Pre-Veterinary Exploration & Preparation Guide

General Tips:

  • Visit the Pre-Health portal for a comprehensive look at the pre-health resources here at UW
  • Learn more about the various careers in healthcare by visiting  
  • Subscribe to the Health Career Interest page to stay up-to-date with relevant news on health-related jobs/internships; it also includes several resources regarding preparing and applying to graduate health programs.
  • Engage in this self-paced online course to learn about the significant steps in the application process for health professional programs.
  • Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor* (UAA/Departmental/OMA&D) to discuss course planning.
  • Schedule an appointment with a career coach* to discuss your career interests and goals, plus how to reach them.

*Disclaimer: The University of Washington does not have dedicated pre-health advisors, so staff members you meet with will likely not have deep or special insight but rather more general knowledge of requirements and recommendations.

Choose from one of the following for more information:

Students are encouraged to gain as much broad exposure to veterinary medicine as possible to affirm and showcase that they can be good veterinarians and work well with animals. Consider gaining experience in three main areas: large animal, small animal, and wildlife/conservation. Examples include job shadowing with veterinarians, working on a farm, or volunteering at an animal rescue or shelter. Schools sometimes have requirements or suggestions for how many hours of experience applicants should have, often ranging between 200-500 hours, although applicants usually apply with over 1,000 hours. We encourage students to start documenting their experiences early so they can reflect on them later in the application process.

While research experience is not a requirement for veterinary school, many students use research to explore the intersection of science and animal healthcare. Research can also be a great way to work with animals in a new context or environment. Staff in the Office of Undergraduate Research (171 Mary Gates Hall) provide workshops and advising on exploring UW research opportunities.

Leadership is important because, as a health provider, you will be responsible for leading healthcare teams and being a decision-maker. Leadership can be demonstrated in many ways, so students are encouraged to reflect on what leadership looks like in their experiences. Visit HuskyLink to explore RSOs and campus offices like the Community Engagement & Leadership Education (CELE) Center or Office of Undergraduate Research (see additional research info below). Jobs and volunteering that are non-veterinary are also incredibly valuable.

Letters of Recommendation are vital to a student’s application. Schools vary in how many letters they require and from whom they require them, but they usually require at least one veterinarian. Professors can also be valuable for helping highlight your academic abilities. Establishing relationships with faculty, TAs, mentors, principal investigators, and supervisors early on can help create strong letters.

Every veterinary school has very different expectations regarding required and recommended coursework. Students will likely need to exceed the requirements of some schools to meet the requirements of other schools. We highly encourage students to review the requirements of individual schools to research specific course requirements further and accurately plan future coursework.

The American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) publishes a robust “Summary of Course Prerequisites” that contains info for veterinary schools worldwide. It is updated yearly and can be found on their website (Admission Requirements > Prerequisite Chart). The following courses are often required/recommended by veterinary schools:

  • Most require:
    • General Biology/Zoology w/ lab (1 year)
    • General Chemistry w/ lab (1 year)
    • Organic Chemistry w/ lab (1-2 quarters)
    • General Physics w/ lab (1 year)
    • Biochemistry (1 quarter)College Math/Statistics (1 year)
  • Some require:
    • Microbiology w/ lab (1-2 quarters)
    • Genetics (1 quarter)
  • Additional topics to consider (less frequently required):
    • Cellular Biology
    • Anatomy
    • Physiology
    • Public Speaking

While most programs don’t have minimum GPA or Graduate Record Examinations(GRE) requirements, many schools publish the average GPAs and test scores of admitted applicants, which can be helpful for goal-setting and determining where to apply. Applicants should contact the programs’ admissions offices directly to locate this data. If you apply to schools with minimum GRE requirements, plan enough time for studying, practice testing, and potentially retaking the exam.

Some schools also require a Situational Judgement Test (SJT), like CASPer. The purpose of an SJT is to assess an applicant’s behaviors, thought processes, and decision-making skills. Because these tests are scenario-based, with no specific content you’ll be tested on, studying the test format is recommended.