specific hours requirements are given; it is possible to gain animal experience through your vet volunteer hours, just be sure to get hands-on care.
Individual schools vary on the number of volunteer hours they require. Make sure to check individual schools’ websites for more information.
Contact Dr. Tim Keeton, the pre-vet coordinator, or Cristy Calhoun, coordinator of the Integrated Health Studies Institute, to express your interest in pre-veterinary studies. Use and modify as needed the general outline given on the pre-med site.
Remember to start chemistry as soon as possible, since physiology (BIO 207) requires chemistry and nutrition (IPH 301) requires physiology. Talk to IPHS faculty about potential dual enrollment in physiology and nutrition (both winter term courses) if you start CHM in year 2.
GPA and Entrance Exams (GRE or MCAT)
Veterinary school is very competitive! There is only one school in Michigan, and many states do not even have a vet school. MSU-CVM accepts more in-state than out-of-state applicants, but it is possible to be accepted at other states’ schools.
A high GPA is required. In order to be competitive you should have a GPA of 3.5 or higher (3.7 may be closer to the norm). Please examine individual schools for more information.
The on-line GRE (Graduate Record Exam) (or MCAT) is required for admission. MSU has no preference, but you should check other veterinary schools. Get your preparation guide early in the process, and study along with your classes. Read extensively (in addition to class work) to improve your vocabulary and facility with language.
Application to Veterinarian Programs
Application is through VMCAS. Bookmark this site, and print out a sample application to see what information is required. Applications should be completed over the summer prior to your senior year. Earlier is better, as long as you have a polished application.
Work on your essay! It’s critical to your successful entrance to vet school. Make sure it is grammatically correct and is read by several people before submission. Check out the information about essays on the pre-med site.
Arrange for your letters of recommendation as soon as your application is transmitted. Provide the information requested by faculty and your veterinarian. See the hints for obtaining letters of recommendation on the pre-med site.