Students who have completed at least three years of a bachelor's degree program in any field can apply to veterinary school, provided that they have completed required coursework in math, biology, chemistry and anatomy. Those without this science background can enter a non-degree-granting, pre-veterinary program to fulfill the prerequisites.
Here is an outline of common concepts taught in pre-veterinary courses:
- Vertebrate anatomy and physiology
- Chemical systems in living organisms
- Immunology and pathology
- Data analysis
- Cellular structures and functions
- Inheritance and genetic expression
List of Courses
Animal Anatomy Course
A pre-veterinary animal anatomy course covers the physiology of common domestic animals, such as dogs, cats, rodents and birds. Students learn about skeletal structure and organ systems. The anatomical effects of various injuries and diseases are often covered. Students come away from class with an understanding of how broken bones or organ failures affect animals' bodies.
Biochemistry explores the chemical composition of living creatures. In a biochemistry course, pre-veterinary students learn about the proteins, carbohydrates and cellular components that enable animal life. They study cell metabolism and the workings of the endocrine system. A thorough understanding of biochemistry is a crucial prerequisite to the study of treatments and medications that cure endocrine disorders or other illnesses in animals.
Microbiology courses deal with single-celled organisms, bacteria and viruses. They cover the properties of microscopic creatures and their interactions with large-scale organisms. Pre-veterinary students learn about animal immune responses to various pathogens.
A statistics course introduces mathematical strategies for analyzing data. It is concerned with data collection, probability, statistical modeling and inference. Students learn to design statistically sound experiments and to draw valid conclusions based on the data they acquire. Solid statistical knowledge forms the basis for much work in the sciences, including those disciplines with particular relevance to veterinary science.
Cellular Biology Course
Cellular biology deals with the structure and function of the components of living cells. Students learn about cellular reproduction, cellular metabolism and cellular responses to illness and injury. Aspiring veterinarians can apply their knowledge of cellular biology to the treatment of cancer, illness and injury in pets.
A course on genetics looks at how characteristics of various organisms are inherited from parent organisms and expressed according to environmental conditions. Students learn about Mendelian and classical theories of genetic inheritance. They study DNA, RNA, proteins and chromosomes. Pre-veterinary students develop a basis for understanding how the characteristics of various animals and certain disorders they may suffer from relate to their genetic heritage.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects jobs for veterinarians to see 18% growth, which is much faster than average, between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). As of May 2019, the median salary for veterinarians was $95,460.