Veterinary medicine or science is one of the most popular careers in the US, making it a very exciting and rewarding career. And because it’s very popular, it’s a very competitive discipline. However, attending one of the best schools for veterinary medicine in the US automatically places you ahead of the majority.
You have many diverse options in the US as a veterinarian. While you have the option to own a private clinic, working in a public veterinary hospital appears to be the less expensive alternative. You can also go into veterinary research or apply to teach prospective veterinarians.
This article will walk you through all you need to know about veterinary schools in the US, your career options as a veterinarian, and how much you can earn in the field.
Before we proceed, you may want to read about the 11 Best Schools For Veterinary Assistants
What do veterinarians do?
Veterinarians examine the health conditions of animals and provide treatments where necessary. They provide for animals the exact form of care and services that physicians provide to human beings.
Their day-to-day activities can range from diagnosing illnesses, treating injuries, conducting surgeries, administering vaccines, and giving drug prescriptions for animals.
Are veterinarians in high demand in the US?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 19 percent employment growth for veterinarians in the US between 2021 and 2031. They expect an average of 4,800 openings for veterinarians each year within the same timeframe.
That means veterinary employment growth far exceeds the nation’s employment growth rate of 6 percent within the same timeframe.
With this information, it’s very clear that the demand for veterinarians isn’t only high at the moment but is expected to keep growing in the next decade.
Best schools for veterinary in the US
When choosing the best veterinary school, you should look at the quality of the school’s program, the school location, accreditation status, affordability, and the graduates’ employment rate.
Based on the above criteria, here are the best 11 schools for veterinary in the US:
The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) has consistently been among the top two vet schools in the US for over a decade now. It offers a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program and several graduate programs with different specializations.
With full accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), UC Davis provides a world-class education to its students.
Though UC Davis has out-of-state tuition of $44,372, which is a bit high for the average student, it offers many scholarship opportunities to students.
You can visit the school website for more information.
Cornell University is a private research university in Ithaca, New York. It is one of the two Ivy League schools that ranks among the top 10 veterinary schools in the US.
The school offers DVM, PhD, master’s, and a couple of other combined degree programs in veterinary medicine. As a student at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, you start working with animals on your first day of school. The school believes students understand better when they get practical, real-life experience of the theoretical lectures they receive.
Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine has full accreditation from the AVMA. The DVM program at Cornell University has an in-state tuition of $38,250 and out-of-state tuition of $56,824.
You can visit the website to learn more about the school’s veterinary program.
The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University (CSU) has been in existence for over 100 years. The school continually ranks as one of the best schools for veterinary medicine, as its DVM program still maintains a world-class academic structure.
The College of Veterinary Medicine and biomedical sciences at CSU offer specializations in many veterinary programs. From biomedical sciences, clinical sciences, and environmental and radiologic sciences to microbiology, immunology, and pathology.
The tuition for CSU’s DVM program is $37,406 and $61,460 for in-state and out-of-state students. The school has full accreditation from the AVMA for all its veterinary programs.
You can visit the school website for more information.
North Carolina State University (NCSU) offers real value to its veterinary students from their first day in school. Students are exposed to a world-class research center, medical centers, researchers, and academic faculty with years of experience.
In your fourth year in school, you’ll study at the school’s teaching hospital, where you’ll have a variety of specialties to focus on. You can specialize in cardiology, oncology, zoological science, dermatology, neurology, or equine surgery.
The cost of studying veterinary medicine at the Raleigh-based school is between $19,000 and $48,000 for in-state and out-of-state students. The NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine has full accreditation from the AVMA.
You can visit the school website for more information.
The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Veterinary Medicine is a household name in veterinary studies in the US. The school’s graduates dominate the veterinary workforce in Ohio, with about 80% of the state’s practicing veterinarians being alumni of the school.
The College of Veterinary Medicine has three academic departments: veterinary biosciences, clinical sciences, and preventive medicine. Each of these departments has specialties you might want to explore.
The cost of veterinary tuition at Ohio State University ranges from $33,000 to $73,000 for both resident and non-resident students. The school also has full accreditation from the AVMA.
You can visit the school website to learn more about the veterinary programs at OSU.
The veterinary program at Texas A&M University is very vast and extensive. There are world-class hospitals and facilities for every specialty.
Whether you want to focus on large animal clinical sciences, small animal clinical sciences, pathobiology, physiology, pharmacology, or biomedical sciences, there are standard hospitals and research centers where you can gain experience.
The programs at Texas A&M University have full accreditation from AVMA and cost between $25,000 and $41,000 for both resident and non-resident students.
You can tour the school website to learn more.
The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in Philadelphia ranks highly for almost all its programs. Its College of Veterinary Medicine is the second oldest in the US.
The University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine (PennVet) offers a direct VMD program and other dual degree programs. You can choose to pursue either a VMD/PhD, VMD/MBA, VMD/MPH, or any other dual program.
PennVet has full accreditation from the AVMA for all its veterinary programs. The cost of tuition at PennVet ranges from $53,000 to $64,000.
Visit the school website to learn more about PennVet.
The University of Wisconsin is a public research university in Madison, Wisconsin. It ranks as one of the best schools for veterinary medicine in the US because of the quality of its programs. The commitment of its faculty to provide a high-standard education to students is worthy of emulation.
The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Wisconsin offers two veterinary programs: a DMV and an MS/PhD in Comparative Biomedical Sciences.
The school has full accreditation from the AVMA. The tuition for DMV at the University of Wisconsin is $31,430 and $50,579 for resident and non-resident students, respectively.
Visit the school’s website to learn more about its veterinary programs.
The University of Florida is a public land-grant university in Gainesville, Florida. The College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida is the only school of veterinary medicine in Florida.
