Course Requirements for Veterinary Colleges
The courses listed below meet the requirements of most veterinary schools. However, after selection of the school(s) you wish to attend, it is recommended that you consult each school's catalog for specific requirements and check with your academic advisor. Check updates on the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges - AAMVC site regularly
The AAVMC Summary of Course Prerequisites Chart for Veterinary Colleges indicates the requirements for 33 U.S. schools and 26 foreign schools.
Access the AAVMC "What to Know Before you Apply."
|Veterinary School Requirements||UMass Equivalents|
English (1 year)
|ENGLWRIT 112 and NATSCI 387|
Speech (check the schools you are interested in)
|COMM 118 or COMM 260|
Mathematics (1 year) Calculus required by most veterinary schools
|R1 and MATH 127 or MATH 131|
|STATISTC 111 or STATISTC 240 or RESECON 212|
Physics (1 year with labs)
|PHYSICS 131 and PHYSICS 132|
|General Chemistry/lab (1 year)||CHEM 111 and 112|
|Organic Chemistry/lab (1 year)||CHEM 261, 262, 269|
|Biochemistry||BIOCHEM 320/321 or BIOCHEM 423,424|
Biochemistry Lab (check the schools you are interested in)
|BIOCHEM 321 or 424|
|Introductory Biology/lab (1 year)||BIOLOGY 151 & 152/ BIOLOGY 153 (lab)|
|Cellular Biology||ANIMLSCI 285 or BIOLOGY 285 or BIOCHEM 275|
|Genetics||ANIMLSCI 311 or BIOLOGY 311|
|Microbiology Lab||ANIMLSCI 366 or MICROBIOLOGY 265 or MICROBIOLOGY 312|
|Anatomy/ Physiology||ANIMLSCI 220 or BIOLOGY 564 or 565 or 566|
|Animal Nutrition||ANIMLSCI 332|
|Animal Management courses (1 year)||ANIMLSCI 101, 103, 231/251, 232/252,233/253, 234/254, 236/256, 297D/297DC,|
ANIMLSCI 260, 386, 390E, 397E, 421, 432, 472, 494GI, 494OH, 494PI, 521, 572, 581H
UMass/Tufts BS/DVM Early Decision Program
UMass Amherst is the top feeder school of Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine; more of their students have graduated from UMass Amherst than from any other single university or college. We consult with Tufts on curriculum and have an early admissions program with them. Competitive applicants will have excelled in at least two science sequences (2 semesters each of introductory biology and general chemistry with lab) and demonstrated high levels of maturity and motivation in their veterinary medical-related activities and essays by the March deadline for application in their sophomore year. SAT (1400+) or ACT (30+) scores are required for consideration. Successful applicants in the past have had GPAs of 3.9 to 4.0. Students admitted under this program are required to maintain a minimum 3.4 GPA and complete the Tufts prerequisite classes. The admissions process is time-consuming and highly selective; thus, we recommend that only highly qualified candidates apply. Further information regarding this program can be viewed at the Tufts web site.
Applying to Veterinary Medical Colleges as a University of Massachusetts Amherst student
Veterinary medical school admission is extremely competitive, with approximately 3,500 seats available each year in the US compared to over 20,000 human medical school seats. Acceptance rates vary from 5-19%. The UMass Amherst Pre-Veterinary program is nationally ranked in the top five of college programs for future veterinarians. Of the 20-30% of our majors who apply to vet school during the summer after their junior year, virtually all gain admission to at least one vet school and most students choose between multiple acceptances.
Most students intending to major in Pre-Veterinary Science enter as Animal Science majors. If they earn a 2.700 or better GPA in ten selected science classes, they have the option to enter the Pre-Veterinary Science major. The courses required to graduate with a Pre-Veterinary major are specifically tailored to fulfill the course requirements of most veterinary medical, graduate, and medical or professional schools, and to prepare our majors for success in these programs. It is a rigorous science curriculum that prepares our students well for any career in biomedicine.
