Pre-Veterinary Degree Programs

Becoming a doctor of veterinary medicine requires a deep understanding of science. But how do you prepare?

Some schools offer pre-veterinary school programs that focus on prerequisite classes in biology, chemistry, and physiology, but do not culminate in a degree. That can leave students in a lurch if they decide to switch careers or take alternate, specialized paths in working with animals. On the other hand, pre-vet degree programs offer a comprehensive breadth of classes that prepare graduates for every eventuality.

Veterinary schools do not require specific majors, such as biology or chemistry—they simply require prerequisite courses. As such, the requirements can be added to almost any major. The most common majors for pre-vet degree programs are animal science, biology, chemistry, and biochemistry. Many schools also offer specializations, concentrations, and emphases in pre-veterinary science, on top of the awarded degree.

Do note that some fields, like zoology, don’t necessarily include all the prerequisites necessary for veterinary school, despite being heavily animal-focused. Also be aware that for students with veterinary ambitions, undergraduate biology degrees should be bachelor of science (BS) rather than bachelor of arts (BA) programs.

To learn more about the details of pre-vet degree programs, read on.

Admissions Requirements for Pre-Vet Degree Programs

Admissions requirements for pre-vet degree programs will vary from school to school, and from program to program. However, some common requirements include:

  • Strong high school GPA (3.0 or greater)
  • SAT and/or ACT scores
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Personal statement

Applicants who wish to distinguish themselves and prepare for undergraduate success in pre-vet degree programs should also consider extracurricular activities in the sciences.

Accreditation for Pre-Vet Degree Programs

Accreditation ensures that a university, school, or program meets quality standards. It also means that students and employers can trust the accredited institution. Pre-vet degree programs aren’t accredited by a particular professional accreditation society, but they should be regionally accredited.

Regional accreditation bodies include:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

SELECT * FROM `mts_online_offline_data` WHERE `page_url` = '/pre-vet' AND ( `table_type` = 'Offline' OR `table_type` = 'BOTH (Online + Offline)' ) ORDER BY `grads` DESC

Online Pre-Vet Degree Programs

Arizona State University (BS Applied Biological Sciences – Pre-Veterinary Medicine)

ASU offers an online BS in applied biological sciences with an emphasis in pre-veterinary medicine. Students in the program will explore the anatomy and behavior of animals, and develop a firm understanding of biology and chemistry; graduates will be well-equipped for veterinary school and animal-focused careers.

Courses include animal physiology; animal nutrition; ecology and adaptations of vertebrates; veterinary medicine; and advanced principles of biochemistry. While most of the coursework and labs may be completed online, two organic chemistry lab courses must be completed at ASU’s Tempe campus; both in-person labs are compressed into a one-week format over the summer. The program consists of 120 credits in total.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $14,822 per year
  • Program Length: Four years

Unity College (BS Animal Science)

Unity College offers an online BS in animal science that prepares students to apply animal biology, chemistry, nutrition, and physiology to the study of animal breeding, growth, behavior, genetics, and management. Graduates will be prepared for several animal-focused careers and well-equipped for veterinary school.

Courses include animal nutrition; animal comparative anatomy; animal comparative physiology; animal behavior; and environmental justice. Students may choose to add a concentration in animal health and behavior. The program consists of 120 credits, of which 90 may be transferred.

  • Location: New Gloucester, ME
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $470 per credit
  • Program Length: Four years

Kansas State University (BS Animal Sciences and Industry – Pre-Veterinary Science)

KSU offers an online BS in animal sciences and industry that can be specialized in pre-veterinary science. Graduates will be prepared for admission to veterinary school.

The core curriculum includes the principles of animal science; general calculus; organic chemistry; and the fundamentals of nutrition. Elective courses cover topics such as anatomy and physiology; animal breeding principles; equine reproductive management; and behavior of domestic animals. The program consists of 120 credits.

  • Location: Manhattan, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $462.90 per credit
  • Program Length: Four years

On-Campus Pre-Vet Degree Programs

University of Connecticut (BS Animal Science – Pre-Veterinary Medicine)

UConn offers an on-campus BS in animal science as part of its pre-vet program. Students will work with animals and learn how animals function through a study of genetics, anatomy, nutrition, medicine, and behavior.

