The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

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Updated December 2, 2022

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Veterinarians care for animals of all sizes, from mice and hedgehogs to horses and cows. But most specialize in helping cats and dogs. If you're an animal lover, you've probably considered becoming a vet. But what's veterinarian school like, and how can you become a vet?

Before you apply to veterinary schools, it's important to do your research. Our guide to the top vet schools in the U.S. can help you make an informed choice for your future.

Why Attend One of the Best Vet Schools in the U.S.?

  • Top veterinary schools provide the high-quality education you need to succeed as a vet.
  • You'll enter an in-demand field with six-figure median salaries!
  • Doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) students can benefit from mentorship and networking opportunities.
  • Attending a good veterinarian school prepares you for the NAVLE exam and licensure.
  • You'll benefit from the program's clinical opportunities and alumni network.
  • Graduates from the best vet schools in the U.S. pursue board certification in high-demand specialties.

Did You Know?



Explore Our Featured Healthcare Programs

How Important Is Accreditation for Veterinary Schools?

Accreditation is extremely important for veterinary schools, as it demonstrates that a school or program meets certain standards of academic quality.

If you attend a veterinary school that isn't accredited, you may not qualify for licensure in your state. Employers may also refuse to hire you.

Top veterinary schools hold institutional accreditation. Quality DVM programs also hold programmatic accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education.

20 Top Veterinary Schools and Programs

Read About Our Methodology Here

#1 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

University of Pennsylvania

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Pennsylvania provides a variety of programs suitable for in-person and online study. The private college offers 93 bachelor's programs and 141 master's programs. Students seeking remote study can choose from one of one online bachelor's degree and three online master's degrees.

Whether in person or online, enrollees benefit from a rigorous curriculum, engaged faculty, and experiential learning opportunities. Degree-seekers complete industry-specific and general coursework, gaining skills and knowledge needed to succeed. Enrollees can pursue additional learning opportunities, such as internships and externships.

Throughout their studies, learners benefit from career services, academic advising, and other institutional resources. The financial aid office connects students with funding opportunities and can help prospective enrollees determine their eligibility for financial aid. The college notes that approximately 59% of all incoming students receive financial aid. Out of all applicants, 8% are admitted to the college.

Average Tuition
In-state
$51,156
Out-of-state
$51,156
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
8%
Students Enrolled
26,675
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#2 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

Cornell University

  • Ithaca, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University offers a variety of college-level programs to diverse learners. The private college offers 97 bachelor's degrees and 119 master's degrees. 

All students benefit from a rigorous core curriculum, skilled faculty, and supportive learning environments. Degree-seekers complete coursework that covers foundational and advanced topics relevant to their field. Students can further their learning through research projects, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities.

Students benefit from institutional resources throughout their studies. Learners can meet with the financial aid office to explore funding opportunities, such as scholarships and fellowships. Around 62% of all enrollees benefit from financial aid. Of all its applicants, 11% receive admittance.

Average Tuition
In-state
$56,550
Out-of-state
$56,550
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
24,027
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

Purdue University-Main Campus

  • West Lafayette, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Indiana, Purdue University-Main Campus offers premier programs to students from all walks of life. The public college offers 145 bachelor's degrees and 81 master's degrees. For students seeking remote study, the college offers 20 online master's programs.

Students benefit from skilled faculty and a supportive learning community, whether in person or online. Enrollees complete advanced and general coursework, gaining skills and knowledge relevant to their field of study. To further their learning, degree-seekers can pursue internships, collaborate on faculty-driven research projects, and explore other learning opportunities.

Enrollees can access numerous institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising. To learn more about funding opportunities for education, students can meet with the financial aid office. Given the generosity of the college, 65% of all admitted students receive financial aid. Institutional support contributes to the college's 82% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,208
Out-of-state
$28,010
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
60%
Students Enrolled
45,500
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

Tufts University

  • Medford, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students looking to earn a flexible degree should consider an education through Tufts University. Degree-seekers benefit from rigorous coursework, skilled faculty, and a supportive learning community. Once enrolled, students complete foundational and advanced coursework relevant to their field. Enrollees can supplement their learning through experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and research projects.

