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Pre-Veterinary Medicine Preparation at UH Mānoa

(Text compiled from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges website, the AAVMC’s Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements, the NAAHP’s Medical Professions Admission Guide, and the UHM 2013-2014 Catalog.)

Veterinary Medicine programs offered in Hawai'i: None

DVM and VMD Programs
Prerequisites for Admission
What makes a strong candidate?
Researching Schools
Entrance Exam
The Application Process
Financial Aid

Additional Information
Downloadable Brochure

Veterinarians work with animals to help not only animals but also people live longer, healthier lives. They diagnose and treat sick and injured animals, prevent animal diseases, improve the quality of the environment, ensure food safety, prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans, and advise animal owners, from livestock companies to individual pet owners.

Veterinary medicine continues to expand rapidly and now offers twenty-one specialties: anesthesiology, animal behavior, dentistry, dermatology, emergency and critical care, internal medicine, laboratory animal medicine, microbiology, nutrition, ophthalmology, pathology, pharmacology, poultry veterinary medicine, preventive medicine, radiology, sports medicine and rehabilitation, surgery, theriogenology (reproduction), toxicology, veterinary practice and zoological medicine.

Veterinarians work in a wide variety of areas, including private practice, zoos, private industry, mobile services, research laboratories, government institutions, the military, wildlife organizations, racetracks, and circuses. Veterinarians work in public health, inspection and regulatory agencies and in government agencies such as the Center for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Food and Drug Administration. Although most veterinarians are in clinical practice, some also choose to conduct research or teach in higher education.

Related Careers: animal health technician, animal research, animal science, animal training and breeding, animal welfare, environmental management, hospital administration, marine biology, veterinary assistant, and wildlife preservation.

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Veterinary Medicine Programs

Becoming a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or Veterinary Medical Doctorate (VMD) requires 7 to 11 years of education:

  • Bachelors Degree (~ 4 years);
  • Veterinary Medicine School (~ 4 years);
  • Optional: Internship (~ 1 year); and
  • Optional: Residencies (~ 2-4 years).

Many schools offer joint degree programs, combining a DVM with degrees such as a Master of Science (DVM/MS), a Doctor of Philosophy (DVM/PhD), and a Master of Business Administration (DVM/MBA).  Combined degrees can be offered concurrently, sequentially, or in combination, and often extend the number of years in veterinary school.

The first three years of veterinary school are usually spent in classrooms and laboratories studying the biological sciences, including anatomy, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. Years three and/or four are primarily clinical.

Upon graduation from an accredited veterinary school, DVMs are eligible to take the national board examination and state licensing. Some states require tests and/or interviews in addition to the national board examination. All veterinarians must be licensed in order to practice!

1. In their senior year, veterinary students can apply through a matching program for an internship in small-animal medicine, large-animal medicine, or surgery. Veterinarians can often command a higher starting salary after completing an internship. The most prestigious internships are at veterinary medical colleges or large private veterinary hospitals. Ranking for internship is based upon academic performance and faculty recommendations.

2. Veterinarians who have completed an internship or who have two years of private practice experience can apply for residency programs. Residencies are 2- to 4-year programs that provide further specialization in 11 areas: internal medicine, surgery, cardiology, dermatology, ophthalmology, exotic small animal medicine, pathology, neurology, radiology, anesthesiology, and oncology. Some residencies combine research and graduate studies and confer a Master’s degree. Upon successful completion of residencies, veterinarians are certified by the appropriate veterinary medical specialty board.

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Prerequisites for Admission

Most importantly, remember that requirements vary from school to school! You must research to create a list of all the prerequisites you will need to apply to the veterinary schools you are interested in attending.

The following UHM courses are commonly required for admission to veterinary schools:

BIOL 171/171Lab and 172/172Lab
Introductory Biology I and II
CHEM 161/161Lab and 162/162Lab
General Chemistry I and II
CHEM 272/272Lab and 273/273Lab
Organic Chemistry I and II
PHYS 151/151Lab and 152/152Lab
College Physics I and II
BIOC 441 or BIOL/MBBE 402
Math 215 and 216
(or MATH 241 and 242)
Applied Calculus I and II
(or Calculus I and II)
SOCS or PSY 225
ENG 100 and 200+
English Composition

Additional requirements may include agriculture, animal nutrition (ANSC 244), animal genetics (ANSC 445), business, computer science (ICS 101), environmental biochemistry (MBBE 412), genetics (BIOL 340), humanities, microbiology, social sciences, and upper division biology or zoology courses such as embryology.

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What makes a strong candidate?

Schools need to be certain that the students they accept will be capable of completing the academic curriculum and are likely to become good veterinarians.

Are you capable of completing the academic curriculum?

Admissions committees are looking for students who have:

  • completed the prerequisites
  • a high overall GPA (U.S. Average for admissions for 2008 was 3.57/4.0)
  • a high science/math GPA
  • performed well on the GRE or MCAT
  • balanced their course load so it is challenging yet realistic
  • a good understanding of the profession

Are you likely to become a good veterinarian?

Admissions committees look for students who have:

  • demonstrated empathy, compassion, and a commitment to public service
  • high ethical and moral standards and a conscientious work ethic
  • demonstrated maturity (judgment, responsibility, dependability)
  • a broad liberal arts education that includes the humanities and social sciences
  • experience in the field and with what the profession entails
  • a well-rounded life that balances academics, community service, social activities, and personal interests (hobbies, skills, sports, etc.)
  • good leadership skills
  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • strong letters of evaluation/recommendation

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Researching Schools

There are currently 28 public and private veterinary schools in the U.S., each one unique in its mission, philosophy, criteria, and strengths. Applicants can research schools using the Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR)

Although there are resources that rank schools, the rankings are rarely pertinent for individual applicants. More important is whether there is a good match between applicant and school.

