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Undergraduate Programs for Prospective Veterinarians

Majors Overview March 28, 2015

Get information about undergraduate programs for those interested in becoming veterinarians and their coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Information for Prospective Veterinarians

Enrollment criteria in a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) program do not require students to hold a specific degree; however, aspiring veterinarians are required to complete some prerequisite courses.

Aspiring veterinarians may seek enrollment into a bachelor’s degree program in animal science, veterinary science, or veterinary technology involving the study of topic areas such as microbiology, genetics, and animal nutrition. Internships and practical components are also available. A research lab may be the venue for some aspects of the programs.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Programs in Veterinary Technology

Prior to joining a veterinarian school, an aspiring veterinarian may pursue a degree program in veterinary technology. However, those seeking admission to most veterinarian schools are required to complete specific coursework in topic areas such as social sciences, math, English, biochemistry, physics, organic chemistry, and general biology. They may also have to complete other courses in microbiology, statistics, computer science, genetics, nutrition, comparative anatomy, physiology, and cell biology.

Familiarity with the requirements of their veterinarian school of choice and taking the required courses, including electives, would benefit students. Schools may offer a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology with a concentration in pre-vet medicine. However, as schools don’t offer a program in pre-vet medicine as a degree program, the pre-vet medicine program and a bachelor’s in veterinarian technology may be taken concurrently.


Coursework in this baccalaureate program consists of classes devised to provide an overview of practical and theoretical aspects of veterinary technology and their application in various animal care and research settings and veterinary facilities. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Emergency and critical care
•Physiology for veterinary technologists
•Safety and regulatory compliance
•Introduction to veterinary science
•Pharmacology and toxicology

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Programs in Veterinary Science

An overview of animal health and animal welfare is provided to students who also learn how to apply their skills and knowledge in diverse fields, such as product development and research. The focus of these programs is on core principles founded on numerous scientific fields, such as chemistry and biology, among other related areas.

Program Coursework

Coursework focuses on pre-veterinary studies, laboratory animal medicine, and clinical medicine. The internship must be completed by students in research or clinical settings before they graduate from the program. Core coursework may include topic areas such as the following:

•Principles of physics
•Human and animal interrelationships
•Animal nutrition
•Clinical pathology

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Programs in Animal Science

The anatomical makeup and physiology of domestic animals, including dogs, cats, horses, cattle, and livestock, are examined by students enrolled in this baccalaureate program. Graduates may opt for continuing education by earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree, or they can pursue positions in pharmaceutical feed and research companies.


Coursework focuses on domestic animals’ scientific makeup and how to transfer that knowledge into a business- or medicine-related discipline. Students gain hands-on experience with domestic mammals in various settings, including research laboratories, farms, and animal hospitals. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Livestock evaluation
•Organic chemistry
•Anatomy of domestic animals
•Animal feeding and nutrition

Continuing Education Choices

Veterinary specialists, animal scientists, and veterinary technicians, in addition to practicing veterinarians, can seek continuing education in both online and on-campus formats. Coursework accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) covers various current veterinary topic areas, including:

•Surgical solutions
•Veterinary medical records
•Clinical pathology
•Infectious diseases

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, veterinarians can expect a job growth rate of 12% (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2012, veterinarians brought in an average annual wage of $84,460.

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