Pre-Veterinary Medicine at UH Mānoa

Text compiled from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), the AAVMC’s Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the NAAHP’s Medical Professions Admission Guide, and the UHM 2017-2018 Catalog.

Veterinary Medicine Programs in Hawai`i: None

Field Description

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 22 specialties: anesthesiology, animal behavior, dentistry, dermatology, emergency and critical care, internal medicine, laboratory animal medicine, microbiology, nutrition, ophthalmology, pathology, pharmacology, poultry veterinary medicine, private practice, preventive medicine, radiology, sports medicine and rehabilitation, surgery, theriogenology (reproduction), toxicology, veterinary practice, and zoological medicine.

Work Setting

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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Department of Agriculture, US 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, veterinary technician, and wildlife preservation.

Veterinary Technicians and Assistants are health professionals that assist the veterinarian in providing high quality care to animals and people. They assist the veterinarian through gaining background histories in appointments, handling laboratory results, monitoring animals in treatment, and other needed tasks. Most states require veterinary technicians to be licensed from an accredited veterinary technology program. In Hawaiʻi, Windward Community College (WCC) offers a veterinary technology and assisting program that awards a Certificate of Achievement in Veterinary Assisting and/or Associates in Science in Veterinary Technology after completion of the program. If you are interested in learning more about the veterinary technology program at WCC, you may visit their website here.

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Veterinary Medicine Programs

Years of Schooling Required to Become a Veterinarian:

8 to 13 years of education

  • Undergraduate Preparation (~4 years);
  • Veterinary Medical School (4 years);
  • Internship (1 year, optional);
  • Residency (2-4 years, optional).

Many schools require a bachelor’s degree. Although not all schools list a bachelor’s degree as a requirement for admission, few students are admitted without one. For those schools that do not require a bachelor’s degree, completing a bachelor’s degree is highly recommended. Admission to veterinary schools is highly competitive, and a bachelor’s degree significantly strengthens a student’s application and provides students with greater options for advancement and career opportunities. For help choosing a major, please see the “Choosing a Major for Professional Schools in Health” webpage.

Degree Conferred

Upon completion of veterinary medical school, students are awarded either the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or Veterinary Medical Doctor (VMD). Both degrees are equivalent with respect to licensure and professional practice.

2015-2016 Admissions Cycle Matriculation Statistics

Applicants Matriculants Percentage of Applicants
that Matriculate
UH Mānoa Applicants 24 7 29.17%

Based on data acquired by the National Association of Academic Advisors for Health Professions (NAAHP).

Gap Year

Students may choose to take a gap year after they graduate with their undergraduate degree. A “gap year” is the period of time between the end of your undergraduate education and the start of your professional school. A gap year might be a year or more depending on each person’s particular circumstances. Students may choose to participate in longer term engagement activities during their gap year. Taking a gap year would change when to apply to professional school, please see a PAC peer advisor to help you plan in when to apply and fit in a gap year experience. When deciding to take a gap year, see our Taking a Gap Year page.

Post-Baccalaureate and Special Masters Programs 

There are a large number of Post-Baccalaureate and Special Masters Programs offered across the nation. Although these programs vary greatly in terms of degree offerings, course curriculum, and program duration, they are all geared to help students in preparation for professional school by taking relevant graduate level courses or to meet the necessary  prerequisites courses for their intended program. For more information, please visit our Post-Baccalaureate and Specials Masters Programs page.

Combined Degree Programs

Many schools offer combined degree programs: DVM or VMD/PhD to combine veterinary medicine with research or teaching; DVM/MBA to combine veterinary medicine with business administration; DVM/MPH to combine veterinary medicine with public health; and so on. Combined degrees can be offered concurrently, sequentially, or in combination, and often extend the number of years in veterinary school.

Click here for a listing of universities and schools that offer dual DVM programs.

What to Expect in Vet School

The first two years of veterinary school are usually spent in classrooms and laboratories studying the basic sciences, including anatomy, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. Year three and/or four are devoted primarily to clinical rotations.

Internships and residencies are available for veterinarians who wish to gain advanced training or specialization. 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.

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.

