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Schools for Aspiring Horse Veterinarians: How to Choose

Veterinary medicine programs teach students about the application of medical treatment to animal science. Students learn about animal anatomy and physiology, as well as how to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases in animals.

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Veterinary medicine programs are advanced degree programs found at 4-year colleges and universities. Most vet schools offer a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree program.

Top 10 Veterinary Medicine Schools

These are the ten best veterinary medicine schools in the country, according to the 2016 rankings of U.S. News and World Report:

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition (In-state, 2015-2016)*
University of California - Davis Davis, CA 4-year, Public $31,324
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private $16,866
Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 4-year, Public $57,766
North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC 4-year, Public $18,516
Ohio State University Columbus, OH 4-year, Public $31,148
University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI 4-year, Public $22,762
Texas A&M University - College Station College Station, TX 4-year, Public $22,224
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private $51,384
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN 4-year, Public $31,420
Tufts University Medford, MA 4-year, Private $47,010

Source: *School websites

School Selection Criteria

Students choosing a horse veterinarian program may want to keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Aspiring horse veterinarians will want to ensure that any prospective programs offer specialized classes related to horses such as equine surgery, equine podiatry or equine ophthalmology.
  • Take a look at the broader curriculum of the veterinary program to make sure that it fulfills your educational interests. For instance, it can be helpful to take courses such as parasitology, pharmacology, anatomy and diagnostic imaging.
  • Find out about residency and internship options. You may find clinical or research-oriented options, depending on your area of interest.

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree Program

This degree is often a prerequisite for other programs and internships. The DVM degree program generally lasts four years and may offer specialties in equine health or large animal medicine. Students examine topics applicable to any veterinary practice.

Master of Science in Veterinary Medicine

A master's degree program focuses on giving students a background in research while preparing them for clinical practice. Aspiring horse veterinarians will take the majority of their classes in equine science and surgery, but they may rotate among different departments such as neurology, cardiology and radiology. Master's programs are often combined with internships or residencies. Students may be required to write a thesis or assume teaching responsibilities.

Internship or Residency in Equine Medicine

These non-degree programs are usually yearlong appointments in university clinics and may not require formal coursework. Internships or residencies can be combined with a master's or Ph.D. degree program. Residents may be required to have (or be working toward) a DVM degree. During their residencies, students of equine medicine focus almost exclusively on their field.

Ph.D. in Veterinary Medicine

Often completed along with a residency or master's degree program, the Ph.D. prepares students for research and teaching in the field of equine medicine. Ph.D. candidates research specific topics, diseases and conditions in the large animal clinical sciences, and they are usually required to present publications during their program. A dissertation and teaching requirements are other components of the Ph.D. program.

Students who want to become horse veterinarians can maximize their chances for career success by choosing a highly respected veterinary school that offers a range of academic opportunities in equine studies.

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