Skip Navigation

Southern Oregon University

Pre-Veterinary Medicine At Southern Oregon University

Welcome to pre-veterinary medicine at Southern Oregon University. If you are considering veterinary medicine as a career, please read through this information, and contact Dr. Oswald:

Dr. Chris Oswald
Office: 368 Science
Tel: (541) 552-6864

The following information is based principally on the Oregon State University Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program in Corvalis, but applies to most of the vet schools in the United States. Please be aware that admission to vet school is extremely competitive. Only those students who earn consistently high grades and meet all the other requirements for admission have a realistic chance of being admitted. This is not said to discourage you, only to let you know what you must do to realize your goal of becoming a veterinarian.  For detailed information on the requirements for admission to Oregon State University's vet school, see their web sit


Basic Requirements for Admission to Vet School (Details below)

  • Completion of 2 years minimum in any academic major (4-year bachelor's degree in practice)
  • Completion of required courses in the sciences
  • Graduate Record Exam
  • Letters of recommendation from professors and veterinarians
  • Experience in veterinary medicine and other animal care activities
  • Extra-curricular activities/accomplishments

Academic Major

No particular major is preferred. Pre-vet med is not a major, but a collection of courses that fulfill admission requirements to most vet schools. Students must complete a minimum of 2 years of undergraduate work to be admitted to OSU, but nearly all students complete a bachelor's before entering vet school. In fact, the average number of years of college was 5.57 for the 2004-2005 entering class at OSU.  Biology and related disciplines are the most common majors, followed by chemistry; others include math, philosophy, psychology, art, and others. In terms of acceptance, no major has a selective advantage over another, as long as the student takes all the reqired courses and many recommended elective science courses as well. The degree of difficulty, breadth, and depth of science courses is frequently used to evaluate applicants. Thus, most students choose a science major since they will need to take so many science courses anyway.

I recommend that students select a major that they enjoy, can do well in and would want for a career as an alternative to veterinary medicine. Selection of a major should be discussed with the pre-vet advisor and chosen by the sophomore year.

Average GPA of admitted vet students was 3.48 at OSU for the 2004-2005 entering class. The average GPA for the last 45 semester hours completed was 3.68.

Required Pre-Vet Courses

Science and math courses add up to a minimum of 76 quarter hours; general ed 21 hours. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required for consideration for admission.



  • General Chemistry, one-year sequence with labs (Ch 201-206)
  • Organic Chemistry sequence (labs recommended) (Ch 331, 332, 337 OR Ch 334, 335, 336, 337, 340, 341)
  • Biochemistry, at least 6 credits (Ch 451, 452)


  • Principles of Biology, one-year sequence with labs (Bi 211, 212, 213)
  • Genetics (Bi 341)
  • Animal Nutrition (not offered at SOU, can be taken as a correspondence course ANS 311 through OSU)
  • Minimum of 6 additional quarter hours of upper division biology with at least one lab, such as animal physiology, cell biology, microbiology, or additional biochemistry


  • General physics, two terms (Ph 201, 202 OR Ph 221, 222, both with lab Ph 224, 225)


  • Calculus, 3 credits or more (Mth 251)

Recommended additional courses

  • Statistics (Mth 243)
  • Computer Science (various options)
  • Business (various options)
  • Other biology courses, such as Animal Physiology and Advanced Animal Physiology (Bi 314 and 414), Cell Biology (Bi 342), Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy (Bi 427), Immunology (Bi 456) and many others that count toward a biology major will enhance the student's application and help when taking courses in vet school.  

Important notes

1. All required pre-vet courses must be taken for a letter grade; pass/no pass options are not acceptable. A perfect 4.0 GPA is not necessary for admission, but consistently high grades in both science and non-science classes are important.

2. Some students take Human Anatomy and Physiology (Bi 231, 232, 233) as electives, but please be aware these courses do not count toward the required courses for most Biology majors.


Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

  • The GRE, or sometimes the VCAT, is required by all vet schools.
  • The GRE consists of 2 basic parts: the General Test, which tests reasoning and analytical skills, and the Biology Subject test, which tests knowledge of the entire field of biology.
  • Some vet schools require only the General Test (OSU), others require both.
  • The test generally must be taken by Oct 31 in the year preceding the applicant's intended start date at vet school.

