Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Planning for graduate & professional schools


Veterinary medicine

What is Veterinary Medicine?

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), veterinary colleges seeks to promote excellence in academic veterinary medicine to prepare the veterinary workforce with the scientific knowledge and skills required to meet societal needs through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

There is currently a major shortage of large animal veterinarians, particularly those that treat farm animals. Excellent opportunities thus exist for students interested in care of these types of animals.

There are currently 34 American and Canadian veterinary medical colleges.

Veterinary training takes 4 years to complete and attain the D.V.M. (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine).

Choosing a Major

There is no preferred or required premedical major. Veterinary colleges are interested in students from different educational backgrounds. Universally, vet schools know the importance of a broad liberal arts education that includes a solid foundation in the sciences (biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics) as well as coursework in the social sciences and humanities. Students interested in the health professions should choose a major based on their academic interests and abilities. High grades in a well-rounded curriculum are more important than a student’s major.

Pre-requisites at Wheaton

All courses should be completed by the end of the junior year for students planning to apply to veterinary school in the senior year.

Biology Courses

Bio 112: Cells and Genes*

Bio 305: Biochemistry

One other course from the Cells and Molecules and/or Organisms areas of biology.

Other Biology courses:

Bio 211: Genetics* - 21 veterinary colleges require or recommend one semester of genetics
Bio 221: Microbiology - 18 veterinary colleges require or recommend one semester of microbiology

2 Years of Chemistry

Chem 153: Chemical Principles

Chem 253: Organic Chemistry I

Chem 254: Organic Chemistry II

Chem 232: Aqueous Equilibria

1 Year of Physics

Phys 170 or 180: Introductory Physics I

Phys 171 or 181: Introductory Physics II


Math 141: Statistics* OR Math 151: Accelerated Statistics -15 veterinary colleges require one semester of statistics

Math 101: Calculus I* - 11 veterinary colleges require one semester of calculus

A few colleges require a semester of each. Check with each individual college.

1 Year of English

Eng 101: Writing*

One class in English literature*

*Denotes classes that are offered every semester

Grade point average and standardized test

Mean grade point average for veterinary schools is a 3.5. Applicants for veterinary school must take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and scores above 600 on a scale of 200 to 800 (note that the scoring system for the GRE will change as of August 2011) . All veterinary schools accept the GRE, and some will also accept the MCAT.

Advanced Placement (AP)

AP credit may on some occasions be used to satisfy the English writing (Eng 101) and/or mathematics requirements. It is highly recommended that AP science courses not be used to satisfy any of the science pre-requisites since health professions schools expect you to have the classroom experience of taking science lab classes at the college level. If you do accept credit for an AP class in a required science course, the expectation is that you will take an upper-level science courses/labs in the science department to satisfy the health school requirement. AP credit equivalent to Wheaton's English 101 will waive writing requirement, but students still have to take a 200-level English course.

Summer courses

Though there is nothing that says a student cannot take pre-requisite science courses in summer school, students should remember that many of the health professions schools prefer that science classes be done during the semester to demonstrate the ability to take laboratory courses while registered for a full course load. Students considering taking a pre-requisite science course over the summer should consult with Dean Trayford.

Pass/Grade/Fail option

Required pre-medical courses can never be taken pass/fail. Students should also think carefully when considering taking any other classes under this option. Health profession schools want to see if you are successful in many different areas of study, not just in the pre-requisite courses. Therefore, students are discouraged from taking any classes under the pass/grade/fail option. If there is a good reason for using this option, consult with Dean Trayford. Remember, take all science courses for a grade.

Study Abroad

Health professions schools consider a student who studied abroad in a very positive light, particularly if the experience can be combined with health-care-related experiences. Students interested in studying abroad should definitely do so. It is important to plan ahead when thinking about studying abroad. Discuss your plans with Dean Trayford. Keep in mind though that pre-requisite courses should not be taken during study abroad. Most schools will not accept pre-requisite requirements taken at a for­eign institution.

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