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Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program


Veterinarians care for the health of animals. They diagnose, treat, or research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and animals in zoos, racetracks, and laboratories. Veterinarians in private clinical practices treat the injuries and illnesses of pets and farm animals with a variety of medical equipment, including surgical tools and x-ray machines. They provide treatment for animals that is similar to what a doctor would do to treat humans.

The following are common types of veterinarians:

  • Companion animal veterinarians treat pets and generally work in private clinics. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 77 percent of veterinarians who work in private clinical practice treat pets. They most often care for cats and dogs, but also treat other pets, such as birds, ferrets, and rabbits. These veterinarians diagnose animal health problems, consult with owners of animals, and carry out medical procedures, such as vaccinations and setting fractures.
  • Equine veterinarians work with horses. About 6 percent of private practice veterinarians treat horses.
  • Food animal veterinarians work with farm animals such as pigs, cattle, and sheep. About 8 percent of private practice veterinarians treat food animals. They spend much of their time at farms and ranches treating illnesses and injuries and testing for and vaccinating against disease. They also may advise owners or managers about feeding, housing, and general health practices.
  • Food safety and inspection veterinarians inspect livestock and animal products and enforce government food safety regulations. They may inspect livestock, checking the animals for E. coli and other transmittable diseases. They check for food purity and sanitation by inspecting food products, animals and carcasses, and slaughtering and processing plants. Others may work along the country's borders in food safety and security, ensuring abundant and safe food supplies.
  • Research veterinarians work in laboratories, conducting clinical research on human and animal health problems. These veterinarians may perform tests on animals to identify the effects of drug therapies, or they may test new surgical techniques. They may also research how to prevent, control, or eliminate food- and animal-borne illnesses and diseases.

Veterinarians must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.) degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. There are currently 28 colleges with accredited programs. A veterinary medicine program generally takes 4 years to complete and includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components.

Although not required, most applicants to veterinary school have a bachelor's degree. Veterinary medical colleges typically require applicants to have taken many science classes, including biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, zoology, microbiology, and animal science. Some programs also require math and humanities or social science courses.

Admission to veterinary programs is competitive, and less than half of all applicants were accepted in 2010.

In veterinary medicine programs, students take courses on normal animal anatomy and physiology, as well as disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Most programs include 3 years of classroom, laboratory, and clinical work. Students typically spend the final year of the 4-year program doing clinical rotations in a veterinary medical center or hospital. In veterinary schools today, increasingly, courses also include general business management and career development classes to help new veterinarians learn how to effectively run a practice. (From the online Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2011-2012).

Contact the Office of Admission

The Application Process

Students can apply to many physical therapy schools by using the Veterinarian Medical College Application Service (VMCAS). Here you will find lots of useful information on School Pre-requisites, important dates, and other vital information.

An overall GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) is the minimum for consideration for admission to the U of I Vet Med Program. In addition, a GPA of 3.0 or above in all prerequisite course work (including elective science courses) is recommended. The mean overall GPA of the U of I entering class is typically in the 3.6 to 3.7 range.

A broad exposure to veterinary medicine in more than one clinical setting is strongly recommended. Exposure to both large and small animals is highly recommended, and it is strongly suggested that you work with a number of different veterinarians. Most schools do not officially suggest a minimum number of hours for candidates applying to the University of Illinois Vet Med program. Most successful applicants will have well over 100 hours.

The University of Illinois Veterinary Medicine Program acknowledges the importance of recognizing and understanding cultural diversity. The program's faculty, staff, and students strive to promote trust, respect, and appreciation for individual differences in matters of practice, research, and education. Efforts are made to provide a supportive environment, one appreciative of human differences, while cooperating with each other in the constructive expression of ideas and actions.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is required for admission to the U of I Vet Med Program. The GRE General Test is the only test required, not the Subject Test. Arrange to take the test early to ensure receipt of the scores prior to the application deadline. For more information about the test and to register, visit the GRE website:

Three letters of recommendation are required to apply to the U of I Vet Med Program. One letter must come from a veterinarian and another from a professor in the applicant's major area of study. The third letter may come from someone who knows the student well, such as a supervisor or advisor. Letters, whether paper or electronic, are sent directly to VMCAS.

On the VMCAS application, applicants are required to disclose and explain any felony or misdemeanor convictions. Applicants offered admission to the U of I Vet Med Program are required to provide signed consent for conducting an External Criminal Background Investigation in addition to providing a signed Release of Information Waiver. This occurs at the time applicants confirm the Program's offer of admission. Enrollment in the U of I Vet Med Program is contingent on a successful background check. Applicants should also be aware that some clinical education sites will require drug screening for students performing clinical rotations.

Non-U.S. citizens are eligible for admission to the U of I Graduate Program Veterinary Medicine. However, the U of I Program only accepts coursework from U.S. institutions, and only three non-citizens have been admitted over the past 30 years. A small percentage of U.S. veterinary programs admit non-citizens. Since the odds can be challenging, non-citizen students should thoroughly research and carefully consider such a decision and discuss it with their pre-physical therapy advisors early in their undergraduate years.

U of I Vet Med Program Admissions Profile 2012:

120 students admitted (~90 Illinois residence, 30 out of state)
Mean cumulative GPA: 3.59
Mean science GPA: 3.49
Mean GRE composite percentile: 63%

The Admissions Process for U of I

The selection of students is a 3-phase process, usually completed by late-February in the year of matriculation. This process includes a cognitive evaluation, a non-cognitive evaluation and an interview. Please review the U of I Admission Requirements for more information.