Pre-Veterinary Advising

Veterinary Medicine

Advisor: Dr. Holly Boettger-Tong

Career Description

Veterinarians play a vital role in the health care of pets, livestock, zoo animals, and laboratory animals. They also protect humans against diseases carried by animals and conduct research into animal health problems. Veterinarians take health histories of animals, perform and interpret tests, diagnose problems, prescribe medications, develop treatment plans, and perform surgeries. They specialize their care in a number of areas including large, small, and exotic animal care. Veterinarians help pet owners through difficult times, keep our food supply safe, and study diseases that often impact human populations. 

Becoming a Physician

Veterinary programs are extremely competitive as there are relatively few programs in the country. Competitive applicants are well-rounded students with excellent academic credentials (see “Coursework” below) competitive GRE scores, outstanding leadership skills, research, and volunteer and shadowing experience. Significant animal experience is generally expected, including time supervised by a veterinarian in both small and large animal settings and time spent in other contact with animals. After completing a bachelor’s degree (which is preferred at most schools), students who have been accepted into a veterinary school program then complete 4 years of veterinary school. Upon completion of veterinary school, passing a professional licensing exam is required. This may be followed by a residency if a specialization is the goal.


The general requirements for veterinary school include the following courses. Some veterinary schools may have different requirements for coursework, so make sure to check with the veterinary school of your choice. You do not have to major in biology or chemistry, but you must have the requisite biology/chemistry courses in order to fulfill the requirements for admission. Contact the pre-Veterinary Advisor, Dr. Holly Boettger-Tong, to discuss timeline, internship and other questions. 

Note: There are approximately 27 schools of veterinary medicine in the United States, the closest being the University of Georgia, Auburn University, Tuskegee University, and the University of Florida. Significant preference is given to residents, so it is a best bet to apply in your home state, if you have a vet school there. An excellent GPA (national average is 3.6), the requisite classwork and a variety of internship experiences with different veterinarians will maximize your chances of acceptance. 

Course and Semester Hours

  • General Biology  8 hours
  • Upper Level Biology (with labs)*  8 hours
  • Biochemistry  3 hours
  • English  6 hours
  • Humanities and social sciences  14 hours
  • Chemistry (General)  8 hours
  • Chemistry  (Organic)  8 hours
  • Physics  8 hours

*Science Courses Suggested: genetics, microbiology, development, histology, physiology, vertebrate zoology, cell & molecular biology

Other Courses Suggested: marketing, management, psychology

Sample Coursework Plan*
YEAR ONE Fall Semester YEAR ONE Spring Semester
BIO 110 BIO 112
CHM 101 CHM 102
Gen Ed Electives/Foreign Language Gen Ed Electives/Foreign Language
WISE 101 MAT 220 
YEAR TWO Fall Semester YEAR TWO Spring Semester
CHM 221 CHM 222
BIO 203 BIO 245
Gen Ed Electives /ENG 111 Gen Ed Electives/PSY 101
Major Coursework Major Coursework/PDE
YEAR THREE Fall Semester YEAR THREE Spring Semester
PHY 115 PHY 116
BIO 311 or BIO 320 BIO 318
BIO 340 BIO 270
Major Coursework/PDE Major Coursework/ Gen Ed Electives
YEAR FOUR Fall Semester YEAR FOUR Spring Semester
Major Coursework Major Coursework
Gen Ed Electives/PDE Gen Ed Electives
BUS 106 BIO 341


* This plan presumes a minimum SAT score of 600 MAT/CR, entering as a first year traditional student

Four Year Timeline

First Year  
  • Discuss with first year seminar advisor the courses to be taken during the first year. 
  • Attend meeting with pre-Vet advisor to obtain needed materials and ask questions
  • Make draft of coursework and internship plans for next four years
Second Year
  • FALL: Inquire about internship opportunities with local veterinarian
  • Volunteer with or join on- or off-campus organizations 
  • SPRING: Research requirements and deadlines for veterinary schools
  • Inquire about summer internship or begin work with local veterinarians

