Planning guide for new pre-veterinary students


This section provides information on planning for admission to veterinary programs, beginning with your first semester in college. When you meet with an academic advisor during New Student Orientation, please make sure you mention your intention to follow a pre-veterinary preparatory program. You will be subscribed to the HPPLC mailing list and receive invitations to participate in events of interest to you. Consult University Division resources for more information on planning for summer orientation.

Description of the profession #

Veterinarians serve in a variety of roles in our society. They provide health care for animals in all types of settings: private practice, corporate, academic or industry animal care, and global animal care. They conduct research on animal welfare, food safety, and disease epidemiology. They protect humans against diseases carried by animals; help ensure the quality of food production, work on policy issues and medical regulation, and work in governmental agencies.

Choosing your degree and major #

You can choose any undergraduate major as long as you have completed all the courses required for admission to veterinary school. Choose a major that interests you, and in which you can excel. While some pre-veterinary students choose to major in biology because most schools require several biology courses, this is not at all required. There need not be an obvious connection between your major and veterinary medicine.

Bachelor of Arts versus Bachelor of Science #

In addition, many students ask, “Which is better for veterinary school, a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree?” Veterinary schools do not have a preference for either a B.A. or a B.S., although there are differences in these degrees. Generally, with a B.S. you will complete more coursework up to a more advanced level in your major field. With a B.A. you will be required to complete fewer courses in your major, which leaves more room to take a variety of coursework in other fields. A Bachelor of Arts degree could thus provide advantages in giving your education greater breadth, while a Bachelor of Science degree will give you greater depth in the sciences. Deciding whether to pursue a B.A. or a B.S. degree may also depend on what kind of a career and/or graduate program you will want to pursue if you decide not to enter the field of veterinary medicine.

Veterinary school admissions requirements #

As a pre-veterinary student, you will find admission requirements vary from program to program. For most veterinary schools, you will have to obtain a strong foundation in the sciences, develop excellent communication skills, and complete courses in the humanities, social sciences, and business. The science courses will generally include one year of general chemistry, organic chemistry, general biology, and physics — all with laboratory.  In addition, biochemistry and various upper level biology courses that might include diversity, developmental biology, cell structure, genetics, and microbiology may be required. Consult this link for the prerequisite courses for Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Your course load #

A normal course load for preprofessional students is 14–16 credit hours, depending on the mix of classes. In your individual academic advising session during New Student Orientation, an academic advisor will help you double-check your options for appropriate courses and plan an appropriate course load. To earn strong grades and succeed in being admitted, most pre-veterinary students need to devote about 30 hours per week outside of class to studying and class preparation.

Planning your fall course options #

For your fall semester, you should begin with completing at least one pre-veterinary science course, but you will also need to complete other coursework for your particular undergraduate degree and major.  Consult resources from University Division and/or the school/department where you intend to enroll on how to plan your fall course schedule for any of the majors you are considering.

Below is a list of common courses required for veterinary school admission from which you could choose.

During your first semester at IUB, you will also need to enroll in other courses besides your preveterinary coursework, including courses for the major(s) you are considering and courses that fulfill General Education requirements at IUB.

Other activities for pre-veterinary students during the first year of college #

For the first year of college, you should focus on adjusting to college life and earning high grades in all of your courses. When possible in the future, you may consider clinical observation of veterinarians, volunteer work, or participation in community service activities. You can become a more competitive applicant by gaining considerable experience in working with animals in different settings, including a clinical setting.

Many pre-veterinary students find the science coursework challenging. If you know you want to pursue a career in healthcare but decide you are unsure about veterinary medicine, you could explore many other fulfilling careers.

Please consult the HPPLC website for more information on preparing for veterinary school and services for pre-veterinary students.