Gettysburg College Pre-Veterinary Club

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Getting Into Veterinary School

Getting Into Vet School Is Hard!

Yes, it is harder to get into vet school than med school. Not only that, but the debt is higher, and the average pay is less. Many vets (and vet students) will tell you that if you can see yourself doing ANYTHING else, you should pursue that other thing.

If That Doesn’t Scare You…

Being a veterinarian is an extremely rewarding and diverse career! You can pursue careers in fields including clinical practice, research, public health, government work (USDA, FDA, etc.), authorship, academics and much, much more. For those willing to put in the work, the time and the effort, the money can be there.


So How Do I Get There?

Animal and Veterinary Experience

Average applicants have between 400 and 600 hours of veterinary experience upon applying. Many students have thousands of hours (if they are lucky enough to get a job as a vet tech), while a few students have strengths in other areas (such as research) that get them in. You should aim to hit the average at the LEAST.

To get that number of hours, you need to shadow a vet an average of 2 hours every day that you are on summer break for 3 years.


Shadowing- Why Do It?

Shadowing is an extremely important part of veterinary experience if you are interested in going into clinical medicine. This is NOT because you will learn diseases and treatments, but rather because you will obtain a realistic view of the profession, the hours, the work and the clientele. There is no way to know if this is what you want to do unless you shadow for a significant amount of time.

So Where Do I Go?

  • We highly encourage students to shadow while they are here. It develops a great relationship between the college and the community, helps begin to build your hours, and can serve as a motivator and a stress reliever.
  • List of local veterinarians in all disciplines who are willing to take shadowers/volunteers. The list can be found under the documents section of the website. A few of these are within walking distance of the campus, while many more are within driving distance.

How Do I Find Vets At Home?

  • The PVC has a list of alumni, can possibly find Gettysburg veterinarians in your home state.
  • Google 'veterinarians' within an hour radius of your home (or however far you are willing to drive). Get their phone numbers, and start making calls. Oftentimes one connection can lead to others. If they are “unable” or unwilling to take shadowers, ask if they know anyone who does!
  • Some hospitals will take “volunteers” but not “shadowers” or will take “interns.” Asking if any of these is a possibility will sometimes breach barriers.

Why Do I Need to Shadow Multiple Vets?

You have shadowed in a small animal hospital. You know it is what you want to do. Why should you shadow somewhere else??

  • Diversity of experiences. Vet schools want you to be certain in your decision to do small animal medicine because you have seen everything else and you keep coming back to it, not that it is because you have ONLY seen small animal medicine.
  • You may find something you love doing, but didn’t expect to like when you first started shadowing.
  • Different practices run in different ways. If you are interested in opening your own clinic one day, this gives you a variety of platforms to pick and choose from for operation.

Extracurriculars and Leadership

  • While all schools want to see that veterinary medicine and learning are a passion for you, they also want to see that it isn’t your only passion!
  • Getting involved in clubs, sports and activities can help boost your application, adding depth and flavor. Taking leadership roles also looks great!


  • The average vet school student has a grade point average of around 3.6. This is NOT a 4.0! You do not have to be perfect to get into vet school. Many students apply and get in with a C on their transcript!
  • Science GPA is normally around a 3.6


Each school has different pre-requisites. It is important to plan which schools you may want to apply to now and schedule courses accordingly. While that sounds overwhelming, as a general guideline you should take (at Gettysburg):

  1. Bio 111 and 112 or Phage Bio
  2. Genetics
  3. Microbiology
  4. Chem 105/107 and 108
  5. Chem 203 and 204 (Organic Chemistry)
  6. Physics (calc or non-calc) 2 semesters
  7. A writing course and a non-writing English course
  8. Math (2 semesters) This differs significantly between schools- but calculus and statistics are normally sufficient.

Pre-Requisites Not Offered at Gettysburg College:

  • The only pre-requisites we don’t have are Animal Nutrition, Public Speaking and Animal Science classes.
  • Most schools will take the general Nutrition class instead of the “Animal” version. Animal Nutrition is offered online by different schools so it is possible to take it that way.
  • Public Speaking is offered by any community college and can easily be taken over the summer.

