Applying to veterinarian school

Applying to veterinary medical school can be complicated, but we are here to help! Advisors at the Health Professions and Prelaw Center can help you develop your best strategy and troubleshoot problems you encounter in your application. Make sure to attend one of our Personal Statement Writing Workshops so you can get started early on your application essay.

Consult the information below for helpful advice.

The VMCAS application #

Applicants apply to veterinary medical schools through an electronic, centralized application administered by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges called VMCAS. Once you complete your VMCAS application, it will be processed and sent to all the veterinary schools you select to receive it. All accredited schools and colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States, Canada and other countries participate in VMCAS. A full list of these schools is here. Graduation from any of these accredited schools or colleges qualifies you to take the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE) which you will need to practice in North America.

For the VMCAS application you will create your own User Name and Password that will allow you to create your electronic application. You can log in, fill out part of the application, and save your changes before logging out. Once you are satisfied that everything is accurate and complete, you submit it electronically and it is sent to VMCAS for processing and verification.

Coursework section #

On the VMCAS application, you will fill out information regarding every college course you have taken, so you will need to refer to transcripts from every college or university you have attended. You will also need to order official transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended to be sent to the application service. At IU Bloomington, you can order your transcript from Student Central.

VMCAS will not process your application without all of your transcripts. You can check the status of your online application to see if your transcripts have been received.

VMCAS will verify that you have entered your coursework correctly on the application by matching your application against the transcripts from the colleges and universities you have attended. This verification process can take up to four weeks. After VMCAS processes your application, they will send it to the schools you have selected to receive it.

Experiences and achievements #

The VMCAS application includes a section where you can provide information on experiences and achievements such as clinical experience with veterinarians, animal experience, employment, extracurricular activities, shadowing, volunteering, awards and honors. 

For further information, please refer to the application instructions on the VMCAS website.

Supplemental program materials and essays #

The “Program Materials” section of the VMCAS application will ask you to submit supplemental materials for each individual veterinary school where you are applying.

In the “Program Materials” section, individual veterinary schools will ask that you submit essays of up to 2,000 characters in response to three essay questions. The current prompts are:

  1. There are many career choices within the veterinary profession. What are your future career goals?
  2. In what ways do veterinarians contribute to society and what do you hope to contribute?
  3. Consider the breadth of society which we serve. What attributes do you believe are essential to be successful within the veterinary profession? Of these attributes, which do you possess and how have you demonstrated these in the past?

The admissions committee will read your essays to discover your understanding of veterinary medicine and learn why you are pursuing this career.

Make sure to attend one of the Personal Statement Writing Workshops offered by the Health Professions and Prelaw Center to help you begin a draft of your essays. Schedule an appointment with a HPPLC advisor for feedback on drafts of your essays.

Letters of recommendation #

Veterinary schools require that you submit letters of recommendation written by others on your behalf along with your application. Letters of recommendation can provide admissions committees insight into your personal qualities. Recommendation letters can tell them about your communication and interpersonal skills, and your readiness for veterinary medicine.

Developing relationships with your professors is an important part of your intellectual growth and will help you obtain strong letters of recommendation.

Veterinary schools vary in their requirements for letters of recommendation. Most veterinary schools will require a minimum of three letters of recommendation. You can submit up to six in your VMCAS application. The Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine requires three letters of recommendation with one of the three being from a veterinarian. Check the individual veterinary school websites for information on the recommendations each school requires or consult the information at this link.

Letters of recommendation are sent to veterinary schools directly from the recommenders through the VMCAS application system. For more information please consult the instructions on the VMCAS website.

Interviews #

Before admitting you, most veterinary schools want to meet you in person.  The interview helps schools evaluate personal qualities they can’t observe directly in your written application. Selected applicants are invited for an interview. You should prepare carefully for this crucial component of the admissions process.

Veterinary schools use interviews to gain insight into how you would interact with patients and their caretakers. Schools also use the interview to assess factors such as motivation and ability to cope with conflict.  They want to know how likely it is you would take a spot if they offered one, so it is important that you express your enthusiasm and sincere interest in the school!

In a job interview, the most important question for your interviewer is probably, “What can this person do for our organization?” For your interviewer at a veterinary school the most important question may be, “Would I trust this person as my own veterinarian?”  One of your most important goals is to demonstrate you have the ability to connect with others on a personal level.

To prepare, review your essays and activities listed on your application. It’s helpful to practice responding to interview questions (obtain a list of questions in the HPPLC office).  You may be asked situational ethics questions that require you to think through how you would respond when faced with difficult decisions as a healthcare provider.  Study the school’s curriculum via its website and prepare to ask questions about the school’s program in the interview. 

Make sure to attend one of the HPPLC-sponsored Interview Skills Workshops in the fall semester and schedule an appointment with a HPPLC advisor for a mock interview.