Veterinary preparation

Please note: Pomona College does not offer a Veterinary program. This information is merely for the purpose of providing an overview of a career as a veterinarian and the academic requirements to our undergraduate students.

Veterinarians care for, diagnose, treat, and research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and other animals. Additionally, an important aspect of veterinary medicine is protecting public health. Depending on their specialty, veterinarians typically work in private clinics, hospitals, laboratories, farms, and other locales. Veterinarians can find employment with the government or in public health and epidemiology, with options in private industry, nutrition and food safety. Equivalent degrees awarded are the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and Veterinary Medical Doctor (VMD).

Training to become a Veterinarian

Veterinary school is typically four years, after which students must pass board certification and state licensing requirements. There are over 40 recognized veterinary specialties: AMVA List of Specialties 

Tuitions vary widely and often depend on state residency. Veterinary colleges that offer in-state tuition tend to be $25,000-$30,000, while out of state tuition is typically $53,000-$66,000+. Other schools charge $55,000-$65,000 annual tuition regardless of residency.

Undergraduate Preparation

Academic Preparation

Check out our pre-veterinary planning guide.

The AAVMC provides a list of pre-requisite courses for individual veterinary schools worldwide.

Personal Preparation

Shadowing: Veterinary schools typically require extensive and varied animal experience prior to application. We recommend accumulating up to 500 hours working or volunteering directly under veterinarians. Experiences should be varied in settings (animal hospital, zoo, working farm, wildlife rescue, shelter, etc.) and types of animals (small and large animals, exotic wildlife, and marine animals), however what is actually required varies tremendously among programs.

Other ways to prepare:

Get involved in the 5C pre-vet club, or demonstrate leadership in another club or extracurricular while an undergraduate.

Seek opportunities for research experience (animal and veterinary research as well as other field and/or laboratory-based research). Pay attention to summer opportunities, including enrichment programs, research, or volunteering with animals.

Application Process

Admissions Testing

There is no one standardized test for veterinary school admission. Schools may require the GRE, the MCAT, the IELTS and/or the TOEFL (if an international student). As of 2022, the GRE is only required at Oklahoma State, Ross, Tuskegee, UC Davis, University of Georgia, and Western U of Health Sciences. Check specific school websites for admissions requirements and up-to-date admissions requirements, or use the free Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirement (VMSAR) school directory that is updated for each application cycle.

The 2021 cost of the GRE Exam is $205. There is a GRE Fee Reduction Program for individuals who can demonstrate financial need, for those who are unemployed and receiving unemployment compensation, and for national programs that work with underrepresented groups. A GRE Fee Reduction Voucher may be used for one GRE® General Test and/or one GRE® Subject Test. Voucher users pay 50% of the regular test fee.


Veterinary school applications are submitted through a centralized service called the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS). In the US, 29 out of 30 schools use VMCAS, as do multiple international veterinary schools. Applications are submitted via VMCAS before September, with a new application cycle beginning in January.

VMCAS provides a “Quick Start Guide” for applicants. The guide includes timelines and FAQs. The AAVMC also provides information about how to apply to veterinary school.

The initial application fee is $220, with an additional $110 for each added program. VMCAS offers a fee reimbursement program starting in May for the initial fee only. Qualified VMCAS applicants can submit requests to VMCAS to have the first designation (school) refunded by VMCAS.

When you apply, please check (yes) for the Advisor Release at the beginning of the VMCAS application.

Letters of Recommendation: Veterinary schools typically request 3 letters of recommendation, of which one must be from a veterinarian.

Neither a committee letter or other letters can be sent from the Prehealth Advising Office to the veterinary programs. VMCAS requires recommenders to complete a form. Also, you cannot choose which letters are sent to which school; VMCAS will send all letters to all schools.

More Resources

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