What do Veterinary School Admissions Committees look for in an applicant?
- Can the student handle the academic rigors of veterinary school?
- Why does the student want to be a veterinarian? Do they want to be in the profession for the “right” reasons and know the dedication the career entails?
- Do they have a diverse set of skills necessary to be a veterinarian?
How does Penn State Behrend help the student succeed?
The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, D.V.M. programs have very high expectations of the candidates’ undergraduate preparation.
No veterinary school specifies an undergraduate major. “Pre-vet” majors at other institutions are repackaged biology degrees. All veterinary school programs require a specified set of prerequisite coursework that is offered at Penn State Behrend. Due to the advanced biology requirement at many veterinary schools, a biology or biology-related major is often pursued. Prerequisite courses for most veterinary programs include:
- General Biology: BIOL 110 and BIOL 240W
- Molecular Biology: BIOL 230W
- General Chemistry: CHEM 110/112
- General Chemistry Laboratory: CHEM 111/113
- Organic Chemistry: CHEM 210/212
- Organic Chemistry Laboratory: CHEM 213
- Biochemistry: CHEM 472 and B M B 402
- Anatomy: BIOL 421
- Physiology: BIOL 472/473
- Physics: PHYS 250/251
- Calculus: MATH 140/141
- Statistics: STAT 250
- Psychology: PSYCH 100
- English (3-6 credits): ENGL 15, 202C
- Humanities and social science courses (6-9 credits is typical)
Students interested in the health professions are encouraged to take SC 201: Medical Professions.
The purpose of SC 201 is:
- Provide students with an overview of the various health professions
- Enhance students' understanding of potential careers
- Discuss the academic preparation for specific professions
- Review the application process for admission to health profession schools
Although not required, many in the veterinary profession run their own practices. Business courses (3-6 credits) are strongly encouraged!
The Pre-Health Option of our Bachelor of Science degree in Biology covers all of these prerequisites. However other biology, chemistry and physics degree programs can easily be customized to meet these requirements. At Penn State Behrend, you will have a dedicated, personal Pre-Health Adviser who will guide you through the process!
Please note, the student needs to check the specific requirements of the individual programs for which they are applying.
Benchmarks and Standards
The more rigorous the academic preparation in the sciences, the more prepared students are for advanced coursework in a veterinary school program.
The student must:
- Demonstrate a consistent and high GPA (mean GPA >3.6)
- Perform well on the admissions exam (GRE or MCAT - score above the 80th percentile)
- Apply to multiple schools
- Perform and record 500+ hours of shadowing/work experience in a veterinary setting
Shadowing and Volunteering
To answer the questions of "why do you want to be a veterinarian?" it is necessary to do the following:
- Work/shadow with a veterinarian directly to help you decide if the career is right for you.
- Keep a record of the time you spend in each veterinary-experience and the type of knowledge you gained.
- Make sure to have at least one letter of recommendation from a D.V.M. who you observed/worked with.
- Have veterinary-related experiences, which are vital for your application. Here are some work/volunteer options:
- Veterinary clinic
- Wildlife park
- Animal shelter
Opportunities for Leadership and Scholarship
To determine if the candidate has a diverse set of skills necessary to be a veterinarian, veterinary schools look for evidence of leadership, involvement in professional organizations, and participation in scholarly activities like research.
At Penn State Behrend:
- Students have access to the small-class size of a liberal arts college with the research facilities of a larger university.
- Students have opportunities to conduct research with a faculty mentor who is an active researcher in his or her field of expertise.
- Many of our students who participate in undergraduate research present their work at local and national conferences.
- Students have access to a vibrant and diverse set of student organizations that offer leadership opportunities. We have the Behrend "Scrubs" Club for students interested in health degrees.
- Other clubs and organizations organize and participate in many philanthropic activities that you can become involved in.
As you start your journey toward veterinary school, it is highly recommended that you visit the following links where you will find guidelines for the application process, statistics on application and acceptance rates, and strategies to become a competitive applicant.
- American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
- Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC)
- Graduate Records Examinations (GRE)
- Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)