Students who change their mind about applying to veterinary medical school will benefit from an Animal Science careers seminar, career training classes, and biotech research opportunities, and can graduate with a bachelor's degree in Pre-Veterinary Science, Veterinary Technology, or Animal Science with a concentration in Animal Management, Biotech, or Equine Science. The UMass Amherst Animal Science program is also highly ranked nationally. The Veterinary Technology bachelor's degree program is accredited by the AVMA . Our graduates become certified Veterinary Technologists (analogous to human nurses) upon passing a national exam, with 100% job placement rates.
Components of a successful veterinary college application in the fall of senior year:
1) Excellent grades. Aim for a GPA of 3.5 or better. The higher the GPA, the higher number of veterinary medical college acceptances and the more options open to the student. A minimum of a 3.4 UMass Amherst GPA is predictive for admission to at least one US veterinary medical school; the average GPA of admitted veterinary medical school students in 2019 was 3.6. An “A” in a higher level science course (i.e. 400 and above) counts for more than an “A” in a lower level course. Veterinary college admissions look very carefully at your overall GPA and your grades in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, biochemistry and advanced science courses as an indicator of whether you can pass the demanding veterinary school curriculum. Your grades will largely determine whether you can get into the vet school of your choice or get into any vet school straight out of college, since grades and GRE scores make up 60-70% of the decision. You can take a few classes during the summer session or at a community college, but not so many that it appears that you won’t be capable of doing well in the many demanding courses taken at once in vet school. If you have a very low GPA, you can rehabilitate your application portfolio by performing well on higher-level science courses that you take after graduation. Earning a master’s or Ph.D. degree also helps.
2) Graduate Record Exam (GRE) test and Casper scores The Casper (Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Charactistics) is a situational judgement test that is currently required by 7 out of 33 US veterinary medical schools. The GRE is similar to the SAT, with verbal, quantitative, and written components and is currently required by 6 out of 33 US veterinary medical schools. You should familiarize yourself with both tests. Plan on preparing to take the GRE no later than the fall of your junior year by going to the Educational Test Service website (http://www.ets.org/gre/), downloading the free Powerprep II software for Windows, working through a test preparation book or taking a course. You should start taking them by the spring of your junior year, so that you can take them more than once before the vet school application deadlines in September of your senior year. Taking the GRE twice is sufficient; taking the test three or more times looks suspicious. Do not take the test before you have prepared— a low score will hurt your chances, even if you have a higher score later. A very high GRE could compensate for a lower than average GPA. It takes a high GPA to make up for a low GRE.
3)Veterinary medical related experiences. You need three experiences of at least 200 hours each to be competitive, chosen from the following four areas:
a) Large animal
b) Small animal
d) Laboratory research
Veterinary medical colleges prefer applicants with an open mind about animal species since their mission is to teach you the material that you will be tested on the National Veterinary Licensing exam in your fourth year of veterinary medical school. They are judged on the basis of the percent of their students who pass the licensing exam, which covers about 22 species. Thus, it’s a mistake to have two or three veterinary medical-related experiences centered on small animals or horses, even if you think that’s what you will specialize in as a veterinarian. Conversely, if you are interested in a veterinary specialty (e.g. zoo medicine), make sure that you gain experience in that area. These experiences can be pursued during the school year or during the summer, but keep in mind that it might be easier to find an opening in a vet clinic near home than near Amherst, where you’ll be competing with all the other pre-vet students. Summer experiences may also be more exotic (i.e. internship at an aquarium). These experiences are required so that the veterinary colleges are assured that you have a comprehensive grasp of the veterinary medical profession and so that you can cultivate contacts who will write superlative recommendation letters for you. In seeking out a diverse range of experiences, make sure you are invested- don’t come across as simply “checking a box”. Document your experiences daily (hours worked, what species) so that you can fill in details on your applications years later. Your goal is to learn about veterinary medicine as a profession and how a veterinary team works, not to learn techniques. Remember that veterinary medicine is just as formal as human medicine. Just as you would defer patient questions to the M.D. if you were working in a human clinic, you should defer all client questions on the diagnosis or treatment of their animals to the D.V.M. Although it is difficult, you should periodically ask your supervisor for feedback on your performance and implement their suggestions.
