Academics & Coursework

Before applying, veterinary schools expect that applicants develop certain competencies. Students develop some of these competencies through undergraduate coursework, while they develop others through experiences outside the classroom. Veterinary schools review your application, looking for indicators that you have developed these competencies. They will expect you to have completed certain coursework, maintain a certain GPA, and achieve a sufficient test score in order to gain admission. They also expect students to develop skills in working with animals in a variety of situations, as well as communication skills and professionalism. You can find more information on the competencies veterinarians need to develop here.

Choosing a major #

Prevet students may select any major and degree to combine with the courses required for admission to veterinary school. You should select a major that interests you, allows you to build strong intellectual skills, and one that could provide opportunities for graduate work or employment if you choose not to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.

Although you can choose any major, prevet students must complete significant coursework in the natural sciences, as well as courses in the humanities and social and behavioral sciences. Prevet students need to develop strong reasoning, analytical, and communication skills. Coursework in the humanities and social sciences can help you build skills in these latter areas.

Pre-veterinary medicine coursework #

The course requirements for admission to veterinary programs vary from school to school. Below is a chart listing course requirements for IU Bloomington students who plan to apply for admission to the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. We recommend that students who are Indiana residents follow this plan of preparation, and then consider including additional coursework that would help them meet the admission requirements for other veterinary schools.

Students should also consult the prerequisite guide provided by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges or the school's individual website on the requirements for each veterinary school.

Please also consult the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine for further information on their programs.

Although students of all majors and educational backgrounds are encouraged to apply for admittance to Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine (PVM), the faculty of PVM acknowledges that a strong foundation in Biology and Chemistry is essential to meeting the rigors of the curriculum.  Therefore, the following minimum prerequisites must be completed before applying.

Purdue University Requirements1,2 Indiana University Bloomington Courses3
English composition ENG-W 131; or alternate (see HP adviser)
Communication (interpersonal, persuasion speech) COLL-P 155 or CMCL-C 122 or ANTH-A 122
Biology with lab (diversity, developmental, and cell structure BIOL-L 111, BIOL-L 112, BIOL-L 113 (lab)5
Genetics BIOL-L 311 (Note: BIOL-L 211 is the prerequisite for BIOL-L 311.)
Microbiology (general or medical) with lab BIOL-M 200 & BIOL-M 215 (lab) or BIOL-M 250 & BIOL-M 315 (lab) or BIOL-M 380 & BIOL-M 315 (lab) or BIOL-M 440 & BIOL-M 445 (lab)
Statistics PSY-K 300 or PSY-K 310 or STAT-S 303 or SPEA-K 300
General chemistry with lab CHEM-C 117 and CHEM-C 127 (lab) and CHEM-C 118 or CHEM-N 331 and CHEM-N 3374
Organic chemistry with lab CHEM-C 341 and CHEM-C 343 (lab) and CHEM-C 342
Biochemistry CHEM-C 383 or CHEM-C 483 or CHEM-C 484 and CHEM-C 485
Physics with lab PHYS-P 201 and PHYS-P 202 or PHYS-P 221 and PHYS-P 222
Humanities Foreign language, cognitive or social sciences
Careers in Veterinary Medicine Not available at IU. This is not a problem and will not affect eligibility.

1A minimum grade of “C-” is required for all prerequisite courses for admission (called “core subjects” by Purdue).

2While Purdue accepts online lectures courses for pre-requisite courses, Purdue does not accept online labs.  All labs must be completed onsite at an institution.

3Careful planning is required. Some courses are taught only once each year. Others have strict prerequisite and/or co-requisite course requirements. Visit the most recent College of Arts & Sciences bulletin website for more info:

4CHEM-C 341, 342 and 343 are prerequisites for CHEM-N 331 and CHEM-N 337.

