Overview of Profession


Application Process Timeline

Admission Exam- GRE

Additional Requirements

Overview of Veterinarian Medical School

Important Websites


To apply to Vet school you can be ANY MAJOR (Art, Biology, Literature, Math, etc.), however you must complete the prerequisite coursework in Chemistry, Biology, Math and Physics (and any additional coursework required by veterinary schools) in order to apply.  

The table at the bottom shows the courses that are most commonly completed by UC Santa Cruz Students to fulfill Vet school prerequisites.  The Career Center recommends that students complete the courses sequenced listed in this table. UCSC is unique in the number of units it offers per course. You will find that many schools that require “one year” of various prerequisites will actually be satisfied with only 2 quarters at UCSC. Be sure to read the semester hour requirements carefully and then convert from UCSC quarter units.

NOTE: The Vet school prerequisites can differ slightly from school to school.  It is important to look at the coursework required for each school you wish to apply to.

Course Subject

# Quarters

UCSC course sequences most students use to fulfill requirements

General Chemistry

Nearly all schools require 1 year of general (inorganic) chemistry, each with laboratory

Chem 1A, Chem 1B/M and Chem 1C/N

Biology/ Zoology

Nearly all schools require 1 year of general biology, with laboratory*

BIOL 20A, BIOE 20B, and BIOE 20C

*Since UCSC does not offer lower division biology labs (aside from 20L), we recommend you take 3 upper division labs to fulfill this requirement (ex. BIOE 131L, BIOE 134L, BIOL 130L, etc.)

Organic Chemistry

Nearly all schools require 1 year of organic chemistry, with 2-3 quarters of laboratory

Chem 8A/L, Chem 8B/M, and Chem 109*

*Chem 109 does not have an associated lab, so if a school requires 3 quarters of lab, you may request to take CHEM 110/L if you are not a chemistry major. 


Nearly all schools require 2 quarters of physics, each with laboratory

Phys 6A/L and Phys 6B/M


Phys 5A/L and Phys 5B/M


Nearly all schools require 1 quarter of biochemistry

BIOL 100


BIOC 100A + 100B + 100C


Many schools require 1 quarter of genetics

BIOL 105


Many schools require 1 quarter of microbiology, with laboratory

METX 119/L

Animal Physiology

Some schools require 1 quarter of physiology, with laboratory

BIOE 131/L

Biology Electives

Some schools require cell biology and/or upper division biology electives. Requirements vary greatly, check school's admissions requirements.

BIOL 110, BIOE 107, BIOE 109, BIOE 124, BIOE 129, etc.



Nearly all schools require 1 quarter of statistics. Some schools also require math.


Math 2, 3, 11A, 11B, etc.

English Composition

Nearly all schools require english composition. Requirements vary greatly, check school's admissions requirements.

Courses that satisfy the Core Courses (C1) and Composition requirements (C2) at UCSC will fulfill two quarters of the school's English coursework requirements.  An additional course in Literature will usually satisfy the remaining quarter.*

* Save your course syllabi in case any schools express concern that you did not complete their English requirement.

Humanities/ Social Sciences

Many schools require introductory courses in these departments. Requirements vary greatly, check school's admissions requirements.

Psych 1, Anth 2, Socio 1, etc.

Animal Science/ Nutrition

Some schools require 1 quarter in Animal Science and/or Nutrition

Not offered at UCSC.

Public Speaking

Some schools require 1 quarter of public speaking and/or communication

Not offered at UCSC.

Back to Top

Application Process Timeline:

Keep in mind that the timeline could change from year to year, so always check the VMCAS for dates and deadlines before applying.

1.     VMCAS:

o    The Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMAS) is a centralized process for applying to the vast majority of the U.S veterinary medical colleges. Start this application early to allow enough time for the application to process and to work out any bugs.

o    In addition to the VMCAS application, some schools may require a supplemental, school-specific application. Separate applications must be made to non-VMCAS schools (e.g., Texas A&M) and to most foreign veterinary schools. For individual schools’ application procedures, consult the VMSAR or individual school websites.

2.     Prior to applying

o    Consider these factors when deciding upon where to apply:

§  Location

§  Cost

§  Size

§  Licensure exam passage rates

§  Faculty interests and reputation

§  Job placement history of program graduates

§  Talk with recent veterinary graduates, as well as ask veterinarian employers about various programs’ strengths and weaknesses.

o    Research each program you wish to apply to before submitting your application.

§  Admission requirements

§  prerequisite coursework

§  Deadlines

§  Amount and preferences for letters of recommendations

o    Register and take GRE

o    Write your personal statement

o    Develop a resume of activities and accomplishments

o    Request your transcripts

o    Arrange letters of evaluation

o    Admission to veterinary school is very competitive. Review the detailed statistics on admission practices and applicant profiles in the VMSAR and on schools’ websites to determine your likelihood of admission.

o    In addition to UC Davis and Western Uni., consider applying to some public or private schools outside of California that accept non-resident or non-contract state applicants.

§  Most veterinary schools give admission priority to residents of their state, second priority (or sometimes equal priority) to their contract states (neighboring states with agreements with the vet school's home state), and last priority to highly qualified residents of other states.