GRE (Graduate Record Examinations)

  • Yes, you have to take it.
  • Some schools will also take the MCATs (students often apply to med school as a back up).
  • Average Scores: 155 in verbal and quantitative and 4.5 on analytical writing.
  • Cost is $185. Almost everyone reports taking it multiple times to achieve their best score. Some schools will pick and choose the best score from multiple tests, while others will take the single best score set.
  • The best time to take it is either during or after Junior year, at the beginning of the summer (leaving plenty of time to retake and re-study if necessary).

VMCAS (Veterinary Medical College Application Service)

  • All schools use it (including many foreign schools) except for Tuskegee, Texas and Tufts.
  • You will also have Supplemental Applications (and fees) for each school.
  • You apply the Summer/Fall (June- October) between Junior and Senior year for matriculation directly after graduation from Gettysburg.

School Highlights

 University of Pennsylvania

  • About 84 NR seats, 39 R. Total 1356 applicants last year.
  • Pre-reqs: English composition ( 2 courses), 2 semesters physics, 2 gen chem, 1 organic chem, 3 courses of Biology (general, zoology, cell, genetics, etc.), 1 course Biochemistry, 1 course microbiology, 2 courses in social sciences/humanities, calculus and statistics.
  • Accepts AP credit.
  • Recommends 500-600 hrs of vet & animal experience
  • While all tuition are estimates, tuition is estimated to cost about $55,798 for non-residents, and about $45,798 residents 
  • Some scholarships are available 
  • Does have VMD- graduate programs
  • Visit to find more information!


  • 50 R VA seats, 30 R MD seats, 6 WV seats, 34 NR seats
  • Prereqs: 2  biology,  2 organic chemistry, 2 physics, 1 biochemistry, 2 english composition, 2 humanities/social sciences, 2 math.
  • AP accepted for 1 semester of English. AP accepted for any other courses.
  • Suggested Electives include: Cell Biology, Comparative Anatomy, Genetics, Microbiology, Nutrition, and Physiology
  • Tuition is about  $23,094 for residents and about $49,646 for non-residents
  • Does have combined DVM-graduate programs and scholarships available.
  • For extra information, visit!


  • 55 seats for R, 47 for NR, total 917 applicants last year
  • Prereqs: 2 english composition/ literature (MUST be writing intensive), 2 biology/zoology, 2 physics, 2 gen chem, 2 organic chem, 1-2 biochemistry (1 suggested, 2 preferred), microbiology
  • Accepts AP credit for physics and gen chem w/ score of 4
  • Letters of evaluation from each veterinary/animal/biomedical experience that has significant hours
  • Suggested that applicants have 400 or more shadowing hours.
  • Tuition: R-$34,750, NR- $50,980
  • Dual degree programs with DVM/PhD and DVM/MPH
  • Visit to find out more!

Foreign Accredited Schools

  • They are all over the world! You do not have to take a different exam than US- educated students if the school is AVMA accredited.
  • Often the schools require fluency in their language, but some do not.
  • These are not necessarily cheaper than US schools, and many are more expensive.
  • If you're interested, check out some of their websites...

    1. Remember: The veterinary schools listed here ARE NOT the only ones. Choosing a veterinary school is a personal decision, all dependent on what you want to study, where you want to study, and what you can afford. As listed below, some schools are better for certain specialties.

Schools with “Specialties”

¨  Equine: Penn, Colorado, Cornell, UC Davis, Louisiana,

¨  Bovine (Dairy): Wisconsin, California, Minnesota

¨  Bovine (Meat): Kansas, Ohio, Texas A &M

¨  Swine: Iowa, NC State,

¨  Small Ruminants: Oklahoma, Michigan

¨  Exotics/Zoo: Penn, Tufts, Illinois, NC State, Florida, Tennessee, UC Davis, Wisconsin

¨  Public Health: VMR, Ohio, UC Davis, Michigan, Cornell, Kansas

¨  Feline Health: Cornell

¨  Shelter Medicine: UC Davis

¨  Veterinary Forensics: Florida

¨  Research: Penn, Cornell, Davis, Wisconsin, VMR

¨  PHD/MPH Programs: Minnesota, Tennessee

¨  Holistics: Colorado

If you have any questions, please contact one of the club’s officers. They will try to answer to the best of their ability, or refer you to someone who can give you more information. Thank you!