Pre-veterinary is not a major and there is no "correct" major for pre-veterinary. While most students major in a science area like biology, a major in science is not required. Veterinary schools seek candidates with diverse interests who are capable of handling rigorous science courses. So the best advice is to select a major in an area in which you are interested and in which you can do well and can balance with the science and math courses required for application.
Undergraduate requirements vary from school to school and it is the student's responsibility to know the specific requirements for the schools you wish to attend. Many schools require:
- one year of General Biology (Biol 141 & Biol 334)
- General Chemistry (Chem 261 & 262)
- Organic Chemistry (Chem 353 & 354)
- General Physics (Phys 175 & 176)
- Microbiology (Biol 375/376)
- Biochemistry (Biol 434 or Chem 431)
- Genetics (Biol 382)
- Statistics (Stat 241)
- English Composition (Eng 201)
- Communication (Cmst 101 or 107)
- Humanities (3 semesters, language, psychology, sociology)
The grade point average (GPA) is an important component of the requirements for admission to dental school. It is not necessary to have a 4.0. The average GPA of successful veterinary applicants in the US is around 3.5 overall GPA (on a 4.0 scale). You should strive to maintain a competitive GPA, but also focus on participation in extracurricular activities to demonstrate interests beyond academics. Many vet schools specifically look at your GPA in science courses or in your last 45 hours of courses before application. You don't have to be perfect, but you should strive to maintain strong grades throughout your preparation.
The best advice is to start calculating your application GPA early. From your first semester in your undergraduate studies, you should be keeping a log of your GPA as it will be calculated by VMCAS. you can find a description of the VMCA calculation here. You can also access an excel spreadsheet set to calculate your VMCAS GPA here.
Applications to veterinary schools are made through the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges via the VMCAS system; information can be obtained here. The application cycle begins in May and should be completed early in the summer preceding the Senior year of undergraduate work.
The AAVMC Applicant Guide is an excellent way to find out what you'll need when it's eventually time to apply.
Vet programs often request that applicants complete the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). However, some programs do not require any test scores. You should contact the Admissions office of schools that interest you for more details.
You should try to accumulate animal experience in any way that you can. Consider volunteering at animal shelters, zoos, therapeutic riding centers, rescues, 4-H, and other places you can gain experience interacting with animals.
Most veterinary schools do not have minimum required shadowing hours, but you should always check the specific requirements of any program to which you plan to apply.
Most veterinary schools require a letter of recommendation from a veterinarian, so shadowing and volunteering often provide an excellent opportunity to interact with a veterinarian that might be willing to write that letter.
- Be sure all of the information you enter on your application is accurate. This includes the grades of every course taken at the college level and any courses in which you plan to enroll within the year.
- Request a transcript from all of your academic institutions and allow plenty of time for the institutions to process your request.
- The personal statement is important. This is your chance to begin to portray who you are and to distinguish yourself from the thousands of applications each institution will review.
- Begin the process early! It's always best to apply as soon as the application window opens to make sure your application has time to be fully considered.
- Give careful consideration before asking individuals to write letters of evaluation. Then allow plenty of time for them to write the letters so you aren't waiting until the deadline to receive them. When you ask for letters of recommendation, provide a C.V. or resume so the person writing the letter can reference what you have done outside of their contact with you. You need to clearly communication your application deadlines to your letter writers so they are aware of your timeline.
- Knowing the specific requirements of the Veterinary school(s) to which you plan to apply is also very important. Veterinary schools profess that they want well-rounded individuals, not just one-dimensional students. That means get involved, balance school with other activities, because it is true that all work and no play makes you a dull individual!