Pre-Veterinary Medicine at UH Mānoa

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

Veterinary Medicine Programs in Hawai`i: None

Veterinary Medicine Programs
Prerequisites for Admission
What makes a strong candidate?
Researching Schools
Entrance Exam
The Application Process
Four-Year Sample Plan
Financial Aid
Additional Information

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 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.

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).

Although not all schools list a bachelor’s degree as a requirement for admission, few students are admitted without one. 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.

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. Years 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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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 schools you are interested in attending.

Click here to view pre-requisites for colleges and schools of veterinary medicine

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

BIOL 171/171L and 172/172LIntroduction to Biology I and II8 cr.
CHEM 161/161L and 162/162LGeneral Chemistry I and II8 cr.
CHEM 272/272L and 273/273LOrganic Chemistry I and II9 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.

Additional requirements may include courses in genetics, microbiology, public speaking, and other upper division biology or zoology 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.

Hands-On Experience:

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.
Click here for a four-year sample plan.

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What makes a strong candidate?

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

Are you capable of completing the veterinary curriculum?

Admissions committees seek students who have:

  • completed the prerequisites
  • a high overall GPA
  • a high science/math GPA
  • performed well on the GRE or MCAT
  • balanced their course load so it is challenging yet realistic

Are you likely to become a good veterinarian?

Admissions committees seek 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
  • veterinary/animal experience in the field that veterinary medicine entails
  • a well-rounded life that balances academics, community service, social activities, and personal interests (hobbies, skills, sports, etc.)
  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • a high degree of professionalism in all aspects of life
  • strong letters of evaluation/recommendation

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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). 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 or MCAT 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. Click here for a listing of the admissions requirements of colleges and schools of veterinary medicine

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Entrance Exam

All veterinary schools require applicants to take a standardized test called the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). However, a few schools also accept the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

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 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. Click here for more information on creating an MCAT study plan.

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.

Official Test Preparation Material:

MCAT Summary:  The MCAT assesses your knowledge and skills in Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Psychological/Sociological Sciences, and Verbal Reasoning. There is also an optional trial section, which examinees can complete to receive a $30 Amazon gift card. The test requires ~7.5 hours to complete, and entails ~230 multiple choice questions. The MCAT is administered in a computer-based format, and is offered in the months of January and April through September. Registration for January, April and May test days begin late-October and registration for June to September test days begin mid-February.

MCAT Scoring:  Each of the four scored sections receives a score from a low of 118 and a high of 132, with a midpoint of 125. Scores for the four sections will be combined to create a total score, ranging from 472 to 528, with a midpoint of 500. The trial section is unscored. The mean or competitive score among examinees is yet to be determined.

The 2016 MCAT Testing Calendar is now posted online! All MCAT exams begin at 8 am. Registration starts in late October and mid February.  For a complete list of the dates, please visit this link.

Official Test Preparation Material:

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

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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. 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.  Once the application is complete, VMCAS forwards it to whichever schools the student has designated.

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 VMCAS 2016 application cycle (May 13, 2015) 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 2016 Application.
  • Submit a Reimbursement Program Request Form.
  • Upload a copy of your 2014 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.

Pre-Health Vet Medicine Reimbursement Program Table

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

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.

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.

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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  • 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
Douglas L. Vincent, Ph.D., P.A.S.
Professor and Animal Scientist
Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
1955 East-West Road, Ag Sci 216
Honolulu, HI 96822

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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 ExamsMedical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Researching SchoolsVeterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR) Physical 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