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General Overview

Veterinarians (DVM) diagnose, treat, and research diseases and injuries of animals. They broadly conduct research and development, inspect livestock, and care for pets and companion animals. While the majority of veterinarians are in private small, large, or mixed animal clinical practice, county, state, and federal governments, universities, private industry, zoos, wildlife organizations, racetracks, and circuses are also some of the diverse settings in which modern veterinarians work. 

Vets in the Field:
  • Private Practice
  • Corporate Veterinary Medicine
  • Federal Government
  • Shelter Medicine
  • Military
  • Global Veterinary Medicine
  • Teaching (Academia or Non-Professional)
  • Public Policy
  • Public Health
  • Food Supply Medicine
  • Research
Choosing a Major

Most pre-veterinary students obtain a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree while completing the requirements for admission to veterinary school. Veterinary school admissions committees do not require or prefer a particular undergraduate major and welcome students whose intellectual curiosity leads them to a wide variety of disciplines. Veterinary schools recognize the importance of a strong foundation in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Applicants must complete course requirements and demonstrate proficiency in the sciences as evidenced by the science GPA and the scores on the required standardized test (see below).

Pre-Vet Coursework

Pre-Professional Health Advising has developed requirements for the Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program utilizing the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) Accredited Veterinary Colleges to identify accredited programs and subsequently review their websites for pre-requisite courses. Students should look at individual veterinary medical schools' list of pre-requisites to assure completion of all pre-requisite coursework. 

If you have credit for any of the following courses by earning Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), Cambridge International Exam (CIE), community college credit, or departmental test credit, please read the Non-JMU Coursework for Pre-Requisite Coursework.

Courses (43 Credit Hours)

  • BIO 140 + 140L: Foundations of Biology I and Lab (4 credits)
  • BIO 150 + 150L: Foundations of Biology II and Lab (4 credits)

  • BIO 240 + 240L: Genetics and Lab (4 credits)
  • BIO 245 + 245L: Microbiology and Lab (4 credits)
  • CHEM 131 +131L: General Chemistry I and lab (4 credits) 
  • CHEM 132 + 132L: General Chemistry II and Lab (4 credits)

  • CHEM 241: Organic Chemistry I (3 credits)
  • CHEM 242 + 242L Organic Chemistry II and Lab (5 credits)

  • CHEM 361: Biochemistry I (3 credits)

  • PHYS 140 + 140L: College Physics I + Lab (4 credits)
  • PHYS 150 + 150L: College Physics II + Lab (4 credits)

Intermediate and advanced Biology course work (13 Credit Hours)

When choosing 13 credit hours of advanced Biology coursework, Pre-Professional Health Advising recommends:

  • BIO 304: Cell & Molecular Biology (3 credits)
  • BIO 320: Comparative Anatomy (4 credits)
  • BIO 370: Animal Physiology (4 credits)
  • BIO 343: Immunology (3- 4 credits)
  • BIO 420: Medical Parasitology (3-4 credits)
  • BIO 480: Advanced Molecular Biology (4 credits)
  • BIO 482: Human Histology (4 credits) 

Mathematics Coursework (6-7 credits)

Pre-Vet Med students are required to complete 3 credits of a 200-level Calculus class and 3 credits of a 200- level Statistics. 

Calculus: There are four 200-level Calculus options at James Madison University. There are two calculus "pathways"; the 231-232 sequence, 233-234 sequence, and 235 prepare you for more advanced calculus courses. MATH 205 does not prepare you for more advanced calculus courses. Your ALEKS score may require that you take MATH 155 or 156: College Algebra beforehand, or that you take MATH 199: Algebra/Precalculus Gateway in conjunction with one of the following courses to be successful.

  • MATH 205: Introductory Calculus I (3 credits)
  • MATH 231: Calculus with Functions I (3 credits)
  • MATH 233E: A Modeling Approach to Calculus, Part A (3 credits)
  • MATH 235: Calculus I (4 credits)


  • MATH 220: Elementary Statistics (3 credits), or
  • MATH 229Introduction to Applied Statistics Using R (3 credits)

English, Literature, and Writing Coursework (6 credits)

Typically, students complete this requirement while completing General Education's Cluster 1: Writing and General Education's Cluster 2: Literature requirements. Courses that can fulfill the 6-credit pre-requisite that many medical schools require can include:

  • WRTC 103: (3 credits)
  • any ENG course (3 credits)
  • HUM 200: (3 credits)

Psychology Coursework 

While not required for the Pre-Veterinary Medicine minor, students are encouraged to take PSYC 101: General Psychology (3 credits) with completing General Education's Cluster 5: Sociocultural Domain, because one school in Texas listed it as a requirement for admissions. 

Recommended Electives (not required)

  • HTH 210: Medical Terminology (3 credits)
  • BIO 312: Animal Welfare (3 credits)
  • CHEM 366L: Biochemistry Lab (2 credits)
Apply to Vet School:

VMCAS: Veterinary Medical College Application Service

This application opens each year in early June. Although application deadlines are not until early October, you should apply as early as possible due to the application verification process and rolling admission cycle.

Preparation to Apply

Due to the small number of programs, admission to a vet school is highly competitive. Therefore as you plan, you may want to complete additional courses that will prepare you broadly as an educated professional considering alternative career.  

Most veterinary schools require a minimum of 60 credit hours for admission, but most applicants are strongly advised to plan on completing a baccalaureate degree before enrolling in a veterinary program. It is imperative that you consult the VMSAR for school specific information and requirements throughout this entire process.

You must submit a minimum of three and a maximum of six evaluators on the VMCAS application. Evaluations should be submitted through the VMCAS Electronic Evaluation Portal (eLOR). You should determine any specific LOR requirements from programs of choice. However, most commonly LORs come from:

  • Veterinarian
  • Science Faculty
  • Non-Science Faculty
  • Employer
  • Faculty Advisor
The Graduate Record Exam (GRE®)

The GRE General Test features question types that closely reflect the kind of thinking you'll do in your professional health program:

  • Verbal Reasoning - Measures your ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained form it, analyze relationships among component parts of sentences and recognize relationships among words and concepts.
  • Quantitative Reasoning - Measures problem-solving ability using basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.
  • Analytical Writing - Measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills, specifically your ability to articulate and support complex ideas clearly and effectively.

Learn more about the content and structure of the GRE® General Test from Educational Testing Services (ETS). Also you can find information about GRE® registration, test centers and dates through the ETS GRE® website.

Test Preparation Services

There are many types of test preparation resources that vary in cost and approach. PPH Advising deos not endorse any of the providers below, but are happy to speak with you about how you might identify the style of preparation that best fits your needs.


Cost Level

Educational Testing Service (ETS)

Free - Low

Khan Academy




McGraw-Hill Education


Clayborne Education

Low - High

Princeton Review

Low - High

Manhattan Prep

Mid - High

NextStep Test Prep

Free - High

Kaplan Test Prep

Free - High

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