To find schools that are good a fit for you:

  1. Assess your individual strengths and weaknesses, your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
  2. Start by considering all schools, which usually includes all 28 schools
  3. Create your “Long List” by omitting the schools that do not match your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
  4. Once you have your MCAT or GRE scores, create your “Short List” by categorizing the schools on your Long List into ‘Reach’, ‘Match’, and ‘Safety’, ranking the schools by preference, and finally choosing how many schools to apply to. Be sure to apply to schools in all 3 categories (‘Reach’, ‘Match’, and ‘Safety’).

If possible, visit the schools to see their facilities, talk to Admissions Directors, and chat with students.

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Entrance Exam

All veterinary schools require applicants to take either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).  The GRE and MCAT differ significantly; be sure to check which test you need!

Preparation: Your most important preparation for both the GRE or the MCAT is your undergraduate courses, many of which sharpen your writing and verbal reasoning skills.Remember that the verbal sections are not only the most accurate predictor of how well you will do at the graduate level, but also the most difficult scores to improve.

GRE Summary: The GRE is administered year-round, appointments are scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis, and is available only in computer-based format. The test requires approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete and assesses your skills in Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing, and Quantitative Reasoning.

GRE Scoring: Scores for the Verbal and Quantitative sections each yield a scaled score of 130 to 170, in 1-point increments.  The Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 in half-point increments.

Official Test Preparation Material:

  • The Official Guide to the GRE revised General Test from ETS
  • Practice Questions on GRE website
  • Free diagnostic exam on GRE website

Click Here for the GRE Overview

MCAT Summary: The MCAT assesses your knowledge and skills in Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, and Writing. The test requires ~5 hours to complete, and entails ~144 multiple choice questions plus two 30-minute essays. The MCAT is administered in a computer-based format, and is offered about twenty times each year.

MCAT Scoring: Writing samples are scored by letter grades ranging from J to T, with T being the highest; the other three sections are each scored 1-15, for a possible total of 45. 

Official Test Preparation Material:

  • The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam, by AAMC
  • Practice Exams, on AAMC website

Click Here for the MCAT Overview

Click here for the MCAT2015 Overview

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The Application Process

There are three general steps in applying to veterinary schools: the primary application, the secondary application, and the interview.

1.  Primary applications for most schools must be filed with the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS), which is a centralized application system.  Once the application is complete, VMCAS forwards it to whichever schools the student has designated.

2.  Secondary applications or supplementary forms are specific to individual veterinary schools; schools send these to applicants after they have received the VMCAS application. Both frequently request additional information, essays, and letters of recommendation.  Some schools may even screen applicants before the applications or forms are sent out.  However, secondary applications and supplementary forms differ in that the latter is not a formal application.
3.  Interviews: After reviewing the primary and secondary applications (or supplementary forms), veterinary schools invite promising applicants to interview. Applicants are responsible for all costs of interviewing, including airfare, lodging, professional attire, and meals.

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Financial Aid

WICHE:  Hawai’i residents are eligible to participate in the Professional School Exchange Program (PSEP), a service of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).  In a competitive process, PSEP selects applicants to receive financial support from state funds; those students will be able to pay instate tuition if they attend a participating program on the west coast.  WICHE applications become available in July and have a mid-October deadline.

Note: To be considered for this scholarship, you must apply one full year in advance of matriculation, so in the summer after your junior year. 

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  • The more you know about the school, the better your chances of being accepted.
  • Most application questions can be answered by reading the VMSAR.
  • Contact individual schools’ Admissions Offices to find out how they handle:
      • Advanced Placement (AP) credits
      • International Baccalaureate (IB) credits
      • College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits
      • military credits
      • courses taken at a community college
      • non-U.S. coursework
      • courses taken for credit/no credit instead of a grade
      • residency issues
      • time limits on prerequisite science courses

Contact Information

Pre-Veterinary Advisor
Ashley M. Stokes, DVM, PhD
Associate Extension Veterinarian
Pre-Veterinary Advisor

Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
1955 East-West Road, Ag Sci 314G Honolulu, HI 96822


Additional Information

UH Mānoa’s Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center (PAC) has reference books, lists of volunteer opportunities, academic planning worksheets, and one-on-one advising by peers who can help you prepare for and apply to veterinary schools.

UHM's Pre-Veterinary Club
UHM's Biology Club
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
Student AVMA
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC)
Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS)
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
MCAT2015 Information & Preview Guide
MCAT2015 for Admins: including links to the Course Mapping Tool, Webinars, Sociology and Psychology Textbook Resources, iCollaborate, and Q-UPP
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)
Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR) available in PAC
Medical Professions Admission Guide: Strategy for Success by NAAHP available in PAC
Preparing for Graduate School by the Honors Program


Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program at UHM

This pre-veterinary medicine program is not a degree granting major, but an advising program to better prepare University of Hawaii at Manoa students for applying to veterinary school.

This program provides one-on-one advising for pre-vet students as well as opportunities for experience, guidance on coursework, applications, and many more.

For more information on how to get started on your path to becoming a veterinarian, click here!


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