The school offers a DVM program and other graduate programs that lead to an MS and PhD in veterinary science. They also offer online programs for distance learning students who have to acquire their clinical experience at nearby veterinary hospitals. The school obviously ranks among the best schools for veterinary because of its deep involvement in animal health research.
The college of veterinary medicine at the University of Florida has full accreditation from the AVMA. Tuition for its students ranges from $28,000 to $46,000.
More information is available on the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine website.
The University of Georgia (UGA) is a public research university with its main campus in Athens. The school has modern facilities and the faculty you need to explore any of its many specialties.
UGA College of Veterinary Medicine offers a DMV program with specializations in three key areas: Equine/Food and fiber animal (large animal), mixed animal, and small animal. They also have graduate programs and continuing education in veterinary science.
The tuition at the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine ranges from $17,000 to $48,000. UGA also has full accreditation from the AVMA.
You can check the school website for more information.
The University of Minnesota (UMN) College of Veterinary Medicine ranks among the best schools for veterinary medicine in the US for several reasons. The school commits effort and resources to conducting cutting-edge research and producing highly sought-after graduates in the US.
They offer DVM programs, graduate veterinary programs, and several dual degree programs. The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine is in partnership with South Dakota State University to offer a Professional Practice in Veterinary Medicine (PPVM) program to students. The 2+2 program is structured to allow students who completed a two years program at the University of South Dakota to complete the remaining two years at UMN.
The veterinary tuition at UMN ranges from $32,000 to $58,000. UMN’s College of Veterinary Medicine has full accreditation from the AVMA.
Visit the school’s website to learn more about its programs.
What major do I need to be a veterinarian?
To be a veterinarian, you need to major in either chemistry, physics, biochemistry, biology, zoology, or animal biology in your undergraduate studies. Then go on to acquire a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from an accredited veterinary school.
What GPA do I need to get into vet school?
Most veterinary schools require you to have a minimum GPA of 3.5 when applying for admission. Veterinary science is a rigorous program, and they’d need to be sure you can handle the challenging academic requirements.
However, there are vet schools that accept GPAs below 3.0.
How long do I need to study to be a veterinarian?
It takes six to eight years of study to be a veterinarian. A bachelor’s degree in a veterinary major, which takes two to four years, is an essential prerequisite to vet school.
Veterinary school in the United States is a four-year program. And if you decide to specialize further, you’d need to spend another two to five years as a resident student in a veterinary hospital.
How much can I earn as a veterinarian?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage of veterinarians in the US as of May 2021 was $100,370.
The lowest 10 percent earned less than $60,760, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $165,600.
Veterinarians earn an hourly wage of $29.21 to $37.94.
What skills do I need to become a veterinarian?
These are the skills you need to be a successful veterinarian:
- Animal handling skills
- Practical medical skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Analytical skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Technical skills
How do I become a veterinarian?
Obtain a bachelor’s degree in a veterinary major
After high school, you have to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a major veterinary program. The options available to you are biology, zoology, chemistry, physics, biochemistry, or animal biology.
These programs prepare you for vet school by introducing you to all the essential veterinary school prerequisites. Some programs go on to offer pre-vet programs as additional coursework.
Earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree
Having acquired your bachelor’s, you have to apply to a vet school and obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.
It’s best to attend a veterinary school with full accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Pass the NAVLE
The North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) is the exam you take to qualify officially to practice as a veterinarian. The NAVLE consists of 360 multiple-choice questions, and you’re given approximately seven hours to complete it.
The NAVLE result is expressed on a scale of 200 to 800, and you’re required to score a minimum of 425 to pass.
The International Council for Veterinary Assessments (ICVA) administers the NAVLE during testing windows in the spring and fall.
After your NAVLE exam, you can now sign up for residency programs, further your studies, or go into veterinary practice.
Also read: US Best Schools For Forensic Science in 2023
What areas can I specialize in as a veterinarian?
The American Veterinary Medical Association recognizes 22 veterinary specialty organizations and 46 distinct veterinary specialties. Here are the top 22 specialties you might have an interest in:
- Anesthesia and analgesia
- Animal welfare
- Behavioral medicine
- Clinical pharmacology
- Emergency and critical care
- Internal medicine
- Laboratory animal medicine
- Poultry veterinary medicine
- Preventive medicine
- Species-specialized veterinary medicine
- Sports medicine and rehabilitation
- Zoological medicine
Veterinary medicine is a very rewarding career. If you’re already on this path, or you’re making plans to venture onto it, you’d better know that it requires you to work really hard before you reap the rewards. The rigorous, challenging classes and laboratory sessions will eventually pay off if you stay the course.
Attending one of the best schools for veterinary medicine makes everything easier for you. You’d get the best education, so there won’t be challenges in understanding certain basic concepts. Ultimately, you’d have a bigger advantage than others in the job market.
I hope this article provides you with the essential guidelines you need to get a head start in your career as a veterinarian.
Frequently asked questions about schools for veterinary
The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) is the school with the best veterinary program in the US. It’s recognized by many professional bodies as the best veterinary school in the US.
Veterinary school is hard, according to many vet graduates. In fact, some people believe it’s harder than medical school.
However, one thing you need to be sure of is that vet school has a very rigorous academic program. You’d spend at least 25-40 hours weekly in the classroom and laboratory, and that doesn’t include the extra hours you’d put in for private studies.
Veterinarians are well paid. And if you’re doing it for your love and passion for animals, you’d enjoy it more.
What is worth more than a rewarding career that makes you happy?
The highest-paid specialty in veterinary medicine is ophthalmology. According to the AVMA, veterinarians in this specialty make up to $199,000 annually.
Yes, it’s possible. However, the best way to go about it is to get a part-time job in a vet-related field. With that, you won’t have to zone in and out of each program to be able to cope.
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