What do Veterinary School Admissions Committees Look for in an Applicant?
Can the student handle the academic rigors of veterinary school?
Why does the student want to be a doctor? Do they want to be in the profession for the “right” reasons and know the dedication the career entails?
Do they have a diverse set of skills necessary to be a doctor?
How does Penn State Behrend help the student succeed?
The Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine, D.V.M. programs have very high expectations of the candidates’ undergraduate preparation.
No veterinary school specifies an undergraduate major. “Pre-vet” majors at other institutions are repackaged biology degrees. All veterinary school programs require a specified set of pre-requisite coursework that we offer at Penn State Behrend. Due to the advanced biology requirement at many veterinary schools, a biology or biology related major is often pursued. Prerequisite courses for most veterinary programs include:
- General Biology: BIOL 110 and BIOL 240W
- Microbiology: BIOL 230W
- General Chemistry: CHEM 110/112
- General Chemistry Laboratory: CHEM 111/113
- Organic Chemistry: CHEM 210/212
- Organic Chemistry Laboratory: CHEM 213
- Biochemistry: CHEM 472 and B M B 402
- Anatomy BIOL 421
- Physiology BIOL 472
- Physics: PHYS 250/251
- Calculus: MATH 140/141
- Statistics: STAT 250 (MCAT 2015 requirement)
- Psychology: PSYCH 100
- English (3 -6 credits): ENGL 15, 202C
Although not required, many in the veterinary profession run their own practices. Business courses (3-6 credits) are strongly encouraged!
Our Pre-Health Option of our Bachelor of Science degree in Biology covers all of these pre-requisites. However other biology, chemistry and physics degree programs can easily be customized to meet these requirements. At Penn State Behrend, you will have a dedicated, personal Pre-Health Advisor who will guide you through the process!
The more rigorous the academic preparation in the sciences, the more prepared students are for advanced coursework in a veterinary school program. The student must demonstrate a consistent and high GPA as well as perform well on the MCAT.
A strong candidate for veterinary school:
Applies to 4-7 schools with a mean GPA >3.6 and a minimum GRE score (where required) of 80th percentile or better. The candidate also has 500+ hours of shadowing or work experience in a veterinary setting.
The minimum GPA considered on average is 3.3.
Shadowing and Volunteering
It is vital to have veterinary related experiences for your application. Work or volunteer in places such as a veterinary clinic, farm, zoo, wildlife park, aquarium or animal shelter. Keep a record of the time you spend in each veterinary-related experience and keep a journal about type of knowledge you gained from it. Working with a veterinarian directly will also help you decide if the career is right for you. Make sure at least one letter of recommendation is from a D.V.M. who you observed/worked with.
Opportunities for Leadership and Scholarship
- To determine if the candidate has a diverse set of skills necessary to be a veterinarian they look for evidence of leadership, involvement in professional organizations and participation in scholarly activities like research. Penn State Behrend is one of the few schools that combine the small class size of a liberal arts college with the research facilities of a larger university. You will have opportunities to conduct research with a faculty mentor who is an active researcher in his or her field of expertise. Many of our students who participate in undergraduate research present their work at local and national conferences.
- Our campus has a vibrant and diverse set of student organizations that offer leadership opportunities. We have the Scrub’s Club and the Behrend Chapter of the American Veterinary Students Association for students interested in health degrees. These and our other clubs and organizations organize and participate in many philanthropic activities that you can become involved in.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has a section dedicated to prospective veterinarians. This and other helpful links include:
Pre-Health Advisor for Veterinary: Beth Potter, Behrend Pre-Health
Coordinator of Pre-Health Advising: Michael W. Justik, Behrend Pre-Health