The Licensing Examination(s)

The North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) is an examination for veterinary medical licensure in the United States. Students in their fourth year of veterinary medical school are eligible to sit for the exam. To sit for the exam, students must submit two applications, one to the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME), and one to the licensing board of the state in which they intend to practice (if required). All veterinarians must be licensed to practice.

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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 schools you are interested in attending.

Click here to view prerequisites for colleges and schools of veterinary medicine.

More than 25% of the programs in this field require the following UHM courses for admission:

BIOL 171/171L and 172/172LIntroduction to Biology I and II8 cr.
BIOL 375Genetics3 cr.
CHEM 161/161L and 162/162LGeneral Chemistry I and II8 cr.
CHEM 272/272L and 273/273LOrganic Chemistry I and II9 cr.
COMG 151 or 251Public Speaking3 cr.
PHYS 151/151L and 152/152L
(or PHYS 170/170L and 272/272L)
College Physics I and II
(or General Physics I and II)
8 or 9 cr.
BIOL/MBBE/PEPS 402 (or BIOC 441)*Biochemistry4 cr.
MATH 215 and 216
(or MATH 241 and 242)
Applied Calculus I and II
(or Calculus I and II)
7 or 8 cr.
PSY/SOCS 225, ECON 321, or NREM 310Statistics3 cr.
ENG 100 and higherComposition I and higher6 cr.
Humanities, fine arts, and/or social sciencesVaries (Please see Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements for specific requirements)6 to 21 cr.

Additional requirements may include courses in animal nutrition, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and other upper division biology courses. It is also recommended that non-science majors take additional upper-division or advanced science electives beyond the prerequisites listed above.

CHEM 171/171L might not be accepted by veterinary schools in place of CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L. Students should double check with the schools they are interested in if the schools would accept CHEM 171/171L in place of CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L.

*Please note that the prerequisites for BIOL/MBBE/PEPS 402 and BIOC 441 are BIOL 275 and CHEM 273. BIOL 275L is also a prerequisite for BIOL/MBBE/PEPS 402.

Click here for a four-year sample plan.

Click here for a sample general timeline.

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Experience and Personal Development

Most veterinary schools require a substantial amount of hands-on veterinary and animal experiences. Experiences can entail volunteering, shadowing, or working in diverse animal/veterinary settings. Some schools have a required minimum amount of hours. It’s highly recommended for students to check with the schools to see what their requirements are for the amount and type of experiences needed.

Experience can be divided into two main categories:

  • Veterinary Experience is defined as activities related to animals and supervised by a veterinarian. Experiences include veterinary clinical/private practice, agribusiness, or health science experiences under the supervision of a veterinarian.
  • Animal Experience is defined as activities related to animals not supervised by a veterinarian. Experiences include, but are not limited to, farm/ranch experiences, 4-H membership, animal training, or other similar activities that have not been under the supervision of the veterinarian.

Successful applicants are able to demonstrate a depth of understanding and commitment to the veterinary profession through diverse experiences.

Gaining experience in the health professional field in which you are interested is also a huge benefit in figuring out if that is the field you want to work in and provides you with a deeper understanding of the field. Some professional schools want to see that you have experience in their field and some schools may require a large amount of particular experience such as hands-on, patient contact experience or experience shadowing a professional in that field. Schools need to be certain that the students they accept are capable of completing the curriculum and are likely to become strong professionals in the field. Schools may see this through the experiences students had.

Admissions committees seek students who have completed the pre-requisites, have high overall and science/math GPAs, performed well on the entrance exam, and have balanced course loads which are challenging yet realistic. These are indications that students are capable of completing the curriculum. Opportunities for exam preparation can be found here: Entrance Exam Preparation Opportunities.

Experiences can provide proof that students will likely be strong practitioners. Admission committees seek students who demonstrated empathy, compassion, and a commitment to public service which can be shown through community service or volunteer work. Committees also want to see high ethical and moral standards and a conscientious work ethic as well as demonstrated maturity through judgement, responsibility, and dependability. Work ethics can be shown through employment opportunities.

Committees seek students who understand the field and what it entails. Different experiences that could provide exposure to the field include enrichment opportunitiesinternshipsshadowing, or volunteering. Through experiences students may show that they have excellent communication skills and a high degree of professionalism in all aspects of life, and potentially gain strong letters of recommendation from supervisors.

