Best Pre-Veterinary Studies colleges in the U.S. 2023

Written by Beth Hering
Expert review by Tien Rooney

Did you know that 70% of U.S. households contain at least one pet? Owners love their animal roommates and take all the necessary steps to keep them well. Pet health often involves the services of trained professionals for vaccinations, well-being check-ups, prescriptions, and care for an illness or injury.

It’s little wonder, then, that veterinary medicine is such a hot career field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of veterinarians to grow a whopping 19% over the next decade. Furthermore, experts cite veterinary medicine as one of the more recession-proof occupations. Owners may look for cheaper dog food or go extra weeks between groomer appointments, but when Fido is sick, their cherished companion will get the care they need.

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Best Pre-Veterinary Studies colleges in the U.S. for 2023

MCPHS University
Boston, MA

MCPHS University offers 1 Pre-Veterinary Studies degree programs. It's a medium sized, private not-for-profit, four-year university in a large city.

Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI

Pre-veterinary medicine is a non-degree major designation available to freshmen and sophomores at MSU who plan to go on to veterinary school. With help from their academic advisors, students forge an educational path that meets common vet school admission requirements and provides them with a solid foundation for their future career aspirations. By junior year, they choose a degree-granting major to pursue, such as animal science, zoology, or fisheries and wildlife.

MSU, located in East Lansing, contains the state’s only veterinary college, and undergraduates benefit from the opportunities readily available. Seven farms are within three miles of campus and contain centers for cattle, swine, sheep, poultry, and horses. World-class faculty are involved in research and clinical innovation – making MSU an exciting place for those interested in animals and their well-being. 

Not certain if veterinary school is your ultimate destination? UMass gives students time to figure things out. All incoming freshmen start off as animal science majors and can later apply to the pre-veterinary science major if they earn a B- or better in select courses. Within the animal science program, students concentrate on one of three areas: animal management, biotechnology, or equine science.

What students can expect from day one, though, are plenty of opportunities to interact with and learn about animals. The first lab of the required Intro to Animal Science course all take in their first semester involves learning proper methods of restraining and haltering sheep.

Note too that UMass recently introduced a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology. Students spend the first two years at the Amherst campus before moving to the Mt. Ida campus in Newton, Massachusetts their junior year to take more specialized small animal coursework.

Interested in interning at the U.S. Department of Agriculture or perhaps the National Zoo? The proximity of this large, public institution to such sites makes these hands-on opportunities possible. And at UMD itself, first-semester students immediately get practical experience with domestic animals through the campus farm.

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has multiple tracks for animal-loving students. Those interested in careers that deal with equine, poultry, livestock, or lab animals frequently select Animal Care and Management. Undergrads planning to apply to veterinary school or to continue their studies in a graduate school science program often choose the Sciences/Pre-Professional concentration. Highly motivated students looking to achieve both their undergraduate degree and their DVM in less time may opt for an accelerated program in which they complete their fourth year of undergraduate studies in vet school.

Lubbock Christian University offers 1 Pre-Veterinary Studies degree programs. It's a small, private not-for-profit, four-year university in a large city. In 2020, 4 Pre-Veterinary Studies students graduated with students earning 4 Bachelor's degrees.

Looking to attend a large state school known for its research and for being a great educational value? UArizona in Tucson might be your place. Through its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), it awards a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Science. Students can choose to focus on applied animal behavior or general veterinary science. Outside the classroom, pre-vet students have ample opportunities for educational enrichment and building friendships through extracurriculars such as Collegiate 4-H, the rodeo club, the livestock judging team, CALS First Cats for first generation students, and the Life Sciences Student Association.

Through its College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources, this public institution awards the Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Medicine. Students in this pre-professional program receive close advising from faculty and can increase their attractiveness to vet school admission committees through internships with veterinary practitioners. In addition to its commitment to offering a quality education, the university also helps students pay for it. More than three-fourths of students receive financial aid, and over half of all students graduate with no debt.

Clemson University
Clemson, SC

This public institution in Clemson, South Carolina, awards the Bachelor of Science degree in Animal and Veterinary Sciences. Students with this major select from one of three concentration areas: animal agribusiness, equine business, or pre-veterinary and science. With six livestock farms – beef, dairy, equine, poultry, swine, and sheep – students have plenty of up-close experience with animals. A variety of opportunities to join research teams also exist.

Many first-year students take part in a living-learning community known as SAVS (Students in Veterinary Sciences). The arrangement facilitates study groups, friendships with people sharing similar career interests, and access to special workshops and events.

