Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Medicine


Every community needs veterinary professionals to provide animal health care, but veterinarians also do many other kinds of jobs. They make sure the nation’s food supply is safe. They work to control the spread of diseases. They conduct research that helps both animals and humans. Veterinarians are at the forefront of protecting the public’s health and welfare.

Besides medical skills, veterinarians often take a holistic approach to human well-being and animal welfare that, combined with communications and problem-solving skills, makes veterinarians uniquely qualified to fulfill a variety of roles. Many veterinarians, of course, provide care for companion animals through private medical practices, but veterinarians are also involved in promoting the health and welfare of farm animals, exotic animals, working animals (like those in the equine industry), and those that need a healthy environment in which to thrive, whether that environment is a rainforest, a desert or even the ocean.


Outside of companion animal practice, the largest employer of veterinarians in the United States is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, but veterinarians are found throughout government in roles where they contribute to public health, the environment, and even homeland security, as well as working in research and public policy.


Many veterinarians are engaged in work at the intersection of both human and animal health. For example, veterinarians play an important role in food safety, where epidemiological research is crucial to forecasting the threat of food-borne diseases and outbreaks. They work to keep cattle and other food animals healthy by developing and testing various farm control methods that help to detect, limit, and prevent the spread of food that might be contaminated by salmonella, E coli or other pathogens. And they’re often on the front lines of surveillance where their extensive medical training can help them to detect and treat the outbreak of diseases that have the potential to make the jump from animals to humans. (from AAVMC website)



In making decisions about admissions, veterinary schools consider a range of factors that may vary from one school to another. All prerequisite courses usually need to be completed with a grade of C or above.


It is recommended, and often required, that you complete the following courses:*

Biology 1 year w. lab (generally Foundations of Biodiversity-BIO 150 and Cell Biology-BIO 227)

Schools vary in their requirements but often include the following:

Genetics (BIO 233), Microbiology (BIO 231), Animal Physiology (BIO 247)

Chemistry 1 year Gen Chem w. lab (CHEM 125 & 126 or CH/BI 125 & 227 or CHEM 121, 123, and 126 or CHEM 122 & 126)

1 year Organic Chemistry with lab (CHEM 247 & 248), Some schools require 1 semester

Biochemistry w. lab (CHEM 379)

Physics 1 year with lab (PHYS 124 & 125)
Math & Stats Calculus (MATH 119 or 120) and Statistics – (STAT 212)
English Two writing courses


Sample Course Timeline

The following timeline is an example of how you might wish to schedule some of your prerequisite courses. Timing of these courses may change due to major requirements, study abroad experiences, timing of the application, and admissions guidelines at graduate schools. In addition to these courses, each student will fit in any classes required by their major. All students must consult with their advisors regarding final course selections.


Year 1: General Chemistry, MATH 119 or 120, BIO 150 (or year 2) 

Year 2: CHEM 247 & 248, BIO 150 (or year 1), BIO 227, STAT 212

Year 3/4:  CHEM 379, PHYS 124 & 125, BIO 233, BIO 231, BIO 247


Sample Prerequisite Course Requirements for Admission to Veterinary School


*Please note, it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure they complete all prerequisite coursework in the time required for admission. Please consult each school’s website for prerequisite requirements.



WHAT CENTRALIZED APPLICATION WILL I USE? Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS)



  • Animal Handling:  Most schools expect significant animal handling experience (often 500+ hours).
  • Research: It is highly recommended that you complete at least one 10-week research experience. You do not have to find a research opportunity that is related to veterinary medicine.
  • Volunteering: It is highly recommended that you volunteer in your community, starting as early as your first year at St. Olaf. Although your volunteer role can be animal-related or outside of animal care, we recommend that you aim to volunteer in both capacities. Veterinary schools are looking for applicants with sustained and meaningful volunteer experiences. They don’t want students who are simply checking the “volunteer box.” 
  • Internship(s): It is recommended that you gain experience in the field through interning at a vet clinic, a department of health, an animal hospital, a zoo, etc. Internships outside of veterinary medicine are highly beneficial as well.
  • Leadership: It is strongly recommended that you serve in a leadership capacity (president of an organization, academic tutor, service on an advisory board, etc.). Leaders can enhance their communication and organization skills, as well as learn how to interact with individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds



Study Abroad

Pre-vet club

Alpha Epsilon Delta: Preprofessional Health Honor Society

Pre-health Professionals Club

Pre-health Moodle site

Pre-health Google calendar

Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry



American Veterinary Medical Association

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges



Professor Diane Angell (Associate Professor of Biology)

Office: RNS 434 Phone: 507-786-3101 Email:


*Ultimately, it is the responsibility of applicants to ensure that they complete all prerequisite coursework and experiential opportunities required for successful admission to veterinary school.

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