4) Superlative recommendation letters (minimum 3). One to two will be from contacts from your veterinary medical related experiences, and one to two will be from an academic advisor or a professor from a science class. At least one to two of the recommendation letters should be from a veterinarian. Once you’ve identified candidate references, ask them if they feel that they could write you a supportive letter of recommendation for vet school. You don’t want a lukewarm letter of recommendation and it’s no fun to write one, so both of you will benefit from this.
Recommendations consist of two parts. In the first part, the recommender is asked to rate you on your emotional stability, initiative/originality, motivation, personal and social maturity, dependability, communication skills, integrity, intellectual capacity, leadership and ability to work with others. Your goal in your veterinary medical related experiences and in your interactions with your professors is to convince the recommender that you deserve the highest rating in all of these categories. There may be a question about whether you can handle large and/or small animals adequately, but the choices are “yes”, “no” or “not able to judge”. The veterinary schools are interested in your psychological profile and how you interact with other people, who will be your classmates, professors, and clients. The assumption is that you can interact satisfactorily with animals, or you wouldn’t be applying to veterinary medical college. The second part of the recommendation is a letter.
When you ask someone to write a letter of recommendation, send them your well-annotated resume/CV to make writing a strong letter as easy as possible. List ALL of your work, veterinary medical related and extracurricular activities, with phrases underneath each activity pointing out how this activity proved you have the character traits listed above (e.g. “Cashier at a supermarket for five years—demonstrated dependability and integrity in handling large sums of money”). Do not describe your activities in technical terms (e.g. veterinary procedures or scanning grocery items), but in what they demonstrated about your character. Describe any unique perspectives you would bring to veterinary medicine (e.g. speaking a second language or community outreach). Your letter writers will use all of this information in their ratings and their letter. If there’s a weakness in your application (i.e. low grade in Chemistry 111 because of a death or illness in the family), discuss it with them so that they can help you make your best case. You are asking a huge favor of your letter writers. They have agreed to write you a letter because they believe in you. Vet schools will not pay attention to bland letters or to positive letters with no evidence to back up the letter writers’ claims.
5) Personal statement/ essay questions. Start working on your personal statement early (no later than June after junior year) and have other people read it and make suggestions. Think about it from the perspective of the admissions counselor, who must read thousands of these personal statements. Don’t put the admissions counselor to sleep. Don’t make the mistake of using platitudes (“Helping animals is very rewarding”), dwelling on how long you’ve wanted to be a veterinarian (“…since I was in utero.”), how much you love animals (“I love my cat/dog/horse/iguana.”), or how you were motivated to become a vet because of an emotional response to the death or rescue of an animal. Avoid a reiteration of your veterinary medical related experiences. Instead, demonstrate that you’ve thought deeply about the profession of veterinary medicine and how it impacts local communities and the world. For example, identify emerging trends and challenges in veterinary medicine, issues in animal welfare, and influential cases you’ve seen and conversations you’ve had. Relate these to your goals and the contribution you plan to make to the field of veterinary medicine. Veterinary medical schools are looking for future leaders in the field.
6) Choice of veterinary medical colleges. You will have to decide whether you only want to go to one veterinary school (maybe the one in your state of residence), or whether it’s more important to you to start veterinary college the fall after you graduate with a B.S. The highest ranked veterinary schools are very selective. Most students apply to a range of schools, from their dream school to their safety schools. Consult with members of the Pre-Veterinary advisory committee on your choices. Your odds of getting into a veterinary school are affected by whether a veterinary school has reserved spots for residents of your state. More importantly, what you will pay is affected by whether you can change residency to that state after you start there. If you want to go to a specific school, go ahead and apply even if your odds are low.
7) Excellent interview. Prepare for the interview by reading American Veterinary Medical Association discussions on current veterinary medical controversies. Find out about the job opportunities and starting pay for DVMs. The average debt for a graduating DVM is $183,000, so you should have a plan for paying it back. Research the veterinary school so that you’re prepared with questions about their program, financial aid, etc. Make sure you know your own application inside and out—it looks very bad if you can’t tell your interviewer about your own record and experiences. We work with the CNS career to provide mock interviews.