Another institution where the pre-veterinary medicine program is not degree-granting, many of the students at this public university in Muncie, Indiana choose to complete a biology major with a concentration in zoology. Classes are offered in areas such as ornithology, mammalogy, ichthyology, entomology, and animal parasitology. And since 4 out of every 5 students at Ball State qualify for merit- or need- based financial aid, chances are high that you could receive help in paying for your education.

Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS

As is the case at many institutions, pre-veterinary medicine is not a degree-granting program at Kansas State. Rather, students can pursue an undergraduate major of their choice while working with an advisor to include courses tailored to their interest in animals and to fulfill admission requirements for vet school if headed in that direction. Note that K-State Online offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Sciences and Industry, and following a science/pre-veterinary track is among the curriculum options.

For outstanding high school seniors with a desire to go to veterinary school, this public institution in Manhattan, Kansas offers an Early Admission Program. Selection is based on veterinary and animal experience, high school GPA, extra-curricular activities, community service, intent, references, and an on-campus interview.

What is Pre-Veterinary Studies?

Becoming that professional who animals and their people rely on often starts with pursuing studies in pre-veterinary medicine. This concentration introduces students to fundamental biological and animal science topics. This background puts interested students in a good position to meet the requirements for admission to veterinary school. Other pre-vet majors use their knowledge to go on to graduate studies in a scientific field or to enter other animal-related careers besides veterinary medicine.

Pre-Veterinary Studies Degree Overview

As prospective healthcare providers for animals, pre-veterinary medicine majors learn all about their future patients. Coursework – oftentimes taught by practicing veterinarians – focuses on things such as animal behavior, animal physiology, and immunology. Labs and clinical experiences enhance the learning experience.

Pre-veterinary majors also should expect to take plenty of math and science courses. This background prepares students for the rigors of veterinary school. It also lays the foundation for going into animal research and other areas involving data collection and interpretation.

Types of Pre-Veterinary Classes

Pre-veterinary colleges vary in their offerings. Much of what a student takes depends on the individual institution’s requirements as well as the person’s own interests. Some classes, though, tend to be rather standard for pre-vet students. These courses often include:

  • Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Organic chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Physics
  • Genetics
  • Algebra, calculus, or statistics
  • Animal physiology
  • Animal nutrition
  • Animal diseases
  • Ethical issues in biology

Skills Learned in a Pre-Veterinary Degree Program

Pre-veterinary medicine students learn a variety of skills that serve them well in future animal-related occupations or in pursuing a higher-level degree. Some of these include:

  • Evaluation of animal health (what is normal and what is not)
  • Technical skills used with animals (such as how to draw blood or put in a catheter)
  • Forming bonds with animals and exhibiting compassion
  • Research skills (such as how to use lab equipment and employ the scientific method in experiments)
  • Reading, writing, and appraising scientific literature
  • Critical and ethical thinking

How Long Does it Take to Get a Pre-Veterinary Degree?

Like other bachelor’s degrees, pre-vet degrees typically take four years of full-time study to earn. During this time, students complete course requirements for their major as well as general studies. Someone entering with previous education, such as already holding an associate degree, will take less time to finish what’s needed for a bachelor’s degree. On the flipside, a person who only attends college part-time will need more than four years to complete their degree.

Note that pre-veterinary studies alone do not qualify someone to become a practicing veterinarian. To enter that occupation, one must then attend veterinary school, which happens after you earn your undergraduate degree. Completing that rigorous program typically involves an additional four years of study.

Next Steps to Get Started in a Pre-Veterinary Program

Think studying pre-veterinary medicine might be a good career move? The following steps can help you land a spot at an institution that suits your interests:

  1. Pay attention to what you do in high school. A strong GPA increases your attractiveness to admissions counselors. Work especially hard in math and science classes to strengthen your STEM skills. Outside of class, look for opportunities to work with animals. Animal shelters love volunteers, or perhaps see if a local vet could use part-time office help.

  2. Examine higher education options thoroughly. Places differ in factors such as format (online vs. on-campus), specializations, cost, location, size, acceptance rate, and atmosphere. The best school is the one best suited to your individual situation. If you plan on attending veterinary school down the line, explore their admissions requirements, too. This knowledge will help you evaluate whether the undergraduate schools you are interested in will provide the background you need to achieve your ultimate goal.

  3. Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Money is bound to be a chief concern when selecting a college. Completing this form enables students to see what type of grants, loans, work study programs, and other sources of help may be available based on need and circumstances. And don’t forget to apply for scholarships!

  4. Take the application process seriously. Provide schools with all requested material. Make sure everything is in their hands by the set deadline, including letters of recommendation. Craft essays until they shine, and definitely proofread and spell-check before submitting!

