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Veterinary Medicine


Veterinary medicine programs prepare people to work as doctors for animals.

Veterinary medicine programs teach people the health needs of animals. Students learn to diagnose and treat diseases and disorders. They also learn to comfort animals and educate owners.

Veterinary medicine programs include topics such as:


In veterinary medicine programs, students may be able to specialize in:


Several universities offer graduate degrees in veterinary medicine. Students earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or Veterinary Medical Doctor (VMD) degree. These degree programs usually require four or more years or study beyond the bachelor’s degree.


Residencies allow students to become board certified and focus their veterinary career on a specific area. Clinical residencies typically take two years to complete after the veterinary medical degree.

See schools that offer this program.

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is very competitive. You need at least three years of college level courses in the physical and natural sciences, social sciences, and statistics. You also need good grades and good test scores. In addition, most veterinary medicine schools require veterinary experience. You can work or volunteer for local animal shelters and veterinary clinics. You can also join 4-H or similar organizations.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

Some schools require the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) or Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) in place of the GRE.

Typical Course Work

Usually the professional veterinary medicine program is divided into two phases. The first emphasizes preclinical sciences, including:

The second phase is clinical. Students work directly with animals and their owners, under the supervision of professors and licensed veterinarians. Students typically concentrate on several topics during clinical rotations. These topics can include small and large animal internal medicine, cardiology, and oncology; large animal surgery; epidemiology, orthopedics, anesthesiology; and caring for exotic animals.

Graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree typically include:

Things to Know

When you graduate from veterinary medical school, you become a DVM or VMD, or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

It is often possible to combine your DVM studies with a master's or doctoral degree in veterinary science. This allows you to become a veterinary scientist.

All 50 states require you to become licensed before you can practice veterinary medicine. You must graduate from an approved veterinary medicine program and pass written and oral exams.

Several states require you to take continuing education courses to maintain your veterinary's license.


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