High school and Freshman year
-- Participate in a veterinary medical related experience in a small or large animal practice, with a wildlife conservation organization/zoo/aquarium or in laboratory research.
-- Investigate Veterinary colleges and career choices on the AAVMC website and the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Register to receive emails from the AAVMC.
-- Participate in a different veterinary medical related experience in small or large animal practice, with a wildlife conservation organization/zoo/aquarium or in laboratory research.
-- Investigate Veterinary college programs. Make sure you will have all necessary prerequisite classes for the veterinary colleges you are considering applying to.
-- January: Decide whether you will apply to the early admissions program at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Work on the application during the January break. Ask evaluators if they would be willing to write a supportive evaluation and letter for you, as described below for a senior.
-- March: Early admissions deadline for Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. If you are not accepted, schedule an appointment with an admissions counselor from March-August to review your application with you.
-- Participate in a different veterinary medical related experience in small or large animal practice, with a wildlife conservation organization/zoo/aquarium or in laboratory research.
-- Decide which Veterinary colleges to apply to.
-- Fall: If the schools you are applying to require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Casper, start preparation for the GRE and/or Casper.
-- Winter: look at the VMCAS site and start to familiarize yourself with it. This will be useful to start gathering all the details the application requires.
-- Spring to summer: Take the GRE and/or Casper one to two times. Check allowable frequency of test taking on GRE website-- minimum spacing could be no more frequent than once every 30 days. Check the individual vet schools' GRE deadline requirements on the VMCAS website to make sure that you will start taking the GRE early enough. When you take the GRE, arrange for your scores to be sent directly to the vet schools to which you are applying.
-- January – May: VMCAS site opens. Start working on your application now! Filling out the information will take a considerable amount of time. Write the first draft of your personal statement and other essays. Plan to show these to multiple people for suggestions and edits and expect to prepare at least six drafts. Request official transcripts from all universities that you have attended and request that transcripts be sent to VMCAS. Prepare and send supplemental applications to veterinary colleges that require them. Two U.S. schools (Texas A&M and the University of Missouri for residents) use their own application process, if you apply to one of these schools, ask your evaluators to submit their evaluations and letters through Texas A & M and University of Missouri websites in addition to the VMCAS.
-- May-July: Contact your evaluators to ask them to write a strong letter of recommendation for you. In your email to them supply them with an unofficial transcript and a resume that makes all the points you want to appear in the evaluation letter. You can register up to six evaluators on VMCAS; a minimum of three evaluators is required. Follow up with your evaluators as to whether they have received an email from VMCAS or schools with their own applications giving them access to the evaluation website. Let them know the deadline-- VMCAS will not send your application on to the vet schools without three evaluations.
-- August-September: VMCAS applications are due around September 15. Try to finish and submit your VMCAS application by the end of August to avoid last-minute issues. Remind your evaluators of the deadline by sending them an email thanking them for completing the evaluation and letter by that date. Do not harass them- remember they are doing you a huge favor. Submit any required supplemental applications and follow up with the veterinary colleges to make sure your applications are complete.
--December-Spring: Prepare for interviews. Talk to an advisor if you need help deciding between multiple schools. Keep us (especially your letter writers updated on your good news!)If you are not successful this round, make an appointment to talk to a veterinary medical school admissions counselor in a school to which you have applied about the weaknesses in your application and consider what you should do to remedy them, whether you should change which veterinary medical colleges you apply to in the following fall, or whether you should implement "Plan B" and pursue a different career path. Many people who do not gain admittance to vet school immediately after college will eventually do so.
- Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirements, published yearly by Purdue University Press
- Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
- AAVMC Careers in veterinary medicine, vet school requirements, VMCAS link, scholarships and financial aid for veterinary students
- VMCAS portal for application
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
UMass Amherst Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing
The UMass Amherst accelerated bachelor of science in human nursing is a full-time program that allows enrolled students to earn a degree in 17 months and prepares students for licensure as a registered nurse.
