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Pre-Veterinary Medicine

Campus: Columbus

Program: Pre-Professional

The College of Veterinary Medicine offers the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree in one of the senior health professions at Ohio State. The DVM degree prepares graduates to diagnose, treat and prevent animal diseases as well as promote public health, conserve animal resources, and promote the bond between humans and animals. Veterinarians serve to advance medical knowledge through research, serve as a valuable resource for the biomedical community, and provide both general and specialized care to animal patients and their owners.

Veterinarians must be licensed in order to practice veterinary medicine in a given state. Licensure is regulated by the Veterinary Medical Board. Ohio State academic programs are designed to prepare students to apply for applicable licensure or certification in Ohio. If you plan to pursue licensure or certification in a state other than Ohio, you can review state educational requirements for licensure and certification at You'll also find contact information for other state licensing boards; as requirements may change, you should contact the applicable licensing board before beginning an academic program.

Pre-professional programs

Pre-professional is a category for any student who intends to enter professional school after graduating with a bachelor’s degree. Pre-health is the pre-professional program for students interested in the health professions, including dentistry, medicine, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy and veterinary medicine. Identifying your pre-professional interest will enable your college advisor, your major advisor and your pre-professional advisor to provide you with a wide range of support to realize your goals.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no one “best” major at Ohio State in which to prepare for the College of Veterinary Medicine. Students generally select a course of study that is related to the life sciences, such as biology, zoology or animal science, but there really are no limits as long as the necessary prerequisite course work is integrated into the undergraduate major. 
Although a majority of veterinary applicants complete an undergraduate degree and then apply for admission to the professional program, a bachelor’s degree is recommended but not required for admission to the College of Veterinary Medicine. All applicants should demonstrate progress toward a four-year bachelor’s degree as they are working on completing their three years of prerequisite course work for admission to the College of Veterinary Medicine.  

Each year the college admits 162 new veterinary students. Admission to the College of Veterinary Medicine is based on the following:

  • completion of prerequisite course work
  • participation in non-academic activities (volunteering, community service, work history, military service, sports)
  • exposure to the profession
  • personal interview

A strong science foundation, as well as elective courses in the social sciences and humanities, make up the prerequisite curriculum at Ohio State. Admission to the College of Veterinary Medicine requires completion of the following prerequisite courses by the end of the summer term preceding the autumn term a student would start veterinary school:

  • Biochemistry 4511
  • Microbiology 4000
  • Physiology 3200
  • Communication 2110
  • 35 credit hours of science electives
  • 16 credit hours of humanities and social sciences electives

Biochemistry, microbiology, physiology and communication course work must be completed with a grade of C or better in each course, a minimum of a 3.0 (B) average among the courses, and no more than one C among any of the capstone courses. If any of the capstone courses are taken as a multiple-part series, this rule applies to each part as an individual course. Contact for any questions regarding prerequisite courses.

The veterinary medicine curriculum spans four years. In the first three years, students take preclinical course work; classes will includ clinical skills courses, labs and didactic courses. The final year of course work is spent rotating through clinical experiences.

During the first year, students average 20 credit hours per semester and take topographic anatomy, functional histology, epidemiology, cell biology, comparative biology of disease, pharmacology, musculoskeletal system and clinical pathology. They will also take the first of a series of courses in professional development and clinical skills which continue throughout the rest of the preclinical curriculum. 

During the second year, students concentrate on organ systems in health and disease. The courses teach the cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological, reproductive, endocrine, gastrointestinal, urinary and integumentary systems. Students will also learn veterinary preventive medicine, animal welfare, parasitology and ophthalmology, as well as continue their professional development and clinical medicine courses. Students will take an average of 20 credit hours per semester. 

The third and fourth years are one continuous experience, as students take no summer break between these years. The first part of the third year consists of further body systems and laboratory courses in clinical skills, introduction to surgery and small animal operative practices. Senior students have the opportunity to select a career area of emphasis for their senior clinical rotations. The opportunity to specialize allows students to make career choices based on personal interest. All seniors are required to complete core rotations that cover all major domestic species. These rotations include anesthesia, pathology, radiology, food animal, equine and small animal rotations. Their choice of focus determines their remaining core rotations, and they also have the opportunity to complete three to four elective rotations.

Students are encouraged to explore the profession on their own, whether through work or volunteer experience with a veterinary practice or informational interviews with people in the profession. Students can gain experience by exploring a variety of veterinary career paths to develop a strong knowledge and understanding of the profession.  

Pre-veterinary medicine students are encouraged to be a part of the pre-veterinary medicine club. The club is student run with a veterinary medicine faculty advisor. The club sponsors a variety of activities to help students become more aware of and knowledgeable about the veterinary profession. Speakers at monthly meetings might include a faculty member sharing his or her research about a particular aspect of veterinary medicine or a veterinarian from the community. Activities coordinated by the club, including community service activities and social functions, help pre-veterinary students get to know one another outside the academic setting.

There are a wide number of career opportunities available to veterinarians today. The majority of DVMs are in some form of private practice. In private practice, veterinarians work directly with the owner of an animal patient to diagnose and treat ill animals, as well as to prevent illness in healthy animals. Practicing veterinarians may be in a general (mixed animal) practice or they may limit their practice to a particular animal species. Other veterinarians in private practice have sought additional education and attained specialty board certification (e.g., Veterinary Internal Medicine, Veterinary Radiology or Veterinary Pathology). 

For those who desire public service, there are many veterinarians serving as public health officers for the U.S. Government, the World Health Organization, and every state in the United States, as well as for many other organizations. 

Additionally, veterinarians are actively engaged in teaching, research, regulatory veterinary medicine, military service and other aspects of the profession. In short, the profession opens many doors to its members.

As there are many career options available within the veterinary profession, salaries vary. Graduates who pursue the practice route can expect a starting salary between $75,000 and $100,000. Graduates who pursue a specialty area may first need to complete additional years of training, but can expect salaries as board-certified veterinarians between $120,000 and $200,000.

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At Ohio State, pre-veterinary medicine is not a major, but is an officially recognized area of academic interest. Learn more about pre-professional programs at