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Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary medicine is a medical specialty concerned with the prevention, control, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the health of animals and with preventing the spread of animal diseases to people. Veterinarians can work with domestic animals, farm animals, working animals, and more! They can also help keep part of our food supply safe.

What does a Veterinarian do?

  • Provides animals health and wellness evaluations and assessments, preventative medicine, medications, surgical services, rehabilitation, and palliative care
  • Provides animal population control services
  • Advises public health officials about animal health threats and can influence public policy
  • Provides evaluations and care for animal populations raised as food sources
  • May perform food-processing facility inspections to help ensure the safety of the food supply

Please note that Idaho State University does not have a veterinary medicine program, however Idaho State University is a great institution to attend for preparing to apply to veterinary medicine programs. Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the most popular veterinary medicine programs among ISU students.

Students looking to be admitted into a veterinary medicine program generally complete a bachelor's degree before being admitted to veterinary medicine programs. The following courses are common prerequisites for veterinary medicine programs, however you should check individual programs for their specific requirements. See a Pre-Health Advisor for assistance with course planning.

Prerequisite Courses:



ISU Course

General Biology I & II and Labs

8 credits

BIOL 1101, 1101L, 1102, 1102L


3 credits

BIOL 4432 or BIOL 4445

General Chemistry I & II and Labs

9 credits

CHEM 1111, 1111L, 1112, 1112L

Organic Chemistry I & II and Labs

4 credits

CHEM 3301, 3303, 3302, 3304

General Physics I & II and Labs

8 credits

PHYS 1111, 1113, 1112, 1114

College Algebra or College Algebra and Trigonometry

3-5 credits

MATH 1143 or MATH 1147

Statistical Reasoning

3 credits

MATH 1153

Additional Recommended Courses



ISU Course


3 credits

BIOL 3358


3 credits

PSYC 1101


3 credits

SOC 1101

The average GPAs of admitted students into veterinary medicine schools is 3.5.

We recommend keeping a record of all extracurricular activities. Be sure to track contact information for supervisors and veterinarians you work with or shadow, and write reflections on each activity. The Pre-Health Extracurricular Tracker can help with this and is found under the resources tab.

Animal Care Experience 

Animal Care experience can vary, but you should have experience with animals of some sort. Keep a journal tracking the different experiences you are able to get. This shows that you truly are interested in animals and their health.

Shadowing Veterinarians

Shadowing helps you understand what the profession is actually like. Try to gain veterinary clinical experience under direct supervision from a veterinarian. This experience will make you a more prepared and attractive appliance. For more information, see the Shadowing Guide.


Research is more important for some programs than others. Animal and lab research as well as other fields or other kinds of research are acceptable. Consult with your pre-health advisor to determine what research is recommended for specific programs.


Leadership in any setting will make you stand out from other applicants by showing you are actively preparing for your future in your career and community as well as showing that you are a strong member of a team.

Competency Domains:

  • Clinical Reasoning and Decision-Making
  • Individual Animal Care and Management
  • Animal Population Care and Management
  • Public Health
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Professionalism and Professional Identity
  • Financial and Practice Management
  • Scholarship

CBVE Competency Framework

A personal statement is a written description of your achievements, interests, and motivations as part of an application to a graduate program. Personal statements should answer the questions “Why did I choose veterinary medicine?” and ”What motivates me?” You should begin writing your personal statement three to six months before your application process. For more information see the Personal Statement Guide.

Letters of recommendation may or may not be required for admission into a veterinary school of medicine depending on the school, check with the individual programs for letter requirements. Some recommended letters should come from a science professor and from a veterinarian. You should avoid asking family members, clergy/bishops, and lab instructors for a letter of recommendation. Consult with your pre-health advisor regarding letters of recommendation. Your letters will be submitted to VMCAS and then distributed to the schools you applied to. Schools will request your letters after receiving your primary application, so don’t delay submitting your primary application while waiting on your letters. For more information, see the Letters of Recommendation Guide. Consult your pre-health advisor if you have any further questions.

Before applying, ensure that you are researching schools and making sure they fit your needs and wants.

Applying to schools of veterinary medicine can be reduced down to these essential steps:

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

The test required for admission into veterinary schools can be the GRE, or the MCAT depending on the school. Check with the individual schools you are interested in to determine which test you should take.

The MCAT is administered from January through September. Take the MCAT once you have completed the necessary coursework, ideally about a year before attending veterinary school. Check with programs to determine what is a competitive score.

The GRE is administered throughout the year. Register to take the GRE and receive test scores 10-15 days after. The average GRE scores of admitted students into veterinary schools is listed here. Check with programs to determine what is a competitive score.

Primary Application

Primary applications are submitted through a central application service, VMCAS. The same primary application will be sent to all schools you apply to. VMCAS is open from late January to mid-September. Materials are required in mid-September to meet October deadlines. Many schools opt for rolling admissions so it is a good idea to submit early, however don’t rush and make a mistake! Take your time, and submit as early as you can. Most students take a few weeks to complete an application. Your application should include your GRE or MCAT score, transcripts, extracurriculars, personal statement, and letters of recommendation.

Secondary Applications

Most schools of veterinary medicine will require supplemental applications. These will vary from school to school but generally require at least one additional essay. Some schools send out supplemental applications to every student, and some schools screen applicants before sending out supplemental applications. Supplemental applications also typically have a fee attached. Fees are paid directly to the individual program. This is a good time to prioritize applications. You are not obligated to complete a supplemental application.


Programs may invite you to interview with them. This often indicates you are an applicant of interest, and they want to get to know you better. Many schools of veterinary medicine hold interview days, where they bring in a group of applicants for the whole day to participate in a variety of activities related to the program and your application. For more information, see the Interview Guide.

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