3.     Late May to early June

o    VMCAS application cycle opens

4.     September-October

o    All applications must be completed and delivered to VMCAS in order to be considered for admittance. It is best to have the application completed by mid-September in order to allow enough time for your grades to be verified.

o    VMCAS receives all applications at the same time, so it's not a first come first served process unless Vet school does not use VMCAS.

5.     April of the following year

o    April 15th is the national reply date, so students have until then to make their final decision on what Vet school they wish to attend.

6.     August of the following year

o    Begin Veterinarian Medical School

Back to Top

Admission Exam:

1.     Overview of Graduate Record Exam (GRE):

o    All U.S. Veterinary Medical Schools require applicants to submit GRE exam scores.

§  Some schools allow applicants to substitute the MCAT for the GRE. Check with individuals schools to verify if the MCAT will be acceptable.

o    Approximately a 4 hour standardized multiple-choice computerized-based exam.

o    Scores are usually available 10-15 days after completion of the exam.

o    No GRE scores older than five years will be accepted.

o    Sections

§  Verbal Reasoning - Measures your ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it, analyze relationships among component parts of sentences and recognize relationships among words and concepts.

§  Quantitative Reasoning - Measures problem-solving ability, focusing on basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry and data analysis.

§  Analytical Writing - Measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills, specifically your ability to articulate and support complex ideas clearly and effectively.

o    Score: Each section is scored between 130-170.

2.     When should students take the GRE?:

o    You should take the GRE well in advance of applying to veterinary school but definitely at least one year prior to your intended start date. Allow enough time to take the exam twice in case you do not do well the first time.

o    If students want to go straight into veterinarian school, they will need to take the GRE the summer of their junior year.

o    Students should take the GRE when they can do their best.

§  If they can be preparing for the GRE and be taking courses, and do well in both, then they should do that.

§  If the student will compromise their grades and/or score by doing both at the same time, the student should prepare for the GRE during the summer or after they have graduated.

3.     Dates for exam:

o    Offered daily

Back to Top

Animal Care Experience

1.     Veterinary and animal health experiences are often required for students interested in becoming veterinarians. Experience with different types of animals and settings are suggested, as well as research, if possible. It's ideal to have a mixture of small and large animal experience. Working as a veterinary assistant is one way to gain experience in the field.

2.     Schools often require a minimum number of hours of animal-related experience, but most admitted candidates had well over the minimum number of hours. Get as much experience as possible, and check individual schools for requirements.

3.     Despite the hour requirement, you are encouraged to place emphasis on the quality of the experience, not just the quantity of hours, and to keep a record of experiences and knowledge gained.

4.     Small animal and/or large animal experience is extremely important.

Back to Top

Overview of Veterinarian Medical School:

1.     Overview:

o    Veterinarian medical school takes three academic years and one full calendar year of clinical practice to complete.

o    There are 28 Schools in the United States, and 2 in California.

o    Veterinary school does not permit students to engage in "species specialization"; that is, students must be expert in veterinary medicine covering multiple species. Veterinary programs do, however, allow students to take electives, which will permit them to specialize upon graduation. Some schools have “track” programs that allow a specific concentrations, such as small animal medicine, dogs and cats (ex. UC Davis).

2.     First 3 years of school:

o    In the first three years, students are taught basic science (such as anatomy, physiology, histology, neuroanatomy, pharmacology, immunology, bacteriology, virology, pathology, parasitology, toxicology) in the classroom, as well as other basic courses such as herd health nutrition, radiography, and epidemiology.

o    During the third year, students are exposed to clinical topics like anesthesiology, therapeutic medicine, diagnostics, surgery, ophthalmology, orthopedics, and dentistry.

3.     Fourth year of school:

o    The fourth year is often 12 (not nine) months long, during which students work in a clinical setting delivering care to a wide range of animals

4.     After completing veterinarian medical school:

o    New graduates with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree may begin to practice veterinary medicine once they receive their license, but many new graduates choose to enter a 1-year internship.

5.     Licensure and certification:

o    All states and the District of Columbia require that veterinarians be licensed before they can practice. The only exemptions are for veterinarians working for some federal agencies and some state governments.

o    Licensing is controlled by the states and is not uniform, although all states require the successful completion of the D.V.M. degree—or equivalent education—and a passing grade on a national board examination, the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam.

o    Most states also require candidates to pass a state jurisprudence examination covering state laws and regulations. Some states do additional testing on clinical competency as well. There are few reciprocal agreements between states, so veterinarians who wish to practice in a different state usually must first pass that state's examinations.

6.     Specialty:

o    Currently, there are 22 AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organizations comprising 40 distinct specialties. More than 11,000 veterinarians have been awarded diplomate status in one or more of these 22 recognized veterinary specialty organizations by completing rigorous postgraduate training, education, and examination requirements.

o    These board-certified specialists are ready to serve the public, its animals, and the veterinary profession by providing high quality service in disciplines as varied as internal medicine, surgery, preventive medicine, toxicology, dentistry, behavior, and pathology. Visit the AVMA website for more information.

Back to Top

Important Websites:

  1. Occupational Outlook Handbook
  2. Explore Health Careers
  3. Directory of Veterinarian School’s Admission Requirements
  4. Applying to Veterinarian School
  5. Graduate Record Exam
  6. American Veterinary Medical Association
  7. Veterinary School Admission 101

Back to Top