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Your Path to Animal Care Excellence: Best Veterinary Schools in the US

26/07/202315 minute read
Your Path to Animal Care Excellence: Best Veterinary Schools in the US

Whether you are an aspiring veterinarian, a curious animal lover, or someone intrigued by the vital role veterinarians play in safeguarding animal health and welfare, this article invites you to embark on an enlightening journey. Let us delve into the heart of veterinary school education, where passion, dedication, and knowledge converge to create a compassionate world for all creatures great and small.

What is veterinary medicine?

Veterinary medicine is a branch of medical science that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases and injuries in animals. It encompasses a wide range of medical practices and procedures aimed at promoting the health and well-being of both domestic and wild animals.

Veterinary medicine plays a crucial role in caring for animals, whether they are pets, livestock, wildlife, or zoo animals. Veterinarians, who are the primary practitioners of veterinary medicine, undergo extensive education and training to become experts in animal health and medicine.

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Becoming a Veterinarian: The Roadmap to Veterinary School

Becoming a veterinarian requires a significant commitment of time, effort, and dedication. The process involves several essential steps, which I'll outline below:

  1. Prerequisites and Preparation

    Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent.

    Focus on science-related courses like biology, chemistry, and physics to build a strong foundation for future studies in veterinary medicine.

    Gain experience working with animals through volunteering at animal shelters, farms, or veterinary clinics.

  2. Earn a Bachelor's Degree

    Complete a bachelor's degree program, which typically takes four years.

    While there is no specific major required for veterinary school, many students choose to pursue degrees in biology, animal science, or related fields to fulfill prerequisite coursework.

  3. Gain Veterinary Experience

    Veterinary schools highly value hands-on experience with animals. Seek internships or work as a veterinary assistant or technician to gain practical knowledge.

  4. Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

    Most veterinary schools in the US require GRE scores as part of the application process. Prepare for the GRE well in advance to achieve competitive scores.

  5. Apply to Veterinary School

    Research and select the veterinary schools you wish to apply to. Ensure they are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

    The application process usually involves submitting transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement detailing your interest in veterinary medicine and relevant experiences.

  6. Complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Program

    The DVM program typically lasts four years.

    Students learn about various aspects of veterinary medicine, including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, surgery, and more.

    The curriculum includes both classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experiences.

  7. Obtain Licensure

    After completing the DVM program, graduates must obtain licensure to practice veterinary medicine.

    Licensure requirements vary by state but usually involve passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) and fulfilling other state-specific criteria.

  8. Consider Specialization (Optional)

    After obtaining a DVM, some veterinarians choose to pursue specialized training in areas like surgery, internal medicine, oncology, etc. This typically involves completing internships and residencies.

  9. Continuous Professional Development

    To maintain their license, veterinarians must participate in continuing education and stay updated on the latest advancements in veterinary medicine.

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Best Veterinary Schools in the United States

We reviewed popular ranking lists to determine the top veterinary schools. The best veterinary schools consistently rank among the top 10 in popular ranking lists.

1. University of California, Davis

UC Davis

  • US News Ranking: 1
  • QS World University Ranking: 2

The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) School of Veterinary Medicine addresses the health of all animals, including livestock, poultry, companion animals, captive and free-ranging wildlife, exotic animals, birds, aquatic mammals and fish, and animals used in biological and medical research. Their expertise also encompasses related human health concerns. Their statewide mission includes 28 research and clinical programs, including clinical referral services; diagnostic testing services; continuing education; extension; and community outreach.

2. Colorado State University

Colorado State University Min

  • US News Ranking: 2
  • QS World University Ranking: 11

As one of the leading veterinary schools in the nation, Colorado State University offers a comprehensive curriculum, cutting-edge facilities, and world-class faculty who are pioneers in their respective fields. The school's commitment to hands-on learning and practical experience allows students to work with a diverse range of animals and gain invaluable clinical skills. CSU's dedication to advancing animal health is evident through its pioneering research initiatives, including breakthrough discoveries in various veterinary specialties.

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3. Cornell University

Cornell University

  • US News Ranking: 3
  • QS World University Ranking: 4

Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine stands as a preeminent institution in the field of veterinary education and research. With a rich history dating back to 1894, Cornell Vet School has continually set the standard for excellence in veterinary medicine. Its distinguished faculty comprises leading experts across various disciplines, offering students unparalleled opportunities for mentorship and research. The school's state-of-the-art facilities and teaching hospitals provide hands-on training in advanced medical techniques, ensuring graduates are well-prepared for the challenges of modern veterinary practice.

4. Ohio State University

Ohio State University Columbus Min

  • US News Ranking: 3
  • QS World University Ranking: 10

The College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University (OSU) is a renowned institution dedicated to excellence in veterinary education, research, and community service. With a legacy spanning over 130 years, OSU's vet school has consistently ranked among the top programs in the country. With a strong emphasis on compassionate care and service to the community, Ohio State University's vet school fosters skilled and empathetic veterinary professionals, poised to make a significant impact in the lives of animals and society at large.

5. North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University Raleigh Min

  • US News Ranking: 5
  • QS World University Ranking: 16

North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine (NCSU CVM) is a prestigious institution renowned for its exceptional veterinary education, cutting-edge research, and commitment to animal health and welfare. With a rich history dating back to 1981, NCSU CVM has consistently been at the forefront of veterinary science. Its distinguished faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, and extensive clinical programs provide students with a comprehensive and hands-on learning experience. NCSU CVM's dedication to advancing veterinary medicine is evident through its groundbreaking research initiatives and collaborations with industry and government partners.

Top Veterinary Schools Worldwide
1Royal Veterinary College, University of LondonUnited Kingdom
2University of California, DavisUnited States
3Utrecht UniversityNetherlands
4Cornell UniversityUnited States
5University of GuelphCanada
6University of EdinburghUnited Kingdom
7Vetsuisse Faculty Bern and ZurichSwitzerland
8University of CopenhagenDenmark
9University of PennsylvaniaUnited States
10Ohio State UniversityUnited States

Source: QS World University Rankings 2022

Key aspects of veterinary medicine

Diagnosis: Veterinarians use various techniques, such as physical examinations, laboratory tests, imaging, and diagnostic procedures, to identify illnesses and medical conditions in animals.

Treatment: Once a diagnosis is made, veterinarians develop treatment plans that may involve medications, surgery, physical therapy, or other medical interventions to restore an animal's health.

Preventive Care: Veterinarians emphasize the importance of preventive medicine, including vaccinations, parasite control, and wellness exams, to maintain an animal's health and prevent future health issues.

Surgery: Veterinary surgeons perform various surgical procedures to address injuries, correct deformities, and treat certain medical conditions in animals.

Research: Veterinary medicine also includes scientific research aimed at advancing our understanding of animal health, improving medical techniques, and developing new treatments.

Public Health: Veterinarians play a critical role in safeguarding public health by monitoring and controlling zoonotic diseases, which are illnesses that can be transmitted from animals to humans.

One Health Approach: Veterinary medicine is increasingly adopting a "One Health" approach, recognizing the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. This approach acknowledges that the health of humans, animals, and the environment are closely linked, and addressing health challenges requires collaboration across disciplines.

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Tips for Prospective Veterinary Students

Here are some essential tips for prospective veterinary students to help them navigate their journey towards becoming a veterinarian:

Start Early: Begin preparing for a career in veterinary medicine as early as possible. Take science-related courses in high school and gain experience working with animals through volunteering or internships.

Gain Animal Experience: Gain hands-on experience with animals in various settings, such as veterinary clinics, animal shelters, farms, or research facilities. This experience will strengthen your application and confirm your commitment to the field.

Focus on Academics: Maintain a strong academic record throughout your undergraduate studies. Veterinary schools are competitive, and a solid GPA will enhance your chances of acceptance.

Gain Communication Skills: Develop strong communication skills, as veterinarians need to effectively communicate with animal owners and their colleagues.

Embrace Diversity and Inclusion: Foster a culture of diversity and inclusion within the veterinary field. Respect and appreciate different perspectives and experiences.

What Makes Crimson Different

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the United States boasts a wealth of exceptional veterinary schools that consistently uphold the highest standards of academic excellence, clinical training, and research innovation. From the cutting-edge facilities and esteemed faculty to the robust community of passionate veterinary professionals, these institutions offer an unparalleled platform for aspiring veterinarians to hone their skills and embark on a fulfilling career in animal care. As you embark on your journey to become a veterinarian, consider the unique attributes and strengths of each top veterinary school, aligning them with your personal aspirations and goals. With dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to the welfare of animals, attending one of the best veterinary schools in the US will undoubtedly set you on a path of boundless opportunities and profound impact within the world of veterinary medicine.


How long is veterinary school?

In the United States, veterinary school is a four-year degree program following undergraduate Bachelor’s degree level education (a total of 7 to 9 years: 3 to 5 years undergraduate plus 4 years of veterinary school).

After graduating from veterinary school, many new graduates choose an additional year of general or specialty clinical training as interns. Some pursue 2 to 5 years of additional residency training leading to board certification and practice within a wide variety of medical or surgical specialties, such as neurology, cardiology, dermatology, orthopedic surgery, equine medicine, zoo medicine, etc.

What subjects does the veterinary school curriculum include?

It covers all the fundamental topics of veterinary medicine, including anatomy, animal husbandry, cells and genes, physiology, the concept of professionalism, epidemiology, infectious diseases and pathology.

What bachelor degree is needed for veterinary school?

Any degree in science can help you get into veterinary school. This includes, but is not limited to, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, pre-veterinary medicine, animal science, zoology, or general agriculture. 

How much does veterinary school cost?

For recent pre-veterinary students entering veterinary school in the US, the estimated total cost of attendance (tuition+fees+ average living expenses), for four years ranges from $150,000 to $420,000. Your cost will depend on your state of residency or choice to pursue a private veterinary school education. You can compare costs at schools you’re considering, by visiting the **Cost of Education Map **on the Vet School Bound website.