5 BIOL-X 150 (lab) can be taken in place of BIOL-L 113.

Note: The courses listed here are the only courses approved by the PVM as course equivalents on the Indiana University Bloomington campus. Substitutions of other courses are not appropriate, nor acceptable to the Admissions Committee. Preveterinary students should follow their undergrad program of study regardless of minimums indicated above.
Recommended Electives – Accounting (BUS-A 200), Business Administration (BUS-X 100), Business/Technical Writing (ENG-W 231 or BUS-X 204), Exploring Entrepreneurship (BUS-W 212), Economics (ECON-E 201 and/or ECON-E 202), Principles of Immunology (BIOL-L 321), Personal Finance (BUS-F 260) and New Venture Management (BUS-W 300). Pre-veterinary students may want to consider completing all courses that are required for a minor in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management.

Academic record and GPA #

Veterinary schools review your undergraduate transcript and the grades you have earned in your courses as a way to measure academic competencies that you have gained. Grades are considered a reliable predictor of how you would perform in veterinary school. Your undergraduate GPA is one of the primary ways veterinary schools will evaluate your application for admission. What is a competitive GPA for admission to veterinary school? For example, the mean GPA at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine for the 2021 entering class was 3.71.

Veterinary schools pay attention to grade trends and ranges also. A student who had a difficult first semester as a freshman but went on to earn A’s in rigorous science courses in future semesters could still be viewed favorably.

How will my GPA be calculated by veterinary schools?
Applicants apply to veterinary schools through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS). This application service has its own method for calculating your GPA. The VMCAS application service calculates standardized GPA’s for all applicants, so they more easily can be compared, regardless of the grading system used at the college or university the applicant attended.

When you apply to veterinary schools you will type information onto the VMCAS application from the transcripts of all colleges and universities you have attended, including the title of each course, number of credit hours, and the grade earned for each course. This information will be used to calculate an overall GPA for you, as well as a science GPA.

How will my science GPA be calculated?
VMCAS calculates a science GPA that includes biology, chemistry, physics and life science courses. VMCAS provides a chart for classifying the courses that will be used to calculate your science GPA. For more information and to find which courses are included in your science GPA consult this link.

Thinking about retaking a course?

Generally, veterinary schools require that all prerequisite courses have a grade of "C" or higher.  If the grade in the prerequisite course is a "C-" or lower, you would need to re-take the class.  If it is a "C" or higher,  veterinary school officials usually advise that students should not retake the course, but rather proceed to higher level coursework where they can show improvement.  Still, some students may consider whether or not to retake a specific course in order to earn a higher grade. 

If you are considering retaking a course to enhance your application to veterinary school, you will want to carefully consider the impact of IU Extended-X policies, the centralized application policies, and the likelihood of obtaining a higher grade in the course. Make sure to consult information in this Guidebook on Repeated Coursework and Impact of ‘Extended-X’ Policies on Application to Professional Schools.

Before re-enrolling in a course, you will want to create a plan for success, including such elements as devoting additional time to the course, developing new study skills, attending instructor office hours, and using tutoring services.

What’s the secret to a strong transcript?
Building a strong transcript requires careful planning, excellent time management skills, and dedication. Make use of resources such as instructor office hours and tutoring. Tracking your study time and devoting about 25-30 hours per week to preparation outside of class times can enhance your success!

Graduate Records Exam (GRE) #

The GRE is a standardized exam required by many occupational therapy programs. This exam is designed to measure general academic ability and is a computerized exam offered year-round by Educational Testing Service (ETS). The GRE is typically taken in the spring or summer prior to application and you should plan on spending at least two to three months preparing for the exam. For more information on the GRE, visit the ETS website.

A word about parallel planning #

What is parallel planning? It's a smart strategy to ensure your success. There are many possible paths to your goal of a meaningful career! Some students convince themselves that there is only one career for them – but the truth is that you could potentially be successful in a wide number of fields. A parallel plan is a plan you create that you can pursue right alongside your first choice of a career. Pre-health science courses can be challenging, and parallel planning allows you to efficiently change paths at some point if you discover you do not like or no longer want to pursue your primary career path.

How could you create a parallel plan? Explore your interests, goals, and values. Meet with a career advisor. Think about other goals you would like to achieve alongside being a veterinarian – for instance, would you like to work in environmental education, protect wildlife and natural resources, or develop new treatments through research? Your answers to these questions may help indicate additional career paths through which you could find meaning and success.