Students should aim to have a well-rounded life that balances academics which include a broad liberal arts education with the humanities and social sciences, research, social activities, and personal interests (hobbies, skills, sports, etc.) through Clubs and Organizations.

Students may choose to take a gap year after they graduate with their undergraduate degree to gain more experience. When deciding to take a gap year, see our Taking a Gap Year page.

AAVMC provides a pre-vet engagement newsletter for students, applicants, advisors, and parents. To subscribe, click here.

When applying for professional school, you will be asked to list and describe the experiences you have gained in preparation for the profession of your interest. Rather than having to recall from memory all your experiences, having an experience log will allow you to fill out your application with more ease. Students can use their C.V. as a record of these experiences. However, an experience log can include additional beneficial information, such as your employer’s contact information and a reflection portion of what you learned. You may choose to make a personalized experience log or use our sample by clicking here.

Please click on the following links to explore the different opportunities.

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Researching Schools

There are currently 30 accredited veterinary schools in the US, each unique in its mission, philosophy, criteria, and strengths. Applicants can research schools using the Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR) (hard copy available for use in PAC) or the Association of American Veterinary Medicine Colleges (AAVMC) College Descriptor Pages. 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 (PAC peer advisors can help with this process):

  1. Assess your individual strengths and weaknesses, your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
  2. Start by considering all schools, which usually includes all 30 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 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’) and to select schools that you would really want to attend if/when accepted.

Here is more information on researching and selecting schools to apply for. If possible, visit the schools to see their facilities, talk to admissions directors, and chat with students.

2015-2016 Admissions Cycle Statistics for UH Mānoa Students

 Average # of Schools Applied toRange of Schools Applied to
Applicants5.771 to 14
Matriculants8.436 to 14

Schools UH Mānoa Students Matriculated into for the 2015-2016 Admission Cycle

Ross University of Veterinary Medicine
University of Illinois
University of Tennessee
Western University of Health Sciences

Top 11 Schools UH Mānoa Students Applied to for the 2015-2016 Admission Cycle (Ordered from Most to Least Popular)
1. Colorado State University
2. Washington State University
3. Oregon State University
3. University of California, Davis
5. Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine
5. Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine
7. Tufts University
7. Western University of Health Sciences
9. Michigan State University
9. University of Pennsylvania
9. University of Wisconsin

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Entrance Exam

All veterinary schools require applicants to take a standardized test called the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Preparation: Your most important preparation for the GRE is your undergraduate courses, many of which sharpen your writing and verbal reasoning skills. Remember that the Verbal Reasoning score is not only the most accurate predictor of how well you will do in veterinary school, but also the most difficult score to improve. 

GRE Summary: The GRE assesses your knowledge and skills in Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing, and Quantitative Reasoning. The test requires approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete. The GRE is offered in computer-based and paper-based formats, and is offered year-round for computer-based administrations and up to three times per year for paper-based administrations.

GRE Scoring: The Verbal and Quantitative sections each receive a score between 130 and 170, in 1-point increments.  The Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, in half-point increments. GRE scores are often reported as percentiles, with the median score (50th percentile) among examinees being 150 for the Verbal and Quantitative sections and 3.5  for the Analytical Writing section. Scores at around the 65th percentile or above are considered competitive for veterinary schools.

2015-2016 Admissions Cycle GRE Averages for UH Mānoa Students

 Applicant Score Applicant Percentile Matriculant ScoreMatriculant Percentile

Most schools require that GRE scores be submitted by September 15th.

Official Test Preparation Material

Commercial Test Preparation Companies

Here is more information on how to prepare for an entrance exam.

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Application Process

There are three general steps in applying to veterinary schools: the primary application, the secondary application, and the interview. The primary application includes a personal statement (5000 characters). The applications follows an accelerated timeline.

1.  Primary applications for most schools must be filed with the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS), which is a centralized application system that opens in mid May. Once the application is complete, VMCAS forwards it to whichever schools the student has designated. The VMCAS application fee is $195 for the first program designation and $100 for each additional program designation. For schools with rolling admission, submit your primary application as early as possible.

