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Pre-Veterinary Medicine.

Pre-Professional Advising

Advising to Meet Vet School Requirements

prepare to employ your (com)passion for animals with a career in veterinary medicine

There are no “Pre-Vet” majors at colleges and universities. However, veterinary medical schools require that you complete the prerequisite coursework for admission. Because much of the required coursework is in the sciences, most Pre-Vet students at Catawba College select Biology, Biochemistry, or Chemistry as their majors. As long as the required prerequisite courses are taken, any major can be pursued. Be sure to check each of your prospective veterinary program's prerequisite course requirements, as they can vary from institution to institution.

You should let your academic advisor know as soon as possible that admission to vet school is your post-graduation goal. Your advisor will work with you to ensure that you take the required prerequisite coursework, complete the required hours of clinical experience if necessary,  and mentor you towards research experiences that will broaden your training and make your application stand out. 

setting admission goals for vet school

Admission to veterinary medicine school is highly competitive. It typically takes four years to earn the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree, often followed by residencies or fellowships to gain experience in specialty fields. The average GPA of the admitted class at most veterinary medical schools is between 3.6 and 3.7 (with a 3.2-4.0 range).  The average score on the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Verbal is 156 (142-168 range), GRE Quantitative is 154 (142-166 range), and 4.0 (2.5-5.5 range) on the Analytical Writing section. Catawba College out-of-state students should expect to need a higher GPA and GRE, as state veterinary schools' preference for admission is often given to in-state students.

We highly recommend that students planning to attend vet school call the admissions offices at the institutions at which they wish to apply and ask for the average GPA and GRE scores for their most recent admitted class. Those GPA and GRE scores should be the goal!

experiences that will help you get into vet school

While it is important to have good GPA and GRE scores, vet schools want to know that they are admitting well-rounded individuals that are academically curious and mature and have the ability to work with animals. There are many experiences that students can have while at Catawba College to demonstrate their commitment in these areas:

Catawba College Student Caring for a Horse
Clinical Experience.

Catawba students can get some of the best clinical experience by shadowing a veterinarian, or completing a veterinary medicine internship at a clinic, farm, or zoo. We recommend students seek out opportunities to work with a variety of animals as early and often as possible, keeping an accurate and detailed journal of your experiences including dates, locations, contact information, and if it was paid or volunteer-based. The number of hours, type of animals involved, and a synopsis of the activities should also be recorded. A goal of 400-600 hours of pre-professional veterinary medical experience is recommended in multiple areas such as small and large animals, exotics, and emergency care.

Catawba College Student Interning

Students at Catawba College have the option of doing an Independent Study with a faculty member. Speak to your advisor about applying for summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) through the National Science Foundation (NSF) and internships at the North Carolina Research Campus.

Catawba Student working with a bird of prey
Working with Animals.

Get a menagerie of experiences working with animals by volunteering at a raptor center, wildlife preserve, zoo, animal shelter or rescue center. Get a job working at a zoo, aquarium, or pet store. These activities help fulfill the recommended 100 hours of "animal experience" required for admission to most vet schools. Unfortunately, pet ownership does not count toward this category!

Catawba College Student Interning

Network and make connections with professionals that can write good letters of recommendation. Most programs require three letters, two of which should be from veterinarians or scientists that can comment on your specific abilities and personal qualities that would make you an excellent veterinarian. Your goal should be to have at least one practicing veterinarian write a letter of strong recommendation on your behalf.

Catawba Student Interning at dog center
Summer Enrichment Programs.

Some veterinary medical schools provide opportunities for prospective students to do coursework, shadow veterinarians, and do research on their campus. Most even provide you housing and pay a stipend!  Additionally, it looks great on your vet school application.

Leadership Experience.

Get leadership experience by becoming an active participant in one or more of the many clubs and organizations at Catawba College.

resources for Veterinary Medicine

related bachelor degree programs


The Preparation You Need.



Most veterinary schools use the following as selection criteria for admission:

    • Completion of Prerequisite Coursework
    • Overall GPA and GPA of Required Courses
    • Score on the GRE 
    • Experience in a Veterinary Medical Setting and in Research (400 hours minimum)
    • Experience Working with Animals (100 hours)
    • Community Service and Leadership
    • Personal Statement
    • Letter of Recommendation
    • Application through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS)
    • Interview


Ideally, Catawba College students planning to attend vet school should take the GRE in the spring semester of their junior year. However, students can take it in the fall semester (August or September) of their senior year.

Many practices tests are available online and at bookstores.
Try a GRE preparation test, such as those offered by Kaplan. They are expensive but tend to result in higher scores.
Prepare for the GRE, but also be sure to relax the day you take your exam. If you have a positive mental attitude while taking the test, you can often do better on the test!


Vet school was a completely different level - I had to study a lot more, but I do feel like I was well-prepared. I got a lot of hands-on experience at Catawba. I had learned really good study habits, knew how to study and where to find information and that was what I needed at NCSU to move up in a different academic level.  

"I graduated from vet school with honors. There were quite a few people in my class who went to bigger institutions who didn’t graduate with honors, and I think that speaks to the education I was able to receive at Catawba."

Olivia Myers '14
Biology Major with Chemistry and Environmental Science Minors; Member of the Cross Country and Tennis Teams; Earned her D.V.M. from NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine (Food Animal Medicine focus) 

Pre-Health Advisory Committee 

The Pre-Health Advisory Committee at Catawba College provides advisement on preparing for admission to veterinary medical school. These faculty advisors also write "Committee Letters" of recommendation and offer students mock interviews to help practice for the real thing. We are here to help you!


Prerequisite Courses for Admission to Vet School
Prerequisite Courses for Admission to Vet School

NOTE: The exact prerequisite courses vary from one Veterinary Medical School to the next. You should always refer to the admission requirements for the vet school to which you are interested in applying, and follow those guidelines.

  • One semesters of Academic Writing
  • One semester of Public Speaking or Interpersonal Communications
  • Two semester of Biology
  • Two semesters of General Chemistry
  • Two semesters of Organic Chemistry
  • Two semesters of Physics
  • Two semesters of Math (including Calculus and Statistics)
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology
  • Animal Nutrition*
  • 1-3 semesters of PSYCH, SOC, or humanities

*Animal Nutrition can be taken as an online course through NC State University.