Veterinary Medicine

The field of veterinary medicine encompasses a large variety of practices and settings. Veterinarians maintain the health and productivity of commercial food animals and livestock, secure the public health of humans and commercial animals, and treat illness and disease in livestock and sport and companion animals. About seventy-five percent of approximately eighty thousand veterinarians in the U.S. work in private practice and can be found in such diverse settings as zoos, the military, wildlife organizations, emergency animal clinics, research settings, and universities. Numerous opportunities lie outside of standard clinical practice, such as careers involved in the threat of bioterrorism and national security needs.

The field of veterinary medicine continues to grow, especially in government, research, and other forms of public practice. Employment for veterinarians in companion animal practice are expected to continue to grow as the demand for quality care increases. And while the number of farm animals in the U.S. has decreased considerably, the number of animals per farm has increased, causing most food animal veterinarians to focus on the well-being of the herd rather than the individual animal. Demand for specialists in fields like ophthalmology, internal medicine, toxicology, and laboratory animal medicine is expected to increase.

Especially in recent years, veterinary schools have sought to create a student population that more accurately represents the diversity of the United States. In past years, veterinary medicine has seen a huge leap in women entering the field; nearly eighty percent veterinary students are now women. Still, only ten percent of applicants to veterinary schools are underrepresented minorities.

General Information

There are only twenty-eight accredited schools of veterinary medicine in the U.S. Veterinary programs are typically four years in length. The first two years of the veterinary curriculum focus on the preclinical sciences, such as anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, and microbiology. The final two years of the curriculum are principally clinical and focus on the study of infectious and noninfectious diseases, diagnostic and clinical pathology, obstetrics, radiology, clinical medicine, anesthesiology, and surgery.

Many students, during their third year of veterinary school, consider further education through internships as a lead-in to a residency program. However, internships and residencies are not required to become a licensed, practicing veterinarian.

Application Process

The Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) is a centralized application service sponsored by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). Applicants submit a single application to VMCAS, which then sends a standard application packet to all of the veterinary schools to which you are applying. The web-based application becomes available for students in late May or early June and may be found through the AAVMC’s website. Some veterinary schools utilize their own application or supplemental application materials and others utilize the VMCAS for out-of-state students only. Check the website of each school for their specific application requirements.

Veterinary schools often require a letter of evaluation from a pre-health advisory committee, rather than several individual letters. Each applicant who seeks a committee letter of evaluation will be interviewed by several members of the Stonehill Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee, who will then condense the comments of science faculty, non-science faculty, and employers, which you will have previously gathered, into a single letter of evaluation to be submitted to optometry schools.

If a veterinary school is seriously considering you for admission, they will most likely request a personal interview.

Entrance Exam

There are three different examinations utilized for admissions: the MCAT, the GRE subject test in biology, and the GRE general test. All colleges require scores from at least one of these tests. The greatest amount of schools require scores from the GRE general test. If you are taking the GRE general test or GRE subject test in biology, take it no later than the spring before you apply to leave time to retake it if necessary.

The MCAT is a multiple choice examination that is approximately 4 1/2 hours long and consists of the following four examinations in order:

  • Physical sciences. This section consists of 52 physics/general chemistry questions to be completed in 70 minutes.
  • Approximately 80% of the questions are in passage format, while the rest are stand-alone questions.
  • Verbal Reasoning. This sections consists of 40 verbal reasoning questions to be completed in 60 minutes.
  • Writing Sample. In this section, you must complete two 30-minute essays. 
  • Biological sciences. This section consists of 52 biology/organic chemistry questions to be completed in 70 minutes. Again, approximately 80% of the questions are in passage format.

Only an introductory-level knowledge of physics, general chemistry, biology, and organic chemistry is required for the MCAT.  Each section is scored on a scale of 1 – 15.  According to Princeton Review, the most important area of the MCAT in which to excel is the Verbal Reasoning section.

MCAT 2014

Subjects CoveredType of ExamExam LengthWhen GivenWhere TakenContact Info to Register
Physical Sciences Verbal Reasoning Writing Sample Biological Sciences (biology and organic chemistry) Computer Multiple Choice Essays 4 hr 30 min AM and PM Sessions Available multiple times late January through September Test centers throughout the US and globally
Test PrepCost of ExamObtaining ScoresReporting ScoresScore RecordNotes $275.00 Financial aid available (discounted to $100.00) Scores released 30-35 days later via MCAT Testing History (THx) system Scores automatically uploaded to AAMCAS Schools may determine how far back they want the score record to go New test in January 2015: deleting the writing section and adding psychology and sociology questions


Subjects CoveredType of ExamExam LengthWhen GivenWhere TakenContact Info to Register
Analytical Writing Verbal Reasoning Quantitative Reasoning Computer Multiple Choice & Essays 3 hr 45 min Varies by appointment Prometric Test Centers throughout the US
Test PrepCost of ExamObtaining ScoresReporting ScoresScore RecordNotes $185.00 VR @ test site QR @ test site AW = 10-15 days   Registration fee includes up to four schools, which you indicate at the test center; $25 per additional Scores are valid for 5 years; all scores are listed on submitted reports  

Suggested Coursework

The list of pre-requisite courses varies by school.  To view a list published by AAVMC (Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges), please click here.  The following is a general list of common undergraduate courses that typically satisfy the prerequisites for veterinary medicine programs:

  • Chemistry with lab (1 year)
  • Organic Chemistry with lab* (1 year)
  • Inorganic Chemistry (1 semester)
  • Biology with lab (1 year)
  • Biochemistry (1 semester)
  • Physics with lab (1 year)
  • Calculus or Statistics (1 year)
  • English (1 year)

* Biochemistry majors may take Organic Chemistry I  & Inorganic Chemistry (8 credits – CHM 221 & 244)

Many veterinary schools require courses that are not necessary to fulfill a Biology, Biochemistry, or Chemistry major at Stonehill. These may include:

  • Animal sciences and animal nutrition
  • Embryology
  • Genetics
  • Humanities and social sciences
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology

If a veterinary school requires a course that Stonehill does not offer, ask that school if another closely-related course can be substituted.  If no substitution can be made, you should consider taking the course at a different undergraduate institution.


Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC)

1101 Vermont Ave, NW
Suite 301
Washington DC 20005
(202) 371-9195

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

1931 North Meacham Road, Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360
(847) 925-8070

Khan Academy MCAT 2015 Test Content Videos

Official Guide to the MCAT Exam (MCAT2015), Fourth Edition*

*A free copy of this guide is available in the Office of Career Services in the Kruse Center, Cushing-Martin Hall.  You may visit the office to check out the guide to determine if you would like to purchase your own copy or not.