Courses recommended for pre-vet students include calculus; general physics; growth biology and metabolism in domestic animals; animal embryology and biotechnology; comparative exercise physiology; and endocrinology of farm animals. Graduates will be well-prepared for admission to veterinary school. The program consists of a minimum of 120 credits.

  • Location: Storrs, CT
  • Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Tuition: $38,340 per year (non-resident)
  • Program Length: Four years

University of New Orleans (BS Biology)

The BS in biology program at the University of New Orleans can be customized toward pre-veterinary medicine. Students will also have the opportunity to join the Pre-Veterinary Society, which holds two to three meetings per semester and features guest speakers, offering insights into the vet school admissions process.

Core and elective coursework include advanced microbiology; evolutionary mechanisms; vertebrate physiology; comparative physiology; animal behavior; and marine biology. The program consists of 120 credits.

  • Location: New Orleans, LA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $14,190 per year (non-resident)
  • Program Length: Four years

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (BS Animal Sciences – Pre-Veterinary Science)

The BS in animal sciences program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a concentration in pre-veterinary science. The concentration emphasizes fundamental science courses and equips graduates for professional study as veterinarians.

Courses include animal stress physiology; applied bioinformatics; techniques in animal nutrition; muscle biology; and applied animal genetics. The program consists of 126 credits in total.

  • Location: Urbana, IL
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $35,110 per year (non-resident)
  • Program Length: Four years

University of Massachusetts Amherst (BS Pre-Veterinary Science)

UMass Amherst offers an on-campus BS in pre-veterinary science. While all freshmen enter under the animal science major, they may qualify to transition into pre-veterinary science by taking relevant courses.

Classes in the pre-veterinary science category include an introduction to animal science; animal welfare; animal physiology and anatomy; basic animal nutrition; and cellular and molecular biology. The program consists of approximately 128 credits.

  • Location: Amherst, MA
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $38,172 per year (non-resident)
  • Program Length: Four years

Albion College (BS Biology – Pre-Veterinary Medicine)

Albion College offers a pre-veterinary medicine program through its Wilson Medical Institute. After selecting a major such as biology, chemistry, or biochemistry, students will follow a detailed curriculum geared towards the advanced study of veterinary medicine.

The pre-vet program includes tailored coursework, service, clinical experience, and research; students will also have the opportunity to participate in hands-on experiences at the Held Equestrian Center, the only on-campus equestrian center at a private college in Michigan.

  • Location: Albion, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $54,410 per year
  • Program Length: Four years

Professors to Know in Pre-Vet Degree Programs

Dr. Chad Johnson is Associate Professor in the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at Arizona State University. He received his MS in biology from Illinois State University, and his PhD in biology from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Johnson’s research interests include animal behavior, and particularly in the ways in which behavioral expression is correlated across ecological contexts. He teaches undergraduate labs and courses in animal behavior and ecology.

Dr. Kristyn Vitale is Assistant Professor in Animal Health and Behavior at Unity College. She received her master’s in environmental science from Miami University, and her PhD in animal science with a focus in experimental psychology from Oregon State University. Dr. Vitale’s research focuses on domestic cat behavior and the human-cat relationship; she has been published in multiple peer-reviewed journals and garnered international media attention from the New York Times, the Times of London, Science, and National Geographic.

Dr. Steven A. Zinn is Professor in the Animal Science program at the University of Connecticut. He received both his MS and his PhD in animal science from Michigan State University. Dr. Zinn also served as the head of the animal science department at UConn from 2011 to 2021. His scholarly interests include the investigation of the multi-generational effect of poor maternal nutrition and its impact on the feed efficiency of the offspring. Dr. Zinn won the American Society of Animal Science Morrison Award in 2021.

Matt Zbrog
Matt Zbrog Writer

Matt Zbrog is a writer and freelancer who has been living abroad since 2016. His nonfiction has been published by Euromaidan Press, Cirrus Gallery, and Our Thursday. Both his writing and his experience abroad are shaped by seeking out alternative lifestyles and counterculture movements, especially in developing nations. You can follow his travels through Eastern Europe and Central Asia on Instagram at @weirdviewmirror. He’s recently finished his second novel, and is in no hurry to publish it.