Letters of Recommendation

  • Letters from science professors and veterinarians with whom the applicant worked are mandatory.
  • These letters must address personal qualities such as reliability, integrity, and temperment, as well as knowledge of and dedication to the veterinary profession.
  • Students should begin early in their academic careers to cultivate relationships with individuals who will be able to provide detailed and positive evaluations of the student. Participation in class, research projects, volunteering or working in a veterinary office or clinic, kennel, stable, poultry farm, etc. are critical.

Veterinary and Animal Experience

The veterinary admissions committee is particularly interested in an applicant's knwoledge of the profession in its many forms: large animals, small animals, exotics, public health, research, etc. The wise student will make it a point to educate him/herself on veterinary medicine through practical experience, talking with professionals, and reading. In the past, students have worked with veterinarians, either as volunteers or as employees, at private offices, clinics, vet schools, and/or research facilities. Students make these arrangements themselves. The more experience the better. OSU requires a minimum of 300 hours of this type of experience, but most applicants have at least 500 hours, and some have substantially more.

Other animal experience that is looked upon favorably includes raising, breeding, and showing animals; kennel work; training animals; wildlife rehabilitation; zoo assistant; lab animal care, and similar activities working around and caring for different types of animals.  Science-related work that does not involve working directly with animals is also a plus, such as laboratory research or employment, field work, or working in a medical or dental setting.


Extra-curricular Activities

Participation in other activities, particularly public-service, will strengthen your application. Diverse interests such as foreign languages, music, athletics, and other pursuits helps to demonstrate your discipline and uniqueness as an individual. Admissions committees want to know that an applicant is capable of relating to people from a variety of backgrounds. They particularly look for activities that demonstrate determination, motivation, leadership, responsibility, and maturity.


When And How To Apply

  • The Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) is used by 26 of the 29 US and Canadian vet schools.
  • Students submit one application to VMCAS and it distributes the materials to the schools of the applicant's choice.
  • VMACS applications must be entered electronically by Oct 1 of the year preceding the year you hope to begin vet school for OSU.
  • The fee is $125 for the first school and $30 for each additional school.
  • If a vet school requests supplemental information, they usually charge an additional fee.
  • The admissions committee at most vet schools (OSU included) will invite a select group for a personal interview, and choose from among these students.
  • Students are encouraged to apply to their home-state university vet school, and a few other schools of their choice.

Curriculum Planning

·  Consult with Dr. Oswald early in your program to plan your courses.


This is an outline for a Biology major pre-vet program.





Year One




Principles of Biology (Bi 211-213)



General Chemistry (Ch 201-206)



University Seminar



Math 111, 112, 243 or 251





Year Two




Genetics (Bi 341)



Cell Biology (Bi 342)



Developmental Biology (Bi 343)



Organic Chemistry (Ch 331, 332, 337, 338, 350)






Organic Chemistry (Ch 334-337, 340, 341)



Psychology (Psy 101)



General Education courses as needed, electives





Year Three




Ecology (Bi 340) 



Animal Physiology (Bi 314) 



Evolution Bi (446) 



Other biology or chemistry (e.g. Microbiology, biochemistry)



Physics (Ph 201-203, 224-226) 



General Education courses as needed, electives





Year Four




Biology Electives (e.g. Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, Advanced Animal Phys) 



Biology Capstone



General Education courses as needed, electives, other biology or chemistry







Additional Veterinary Resources:


For application packets, including listings of all participating vet schools and their requirements


Veterinary Medical College Application Service
1101 Vermont Avenue, NW Suite 411
Washington, D.C. 20005
Tel: 202-682-0750; 877-862-2740


For GRE information:

Graduate Records Examinations
Educational Testing Service
P.O. Box 6000
Princeton, NJ 08541-6000Tel: 510-873-8100 (Oakland CA)

For OSU information:

Office of the Dean
College of Veterinary Medicine
Oregon State University
200 Magruder Hall
Corvalis OR 97331-4801
Tel: 541-737-2098

For information on the veterinary profession

American Veterinary Medical Association
930 North Meacham Road
Schaumburg, IL 60196-1074
Tel: 800-248-2862

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
1101 Vermont Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20005
Tel: 202-371-9195