Doctor of Veterinary Science Degree Program Information

Oct 12, 2019

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) programs prepare students for careers as veterinarians. Students in DVM programs participate in numerous labs, lectures and a year of clinical rotations in order to understand the biology of small and large animals.

Essential Information

DVM programs are highly selective and typically take four years to complete. While a bachelor's degree isn't necessary for admission, applicants need at least two to three years of undergraduate credits, with courses including algebra, biochemistry, biology and organic chemistry. Students will likely also need VCAT, MCAT or GRE scores, and 500 hours of relevant work experience.

In addition to standard courses and lab work, some veterinary colleges offer elective programs for students who wish to focus on a particular animal sub-group, such as food animals or hybrid species. Graduates of DVM programs are typically prepared for state licensure as veterinarians. With additional education, they can also earn certification in specialty areas of practice.

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)

Veterinary students learn through lectures, case studies and labs during their first three years, and in their final year, they complete clinical rotations. Students interested in pursuing research opportunities often complete a thesis. Topics of study throughout a veterinary science doctoral program include:

  • Animal behavior and nutrition
  • Parasites and diseases that affect animals
  • Veterinary pharmacology and anesthesiology
  • Animal tissues and cellular structures
  • Animal musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, and heart and lung systems

Employment Options and Salary Information

As of 2018, U.S. veterinarians averaged $105,240 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Between the years of 2018 and 2028, overall employment of veterinarians was predicted to increase 18%, which is faster than average.

Continuing Education Information

After graduation and completing additional licensing requirements, veterinarians are able to practice. Many pursue a yearlong postdoctoral internship to gain additional hands on experience. Veterinarians interested in earning specialized certification through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners ( must complete three to four years of postdoctoral training, adhere to residency training requirements, and pass a certification exam. Continuing education is required to maintain certification and licensure.

Doctor of Veterinary Science programs allow prospective veterinarians to fulfill essential laboratory and clinical work, in compliance with state licensure requirements. Many programs allow students to pursue specialized coursework, focusing on specific aspects of veterinary medicine. The career outlook for vets is good, with above-average salaries and faster-than-average employment growth.

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