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Study Veterinary Medicine in USA: Top Schools and Best Courses

Jun 14, 2022

Veterinary Medicine in the USA for international students: top schools, courses, fees, entry requirements, career scope, and scholarships

There are only 30 veterinary schools in the USA that offer degrees accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Admission to the DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) or VMD (Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris) degrees offered by these colleges are highly competitive due to a limited number of seats. Some of the veterinary schools in the USA also offer joint degrees such as

  • DMV/MS (Master of Science)
  • DMV/MBA (Master of Business Administration)
  • DMV/PhD in biomedical and biological sciences, engineering sciences, and computer sciences
  • DMV/MPVP (Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine)
  • DMV/MPH (Master of Public Health)
  • DMV/PhD/MS   

The following article explains more about veterinary medical courses in the USA from the perspective of international students. It includes sections on the top colleges in the USA for veterinary medicine, their admission standards, fees, scholarships, and job opportunities in the field. 

Overview of Veterinary Medicine courses in the USA

Here are some of the highlights of the veterinary medicine courses in the USA:

Centralized admission application service  Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS)
VMCAS deadline September 15, 2022
Popular degrees offered DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) or VMD (Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris) degree
Entrance exams required  GRE or Biology GRE or MCAT
VMCAS application fees 220 USD* for the first program and 120 USD* for each additional program
Licensing requirement  The North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE)
Average salary of veterinarian doctor  114,995 USD*/year (Indeed)
Average salary of veterinarian technician/technologist/assistant 36,260 USD*/year (US News)

Why study Veterinary Medicine in the USA?

Admission to veterinary colleges in the USA is a very competitive and challenging process, but it is also extremely rewarding. The following are the reasons why prospective veterinarians prefer to study in the USA:

  • The veterinary colleges in the USA are accredited by the Council on Education (COE) which is in turn supported by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
  • The average salary of veterinarian doctors in the USA is 114,995 USD*/year
  • As per the US News and World Report, veterinarians rank #9 in Best Health Care Jobs
  • DVM degrees from the USA colleges are recognized worldwide
  • Veterinarians can work anywhere in the with a DVM degree from the USA
  • As per BLS statistics the employment rate for veterinarians in the USA is growing at 17% which is much faster than average

Top 10 Veterinary universities in the USA

The following is a list of top 10 universities in the USA offering veterinary medicine degrees as ranked by the US News and World Report ranking: 

University Name US News Ranking (Veterinary Medicine) Degree Offered  Duration of Degree Tuition Fees (USD*/year)
University of California–Davis 1 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) 4 years  44,863
Cornell University 2 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) 4 years  59,500
Colorado State University 3 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) 4 years  62,910
North Carolina State University 4 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) 4 years 49,565
Ohio State University 5 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) 4 years 75,809
Texas A&M University–College Station 6 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) 4 years 42,022
University of Pennsylvania 7 Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris (VMD) 4 years 59,278
University of Wisconsin–Madison 8 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) 4 years 51,961
University of Florida 9 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) 4 years 45,500
University of Georgia 10 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) 4 years 47,176

Note: All universities in the USA offer a doctorate in veterinary medicine as a DVM degree, whereas the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine offers its doctorate in veterinary medicine as a VMD. 

Popular Veterinary Medicine courses and admission requirements in the USA

In the USA, veterinary schools provide DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) or VMD (Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris) degrees to aspiring veterinarians. A DVM/VMD is a four-year degree in veterinary medicine that includes clinical and non-clinical aspects of veterinary studies. 

A bachelor’s degree is not mandatory before applying to the veterinary schools in the USA. However, due to increasing competition, students who apply to these colleges usually apply after a bachelor’s degree. Most universities in the USA ask international students to apply to their DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) courses only after an undergraduate degree. 

However, completion of the following list of pre-vet or prerequisite courses within an undergraduate degree program is mandatory to get admission to the desired veterinary schools in the USA.

  • General chemistry with laboratory work
  • Organic chemistry with laboratory work
  • General biology with laboratory work
  • Physics with laboratory work
  • Mathematics
  • Social science
  • Genetics
  • Biochemistry
  • English composition and literature

Additional prerequisites for veterinary students include entrance examinations such as the GRE or MCAT. Admissions committees at veterinary schools in the USA also look for applicants with 180 to 500 hours of veterinary experience prior to their application. This experience might be either voluntary or paid. It can be obtained through internships, working on a farm, or volunteering in an animal shelter under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. Students can also look for research experience in the animal and veterinary fields, as well as in laboratories.

Admission requirements for DVM courses in the USA can be summarized as below:

  • Majors in pre-vet courses with a grade of C and higher (mandatory)
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with a GPA of 2.5 and higher on a scale of 4.0 (preferred)
  • Veterinary experience hours (180 hours minimum)
  • Three professional recommendations (at least one from a veterinarian)
  • Resume
  • Student visa
  • Personal statement
  • GRE/MCAT scores wherever applicable 
  • Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI)
  • English proficiency test scores (IELTS 6.0 and above and TOEFL 90 and above)

Many American colleges offer six- to eight-year veterinary dual or joint programs. These courses provide a solid basis for jobs in research, public health, government, international health, and the private sector by combining a DVM degree with an MBA, MS, MPH, MPVP, or PhD.

After completion of their DVM or VMD degree, students can also go for veterinary specialties to become board-certified veterinary specialists in a specific area of veterinary science. It requires several years of training and experience in a particular field of veterinary. There are 22 AVMA-Recognized Veterinary Specialty Organizations (RVSOs). Although RVSOs are referred to as colleges, they are not colleges in the traditional sense. Instead, they are organizations that establish standardized rules and requirements for becoming a specialist in veterinary medicine and administer examinations to assess their abilities.

