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Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary School Requirements

Veterinarians care for the health of pets, livestock and animals in zoos, racetracks and laboratories. Some veterinarians use their skills to protect humans against diseases carried by animals and conduct clinical research on human and animal health problems. Others work in basic research, broadening our knowledge of animals and medical science, and in applied research, developing new ways to use knowledge.

Most veterinarians diagnose animal health problems; vaccinate against diseases such as distemper and rabies; medicate animals suffering from infections or illnesses; treat and dress wounds; set fractures; perform surgery; and advise owners about animal feeding, behavior and breeding.

Most pre-vet students are interested in applying to the veterinary school at UC Davis. However, each year an increasing number of students apply out of state and to Western University of the Health Sciences in Pomona. Required coursework varies from school to school, so you should be certain you are meeting the requirements for each school to which you wish to apply.

Required Coursework 

Specific course prerequisites vary for each school, but the following courses are generally required. Additional courses might be required at some schools. It is your responsibility to know the requirements of each school you're interested in attending. 


One year of general chemistry w/lab CHEM 2 – General Chemistry I (includes lab) and 
CHEM 10 – General Chemistry II (includes lab)
One year of organic chemistry CHEM 8/L – Principles of Organic Chemistry with lab and
CHEM 100 – Organic Synthesis and Mechanism with 
CHEM 100L – Organic Chemistry lab
One year of biology with lab

Effective Fall 2023:
BIO 11/11L - Introduction to Molecular Biology (with lab) and
BIO 12/12L - Introduction to Introduction to Organismal Biology (with lab)

Prior to Fall 2023:
BIO 1/L –  Contemporary Biology (must take lab) and
BIO 2/L – Introduction to Molecular Biology (must take lab)

One year of physics PHYS 8 – Principles of Physics I or
PHYS 18 – Principles of Physics I for Biological Sciences 
PHYS 9 – Introductory Physics II or 
PHYS 19 – Introductory Physics II for Biological Sciences
One semester of biochemistry BIO 101 or CHEM 111 – Biochemistry I
One semester of physiology BIO 161 – Human Physiology
One semester of genetics BIO 140 – Genetics
One semester of microbiology* BIO 120 - General Microbiology & BIO 120L - General Microbiology Lab
One semester of statistics BIO 18 – Statistical Analysis of Scientific Data or
MATH 32 – Statistics or
PSY 10 – Analysis of Psychological Data
One Year of English WRI 10 – College Reading and Composition and 
WRI 100 – Advanced Writing or
WRI 116 – Science Writing in Natural Sciences
One year of humanities and social sciences Additional courses in the humanities and social sciences are usually required

* may be required or recommended

GPA Calculator 

Professional and graduate schools, and the application services they use, expect you to report all attempted classes as part of your overall GPA calculation. Please refer to the "course work" sections of the instruction manuals -- available below -- for how to accurately compute your Math-Science or Science GPA and overall GPA based on your professional goals.

VMCAS for applicants to Veterinary Schools:

  • VMCAS will calculate separate Science, Non-Science and Total GPAs for the following subcategories: Class standing, Undergraduate/Graduate/Professional/Post Baccalaureate, Total GPA (Consisting of Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior), Cumulative undergraduate Consisting of Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior and Post Baccalaureate courses),and Overall GPA (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Post Baccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional courses).
  • Science GPA’s: will include courses with the following course subjects: Animal Science, Biochemistry, Biology, Inorganic Chemistry, Microbiology, Organic Chemistry, Other Life Science, Other Science, Physics.
  • Non-Science GPA’s: will include courses with the following course subjects: Business, Computer Science, English/Literature, General Non-Science, General Non-Science, Math, Public Speaking, Social/Behavioral Science
  • Courses with the following course subjects are calculated into the Math GPA: Math
  • Courses with the following course subjects are calculated into the General Education GPA: English/Literature, General Non-Science, and Social/Behavioral Science
  • Courses with the following course subjects are calculated into the Other GPA: Business, Computer Science, and Public Speaking


There is no inherent advantage in the choice of one major over another. Any major is acceptable as long as the required pre-veterinary courses (science and non-science) have been completed.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

This is only standardized examination required for entrance to U.S. veterinary schools, including UC Davis and Western University. (Note: Different schools have different testing requirements and may accept other exams) Only the General Test is required. It involves seven 30-minute tests (3 1/2 hours of testing), and can be taken by computer any time.

GRE information can be found on the GRE website. For UC Davis, the GRE must be taken no later than Aug. 31 and have your scores delivered electronically to VMCAS no later than Sept. 15.  If you feel your GRE scores do not reflect your true ability, you may take the exam again.  UC Davis will use your highest quantitative score for purposes of evaluating you for admission.  You must also take the verbal and analytical writing sections of the examination.  This policy, however, varies from school to school. Western University accepts either the GRE or the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).


One hundred and eighty (180) hours of veterinary, animal and health-related experience is the required minimum amount to apply to UC Davis; however, most successful applicants have more than this -- 2,500-plus hours, on average. Western University requires at least 500 hours of hands-on experience. Other schools have varied requirements. Diverse work experience will aid you in deciding which veterinary track to pursue and will strengthen your vet school application as well. Start your preparation as early as possible.

Application Format

Veterinary Medical Colleges Application Service (VMCAS) is the centralized application process for applications for most U.S. veterinary medical colleges. VMCAS organizes the distribution, collection and processing for applications but is not involved with setting application, admissions or deadline requirement, or with making admission decisions. Questions concerning these matters should be directed separately to each school of veterinary medicine. Applicants to Western University may apply through VMCAS or directly to the university. You are encouraged to speak with a pre-health advisor if you have questions.

Application Process

A student applying to veterinary school has the option of doing so after two years of college has been completed and the minimum requirements (see above) have been met, but most successful applicants complete a bachelor's degree before matriculation into vet school.

The Veterinary Medical Colleges Application Service (VMCAS) is available only online. Applications need to be submitted one year before the year of matriculation, with an Oct. 1 deadline for most schools. Applications usually become available on the website in late May. Contact any non-VMCAS schools you would like to apply to directly to request an application.

You must also request that the Educational Testing Service mail copies of your GRE scores to VMCAS. This can be done when registering to take the examination.

Personal interviews for admission are usually part of the admissions process.

Schools and Programs

Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirements (VMSAR)

Useful Resources

Graduate Record Exam (GRE) 
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) 
Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS)