Guide to the Best Pre-Vet Programs and Study Options

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023), the number of openings for veterinarians is projected to grow 20 percent nationally between 2022 and 2032, a rate that’s over six times the national average for all professions (3 percent). 

Part of the reason is that as older veterinary professionals leave the workforce, the number of household pets is continuing to increase. According to the 2023-2024 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 66 percent of Americans have pets in their households, which equates to 86.9 million households. But veterinary medicine has also grown in sophistication and complexity over recent years, leading to animals living longer and requiring more maintenance, and causing pet-related expenditures to reach record highs of over $136 billion in 2022.

All veterinarians must complete a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine, and entry into those programs is extremely competitive. As a medical field, veterinary medicine requires an expert understanding of the life sciences and a fluency in anatomy, biology, and chemistry. 

While there are different pathways into veterinary school, the most common method is to complete a pre-vet program. The best pre-vet programs typically culminate in a bachelor of science degree in biology, chemistry, or animal science, and cover all the prerequisite coursework necessary to apply to veterinary school. 

Completing a pre-vet program does not guarantee graduate admission into veterinary school, but it can give one a competitive edge. In addition to meeting the coursework prerequisites of veterinary schools, pre-vet programs will also often include counseling and mentoring that helps graduates through the application process. Choosing a pre-vet program that culminates in a degree is particularly important: not all pre-vet graduates go on to become veterinarians, but a pre-veterinary bachelor’s degree can still lead to other animal-focused careers, like wildlife biologist, zoologist, or certified veterinary technician. 

The world needs more veterinary professionals. Fortunately, a mix of online, on-campus, and hybrid pre-vet programs makes the industry more accessible than ever before. Read on to learn more about the best pre-vet programs and what they entail.

Admissions Requirements for Pre-Vet Programs

Admissions requirements for pre-vet programs will vary from school to school. However, some common requirements include:

  • Strong high school GPA (3.0 or greater)
  • SAT and/or ACT scores
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Personal statement

Applicants who wish to distinguish themselves may take on advanced coursework in the natural sciences and/or participate in extracurricular activities that involve working with animals.

Accreditation for Pre-Vet Programs

Accreditation ensures that an educational program meets quality standards. In an era of new online programs, it’s particularly important. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredits veterinary colleges and not pre-vet programs. Instead, applicants should look for regional and institutional accreditation in a pre-vet program. 

Recognized accrediting bodies include:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Methodology – Top Pre-Vet Degree Programs

In selecting the best pre-vet programs, we chose a mix of online, on-campus, and hybrid programs that meet the following criteria:

  • Holds accreditation regionally
  • Provides counseling services that support students in applying to veterinary school
  • Offers dedicated pre-veterinary tracks and/or specializations
  • Culminates in a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or animal science

The Best Pre-Vet Programs and Study Options

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers an online bachelor of science in applied biological sciences with a concentration in pre-veterinary medicine. Students will explore the anatomy and behavior of animals while also developing fundamental skills in biology and chemistry. The pre-veterinary concentration will give students the knowledge they need to work with animals and use science to solve animal-related problems. I

Core classes include animal nutrition; animal physiology; ecology and adaptations of vertebrates; and veterinary medicine. In addition to the online coursework, students must complete two in-person chemistry labs at ASU’s Tempe campus; both take place in a single-week format during summer. The program consists of 120 credits in total. 

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Format: Online
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years

Unity College

Unity College offers an online bachelor of science in animal science program that can be customized in three different tracks: companion animal care and training; sustainable livestock management; or equine science and management. Graduates will be well prepared to apply to veterinary school, and students will receive one-on-one academic and professional advice in achieving their career goals. 

Courses include animal behavior; comparative animal anatomy; comparative animal physiology; animal nutrition; and environmental justice. It is also possible to add a concentration in environmental GIS, renewable energy, sustainable business, wildlife ecology, or emergency disaster management. The program consists of 120 credits, of which up to 90 may be transferred.

  • Location: New Gloucester, ME
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Format: Online
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years

Kansas State University

Kansas State University offers an online bachelor of science in animal sciences and industry degree. While most of the specializations for this degree are focused on the food and agriculture industries, there is also a specialization option for science and pre-veterinary medicine. 

Core courses include general organic chemistry; general microbiology; principles of animal science; and genetics. Electives include animal breeding principles; equine reproductive management; and the behavior of domestic animals. The program consists of 120 credits.

  • Location: Manhattan, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Format: Online
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years

Clemson University

Clemson University offers an on-campus bachelor of science in animal and veterinary sciences program that can be taken with a pre-veterinary concentration. In addition to fulfilling all the prerequisite coursework needed to apply to veterinary school, students will gain hands-on experience in the school’s six livestock farms. 

Courses include anatomy and physiology of domestic animals; principles of animal nutrition; fundamental genetics; and domestic animal behavior. Clemson also provides individual support to each student working towards admission to veterinary school, including coaching on additional outside experiences that may help one’s chances of admission. The school’s Pre-Vet Club meets weekly for philanthropy, education, networking, and strategizing. 

  • Location: Clemson, SC
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Format: On-campus
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers an on-campus bachelor of science in animal sciences program with a concentration option in pre-veterinary science. Emphasizing fundamental science courses, this concentration allows students to craft a curriculum ideal for applying to veterinary schools. 

Courses include companion animals in society; animal shelter management; companion animal cruelty interventions; and human-animal interactions. In addition to the coursework, students will get hands-on experiences at on-campus farms and labs. Approximately 73 percent of students in the program are either employed or have accepted a graduate school offer of admission by the time of graduation.   

  • Location: Urbana, IL
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Format: On-campus
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

University of Massachusetts, Amherst offers an on-campus bachelor of science in animal science program that can be customized with a major in pre-veterinary science. While freshmen will need to enter as general animal science majors, they can transition into the pre-vet program after completing prerequisite courses in animal science, biology, chemistry, and math. 

Courses include equine, cattle, and companion animal nutrition; wildlife reproduction; anatomy and physiology; and genetics. In addition to didactic coursework, students will get hands-on experience with animals at Hadley Farm starting in their first semester. Students can also access faculty advising, peer mentoring, and career advising. 

  • Location: Amherst, MA
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Format: On-campus
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years

Washington State University

Washington State University offers an on-campus pre-veterinary program that can be paired with a bachelor of science in any major. The most common majors, and ones that align with WSU’s veterinary school, include animal science, neuroscience, wildlife ecology, or zoology. Students in WSU’s pre-vet program will access academic and career advisors who will help shape their curriculum. 

Highly qualified students can apply to the combined program in animal science and veterinary medicine, which includes the opportunity of early admission to WSU’s doctor of veterinary medicine program; selection is by invitation only and requires a minimum high school GPA of 3.6, along with significant experience with food-producing animals. 

  • Location: Pullman, WA
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Format: On-campus
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years
Matt Zbrog

Matt Zbrog


Matt Zbrog is a writer and researcher from Southern California. Since 2018, he’s written extensively about trends within the healthcare workforce, with a particular focus on the power of interdisciplinary teams. He’s also covered the crises faced by healthcare professionals working at assisted living and long-term care facilities, both in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the demographic shift brought on by the aging of the Baby Boomers. His work has included detailed interviews and consultations with leaders and subject matter experts from the American Nurses Association (ASCA), the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA), and the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA).

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