Learners can connect with career services, academic advising, and other offices to receive support and guidance throughout their studies. Degree-seekers can meet with a financial aid counselor to determine their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. According to the institution, 45% of all incoming students receive financial aid. The college reports a 15% admission rate and a 94% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,324
Out-of-state
$57,324
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
15%
Students Enrolled
11,878
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#5 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Madison, WI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students seeking flexible hybrid study should consider enrolling at University of Wisconsin-Madison. The public institution provides 128 bachelor's degrees and 147 master's degrees. Learners seeking remote study can choose from one online bachelor's program and three online master's programs.

These learning modalities enable students to learn at their own pace. While enrolled, students complete industry-specific and general coursework, gaining skills and knowledge needed to succeed. Degree candidates can pursue additional learning opportunities, such as faculty-driven research projects and internships.

While enrolled, students can access numerous institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising. Prospective students seeking to fund their studies can meet with the financial aid office to explore scholarships, fellowships, and other aid. Of those admitted to the college, 61% receive financial aid. Of all applicants, 54% receive admittance to the college.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,273
Out-of-state
$36,333
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
44,257
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

University of Georgia

  • Athens, GA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Georgia provides numerous educational opportunities from its main campus in Athens. The college boasts 129 bachelor's programs and 116 master's programs. Students seeking remote study can choose from one of two online bachelor's programs and 16 online master's programs.

These learning modalities enable degree candidates to learn at their own pace. Enrollees complete foundational classes and subject-specific coursework throughout their studies. Degree-seekers can further their learning through experiential learning opportunities, such as internships.

The college connects students with numerous institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising. Prospective applicants can meet with a financial aid counselor to explore funding opportunities. According to the institution, 97% of all incoming enrollees receive financial aid. Out of all applicants, 45% are admitted to the college.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,790
Out-of-state
$28,830
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
45%
Students Enrolled
38,920
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#7 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

  • Raleigh, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

North Carolina State University at Raleigh provides numerous educational opportunities from its main campus in Raleigh. Undergraduate students can enroll in one remote bachelor's program or opt for in-person study across 90 programs. The institution also offers 38 online master's programs.

Degree-seekers across modalities benefit from robust coursework, skilled faculty, and flexible study options. While enrolled, students complete foundational and advanced coursework in their subject area. Enrollees can pursue additional learning opportunities, such as internships and externships.

Learners can access numerous institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising. The financial aid office can connect students with funding opportunities. According to the institution, 68% of all incoming students receive financial aid. The college admits 45% of all applicants and boasts an 82% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,535
Out-of-state
$26,654
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
45%
Students Enrolled
36,304
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

University of Florida

  • Gainesville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Florida supports in-person and online programs from its main campus in Gainesville. The public institution provides 102 bachelor's degrees and 126 master's degrees. Remote learners can choose from 19 online bachelor's programs and 42 online master's programs.

Whether in person or online, enrollees benefit from a rigorous curriculum, engaged faculty, and experiential learning opportunities. Degree-seekers complete foundational classes and subject-specific coursework. Students can further their learning through research projects, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities.

Learners can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, throughout their studies. Degree candidates can meet with a financial aid counselor to determine their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. Of all enrollees, 92% receive internal and external funding awards. Of all applicants, 37% receive admittance to the college.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,477
Out-of-state
$25,694
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
37%
Students Enrolled
52,407
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

University of Maryland-College Park

  • College Park, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students seeking flexible hybrid study should consider enrolling at University of Maryland-College Park. The public college offers 148 bachelor's programs and 132 master's  programs. Enrollees continuing their education can select from 132 master's degrees, three of which are fully remote.

Whether in person or online, learners benefit from a rigorous curriculum, engaged faculty, and experiential learning opportunities. Degree candidates complete industry-specific and general coursework, gaining skills and knowledge needed to succeed. Participants can explore collaborative opportunities throughout the duration of their program, including faculty-led research projects, internships, and professional activities.

While enrolled, students can access numerous institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising. Students can meet with a financial aid counselor to determine their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. Given the generosity of the college, 66% of all admitted students receive financial aid awards. The institution reports an 87% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,824
Out-of-state
$34,936
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
44%
Students Enrolled
40,743
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#10 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

  • Minneapolis, MN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Minneapolis, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities provides premier study opportunities to students through its hybrid programs. Undergraduate students can pursue 135 programs while advanced students can enroll in one of 171 master's programs.

Every student benefits from a supportive learning community, complete with skilled faculty and industry-relevant coursework. Enrollees complete advanced and general coursework, gaining skills and knowledge relevant to their field of study. Degree candidates can pursue additional learning opportunities, such as internships and externships.

Students can access career services, academic advising, and other resources throughout their program. Prospective applicants can speak with the financial aid office to determine scholarship eligibility. The college offers a variety of financial aid awards, with 81% of all enrollees receiving aid. The institution reports an 83% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,318
Out-of-state
$31,616
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
57%
Students Enrolled
51,327
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#11 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

Michigan State University

  • East Lansing, MI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Michigan State University offers exceptional programs for learners from all walks of life. The school supports 119 bachelor’s degrees and 126 master’s degrees from its main campus in East Lansing. 

Across modalities, students benefit from rigorous coursework, premier faculty, and industry-specific learning opportunities. Degree-seekers complete foundational and advanced coursework throughout their studies. To further their learning, students can pursue internships, collaborate on faculty-driven research projects, and explore other learning opportunities.

Degree-seekers benefit from career services, academic advising, and other institutional resources. Students can learn more about scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities that can be applied to their education through the financial aid office. Out of all incoming students, 70% receive financial aid. Of all applicants, 71% receive admittance to the college.

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,555
Out-of-state
$40,384
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
71%
Students Enrolled
49,809
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
26% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#12 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

  • Blacksburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is a Blacksburg-based institution providing college-level degrees to learners near and far. This public college supports 73 bachelor's degree and 69 master's degrees. 

Online and on-campus learning modalities enable students to learn at their own pace. Degree-seekers complete foundational and advanced coursework throughout their studies. Enrollees can pursue internships, research projects, and other learning opportunities.

Students benefit from institutional resources, including career services and academic advising. To learn more about funding opportunities for education, learners can meet with the financial aid office. Of those admitted to the college, 65% receive financial aid awards. Of all its applicants, 70% receive admittance.

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,420
Out-of-state
$29,960
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
70%
Students Enrolled
36,383
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#13 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

Washington State University

  • Pullman, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Pullman, Washington State University offers premier programs to students from all walks of life. The school supports 151 bachelor’s degrees and 106 master’s degrees. Graduate students can enroll in one of 106 master's programs, 12 of which are fully remote.

Students in either degree modality benefit from rigorous coursework, skilled faculty, and a supportive learning community. Once enrolled, students complete foundational and advanced coursework relevant to their field. Learners can collaborate with faculty on research projects, pursue internships, and explore other experiential learning opportunities.

Throughout their studies, students can access institutional resources and receive academic and professional guidance. To learn more about funding opportunities for education, students can meet with the financial aid office. Typically, 89% of all admitted degree-seekers receive financial aid. Of all enrollees, 60% graduate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,953
Out-of-state
$24,531
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
31,607
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
21% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#14 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

Otterbein University

  • Westerville, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A leader in hybrid education, Otterbein University supports in-person and online learning opportunities from its main campus in Westerville, Ohio. Undergraduate students can opt for in-person study across 85 programs. 

Degree-seekers benefit from rigorous coursework, premier faculty, and industry-specific learning opportunities. Enrollees complete foundational and advanced coursework as part of their program curriculum. Degree candidates can further their learning through experiential learning opportunities, such as internships.

Students can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising. Prospective applicants can meet with a financial aid counselor to explore funding opportunities. The college discloses that 100% of all incoming students receive some form of financial aid. Of all its applicants, 80% receive admittance.

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,024
Out-of-state
$32,024
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
2,853
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
7% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#15 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

University of Kentucky

  • Lexington, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students looking to earn a flexible degree should consider an education through University of Kentucky. The public institution provides 105 bachelor's degrees and 108 master's degrees. Learners seeking remote study can explore four online bachelor's programs and nine online master's programs.

Students in either modality benefit from rigorous coursework, skilled faculty, and a supportive learning community. Enrollees complete foundational classes and subject-specific coursework throughout their studies. Participants can explore collaborative opportunities throughout the duration of their program, including faculty-led research projects, internships, and professional activities.

Degree candidates can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising. Students can meet with the financial aid office to explore funding opportunities, such as scholarships and fellowships. According to the institution, 94% of all incoming students receive financial aid. The college reports a 96% admission rate, and a 66% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,011
Out-of-state
$29,331
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
96%
Students Enrolled
29,402
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#16 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

University of Idaho

  • Moscow, ID
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Moscow, University of Idaho offers exceptional programs for learners from all walks of life. Presently, the college supports 138 bachelor's degrees, with four options providing remote study. Learners can also choose from seven online master's programs.

Every student benefits from a supportive learning community, complete with skilled faculty and industry-relevant coursework. Degree-seekers complete coursework that covers foundational and advanced topics relevant to their field. To further their learning, enrollees can pursue internships, collaborate on faculty-driven research projects, and explore other learning opportunities.

The college connects students with numerous institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising. The financial aid office connects learners with funding opportunities and can help prospective enrollees determine their eligibility for financial aid. Typically, 96% of all admitted students receive financial aid. Out of all applicants, 78% are admitted to the college.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,182
Out-of-state
$25,418
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
11,926
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#17 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

Ohio State University-Main Campus

  • Columbus, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Columbus, Ohio State University-Main Campus provides premier study opportunities to students through its hybrid  programs. Learners can choose from 155 bachelor's programs and 119 master's programs. For distance learners, the college offers two online bachelor's degrees and 12 online master's degrees.

These learning modalities enable degree-seekers to learn at their own pace. Enrollees complete foundational and advanced coursework in their subject area. To further their learning, students can pursue internships, collaborate on faculty-driven research projects, and explore other learning opportunities.

Degree candidates can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, throughout their studies. Prospective applicants can meet with an financial aid counselor to explore funding opportunities for their education. Typically, 79% of all admitted students receive financial aid. Of all enrollees, 86% graduate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,197
Out-of-state
$31,174
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
61,391
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#18 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Champaign, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a public institution, provides a variety of programs suitable for in-person and online study. To date, the college offers 135 bachelor's degrees and 131 master's degrees. Learners can also pursue remote study, choosing from one online bachelor's degree and 30 online master's degrees.

Enrollees in both modalities connect with premier faculty and gain skills and knowledge from industry-relevant coursework. Degree-seekers complete foundational and advanced coursework throughout their studies. To further their learning, students can pursue internships, collaborate on faculty-driven research projects, and explore other learning opportunities.

Learners benefit from institutional resources including career services and academic advising. Prospective applicants can meet with the financial aid office to explore funding opportunities and determine eligibility. Around 64% of all enrollees benefit from financial aid. Of all enrollees, 85% graduate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$14,188
Out-of-state
$33,127
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
59%
Students Enrolled
51,605
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#19 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

University of California, Davis

  • Davis, CA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

University of California, Davis is public school supporting in-person and online programs. To date, the college offers 118 bachelor's degrees and 104 master's degrees. 

Students benefit from skilled faculty and a supportive learning community, whether in person or online. Degree-seekers complete foundational and advanced coursework throughout their studies. Students can further their learning through research projects, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities.

The college connects degree candidates with numerous institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising. Prospective applicants can meet with an financial aid counselor to explore funding opportunities. The institution discloses that 66% of all enrollees receive some form of financial aid. Institutional support contributes to the college's 87% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Retention Rate
92%
Admission Rate
39%
Students Enrolled
38,634
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#20 The 20 Best Veterinary Schools for Animal Lovers

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  • Lincoln, NE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students seeking flexible hybrid study should consider enrolling at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Presently, the college supports 149 bachelor's programs, with one option providing remote study. The school also offers 11 online master's programs.

These learning modalities enable students to learn at their own pace. Once enrolled, degree-seekers complete foundational and advanced coursework relevant to their field. Enrollees can supplement their learning through experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and research projects.

Degree-seekers benefit from career services, academic advising, and other institutional resources. Students can learn more about scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities that can be applied to their education through the financial aid office. The college notes that approximately 91% of all incoming students receive financial aid. The college admits 78% of all applicants and boasts a 66% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,560
Out-of-state
$24,000
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
25,390
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

How Much Do Veterinarian Schools Cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, DVM students paid an average of $32,000 in tuition and fees in 2016. This cost does not take into account additional expenses like textbooks, lab fees, and housing.

DVM programs typically last four years, meaning you can expect to pay around $128,000 for your degree.

Fortunately, you can save money on veterinary school by:

  • Filling out the FAFSA each year and seeing whether you qualify for federal aid
  • Applying for institutional and external scholarships
  • Attending an in-state public university and qualifying for in-state tuition

How Much Money Can Graduates of Veterinary Schools Make?

Veterinarians earned a median salary of $100,370 per year in May 2021, according to the BLS. The lowest-paid veterinarians earned around $61,000, while the highest-paid veterinarians made over $165,000.

Salaries vary depending on location, experience, and work environment. For example, vets working at hospitals typically report higher salaries than those working at colleges.

Specialty can also influence salaries.

Where you live affects your earning potential as a vet. The highest-paying states for veterinarians include Connecticut, New York, California, and Arizona.

Median Annual Salary of Veterinarians by State, May 2021

State

Source: BLS

How to Become a Veterinarian: 7-Step Guide

Interested in becoming a veterinarian? The process starts with earning a bachelor's degree. Our guide walks through the seven steps you must take to become a veterinarian.

Step 1: Earn Your Bachelor's Degree

You'll need a bachelor's degree to get into vet schools. But what's the best major to prepare for DVM programs?

Many future vets major in biology, zoology, or animal sciences.

As a bonus, these majors also meet the prerequisites for many DVM programs. Common prerequisites include biology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physics.

Alternatively, you can major in the social sciences or humanities since veterinarians need strong critical thinking and communication skills. You would still have to take the DVM program prerequisites, however.

Whatever major you choose, it's a good idea to check the prerequisite requirements at your top programs.

Step 2: Gain Relevant Experience

Currently, there are 33 accredited veterinary schools in the U.S. If you want to get into top veterinary schools, you'll need to stand out from other applicants. Gaining relevant experience can increase your odds of getting an acceptance letter.

You can gain hands-on experience by working in a veterinary clinic as a vet tech or intern. You can also volunteer with animal programs.

Other great ways to gain experience include shadowing veterinarians, working at a zoo or wildlife organization, and joining a pre-vet club during college.

Step 3: Compare Accredited Veterinary Schools

You'll need to research accredited veterinary schools to find the best fit.

First, compare vet colleges by specialties, cost, and board examination pass rates. Then, learn more about the student experience, the school's placement record, and financial aid opportunities.

Make sure to also check the program's accreditation status. You should only apply to accredited programs.

Once you've identified your top veterinary schools, you'll need to meet the admission requirements. That means you'll need a bachelor's degree. Most vet schools also ask for GRE scores, though some may accept MCAT scores.

In addition to transcripts and test scores, most vet schools ask for a statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. These application materials let you share your reasons for applying to veterinarian schools and your qualifications.

Step 4: Earn Your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

As a vet student, you'll study anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and pathology. Your training will also cover animal behavior, surgical techniques, and animal dentistry.

In addition to coursework, you'll gain hands-on experience during clinical rotations. The clinical training lets you hone your diagnostic treatment, orthopedics, and surgery skills.

Clinical placements also expand your professional network and prepare you for the job market.

During your DVM degree, you can specialize in a specific branch of veterinary medicine. Many veterinary schools offer concentrations in small animal practice, exotic animal medicine, equine practice, and zoological medicine.

Some schools offer tracks focused on laboratory medicine, public health, or clinical research.

Earning your DVM typically takes four years for full-time students, with some vet colleges offering accelerated and part-time enrollment options.

Common Courses in Veterinary Programs

  • Clinical and Professional Communication
  • Companion Animal Behavior
  • Diagnostic Ultrasonography
  • Human-Animal Relationships
  • Immunology
  • Introduction to Veterinary Anatomy
  • Nutrition
  • Pathology
  • Physiology
  • Small Animal Dentistry
  • Small Animal Physical Examination Skills
  • Veterinary Ethics

Step 5: Pass the NAVLE

Before you can practice as a veterinarian, you'll need to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE).

Offered twice a year, the NAVLE consists of 360 multiple-choice questions. The test covers topics like clinical data interpretation, health maintenance, veterinary practice management, veterinary public health, and animal welfare.