BS-ANIMLSCI or BS-PRE-VET majors are competitive for admission with completion of the bachelors of science degree and completion of prerequisites. Students can fulfill major requirements with prerequisites NUTRITN 230 or 10 (apply for substitution for ANIMLSCI 332 or 333), MICROBIO 310, and STAT 111 or STAT 240. Students can also apply for substitution of BS-ANIMLSCI subplan requirements with KIN 270, 272, or NURSING 210.
Human Nutrition NUTRITN 230 or 130
General Microbiology 3cr MICROBIO 310
A&P I KIN 270
A&PII KIN 272
Statistics 3 cr STAT 111 or STAT 240
Human Growth & Development throughout the Lifespan NURSING 210
Veterinary School Advisory Committee
Members of this committee advise students on how to approach gaining pre-veterinary medical related experiences and recommendation letters, how to fulfill prerequisites for veterinary school admission, how to assemble their portfolio for veterinary school admission, how to choose which schools to apply to, how to write a successful essay, and how to interview. Members of the committee maintain contact with admissions officers at veterinary medical schools, promote ties between UMass Amherst and veterinary medical schools and host speakers from veterinary medical schools. Students are encouraged to speak to any pre-veterinary school admissions advisory committee member about the assembly of their veterinary school application as early as possible in their academic career. Chairperson - Dr. Janice Telfer, Ph.D. Director UMass Amherst Pre-Veterinary advising; Dr. Rafael Fissore, DVM, PhD; Dr. Carlos Gradil DVM, MS, PhD; Dr. Katherine Beltaire, DVM; Dr. Nuno Carreiro, DVM; Dr. Amy Rubin, DVM.
Articulated BS-DVM program at UMass Amherst and the University of Melbourne
Students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst can complete an accelerated Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program at the University of Melbourne in Australia by simultaneously completing their final spring semester at UMass Amherst and starting their first semester of the DVM program at the University of Melbourne. This is made possible by the fact that Australian universities start their academic year in February, rather than in September. The program is accelerated because University of Melbourne DVM students starting the BS-DVM articulated program in February, instead of 6 months later in September in vet schools in the northern hemisphere, will graduate 6 months earlier than their northern hemisphere vet school counterparts. Cost is reduced because the first semester is charged at UMass Amherst rates, rather than the higher veterinary medical school rates. Final costs are dependent on US dollar exchange rates.
Besides the advantage of graduating 6 months early, the University of Melbourne veterinary medical school has a strong international reputation and is accredited worldwide, so that students can take the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam, which is required to practice in the US. Students are also eligible to take the qualifying exams for practice in Europe, Australia and Asia. Melbourne is located on the southern coast of Australia, has a temperate climate and has been recognized as the most livable city in the world. The unique fauna of Australia, along with domesticated animals, are also readily available for study.
The application procedure for the articulated BS-DVM program has the advantage of being much more informal than the application process through VMCAS. GREs and usual vet school prerequisites such as a full year of Physics are waived. A minimum 3.2 GPA is required. Students simply email with their unofficial transcript to Professor Jean-Pierre “JP” .scheerlinck [at] unimelb.edu.au (Scheerlinck) in November- early December for a rapid decision. If the student decides to accept the offer of admission, they should immediately contact Professor telfer [at] vasci.umass.edu (Janice Telfer), who coordinates the UMass course transfer and bachelor’s graduation clearance process.
For more information:
Professor telfer [at] vasci.umass.edu (Janice Telfer), UMass Amherst
Professor Jean-Pierre “JP” j.scheerlinck [at] unimelb.edu.au (Scheerlinck), University of Melbourne
University of Edinburgh School of Veterinary Medicine
The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh is the United Kingdom’s top-rated veterinary medical school. There are 3 guaranteed spaces for UMass Amherst BS-Pre-Vet students, with a minimum 3.4 GPA. Students can apply at the beginning of their junior year, with an option to study abroad there as an undergraduate, or after the end of their junior year via VMCAS.
For more information: Professor telfer [at] vasci.umass.edu (Janice Telfer), UMass Amherst
Veterinary and Animal Sciences