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Media Frequently Asked Questions


Facts and Statistics


What is the AAVMC?


The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) is a non-profit membership organization working to protect and improve the health and welfare of animals, people and the environment by advancing academic veterinary medicine.

How many veterinary medical schools are there in the United States?


There are 30 schools or colleges of veterinary medicine (CVMs) in the U.S.that are accredited or have accreditation pending and all of them are AAVMC members. Members also include nine departments of veterinary science, eight departments of comparative medicine, five Canadian CVMs, 13 international colleges of veterinary medicine, and six affiliate members.

How many veterinary students graduate from U.S. schools each year?


About 2,900 students graduate each year from U.S. CVMs.

Is there a shortage of veterinarians?


There is a geographical shortage of veterinarians in some mostly rural areas that varies by state. You can learn more here.

In May 2012, the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies released a report that concluded that there are sectors of unmet need for veterinarians, but the researchers found little evidence of current, widespread workforce shortages.

Are most veterinary medical schools public or private?


Public.

Veterinary School Admissions and Enrollment


Since there are only 28 CVMs in the U.S. is it extremely difficult to get into veterinary school?


There’s a pervasive myth that getting into veterinary medical school is much more difficult than getting into human medical school, but that’s not supported by the data. Forty-two percent of those who apply to veterinary medical school end up attending, a percentage that is comparable to human medical school. Individual acceptance rates vary greatly between schools.

Do you have to have a pre-vet major or animal science degree as an undergraduate to get into veterinary medical school?


No, you just need to complete the prerequisite coursework, which includes math and science, and do well. Learn more here.

What kind of classes should students take if they want to become veterinarians?


Course prerequisites vary among schools, as illustrated by our prerequisite comparison chart located on our website

High school students need to pursue a college prep curriculum. Undergraduate students, regardless of major, need to be able to bear science coursework up to the biochemistry level in order to be reasonably prepared for the rigor of the DVM science curriculum. Advanced math courses are also expected. An increasing number of schools are also requiring communications and writing courses that provide a solid foundation for the development of non-technical skills that contribute to being a successful professional. Nearly all schools require and/or expect a minimum of 400 hours of animal-related experience, which can be obtained in a variety of ways, including, for example, working in a veterinary office, shelter, or research lab.

What qualities do CVMs look for in applicants?


Veterinary colleges are looking for a different sort of applicant than in the past. CVMs have no trouble attracting animal lovers, but they’re also looking for students who know how to run a business, communicate with clients, conduct research, and work in areas that the public doesn’t usually associate with veterinary medicine, such as biomedical research, food supply veterinary medicine, and public health. Veterinarians receive training across species, so that makes them uniquely qualified to fill a variety roles in medicine, health, and research.

How much has class size increased over time?


Class size has risen by an average of 1.8 percent a year for the last 30 years. The last five years, growth has been about 2.4% per year, which is slightly faster, but inconsistent from year to year. It is important to juxtapose the ratio of veterinarians to the U.S. population. In 2000, the ratio was estimated to be 4,633 Americans for every one veterinarian. Today, that ratio is approximately 5,360:1.

What is the curriculum like in veterinary medical school?


The DVM curriculum generally consists of four years comprising a combination of basic science courses and clinical education. Basic science courses include subjects that might include (but are not limited to) histology, physiology, pathology, and immunology. Students also take courses on subjects such as anatomy, nutrition, pharmacology, reproductive medicine. Courses increasingly become more systems based, encompassing systems such as gastroenterology, neurology, ophthalmology. The latter part of the curriculum is generally focused on clinical education, where students begin to practice operationalizing their basic science and systems knowledge. Students also take courses in professionalism, including ethics, practice management and communication.

The curriculum is similar to that a human medical program in topics and structure, though DVM students have course exposure to multiple species.

Finances


What is the average veterinary medical school tuition?


Average tuition is $38,000 for out-of-state students, $18,000 in-state students.

What’s the average amount of debt for a veterinary medical graduate?


The most recent American Veterinary Medical Association student survey reports an average total debt of $151,000.

What loan forgiveness, grants or financial aid programs are in place for vet students/graduates?


Options specific to veterinary medical students include:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a Veterinary Medical Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) that will pay up to $25,000 each year towards qualified educational loans of eligible veterinarians who agree to serve for three years in areas where there is a designated shortage of veterinarians. Here is a link to other options that are available by state.

Options that are available to all students include the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, where borrowers can have payments forgiven after 10 years in exchange for working full-time in certain public service jobs, and income-based repayment which is a new way to make paying loans more manageable where payments are calibrated to income.

You can find out more here.

Careers


Is it worthwhile for a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) to pursue advanced education, for example, in research?


Each situation is different. Sometimes, greater specialization leads to higher salaries, so it would pay off. As with any financial decision, it requires a cost-benefit analysis. Is there a demand for that particular area of specialization? Are there any scholarships, loan repayment programs, or residencies? What is the person’s ultimate career goal? Do they want to attain the most lucrative position possible? Is work/life balance a primary concern? How flexible can the graduate be in terms of location? There are so many variable factors that it’s difficult to make a general statement. .

What are the career options for veterinary medical graduates?


Many veterinarians, of course, provide care for companion animals through private medical practices, but veterinarians also do many other kinds of jobs. They make sure the nation's food supply is safe. They work to control the spread of diseases. They conduct research that helps both animals and humans. Veterinarians are at the forefront of protecting the public's health and welfare.

Outside of companion animal practice, the largest employer of veterinarians in the United States is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, but veterinarians are found throughout government in roles where they contribute to public health, the environment, and even homeland security, as well as working in research and public policy.

Learn more here.

How much money can a veterinarian make?


According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) the median entry-level salary for first-year practitioners in 2012 was $65,404, but that’s just a starting point.

Veterinary medical salaries can vary greatly. Do you want work as a part-time associate while you raise a family, or do you want to own your own practice? Do you want to compete as a small companion animal business owner, or pursue research? Even those who end up with debt that is typical for medical professionals can minimize the impact of that debt by choosing career paths that either take advantage of loan repayment and forgiveness programs, or that offer more lucrative salaries.

Learn more here.
Find a Veterinary School Near You! Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New AAVMC Officers Assume Duties at Annual Assembly

read more Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The World’s Oldest Veterinary Medical College in Lyon, France, Joins the AAVMC

read more Thursday, July 10, 2014

The AAVMC’s VEC Symposium Sharpens Skills, Celebrates Teaching

read more Journal of Veterinary Medical Education