The following is a list of veterinary specialties as given by AVMA:

  • Anesthesia and analgesia
  • Animal welfare
  • Behavior
  • Dentistry
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency and critical care
  • Internal medicine (cardiology, neurology, and oncology)
  • Laboratory animal medicine
  • Microbiology
  • Veterinary nutrition
  • Ophthalmology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Poultry
  • Preventive medicine
  • Radiology
  • Sports medicine and rehabilitation
  • Surgery
  • Theriogenology
  • Toxicology
  • Zoological medicine
  • Different animal species

These specialties take a minimum of three years to accomplish (a one-year internship followed by a two- to three-year residency training program under the supervision of board-certified veterinarians in that specialty). Each RVSO establishes its own training criteria that must be satisfied before a person is authorized to take the board certification exam. RVSOs do not confer academic degrees, however, veterinarians who pass the RVSOs’ board certification exams are referred to as ‘Diplomates.’

Students who do not want to pursue a DVM degree and spend four years in school might pursue a career as a veterinarian technician, who works alongside the veterinarian as a nurse. Academic requirements for veterinarian technicians vary per state, but typically comprise two to three years of one of the following degrees:

  1. Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology (BS)
  2. Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology (AS)

These degrees are accredited by AVMA and require successful completion of the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) for credentialing. 

Career options after Veterinary Medicine in the USA

A student with a DMV degree can work in government, private, and research industries, as well as academia, in clinical or non-clinical settings. They can even start their own practice. Private practitioners can work on small animals, exotic, as well as mixed animal species. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also hire a number of veterinarians and veterinary technicians. The U.S. Army Corps and U.S. Air Force also require veterinary doctors. 

Here is a list of some other career options for veterinarians:

  • The private companies that work with animal-related products or pharmaceuticals 
  • Veterinary professors in universities teaching veterinary medicine
  • Public health and food supply medicine to control animal-to-human (zoonotic) diseases 
  • Animal shelters to treat the animals housed in the shelters
  • Policymakers for animal welfare

Admission process for Veterinary Medicine courses in the USA

Most universities in the USA utilize the centralized application service VMCAS to accept applications to their veterinary programs. Some universities also ask for secondary applications in addition to the VMCAS application. Students need to thoroughly fill out the VMCAS application with all the information and submit all the copies of necessary documents, along with paying the application fees (The first program costs 220 USD*, and each successive program costs 120 USD*). Once submitted, VMCAS processes the application by verifying transcripts and coursework, calculating GPAs, and sends the application to the respective veterinary universities. 

Individual universities then review the application and select the candidates based on academic performance, work experience, standardized test scores, and performance in personal interviews. The final steps involve an application for a student visa, payment of university fees, and choosing accommodation. To speed up their admissions process, students can also apply through the Gyanberry website

Licensing requirements for Veterinarians in the USA

After completing their DVM degree, a prospective veterinarian must obtain a license to practice veterinary medicine in the private or public sector. They are required to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) administered by the International Council of Veterinary Assessment (ICVA). This exam is typically taken by students in their fourth year of veterinary school, and it is offered during a four-week testing window in November–December and a two-week testing window in April. NAVLE is a multiple-choice test with 360 clinically relevant questions.

Similarly, foreign veterinary graduates can also apply for US licensure if they wish to practice veterinary medicine in the USA. There are two certification pathways for international graduates of non-accredited veterinary schools: the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) and the Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence (PAVE). After completing either one of these training pathways, international veterinary graduates are then eligible to apply for NAVLE to obtain a license. 

Veterinary Medicine school fees and cost of living in the USA

The annual fees for a DVM/VMD degree in the USA for international students range from 42,022 to 75,809 USD*/year. These estimates are for the first-year students only, the fees for concurrent years might stay the same or change as per the respective university policies. In addition to the tuition fees, students should also consider the cost of accommodation and living as America is known to be expensive for its living cost. First-year students are usually offered campus accommodations. Students can also choose to stay in rented accommodations outside campus or can choose homestays. Food, transportation, books and supplies, and health insurance are some other expenses that are included in the living cost. 

Particulars  Cost in USD*/year
Food  4,800 to 6,500
Accommodation  8,000 to 12,000
Transportation  1,400 to 2,300
Books and other supplies  1,300 to 2,000
Health insurance 3,800 to 6,500
Personal expenses (clothing, smartphone bill, movies, etc.) 4,000 to 5,000 

Scholarships, bursaries, and funding options for Veterinary Medicine courses in the USA

International students are not eligible for government funding, which is only available to US residents. However, there are other funding options available to international students. Many colleges provide scholarships and bursaries from their own funds, but some students additionally receive financial aid from embassies and other organizations. Students can also take out loans with low-interest rates that are repayable when they finish their degree. Before arranging their budget for their veterinary degrees, prospective veterinary students should look through the following list of scholarships:

  • The Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship 
  • The American Association of University Women
  • The Civil Society Leadership Awards 
  • Conacyt 
  • ColFuturo 
  • The Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program 
  • Foreign Fulbright Student Program 
  • MPOWER Financing 
  • The P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship  

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

Frequently Asked Questions

The average salary of a veterinarian doctor in the USA is 114,995 USD*/year (Indeed). 

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

No, a bachelor’s degree is not required, but completion of prerequisite courses is mandatory for admission to veterinary schools in the USA. 

VMCAS, the Veterinary Medical College Application Service is an American centralized application service for admission to veterinary medicine courses. 

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