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Veterinary Medicine Guide for New Incoming 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 preveterinary 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, conduct research, and protect humans against diseases carried by animals.


Choosing Your Degree and Major

Although you do not have to have earned a bachelor’s degree to gain admission to a veterinary medicine school, most students have completed an undergraduate degree before they begin the professional program. If you decide to pursue an undergraduate degree, you can choose any undergraduate major as long as you have completed all the courses required for admission to veterinary school. The prerequisite courses for Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine are found here. While many preveterinary 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 Medicine Admissions Requirements

As a preveterinary 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 with laboratory, organic chemistry with laboratory, biochemistry, physics with laboratory, and several biology courses that include diversity, developmental biology, cell structure, genetics, and microbiology. The prerequisite courses for Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine are found here.

You can become a more competitive applicant by gaining considerable experience in working with animals in different settings, including a clinical setting. Also, veterinary medicine schools generally require you take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). You can gain very useful information about veterinary medicine by going to this link on HPPLC website.



Admission is Competitive

Admission to veterinary school is very competitive. Success in any graduate-level program requires you to become as professionalized as possible as an undergraduate. We strongly urge you to consult and adopt the professional development model on the HPPLC web site.


Your Course Load

A normal course load for preprofessional students is 14–16 credit hours, depending on the mix of classes. For the upcoming semester, if course availability permits, try to take 6–11 credits from the list below. You can fill the rest of your schedule with courses pertaining to other interests. 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


First-Year Courses Can Include:


English Composition

ENG-W 131



COLL-P 155 or CMCL-C 122 or ANTH-A 122



MATH-M 211 (this is the preferred course) or MATH-M 119



BIOL-L 111, BIOL-L 112



CHEM-C 117 or C 103, depending upon your score on the online Chemistry Placement Exam (CPE).


Arts and Humanities Course

See your academic advisor about possible courses.


Social and Historical Studies Course

See your academic advisor about possible courses.



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.  If you have time, you might consider clinical observation of veterinarians, volunteer work, or participation in community service activities.

Many preveterinary 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 health professions.


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