College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Animal & Avian Sciences

Vet School FAQ

One of our most frequently asked questions is "How do I get into veterinary school?" Here are the answers to some of our specific frequently asked questions about preparing for veterinary school, getting into veterinary school, and what to do if you decide not to go to veterinary school. 

Our program Director, Dr. Sarah Balcom, has created an extensive Pre-Veterinary Advising Guide that addresses the majority of commonly asked questions regarding veterinary school and the application process.Students interested in applying to veterinary school should make sure to carefully read through that guide for information on admission requirements and how to be a competitive applicant. 

To learn more about how our ANSC undergraduate program can prepare you for veterinary school, read on!

1. How successful are your students at getting into veterinary school?
Based on our records, on average 80% of our ANSC students who apply are successful in gaining admission to one or more AVMA-accredited veterinary schools. National data indicates that about 50% of applicants are successful. The success of our students is due to the quality of our program and the reputation of our graduates. In the last five years, we've had students accepted at
  • Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (the in-state school for Maryland and Virginia)
  • The University of Pennsylvania
  • Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
  •  University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine
  •  University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
  • The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine
  • University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine
  • The Royal Veterinary College in London.
 
2. Do I have to be an Animal Science (ANSC) major to get into veterinary school?
No.  A student can pursue any major and get accepted to veterinary school; however, regardless of major, to apply to veterinary school a student must have completed all of that school’s pre-requisite courses (one year of organic chemistry, one year of general chemistry, one year of physics, general biology, etc.) and have gained sufficient experience with a variety of animal species in a variety of settings.
 
3. How can an Animal Science degree enhance my chances for getting into veterinary school?
Animal and Avian Sciences students take a variety of courses that directly support their later coursework in veterinary school. All ANSC students take anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and animal management courses which provide excellent background for these courses when they are taken again at a higher level in veterinary school.  Additionally there are many electives relevant to a veterinary education, from health management of animal populations to food safety to bioethics.

In addition, our campus farm provides our students with many excellent opportunities to work with horses, sheep, cows, pigs, and chickens, allowing students to get animal care experience.   Our department’s close relationships with many other agencies and companies in the areas allow our students to get more in-depth experience in a variety of settings from research laboratories to farms.

Sample course plans for completing our program can be found on our Program Requirements page.

The ANSC students who get to veterinary school tell us that they feel that they're more prepared than most of their classmates for veterinary school due to their ANSC courses.  Going through our sciences/professional option follows a curriculum that will not only meet the minimum requirements to apply to most veterinary schools, but will leave them well qualified for other professional degrees and career options.

 
4. Do you have an accelerated entry program to veterinary school?
The College does also have an 'accelerated' program for pre-vet students, and that's called the Combined Agriculture/Pre-Veterinary option in Animal Sciences. If you're applying, that's option 1299D. The way this works is that students focus on requirements to apply to veterinary school, and students apply to vet school in the fall of their junior year. If accepted to veterinary school, they start veterinary school after three years, and then after completing their first year of veterinary school the students use those credits to earn their BS degree at UMD. A typical course program for students in this option can be viewed here.

It is important for students to understand that acceptance to veterinary school is very competitive, so not many students in this 'accelerated' approach gain acceptance to a veterinary school in their third year. Most have to wait until they finish their BS degree before they gain acceptance. This is an option for some students, but not for all. We typically have a student or two accepted in any one year.

 
5. What type of pre-veterinary advising is available to Animal and Avian Sciences students?
Another key difference between pre-veterinary programs in various departments at UMD is advising. Our department’s pre-veterinary advisor is a veterinarian herself, and there are two other veterinarians working in the department who work with and advise students.  All freshmen pre-veterinary students attend an in-depth pre-veterinary focused advising session within their first year.  During advising sessions, we discuss course work, experience, getting references, budgeting for a veterinary education, and career opportunities.  Additionally, we are pleased to have Dr. Nathaniel Tablante from the admissions committee of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine come each spring to discuss the components of a successful vet school application with our sophomores.

In addition, we are happy to share our pre-veterinary advising guide with the campus community.

6. What are some alternative options to vet school?
At the end of four years, a number of students who originally wanted to go to veterinary school decide to pursue other educational or career options after graduation from UMD. Some decide to go to medical school and are accepted each year without having to take any additional classes. Some decide to go to graduate school, either in animal sciences or another scientific field. Other students explore career options and have their choice of jobs when they finish.  
 
7. What kinds of hands-on animal/research experience can I get through the Animal Science Department?
We teach most classes using a comparative species approach, meaning we teach general principles and use the species differences to help emphasize core principles.  We have a sheep flock (20 ewes) that we keep on campus the year around and use in various classes. We have seven or eight horses on campus the year around for both classes and the use of the Equestrian Club. We keep two cattle on campus the year-around and bring pigs, turkeys and other animals on campus for teaching. We keep colonies of mice, rats, quail, chickens, rabbits and fish on campus for research purposes. Off-campus, we have poultry, horse and cattle farms for research.

In addition, many of our students get extensive experience with domestic pets while working at small animal veterinary clinics in the area.

Undergraduates can volunteer or intern in our faculty’s research laboratories or they can work there in a few paid positions. Additional opportunities exist working with zoo animals at the National Zoo, the National Aquarium, and the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. In the past, ANSC students have gone to China to work on the Giant Panda project, South Africa to work with wildlife, or more locally with various species at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. All of those projects are through collaborative efforts with ANSC faculty.

8. Isn’t the University of Maryland too big for me?

The University of Maryland is a large campus with all the benefits in course diversity that comes from a large campus. The College of AGNR is a smaller college, and we pride ourselves in 'making a big place small.' When you join our department, you will quickly feel like you have joined a family. 


In the UMD Admissions Office, our college has a specific representative, Ms. April Brohawn. Please feel free to contact her if you have questions about the admissions process or your application in the future. 
If you have question about the options within the major, or the courses and curricula, please contact Ms. Libby Dufour, the Assistant Director, Undergraduate Office for ANSC or call 301-405-1373.

Additional Resources

 

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