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Pre-Veterinary Frequently Asked Questions

What should my major be?

Veterinary schools do not require a specific major. Therefore, you may major in almost anything. You should consider a major which you enjoy, in which you will perform well and which may serve as a basis for further graduate work or employment should you choose not to apply to or are not admitted to veterinary school. Admissions committees expect variety in educational programs, so you should take courses in a wide variety of subject areas, no matter what you decide to declare as a major.

What is so hard about being pre-vet?

For many freshmen, the most difficult task is to acquire the study skills and self-discipline necessary to attain academic excellence. The success of your transition to college-level work depends not only on ability but also upon preparation, motivation, organization and how well you learn how to learn. It is important that you really learn the material, not just memorize it, as it is crucial to develop your critical thinking skills. The rigorous curriculum of a pre-veterinary student demands tenacity and stamina. There will be "star" students in your classes and for the first time in your academic career, you may have to work harder than some students. This can be discouraging.

Is it difficult to get into veterinary school?

Yes. For the 2012 school year, approximately 6,305 applicants vied for fewer than 2,300 available seats. The average applicant applied to 4 schools. There are many qualified people who want to go to veterinary school. You must be well informed, well prepared, extremely determined and work very hard to gain admission. You should also actively explore alternative careers.

What are the minimal admissions requirements?

Veterinary schools require general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics designed for science majors. Most schools require some laboratory components. Not all veterinary schools have exactly the same requirements. We recommend that you take:

  • Biology I and II -   BIOL 1081/1081L  and  BIOL 1082/1082L
  • General Chemistry I and II - CHEM 1040/1040L and CHEM 1041/1041L
  • Organic Chemistry I and II - CHEM 2040/2040L  and  CHEM 2041/2041L
  • General Physics I and II - PHYS 1050/1051L  and  1052/1052L (*algebra-based, though calculus-based physics is accepted)

It's important to note that all of the courses above must accompany a lab, which is labeled "L".

  • Biochemistry - CHEM 3040   Introduction to Biochemistry   

          MEDS 3020   Introduction to Medical Biochemistry                       (via the College of Medicine)

         MEDS 4027 & MEDS 4028 Principles of Biochemistry I &
         II (Both courses are required to fulfill the requirement if
         choosing this option.) Courses are offered via
         the College of Medicine.

  • Anatomy and Physiology - BIOL2001C and BIOL 2002C
    BIOL 3020C Human/Comparative Anatomy and BIOL3021C Human/Comparative Physiology.

  • Genetics - BIOL 2081C Genetics and Cell Biology 

  • Microbiology - BIOL 2031C Microbiology for the Health Professions                                                                                                                                                  or        
    BIOL 4011 and BIOL 4011L  Microbiology and Lab
             (*pre-req to this course is BIOL2081C  & BIOL 2082C)
    MEDS 3024  Medical Microbiology (offered via the College of Medicine.)

Most schools also require additional coursework such as biochemistry, physiology, animal nutrition, microbiology, math/statistics, composition, humanities and/or social sciences. You should consult the admissions literature for the specific requirements and recommended courses at each school in which you are interested. If you are interested in a particular school, you should learn as much about that school as you possibly can early on. It's encouraged that you meet all prerequisite requirements for The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

*Meet with a PPAC advisor to discuss microbiology and biochemistry options.

What is the GRE?

The Graduate Record Exam is a standardized test that measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and critical thinking and analytical writing skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study. Veterinary schools require that you take the GRE prior to admission. We suggest familiarizing yourself with the GRE as early as your freshman year so that you can plan for the test. Understanding the test can positively affect what you learn in class and how you choose to retain that knowledge. Stretch yourself in your general education courses at UC and by reading beyond class requirements. The training will serve you well when you take the GRE.

Some veterinary schools will accept the MCAT. For information about the MCAT, please review the Pre-Med FAQ.

When do I take the GRE?

Generally, you apply to veterinary schools before the beginning of your senior year (or a year before you plan to enter), so you should take the admissions test by the spring or summer after your junior year. If offered during the application cycle, you may repeat the test if you are not happy with your scores and you have a good reason to think your score will improve. However, we encourage you to be as prepared as possible the first time you take the test. Pre-professional advisors can discuss preparation plans with you.

What do veterinary schools consider when evaluating applicants?

The criteria for admission varies from school to school, but usually include academic record (GPA), GRE or MCAT, letters of recommendation, demonstrated knowledge and commitment to the profession and a personal interview. Personal characteristcs such as integrity and maturity are considered. Very early in your college career you should initiate several hours of observation with a small animal vet. Additionally, it is recommended that you observe veterinarians that work with other populations such as livestock, exotics, zoo animals, etc.

What GPA do I need to get into veterinary school?

This varies from school to school. However, the national mean GPA of first-year veterinary students is 3.54. The mean GPA of first-year students at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine for 2012 is 3.65. It is particularly important that you perform well in your science courses. It is important for those considering professional school to be realistic about the extent to which performance meets admissions expectations.

Is it all over if I have a bad semester?

Admission committees look at the "big picture" as they evaluate applicants. They realize that every student does not hit the ground running when they enter college. Admission committees expect an excellent academic record, but will make some allowances for a problem quarter, slow start or rough spot. If academic problems arise, you must bounce back and perform better than ever to show that the problem was an exception, rather than the rule. Use resources such as professor and T.A. office hours and the Academic Excellence & Support Services office.

So will I need letters of recommendation?

Yes, you need approximately three letters. Veterinary schools do not share the same recommendation requirements. Be prepared to secure at least one recommendation from a veterinarian and at least one from a faculty member.

Is financial aid available?

Amounts and types of financial aid vary from school to school, as does the cost of your education. You should investigate the costs early in your undergraduate career. Knowing that you are probably going to incur a substantial loan debt for dental school may affect the way that you borrow for your undergraduate education. Most applicants are eligible for government originated aid; apply during January of your application cycle, even if you are still waiting to find out whether or not you have been accepted. Apply for aid at

If you are a low-income applicant you may be eligible for a Fee Reduction Voucher to help offset the cost of taking the GRE.

How can the Pre-Professional Advising Center (PPAC) help me?

Preparing for admission to veterinary school requires careful long-range planning and accurate information. The PPAC specializes in providing you with necessary information and helping you develop good planning skills. The staff of the PPAC provides you with help through each step of the way. PPAC provides services including course selection, career exploration, time management tips, information on individual schools, admissions test preparation advice and application assistance.

You probably have more questions. Please contact us to make an appointment. It is never too early to start planning.