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 2018, the median annual wage of a veterinarian was $99,250 per year. The job outlook is great, with a projected growth of 17% in the field by 2030.
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.
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.
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 (previously known as Chem 313) or Chem 369 (previously known as Chem 371) or ASCI 320
Note: Engineering & Physical Science majors should enroll in Chem 124, 125, 126
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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 (C4)
*Please come in to see us if you have any questions.
Last updated 09/08/2022.
CA Veterinary Schools
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.