You'll have 7.5 hours to complete the exam.

After taking the NAVLE, you'll get a score between 200 and 800. A passing score is 425 or higher. You can retake the NAVLE, but licensing boards may limit the number of retakes to five in a five-year period.

Step 6: Get Licensed

Licensing requirements for veterinarians vary by state. Make sure to visit your state licensing board for details.

Regardless of state, you'll need a DVM degree from an AVMA-accredited program to qualify for licensure.

After passing the NAVLE, you may need to fulfill additional state requirements to get your veterinary license. For example, in Washington, veterinarians must pass the Washington State Jurisprudence Examination.

Step 7: Consider Speciality Training

After becoming a licensed veterinarian, you can complete specialty training. For example, some veterinarians pursue board certification in a specialty like dentistry or dermatology.

Other popular specialties include:

  • Anesthesia and analgesia
  • Emergency and critical care
  • Internal medicine
  • Veterinary nutrition
  • Radiology
  • Surgery
  • Zoological medicine

You can also become board certified in a specific species, such as equine practice, canine and feline practice, food animal practice, and dairy practice.

Specialty training usually means a two-to-three-year residency followed by an examination or portfolio so you can earn board certification from a veterinary specialty organization.

Q&A With Real Veterinary Students



How did you prepare for veterinarian school?


“During my undergraduate studies, I became interested in research and pursued graduate training in molecular and cellular biology before applying to veterinary school. I also volunteered at a local animal hospital and humane society. Focus on grades — they are important — but get as much experience as you can.”
 — Joseph Varga, First-Year DVM Student, University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest
“During my undergraduate studies, I became interested in research and pursued graduate training in molecular and cellular biology before applying to veterinary school. I also volunteered at a local animal hospital and humane society. Focus on grades — they are important — but get as much experience as you can.”
 — James Gibbons, First-Year DVM Student, University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine

What surprised you the most about vet school?

“I was most surprised by the lack of competitiveness between students. My class is constantly sharing study tips, guides they've made, and helping each other.”
 — James G.
“The sheer amount of information that you are required to learn with very limited time.”
 — Joseph V.

What advice would you give to students considering veterinarian school?

“Visit the campuses before you apply. Try to get in touch with current students and get their opinion on the school. The cost of your veterinary education is an important factor because veterinary school is a huge financial investment.”
 — Joseph V.
“First, ensure that vet med is right for you by shadowing doctors. Second, apply to multiple schools if you can afford to. Third, enjoy your summer before starting and make some time in your schedule to relax during vet school.”
 — James G.

Frequently Asked Questions About Veterinary Programs

What should I major in to apply to vet school?

You can major in almost any field before applying to vet school. The most common majors are biology and other life sciences majors. Many pre-vet students major in the natural sciences.

You can also major in the humanities, the social sciences, a STEM field, or business before applying to vet colleges. However, keep in mind that vet schools typically require prerequisites such as biology, chemistry, math, and physics.

What are the college GPA requirements for veterinary schools?

Veterinarian schools are competitive, so you'll need a strong GPA to get into the best vet schools in the U.S. Many vet schools require a minimum 2.5 or 3.0 GPA. The most competitive programs may admit students with even higher GPAs.

When researching colleges for veterinarians, look for minimum GPA requirements and the GPAs of recently admitted students. This data can help you find a program that matches your GPA.

How long does it take to complete veterinary school?

Most full-time students complete their DVM program within four years. If you attend veterinary school part time, you can expect your degree to take longer — around 4-6 years.

What is the difference between a DVM and a veterinariae medicinae doctoris (VMD)?

A doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) and veterinariae medicinae (VMD) are the same degrees, with the former being far more common than the latter. Both degrees qualify you for veterinary practice and prepare you to get licensed as a veterinarian in your state.

Currently, only the University of Pennsylvania offers a VMD instead of the typical DVM.

How does a veterinary program compare to a zoology program?

Zoology programs and veterinary schools both focus on animal science; however, veterinary schools train graduates for applied careers treating animals. In contrast, zoology programs emphasize research over medical care.

If you're interested in zoology, you can major in zoology before applying to veterinarian schools. During vet school, you can specialize in zoological medicine.

All rankings and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by the ASO Rankings Team.


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