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Pre-Veterinary Medicine

Preparing for a Career in Veterinary Medicine

A veterinarian (vet), also known as a veterinary surgeon or veterinary physician, is a professional who practices veterinary medicine by treating diseases, disorders, and injuries in non-human animals. Veterinarians are also at the forefront of research and developments to enhance overall well-being of their animal patients. A veterinarian must be comfortable working in close proximity with all animals, including small animals, livestock, avian and zoo and laboratory animals. Veterinarians are typically associated with meeting the healthcare needs of companion animals (pets) like dogs and cats, but the profession offers many possibilities to work with different types of domestic or exotic animals.

The path to becoming a medical practitioner begins with a genuine desire and interest in helping other people. In the case of a veterinarian, you are helping animals that play a very important role in the lives of their human owners/companions. The strong foundation built as an undergraduate student at Westminster College includes demonstrating the knowledge, skills and personal growth attributes that contribute to a strong veterinary school application and future success in veterinary medicine.

Students can choose different paths to dentistry school, but must be mindful of the core requirements for competitive applications, preparing for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), gaining appropriate experiences in the field and completing their respective majors. While it is possible for a pre-veterinary medicine student to do virtually any academic major, it is imperative for all students to work closely with both academic and health professions advisors to ensure completion of all requirements for professional schools and for their undergraduate degree. Most often, a student on a pre-veterinary medicine track will choose a science major such as Biology, Biochemistry or Neuroscience since the curricula include most, if not all, required and recommended courses. Students will typically apply to a college of veterinary medicine between their junior and senior years, allowing for a direct transition following graduation, but some wait until after they graduate to apply in order to further their education and gain more relevant experience.

Pre Veterinary Medicine Track at Westminster College - Pennsylvania

The academic and extracurricular experience at Westminster College, ranging from coursework to on- and off-campus service and experiential activities to international study and/or travel, contribute strongly to the appeal of the well-trained and well-rounded individuals who graduate from our school.

Core Requirements for Veterinary School generally are:

  • General Biology (with lab) – Cell Biology and Genetics (BIO 201)
  • Zoology (with lab) - Organismal Biology (BIO 202) and Physiology (BIO 334)
  • Microbiology (BIO 301)
  • Genetics – Molecular Genetics and Heredity (BIO 303)
  • General Chemistry (with labs) – Principles of Chemistry (CHE 117) and CHE180/230/231
  • Organic Chemistry (with labs) – Organic Chemistry I (CHE 261), Organic Chemistry II (CHE 262)
  • Physics (with labs) – Foundations of Physics I (PHY 141), Foundations of Physics II (PHY 142)
  • Mathematics – Calculus 1 (MTH 150)
  • Statistics – Biostatistics and Experimental Design (BIO 206)
  • Biochemistry – Biochemistry Principles (CHE 381)
  • English – Writing (WRI 111) and an additional course (ENG ---) that requires extensive reading, writing and discussion in the English language
  • Liberal studies courses – Intellectual Perspectives (IP) courses

Additional course requirements may vary from one professional program to another, so it is the responsibility of the student to be aware of specifics regarding their schools of interest. Good planning and working closely with academic and health professions advisors are essential to maximize chances of success in the highly competitive veterinary school application environment.

What would a typical Pre-Vet schedule look like?

A sample schedule for a biology major preparing to take the GRE exam between their junior and senior year and matriculating to veterinary school following graduation is below.

First Year (Fall)
First Year (Spring)
Cell Biology and Genetics (BIO 201) SD IP
Principles of Chemistry (CHE 117)
Inquiry (INQ 101)
Speech or Writing (SPE 111 or WRI 111)
Westminster 101 (WST 101)
Organismal Biology (BIO 202)
Calculus I (MTH 150) QR IP
Speech or Writing (SPE 111 or WRI 111)
Elective _________(--- ----) FL IP

Sophomore Year (Fall)
Sophomore Year (Spring)
Biostatistics (BIO 206)
Cell and Molecular Biology (BIO 302)
Organic Chemistry I (CHE 261)
Elective __________ (--- ---) VP IP
Microbiology (BIO 301)
Organic Chemistry II (CHE 262)
Elective ________(--- ---) HC IP
Elective ________(--- ---) RP IP

Junior Year (Fall)
Junior Year (Spring)
Physiology (BIO 334)
Foundations of Physics I (PHY 141)
Biochemistry (CHE 381)
Introduction to Psychology (PSY 101) ST IP
Ecology (BIO 360)
Foundations of Physics II (PHY 142)
Biology Capstone I (BIO 601)
Principles of Sociology (SOC 101)

Senior Year (Fall)
Senior Year (Spring)
Biology Elective (BIO ---)
Biology Capstone II (BIO 602)
Elective __________ (--- ---) Cluster
Elective __________ (--- ---) Cluster
Major Elective (BIO ---)
Chemistry Elective (CHE ---)
Elective____________(--- ---)
Elective____________(--- ---)

With the exception of the core requirements and courses strongly recommended ahead of the GRE exam, there is curricular flexibility within any chosen major and among the elective courses that are part of the liberal arts curriculum at Westminster College. It is, however, strongly suggested that students take both courses in Anatomy & Physiology (BIO 335/336) in order to be prepared for the veterinary school curriculum. Students planning to study abroad for a semester must also plan accordingly to meet all requirements and timelines. It is also advisable for students to budget time during the spring semester of their junior year to prepare for the GRE exam that will test knowledge in Biology, Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry as well as Reading Comprehension, Perceptual Ability and Quantitative Reasoning.

Extracurricular and Off-Campus Experiences

  • Shadowing a veterinarian (small and large animal) or animal scientist
  • As much experience with pets as possible
  • Working on a farm
  • Volunteer experience with your local humane society or animal shelter
  • Job with direct animal contact at your local zoo

Where have Westminster students matriculated recently?

  • Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine
  • The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine
  • University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine
  • University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine

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