Pre-Veterinary Medicine At Southern Oregon University

Welcome to pre-veterinary medicine at Southern Oregon University. If you are considering veterinary medicine as a career, please read through this information, and contact Dr. Parker:

Dr. Michael Parker
Office: 224 Science
Tel: (541) 552-6749

The following information is based principally on the Oregon State University Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program in Corvalis, but applies to many of the vet schools in the United States. Please be aware that admission to vet school is extremely competitive. Only those students who earn consistently high grades and meet all the other requirements for admission have a realistic chance of being admitted. This is not said to discourage you, only to let you know what you must do to realize your goal of becoming a veterinarian.  For detailed information on the requirements for admission to Oregon State University's vet school, see their web site at


Basic Requirements for Admission to Vet School (Details below)

  • Completion of required courses in the sciences
  • Graduate Record Exam
  • Letters of recommendation from professors and veterinarians
  • Experience in veterinary medicine and other animal care activities
  • Extra-curricular activities/accomplishments

Academic Major

No particular major is preferred. Pre-vet med is not a major, but a collection of courses that fulfill admission requirements to most vet schools. In some cases, students may be accepted into the DVM program after their junior year, but nearly all students complete a bachelor's before entering vet school. In fact, the average number of years of college was over five years for students in OSU's veterinary medicine program. Biology and related disciplines are the most common majors, followed by chemistry; others include math, philosophy, psychology, art, and others. In terms of acceptance, no major has a selective advantage over another, as long as the student takes all the reqired courses and many recommended elective science courses as well. The degree of difficulty, breadth, and depth of science courses is frequently used to evaluate applicants. Thus, most students choose a science major since they will need to take so many science courses anyway. Many choose biology or animal science because of the high degree of overlap between these majors and the pre-vet requirements. (Note: SOU has a biology major, but not an animal science major.)

I recommend that students select a major that they enjoy, can do well in and would want for a career as an alternative to veterinary medicine. Selection of a major should be discussed with the pre-vet advisor and chosen by the sophomore year.

Average GPA of admitted vet students was 3.48 at OSU for the 2004-2005 entering class. The average GPA for the last 45 semester hours completed was 3.68.

Required Pre-Vet Courses

Science and math courses add up to a minimum of 76 quarter hours; general ed 21 hours. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required for consideration for admission.


  • General Chemistry, one-year sequence with labs (Ch 201-206)
  • Organic Chemistry sequence (labs recommended) (Ch 334/337, and 332/338 or  335/340), 2 terms minimum
  • Biochemistry, at least 2 terms (Ch 451, 452)


  • Principles of Biology, one-year sequence with labs (Bi 211, 212, 213)
  • Genetics (Bi 341)
  • Animal Physiology (Bi 314)
  • Minimum of 6 additional quarter hours of upper division biology with at least one lab, such as animal physiology, cell biology, microbiology, or additional biochemistry


  • General physics, two terms (Ph 201, 202 OR Ph 221, 222, both with lab Ph 224, 225)


  • Calculus, 3 credits or more (Mth 251)

General Education

  • English, public speaking, humanities, social sciences, sufficient to fulfill the general education requirements for a bachelor's degree

Recommended additional courses

  • Other upper division biology courses, such as Advanced Animal Physiology (Bi 414), Cell Biology (Bi 342), Immunology (Bi 456), Microbiology (Bi 351/353), and many others that count toward a biology major at SOU will enhance the student's application and help when taking courses in vet school.  
  • Statistics (Mth 243)
  • Computer Science (various options)
  • Business (various options)

All required pre-vet courses must be taken for a letter grade; pass/no pass options are not acceptable. A perfect 4.0 GPA is not necessary for admission, but consistently high grades in both science and non-science classes are important.

Transcripts must be submitted by Sept. 15th of the year preceding the applicant's intended start date at vet school.


Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

  • The GRE, or sometimes the VCAT, is required by all vet schools.
  • The GRE consists of 2 basic parts: the General Test, which tests reasoning and analytical skills, and the Biology Subject test, which tests knowledge of the entire field of biology. 
  • Some vet schools require only the General Test (OSU), others require both. OSU requires only the general GRE test.
  • The test scores must be received by Sept. 15th in the year preceding the applicant's intended start date at vet school.

Letters of Recommendation

  • Letters from science professors and veterinarians with whom the applicant worked are mandatory.
  • These letters must address personal qualities such as reliability, integrity, and temperment, as well as knowledge of and dedication to the veterinary profession.
  • Students should begin early in their academic careers to cultivate relationships with individuals who will be able to provide detailed and positive evaluations of the student. Participation in class, research projects, volunteering or working in a veterinary office or clinic, kennel, stable, poultry farm, etc. are critical.
  • Letters must be submitted by Sept. 15th in the year preceding the applicant's intended start date at vet school

Veterinary and Animal Experience

The veterinary admissions committee is particularly interested in an applicant's knowledge of the profession in its many forms: large animals, small animals, exotics, public health, research, etc. The wise student will make it a point to educate him/herself on veterinary medicine through practical experience, talking with professionals, and reading. In the past, students have worked with veterinarians, either as volunteers or as employees, at private offices, clinics, vet schools, and/or research facilities. Students make these arrangements themselves. The more experience the better. Most applicants have at least 500 hours, and some have substantially more.

Other animal experience that is looked upon favorably includes raising, breeding, and showing animals; kennel work; training animals; wildlife rehabilitation; zoo assistant; lab animal care, and similar activities working around and caring for different types of animals.  Science-related work that does not involve working directly with animals is also a plus, such as laboratory research or employment, field work, or working in a medical or dental setting.

Extra-curricular Activities

Participation in other activities, particularly public-service, will strengthen your application. Diverse interests such as foreign languages, music, athletics, and other pursuits helps to demonstrate your discipline and uniqueness as an individual. Admissions committees want to know that an applicant is capable of relating to people from a variety of backgrounds. They particularly look for activities that demonstrate determination, motivation, leadership, responsibility, and maturity.

When And How To Apply

  • The Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) is used by the vast majority of US and Canadian vet schools.
  • Students submit one application to VMCAS and it distributes the materials to the schools of the applicant's choice.
  • VMACS applications must be entered electronically by Sept. 15th of the year preceding the year you hope to begin vet school.
  • The fee is $200 for the first school and $100 for each additional school.
  • If a vet school requests supplemental information, they usually charge an additional fee.
  • The admissions committee at most vet schools (OSU included) will invite a select group for a personal interview, and choose from among these students.
  • Students are encouraged to apply to their home-state university vet school, and a few other schools of their choice.

Curriculum Planning

ยท  Consult with Dr. Parker early in your program to plan your courses.



This is an outline for a typical Biology major pre-vet program.




Year One




Principles of Biology (Bi 211-213)



General Chemistry (Ch 201-206)



University Seminar



Math 111, 112, 243 or 251





Year Two




Genetics (Bi 341)



Cell Biology (Bi 342)



Organic Chemistry (Ch 334/337, 332/338)






Organic Chemistry (Ch 334/337, 335/340)



Psychology (Psy 101)



General Education courses as needed, electives





Year Three




Ecology (Bi 340) 



Animal Physiology (Bi 314) 



Evolution Bi (446) 



Other biology or chemistry (e.g. Immunology, biochemistry)



Physics (Ph 201-203, 224-226) 



General Education courses as needed, electives





Year Four




Biology Electives including capstone class (e.g. Advanced Animal Physiology,

Microbiology, Mammalogy) 



General Education courses as needed, electives, other biology or chemistry






Additional Veterinary Resources:


For application packets, including listings of all participating vet schools and their requirements


Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, and Veterinary Medical College Application Service

For GRE information:

Graduate Records Examinations

For OSU information:

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine

For information on the veterinary profession

American Veterinary Medical Association

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges