Veterinary medicine is a popular major that can lead to a promising career in many areas, from pharmaceuticals and biotechnology to academia, government and pet healthcare. To become a veterinarian, students must spend at least four years earning the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, or DVM. Most students have a bachelor’s degree going into veterinary school. It is not usually required, but recommended given the heated competition for spots. All programs should be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Veterinary school is not only demanding but very competitive, with little more than a third of applicants winning admission at one of the nation’s 28 accredited veterinary schools each year. Among these schools, which ones are the best programs? Here are the 10 best veterinary schools according to U.S. News & World Report.
1. Cornell University
Located in suburban upstate New York, Cornell University is an Ivy League institution and the only private school on this list. Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine is well-known for its academic excellence and summer research opportunities. The curriculum prepares students for a wide range of possible careers, often with large paychecks.
Cornell’s faculty includes distinguished professors like Dr. Norm Ducharme, former president of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. The University offers a dual DVM/Master of Public Health (MPH). There is an early acceptance option for exceptional college sophomores.
2. University of California at Davis
The public University of California at Davis (UCD) School of Veterinary Medicine is located in the suburbs of Sacramento, California, in a town nicknamed the “City of Bicycles.” UCD has a resource-rich program and is a top destination for NIH research funds.
There are numerous hubs for zoonotic disease research, such as the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security. UCD’s vet school boasts distinguished faculty, like Dr. John Madigan, an award-winning professor of equine medicine and epidemiology. Applicants need a bachelor’s degree. Competition for spots is fierce; very few out-of-state students are accepted here.
3. Colorado State University
The Colorado State University (CSU) College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Fort Collins, Colorado is known for successful alumni, its world-famous teaching hospital, unique programs such as equine orthopedics, and the largest animal cancer center in the world. Like Cornell, Colorado State offers a dual DVM/MPH degree track for those interested in policy. Students can also combine their DVM with an MBA for a greater business emphasis. Fellowships and residencies are available, but not fellowships. Admissions at Colorado State are highly selective; CSU admitted just 138 new students for the 2013-14 academic year. A bachelor’s degree is required.
4. North Carolina State University
At the North Carolina State University (NCSU) College of Veterinary Medicine, in Raleigh, North Carolina, students can study subjects ranging from Companion Animal Medicine, Food Supply Medicine, and Biomedical Research to Ecosystem Health, Equine Medicine, and Animal Welfare. There is a dual track that lets students get an MBA or Ph.D. alongside their DVM. Those interested in a research-oriented master’s degree can pursue the multidisciplinary Master of Specialized Veterinary Medicine.
Applicants must have at least 400 hours of veterinary experience. NCSU is one of the most affordable veterinarian schools in the nation for in-state residents, with a total cost of just above $61,500.
5. Ohio State University
At Ohio State University (OSU) in the capital city of Columbus, the College of Veterinary Medicine thrives at the center of one of the largest and most extensive centers of health science in America. It is located in an urban setting with close access to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. No Ph.D.s are available here, but students can earn an MPH with their DVM. OSU has the most expensive tuition of any vet school in the U.S., with out-of-state students paying $250,000 to attend, versus $100,000 for in-state students. The program is relatively open, however, with approximately 1 in 5 applicants winning admission. Out-of-state students have the best chance of admission at OSU’s veterinary College with its double-digit acceptance rates.
6. University of Pennsylvania
The School of Veterinary Medicine at the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania boasts an international farrier program, a modern small animal hospital in the city, 800 acres of large animal facilities outside of town, and plenty of off-campus elective opportunities. The School has close ties to the nation’s oldest zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo.
Penn Vet is highly selective, with less than 10 percent of applicants landing a spot. Applicants are expected to have at least 500 to 600 hours of veterinary experience. It is the most expensive school on this list for in-state students.
7. University of Wisconsin at Madison
The University of Wisconsin at Madison (UWM) School of Veterinary Medicine is located in one of America’s “most livable” cities. UWM’s vet school has stellar research opportunities and renowned faculty, such as Yoshihiro Kawaoka, the groundbreaking virologist who received the AAVMC’s 2014 Excellence in Research Award.
The school features the National Primate Research Center, which was famously involved in the first successful culture of embryonic stem cells. Students of exotic animals can take advantage of a far-flung global outreach program that sends participants around the world to learn in the field. Wisconsin residents pay less than $100,000 for their entire veterinary education here.
8. Texas A&M University
At Texas A&M in urban College Station, Texas, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is a premier research school with AVMA award-winning faculty and an historical reputation for excellence. It is one of the original U.S. vet schools that prevailed before WWII. Here, students can take advantage of the state-of-the-art Equine Infectious Disease Laboratory headed by Dr. Noah Cohen, an internationally recognized equine respiratory researcher.
Texas residents pay a total of around $85,000 to attend, a competitive rate among the top vet schools. A&M is the most affordable on this list for out-of-staters, too, at a total cost of around $130,000. Very few out-of-state students are accepted, however.
9. Michigan State UniversityThe Michigan State University (MSU) College of Veterinary Medicine, based in East Lansing, Michigan, is a national leader in veterinary facilities and technologies. Its Teaching Hospital has one of the largest caseloads in the U.S. New College complexes in recent years include the:
- Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health
- Center for Comparative Oncology
- McPhail Equine Performance Center
- Wilson Pegasus Critical Care Center
- Training Center for Dairy Professionals
MSU’s program has notable opportunities for the study of wildlife and exotic animals for aspiring zoo veterinarians, including an exotic animals specialty at the Teaching Hospital. MSU is very pricey for non-residents. The total out-of-state tuition exceeds $300,000.
10. University of Georgia
The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in Athens, Georgia says it has the “most technologically advanced facilities located on a university campus.” The school boasts faculty like Dr. James Moore, an innovative professor of large animal medicine at Georgia and widely published researcher on equine health emergencies.
Master degrees are available in Avian Medicine and Food Animal Health. Georgia is one of the more affordable options for in-state residents, at around $17,000 a year. Delaware and South Carolina residents are eligible for tuition-reducing contracts. Applicants need at least 250 hours of veterinary experience to be considered.