Preparing for Veterinary School in College

The pre-veterinary track is not a major. Pre-veterinary is a track that an undergraduate chooses to be on regardless of their chosen major. Many of the veterinary school pre-requisite course requirements are built into the Science Concentrations of the B.S. in Animal Science, Biological Sciences, and other curricula at NC State University. In particular, the Veterinary Bioscience concentration within the Animal Science major covers all of the pre-requisites required for veterinary school.

Veterinary schools do not give special consideration to one major, so long as all of the prerequisite courses required for entry into veterinary school are completed. An incoming undergraduate at NC State can choose any major that is of interest to them that they will succeed in academically. Although it is recommended students consider a major that has a comparable curriculum to their preferred CVM pre-requisite requirements (i.e. math, biology, chemistry, anatomy, etc). Many veterinary school applicants pursue majors in the Agricultural field (e.g. animal science, wildlife science, biochemistry, food science, etc.), while others enroll in science majors including biology, biochemistry, and engineering.  To see the curriculum requirements for any major at NC State, visit this link.   

A minor does not necessarily improve your changes of getting into vet school, but can be a helpful way to take classes in a specific area that you want to learn more about. Some students choose a minor outside the field of veterinary medicine and instead study a foreign language or a subject they enjoy. Others use their minor to help strengthen their knowledge in a specific field (i.e., entomology).

A bachelor’s degree is not required for admission into all veterinary schools. An applicant must satisfy the required prerequisite coursework for their preferred CVM, and complete a minimum of seventy-two semester credits of classes at an accredited institution. However, most admitted students have completed three or more years of pre-professional course work, or have earned a degree at matriculation. Applicants with degrees do not receive preference over those who have not completed degrees.

Veterinary schools will accept transfer credits from community colleges in lower-division required science courses such as general biology or chemistry, statistics, humanities or social sciences, etc. However, most veterinary schools require all upper-division required science coursework, such as microbiology or biochemistry, to be completed at a four-year institution. Individual veterinary school websites should be visited to ensure an applicant is completing his or her coursework in an their preferred manner.

Courses required for admission to veterinary school may be re-taken and averaged into the cumulative GPA with the original grade received. Applicants must earn a C- or better in all required coursework or the class must be repeated. For more information on NCSU CVM’s policies, please visit the CVM admissions website found here

All required prerequisite coursework must be completed with a letter grade of C- or better, so these courses may not be taken as pass/fail. In regard to electives and all other non-required coursework, it is recommended that the pass/fail grading option be avoided as much as possible as GPA is a very important part of the application. Due to COVID-19, the AAVMC updated their Veterinary Medical School Admissions Policies, and individual school policies on pass/fail coursework during Spring 2020 can be found here.

The amount of extracurricular activities and jobs that a student can sufficiently handle is dependent on the individual. A good way to ensure that you do not overwhelm yourself is to not over-commit to jobs and extracurricular activities early on. First, take a semester to assess how well you are able to manage classes alone, and then slowly add jobs or extracurricular activities based on your schedule and class workload. Remember that your classes and health as a student come first, so try to find a balance that works for you!

Students should be involved in extracurricular activities that interest them, but not so involved that their grades suffer. Having extracurricular activities on your resume will look good on a VMCAS, and demonstrate that you are a well-rounded individual. They are also a good outlet for students when school/life gets stressful.

NC State has over 600 general clubs. Of those clubs, several are specific to Pre-Veterinary interests include the Pre-Veterinary Club, Animal Science Club, Companion Animal Club, Herpetology Club, Dairy Science Club, Poultry Science Club, Beekeepers Club, and more!

Yes! Vet schools want to see that you have tried different areas as it diversifies your application and shows that you are truly interested in all aspects of veterinary medicine. You want to explore fields beyond your initial interests to show that you have fully delved into all aspects of veterinary medicine to understand the scope of the practice, and have made an educated decision about pursuing the field you’re most interested in. A competitive VMCAS applicant has explored specialty experiences including lab animal, food animal, exotic animal, and research experiences. 

Contacting the managers that oversee the animal education units is a great way to get involved and learn about volunteer opportunities at the units. It can also be helpful to talk to faculty and other students who are consistently involved at the animal education units as they are generally knowledgeable of the volunteer or employment opportunities offered. For a list of the animal education units as well as a few other agriculture related units in the Raleigh area, please visit this link

The Office of Undergraduate Research is a great place to look for research opportunities! Use this link to explore research through NCSU and outside organizations.  You can also apply to do research with the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine through this link.

Utilizing on campus resources such as the Career Development Center for their resume expertise is one of the best ways to ensure your resume is competitive for whatever application you’re preparing. Find more about the Career Development Center and their Resume Workshops or individual career counseling sessions here.

Remember the 3 D’s- diversity, duration, and depth. While there is not a firm number of required hours per experience, a general guideline is to try to stay at an experience fo 80-100 hours worth of work- long enough to be able to articulate clearly why this type of opportunity/work environment/specialty is something you are not interested in doing in the future; as well as articulating any skills you gained. If it is a poor work situation or a mismatch between you and a supervisor that cannot be easily resolved, then it is ok to leave.

Pre-veterinary track students may either arrange a meeting in person by visiting 341 Riddick Hall, or may arrange a meeting/visitation day on-line via the VetPAC website’s appointment scheduler.