With the upcoming 2018 VMCAS application, changes will be made to the essay prompts. The existing personal statement for veterinary medicine will no longer be used. There will be three new questions that will be implemented for this upcoming cycle, each requiring 1,000 characters. The prompts are as follows:

  • There are many career choices within the veterinary profession. What are your future career goals and why?
  • In what ways do veterinarians contribute to society and what do you hope to contribute?
  • Considering the breadth of society we serve as veterinarians today; what attributes do you believe are essential to be successful within the veterinary profession? Of these attributes, which do you possess and how have you demonstrated these in the past?

Your primary application also includes letters of recommendation. Schools seek well-rounded individuals who have both clinical and soft skills, a wide variety of experiences and strong grades. References should cover these areas as well as speak to who the applicant is. Letters of recommendation need to be submitted by September 15th.

The VMCAS also offers a Fee Reimbursement Program that is sponsored by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). A limited amount of fee reimbursements are available through this program. Reimbursements are granted to financially disadvantaged applicants on a first-come, first-serve basis, beginning with the launch of the application cycle, which is usually in mid-May and will close once the allotted funds are exhausted. The requirements for the Fee Reimbursement Program are the following:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen, U.S. Permanent Resident, or have refugee/asylum status.
  • You must have submitted your VMCAS 2017 Application.
  • Submit a Reimbursement Program Request Form.
  • Upload a copy of your 2015 Federal Income Tax Return (Submit your parent’s tax return if you can be claimed a dependent).
  • Do NOT send any documents by any other method but the submission program. Do not e-mail VMCAS your forms.

2017 VMCAS Fee Reimbursement Image

For full instructions and the link to submit a request, please click here.

AAVMC strongly recommends submitting your application by August 15th to ensure that your application is verified by the September 15th deadline.

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, letters of recommendation, and/or fees.  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.

Note: Most veterinary schools participate in VMCAS. Students interested in applying to other schools must complete each of their prospective schools’ individual applications. For these schools, the application process consist only of steps 2 and 3.

Note: For a list of specific letters of recommendation types for Veterinary Medical Schools can be found here.

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. To learn more about interviews, attend our upcoming interview-related orientations and workshops here. For sample interview questions click here.

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Re-applicants: Many applicants may not be admitted to the professional school that they desire on their first try. However, if an when you choose to re-apply, there are many things to consider before re-submitting another application the following cycle. For more information on how to improve your application, click here.


  • 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

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Financial Aid

Financial planning is a crucial step in applying to veterinary schools. It is important for students to create a plan and make decisions in their educational expenses. Students are highly encouraged to budget their finances before, during, and after veterinary school. To learn more about financial planning, click here.

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). PSEP enables qualified residents from WICHE participating states affordable access to enroll in selected out of state professional healthcare programs at participating WICHE institutions when such programs are not available at a public institution in their home state. Many Hawai‘i residents must attend professional schools out-of-state to obtain the necessary education and training needed for professional healthcare positions. Therefore, the State of Hawai‘i, through WICHE PSEP, helps subsidize the tuition costs for qualifying Hawai‘i residents to attend a participating WICHE PSEP program. In return, WICHE PSEP students are required to return to work in the State after completing their program of study.

PSEP selected students pay reduced levels of tuition at the WICHE participating institution. The home state pays a negotiated “support fee” designed to cover a portion of the cost of the students’ education; this fee is paid directly to the enrolling program’s institution. No payments are made directly to students. Students enrolled at public institutions generally pay the resident tuition rate, however, students may be required to pay the unmet non-resident tuition differential if the WICHE PSEP support fee does not cover the entire non-resident tuition differential.  Students enrolled at private institutions pay the balance of the full private tuition minus the WICHE PSEP support fee.

Support is available to a limited number of Hawai‘i residents studying veterinary medicine and enrolling at participating WICHE PSEP schools.  For a list of participating schools, click here.

For more information on the Hawai’i WICHE PSEP program, please visit

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

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Contact Information

Pre-Veterinary Program Advisor
Jenee Odani, DVM, DACVP
Phone: (808) 956-3847
Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
1955 East-West Road, Ag Sci 314I

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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 school.
AssociationsAmerican Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
Student AVMA
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC)
Entrance ExamsGraduate Record Examination (GRE)
Researching SchoolsVeterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR) Hard copy available in PAC
ApplicationsVeterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS)
Financial AidWestern Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)
EngagementHealth – Clubs and Organizations
Current Opportunities Health – Current Opportunities

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