Admissions Requirements for Pre-Veterinary Degree Programs

Each institution has its own admissions requirements, so carefully follow instructions when applying. The following are items frequently requested:

  • The school’s application or The Common App (a standardized application used by thousands of schools – be sure the places you’re applying to accept it)
  • High school transcript that includes courses taken, grade in each, and cumulative GPA
  • Transcripts from any previous post-secondary institutions
  • Recommendations from teachers, counselors, or other relevant professionals
  • SAT and/or ACT scores
  • Proof of English language proficiency (if an international student)
  • Application fee

Earning an Online Pre-Veterinary Studies Degree

Like many undergraduate degrees, students can pursue pre-veterinary studies online at select institutions. Reasons people may choose remote studies include:

  • Not needing to relocate or deal with a lengthy commute
  • Greater flexibility in mixing education with other things such as holding a job or raising children
  • Cost-saving opportunities through possible acceleration

The same instructors that teach on-campus classes often lead online classes, so you’ll be receiving the same quality education. Presentation methods vary by school. Remote students may need to attend online classes or discussion sessions at specific times. Others may view lectures at convenient times and contribute posts to chat spaces. Required labs may bring telecommuting students to campus for select periods, while others may complete online simulations. An internship at a location convenient to the student may enhance the educational experience.

Pre-Veterinary Studies Career and Salary Overview

Many students who seek a pre-veterinary degree do so with the intention of attending veterinary school to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). This degree and passing a certification exam are necessary in order to become a practicing veterinarian. 

The understanding of animal science obtained through pre-veterinary studies also can be applied to other occupations. Some graduates opt for professions that involve assisting licensed vets. Others go into research. Practicing veterinarians can find careers in a variety of places:

  • Animal shelters
  • Zoos
  • Aquariums
  • Farms
  • Animal training facilities
  • State game and fish departments
  • Nature conservatories
  • Wildlife rehabilitation facilities
  • National parks
  • Other places where a knowledge of animals is useful

Pre-Veterinary Salary and Career Information

Here is a sample of occupations a person who studies pre-veterinary medicine as an undergrad may ultimately pursue. Note that projections are estimates given current conditions and should not be interpreted as a guarantee for the future.



Projected Job Growth (2021-2031)

About the Position




Vets diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries of pets, livestock, and other animals.

Veterinary technologist



Techs assist veterinarians with tasks such as examinations, medical tests, first aid, and preparation for surgical procedures.

Zoologist and wildlife biologist



These professionals study animals and how they interact with their ecosystems.

Source: BLS

Pre-Veterinary Certification and Training

As you ponder career choices, note the requirements for entry. As mentioned before, becoming a veterinarian requires a DVM from an accredited veterinary college as well as a state license. Fields such as veterinary technology require passing a credentialing exam. Knowing what you will need to enter a given occupation allows proper planning of an educational and career path.

Pre-Veterinary Studies FAQ

  • Can I complete pre-veterinary studies online?
    • Yes, some off-campus options exist. Programs differ by institution in terms of how they are conducted, so carefully examine each to evaluate what suits your needs and interests. Also, check into accreditation and that what you are learning will help you achieve your educational and career goals, such as getting into veterinary school.
  • Can I become a vet after completing a degree in pre-veterinary studies?
    • Studying pre-veterinary medicine is a great starting point for aspiring veterinarians. However, an undergraduate degree alone is not sufficient for that occupation. To become a practicing veterinarian, one must go on to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from an accredited veterinary school as well as pass a state licensing exam.
  • Why should I pursue pre-veterinary studies?
    • For people who love animals and think working with them would be a good career choice, studying pre-veterinary medicine can be a rewarding experience. Plus, projected job growth over the next decade for veterinarians and others employed in animal care is quite high.
  • How long do pre-veterinary medicine programs take?
    • Earning a bachelor’s degree generally takes four-years of full-time study. Part-time students will require additional time.
  • What career options do I have with a pre-veterinary studies degree?
    • Pre-veterinary students often go on to veterinary school after graduation in order to become a practicing vet. Others pursue occupations where they assist licensed veterinarians. Some go into animal research. Many find employment at animal shelters, zoos, aquariums, farms, animal training facilities, state game and fish departments, nature conservatories, wildlife rehabilitation facilities, national parks, and other places where a knowledge of animals is useful.

List of all Pre-Veterinary Studies colleges in the U.S.

School Average Tuition Student Teacher Ratio Enrolled Students
MCPHS University Logo MCPHS University Boston, MA
25 : 1 7,501
Michigan State University Logo Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
20 : 1 49,695
University of Massachusetts-Amherst Logo University of Massachusetts-Amherst Amherst, MA
22 : 1 31,642
University of Maryland-College Park Logo University of Maryland-College Park College Park, MD
22 : 1 40,709
Lubbock Christian University Logo Lubbock Christian University Lubbock, TX
19 : 1 1,664