Veterinary Medicine

Choosing a major:

It is not important that you be a science major to attend veterinary school. It is critical, however, that you complete all prerequisite courses!  You can take these courses as electives, while pursuing your longstanding interest in art, music, history… whatever it is that you love. If you choose to major in a discipline that you really enjoy, you will most likely do better academically, and enjoy your college experience more. If science is what you love, go for it. If you are not a science person, it is important that you do well in the required science courses.

Course prerequisites

Prerequisites vary by program. Check individual programs to which you plan to apply. A list of prerequisites by school can be found at

Below is a list of prerequisites generally required by most veterinary programs. But requirements vary widely by program, and you should check specific programs for additional requirements.

General biology (BIO 150/L and 160/L)

General chemistry (CHM 111 and 280)

Organic chemistry  (CHM122 and 223)

Physics  (PHY 113/L and 114/L, or PHY 123/L and 124/L)

Math and/or statistics (statistics is offered by many departments)

Microbiology (BIO 326)

Also required by some programs:



Additional science electives

Possible course plans

Below are two possible course plans. Because there are so many requirements for veterinary school (more than medical school!), the preparation can be very intense. It is strongly recommended that you not take two lab science courses during your first semester unless you are a strong student in the sciences. It is important to start out strong academically, and often the first semester in college requires some adjustment of study habits. Some schools recommend not taking two lab sciences at the same time until the sophomore year. One way to spread out the requirements is to take some of the prerequisite courses in summer school, at Wake Forest or elsewhere.  But another way is to spread the requirements out over the full four years, and take a gap year to apply to veterinary school (see the section on the Gap Year). That allows you to devote more time to the service and shadowing that you need to make you a competitive applicant, and also permits study abroad. 

Remember, it does no good to rush through the prerequisites, only to find at the end of three years that your GPA is not competitive! It is very difficult to overcome a transcript full of C’s and repeated courses.

Hardcore option (Plan A) 

Fall year 1 Spring year 1 Fall year 2 Spring year 2 Fall year 3 Spring year 3 Summer year 3 Fall year 4 Spring year 4
CHM 111/L

MTH 111

CHM 122/L

BIO 150/L

CHM 223/L

*BIO 160/L

CHM 280/L PHY 113/L, or PHY 123/L


PHY 114/L, or PHY 124/L

BIO 370


Complete application

Take GRE

Complete divisionals and major Complete divisionals and major

 Four-year plan (Plan B)


year 1

Spring year 1 Fall

year 2

Spring year 2 Fall year 3 Spring year 3 Fall year 4 Spring year 4 Right after graduation
CHM 111/L

Math 111

CHM 122/L


CHM 223/L

BIO 150/L

CHM 280/L

BIO 160/L

Study abroad? BIO 370 PHY 113/L, or PHY 123/L


PHY 114/L, or PHY 124/L

Prepare for and take GRE

Complete application

Take GRE



Shadowing and Experience

One of the things that Veterinary Schools will look for is evidence that you know what it means to be a vet. You can get this experience in two ways, first by shadowing a veterinarian and second, by doing volunteer work which involves work with animals. 

Finding a veterinarian to shadow is generally not difficult. Prepare a cover letter and resume, and drop it off at the veterinarian’s office. Follow up with a phone call. You will find most veterinarians are eager to help. If it is possible, shadow more than one veterinarian. How many hours should you shadow? A minimum of 50 hours; more is better. Establishing a good relationship with a veterinarian can be very useful as a strong letter of recommendation from a vet can be very beneficial.

There are many relevant volunteer opportunities at your local animal shelter, pet adoption agency (AARF in Winston-Salem), or even at an aquarium, if possible. 

Application process

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required by most veterinary schools, and some also require the Biology GRE. Some schools will accept the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). It is best to take the GRE in early spring, so that you can take it a second time if necessary. If you plan on taking the Advanced Biology GRE, allow ample time to prepare. How do you know whether you need to retake the test? The average GRE score for students admitted to veterinary school is around the 75th percentile. 

Application to Veterinary School is not subject to the Health Professions Committee process. No Health Professions Committee letter is required.

Start with a visit to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) site Veterinary School Admission 101:

Application to veterinary school is done through a centralized application service, VMCAS, which is run by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). Applications open in May, and are due in September. But it requires some time to fill out, so start early. It is best to apply as early as possible, since transcripts and letters must be verified by VMCAS and this can take some time.  For more information on VMCAS, see: