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Veterinary Medicine FAQ

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Which college should I enroll in?

A student in any undergraduate college at Cornell may enroll in the courses required for entry into veterinary college. Cornell undergraduate applicants to veterinary school are enrolled primarily in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a few in the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, and the College of Human Ecology. The appropriate choice depends largely on your other academic and career interests. Students should consult the University's publications for information about the seven colleges at Cornell, reviewing their requirements, majors, and course descriptions.

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What should I major in?

Veterinary schools do not require or recommend any particular undergraduate major course of study or designated preveterinary program. Cornell does not have a preveterinary major and there is no evidence that admissions committees of veterinary colleges give special consideration to any particular undergraduate education beyond satisfactory completion of the required undergraduate courses; for this reason you are encouraged to pursue your own intellectual interest in an academic major.

For example, a student might major in animal science, biological sciences, natural resources or development sociology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Or you might major in biological sciences, English, anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences or nutrition in the College of Human Ecology. You complete the preprofessional core of courses while at the same time receiving a broad education, and exploring other interests and careers. In this way, you leave open the option of pursuing an alternative career. You are also more likely to succeed at and benefit from subjects that interest and stimulate you, and you leave open the option of pursuing an alternative career.

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What courses should I take?

Veterinary schools, while not requiring or recommending any particular major course of study, do require that particular undergraduate courses be completed. Listed below are the minimum course requirements for admission to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR) contains details for other schools.

English Composition

6 semester credit hours

Biology or Zoology (with laboratory)

6 semester credit hours

Introductory Chemistry (with laboratory)

6 semester credit hours

Organic Chemistry (with laboratory)

6 semester credit hours

Biochemistry

4 semester credit hours

Physics (with laboratory)

6 semester credit hours

General Microbiology (with laboratory)

3 semester credit hours

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Education for becoming a veterinarian: a wider view

In discussing science courses required for entry to veterinary school, it is important to realize that these are only a part of the total educational picture that veterinary schools consider. It is generally agreed that an applicant must be able to perform well in science, to think like a scientist, and even to enjoy science in order to be a competent veterinarian. Being an educated person with an understanding of human nature and human achievement is equally important to veterinarians, both professionally and personally.

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What kinds of animal care related experience do I need?

Veterinary medicine is an animal oriented profession. Therefore, your experiences working with different kinds of animals in different settings and your understanding of the veterinary profession are important consideration in the selection process. Such experience could involve breeding, rearing, feeding and showing various kinds of animals including companion animals, livestock, laboratory animals, zoo animals or wildlife. You should be prepared to present evidence of hands-on experience with animals and sufficient contact with the veterinary profession so that the admissions committee can determine that you have some understanding of the duties and responsibilities of a practitioner and the scope of veterinary medicine.

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What are the acceptance statistics for veterinary schools?

For the classes entering the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University (CVMCU) for the past five years, generally over 20 members of the class were from Cornell. Approximately 100 Cornellians apply to CVMCU each year. No figures are currently available for Cornell students accepted at veterinary schools other than Cornell. Nationally, in 2008 there were over 6,000 applicants to U.S. vet school and over to 2,700 enrolled.

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What is the current employment outlook for vets?

Seventy-five percent of all veterinarians are in private practice, however, veterinarians are employed by government, business, universities, and the military in a wide variety of research, regulatory, and clinical roles. In 2006 the average starting salary for recent graduates was around $56,000 for small animal to $61,000 for large animal practice. The median annual earnings of veterinarians was $72,000 in 2006.  Federally employed veterinarians averaged $84,335 in 2007.

Most enrolled need to borrow to cover veterinary college expenses. In order to be able to get loans, be sure to maintain a good credit rating throughout your college years. In 2006 the mean national indebtedness of veterinary graduates was $90,654. 

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What is the Double Registration Program?

The double registration program between Cornell University and the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University is approved for students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. It enables a qualified student to save one year in pursuit of the Bachelor and D.V.M. degrees. The program is intended for students who have been admitted to the College of Veterinary Medicine after completing three years of undergraduate work and who have made sufficient progress on the Bachelor's Degree requirements. Certain courses taken in the College of Veterinary Medicine can be used to complete those requirements. Questions about the  program may be directed to Catherine Thompson, CALS prehealth/prevet advisor in 140 Roberts Hall.

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What help does Cornell provide for health careers students?

The Health Careers Program is located in Cornell Career Services, 103 Barnes Hall, provides informational programs, library resources, and advising for students and distributes the Cornell Preveterinary Guide. Members of the university-wide Health Careers Advising Network also do advising.

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What other resources are available?

A sample of books available in the  Career Library, 103 Barnes Hall. 

American Animal Hospital Association Accredited Practice Directory
American Zoo and Aquarium Membership Directory
Career Choices for Veterinarians: Beyond Private Practice, Carin Smith, DVM
Careers with Animals, Ellen Shenk
Extraordinary Jobs with Animals, Alecia Devantier & Carol Turkington
Get Into Veterinary School - Insights by an Admission Expert, Joseph Piekunka
Opportunites in Zoo Careers, Sydney J. Butter

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