"To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease."  —Andrew T. Still, MD, DO

"As a family physician, my job is listening to people's stories."
—Jon S. Hallberg, MD


Career Info

Veterinarians are highly trained medical professionals who provide for the health needs of animals. Most veterinarians in the United States are engaged in private practice, providing primary healthcare to livestock and companion animals on a case-by-case, fee-for-service basis. Others work in a wide range of fields related to public health, animal disease control, environmental protection, biotechnology, higher education and research.

Veterinarians in clinical practice 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. Veterinarians can contribute to human as well as animal health. A number of veterinarians work with physicians and scientists as they research ways to prevent and treat human health problems, such as cancer, AIDS, and alcohol or drug abuse. Some determine the effects of drug therapies, antibiotics, or new surgical techniques by testing them on animals.  Veterinarians also play an important role in public health, in particular with regards to the incidence of zoonotic diseases, which constitute 75% of diseases worldwide. In 2022, the median annual wage for a veterinarian was $103,260. The job outlook is great, with a projected growth of 20% in the field by 2032.

More Information

Outlook: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinarians.htm

O*NET: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-1131.00

Education & Training

In the US, prospective students must graduate from a 4-year program at an accredited college of veterinary medicine with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or Veterinary Doctor of Medicine degree and obtain a license to practice. There are currently 33 AVMA accredited schools of veterinary medicine in the United States, 5 in Canada, and 16 outside of North America. There are also several accredited foreign veterinary schools, some of which grant a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine.   Admission to veterinary school is highly competitive. The 2020  class of all admitted applicants in the U.S. had an average cumulative GPA of 3.60 with a science prerequisite GPA of 3.50, and extensive animal experience (2-6 years animal experience). GRE or MCAT scores are often also required by schools.

Course Requirements

Note:  Admission prerequisites vary by institution.  Some schools will not accept AP credit for prerequisites.  Check requirements carefully!

See below for an example of admission course prerequisites that may be required at CA programs. Please research professional programs for the specific admission requirements. If you need guidance on how to search for schools, please see the Peer Advisors during drop-in hours. 

Biology: Bio 160, 161, 162, Mcro 221 or 224 & 225
  • Note:
    • For schools requiring more than 3 quarters, such as additional upper division coursework (300-400 level) in Biology, consult with veterinary school directly for course recommendations. 
    • Bio, Mcro, Bchm, and Msci majors should enroll in MCRO 224 & 225.

Biochemistry: Chem 314 (UD B, previously known as Chem 313) or Chem 369 (previously known as Chem 371) or ASCI 319 (UD B)

General Chemistry: Chem 127, 128, 129 
  • Note: Engineering & Physical Science majors should enroll in Chem 124, 125, 126
Organic Chemistry: Chem 312 or Chem 216, 217/220, 218/223
  • Note: Biochemistry & Chemistry majors should enroll in Chem 216, 217/221, 218/324

Physiology: Bio 361 or ASCI 438

Genetics: Bio 302 or Bio 303 or 351

Statistics: Stat 217 or 218 (B1)

English: 3 quarters; proficiency in oral and written communication

Physics: Phys 121, 122, 123 or Phys 141, 142, 143, and Phys 125

  • Phys 125 is a 1-unit lab that corresponds to Phys 121 or 141 and is generally taken during your last year at Cal Poly. In order to get on the waitlist, please contact the Animal Science Department at animalscience@calpoly.edu. Note that permission numbers will be given out based on expected graduation date (i.e., students that are closer to graduating will be prioritized for the course over others). 

Humanities/Social Science: 3 quarters

Recommended classes

Animal Nutrition:  ASCI 220 

Embryology:  Bio 405 or ASCI 406

Histology:  Bio 410

Cell Biology:  Bio 452

Endocrinology: Bio 407 or ASCI 405

Immunology:  Bio 426 or ASCI 440

Parasitology:  Bio 429 or ASCI 203

Metabolism: Chem 372

Animal Science courses:

112, 229, 290, 310, 366, 405, 420

Business:  Bus 207, 212

Foreign Language, Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, Sociology

Ethics:  Phil 339 (UD C)

*Please come in to see us if you have any questions.

Last updated 09/08/2022.

Professional Association Links

For more information and to determine specific requirements, please visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website at:  www.avma.org as well as the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges website at: www.aavmc.org.

Cal Poly Veterinary Science Club

To join the Cal Poly Veterinary Science Club, contact: cpvetscienceclub@gmail.com or follow them on Instagram (@cpvetsciclub).

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