Third Year
  • FALL: Begin GRE prep or enroll in prep course (if unable to do so in spring)
  • Engage in PDE 
  • SPRING: Continue GRE prep 
  • Take GRE 
  • Contact potential references for letters of recommendation
  • Obtain application from vet dchools (usually in May or June); most schools use the VMCAS. This site also has many helpful resources.
  • SUMMER: Begin application, work on essays. 
  • Continue internship or other animal-related work

Fourth Year
  • FALL: Submit ApplicationVet school deadlines for application are in early September, so all required courses should be taken before this date (or should be in the process of taking last ones). GRE scores must have been sent to schools, along with all application materials, reference letters, fees etc. APPLY WELL IN ADVANCE OF THE DEADLINE.
  • Prepare for interviews (Wesleyan's Center for Career Development can assist with this)
  • Finish Strong



Evaluation Criteria

Please note that as mentioned above, vet schools differ in their criteria and in the weight given to each of the following. Make sure that you are familiar with the criteria used by the vet school to which you are applying. The following is a general consensus of what most schools are using to evaluate applicants, listed in the order of importance.

  • GPA, science GPA
  • Test Scores (GRE)
  • Animal veterinary experience
  • Personal interview/ References
  • Essay
  • Extracurricular activities



Additional Resources for Pre-Veterinary Students

The resources below are helpful for students preparing for a career in veterinary medicine. Wesleyan's Center for Career Development can help students with deciding if this path fits them, as well as with strategic career planning, creating resumes/CVs, writing personal statements, and more.

  • Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges: This professional association for those in the veterinary medicine profession also houses the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS), through which students submit most of their vet school applications. It has resources for preparing for vet school, webinars discussing the application process, application FAQs, and more. It also has a master list of the undergraduate prerequisites you’ll need to have for each AAVMC member vet school.
  • ExploreHealthCareers.Org: This site is designed to help students begin their journey towards a career in the health professions. It provides exploration tools and career information on fields including dentistry, medicine, allied health, veterinary medicine, and more.
  • American Veterinary Medical Association: Professional organization for the veterinary profession. Also provides comprehensive career resources for current vet students at My Veterinary Life.


Gaining Relevant Experience as a Pre-Vet Student

It’s important to gain experience with a variety of types of animals and in many different settings, and to keep track of all your experience so you can include it on your resume when you apply to vet school. Many veterinary schools require a specific number of hours of experience both caring for animals, as well as working under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. Check individual school websites for details. You may want to create an Excel spreadsheet where you keep track of all the requirements for each school you plan to apply to. Relevant animal care experiences include 4-H involvement, work on farms, volunteering at humane societies, jobs at zoos, kennel work, etc. The Center for Career Development can help you prepare a resume and practice your professional introduction as you get ready to contact organizations about shadowing, volunteer, or internship opportunities.

  • Animal Behavior Institute: List of animal-related internships.
  • Purdue University: Summer research fellowships for undergraduate students, designed to give students the opportunity to work on independent research projects with a faculty mentor and explore non-practice careers.
  • List of internship/research opportunities (courtesy of Rochester Institute of Technology): This site is updated yearly and lists co-op/internships and summer research opportunities that are relevant to pre-vet students.



Local/Statewide Opportunities

  • Contact local vets or equine therapy organizations to inquire about shadowing, volunteering, internships, kennel assistant positions, or vet tech positions. Several former students have done internships at Northside Wesleyan Animal Hospital and Beyond Limits Therapeutic Riding (contact information on Purple Briefcase).
  • Shadow the vet who comes to Wesleyan to care for the horses. Contact head coach Catherine Baker to inquire.
  • Zoo Atlanta offers an excellent internship program. Applications for summer are due in early spring, so apply early
  • Work at a summer camp with both kids and animals, such as 4-H camps or a horse camp. Many summer camps also post positions on Purple Briefcase.
  • Explore internships with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources by contacting the internship coordinator. As of 2019, the internship coordinator is Michael Sellers (770-761-3010). However, make sure to check the Georgia DNR website and click on Internship Opportunities at the bottom to see the most up-to-date contact person.
  • Contact your home vet to ask about volunteering or internships. Often, vets that you already know are more likely to agree to host you as an intern.
  • Volunteer for a local animal shelter, such as Kitty City, Heart of Georgia Humane Society, or Macon-Bibb County Animal Control Shelter (current contact information available online or on GivePulse).


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