Veterinarians are doctors who work with animals. Students who are interested in becoming veterinarians have to complete a bachelor's degree, take all the pre-veterinary courses and complete four years of veterinary school. Graduates of veterinary schools work as veterinarians in a variety of places including veterinary hospitals, clinics, farms and in private practice. Students interested in doing veterinary surgery complete additional residency requirements in this field.

Pre-Veterinary Requirements

Veterinary schools require prospective applicants to complete a certain number of requirements prior to considering their applications. These requirements show the schools that the student has adequate undergraduate preparation in the natural sciences, social sciences and mathematics to succeed in veterinary school. Requirements vary, but most veterinary schools require students to take a year of general biology, a year of general chemistry, a year of general physics and a year of organic chemistry with associated laboratory sections. Furthermore, students are also required to take a course in microbiology and/or biochemistry and one or two courses in mathematics.


Most veterinary programs require students to take a course in calculus. However, some college students do not have adequate high school preparation to go straight into this advanced math class so they take a course in pre-calculus. Pre-calculus contains an overview of the material covered in earlier courses, algebra 1 and algebra 2, focusing on topics such as solving different kinds of linear equations and inequalities. Furthermore, pre-calculus also goes a step further and teaches students how to solve and graph linear equations and inequalities. Graphing is an important component of pre-calculus — students learn both how to graph on paper and using a graphing calculator.


Pre-veterinary students who do not take pre-calculus in college go straight into calculus 1. Requirements vary, but most veterinary schools require prospective veterinary students to take one or two semesters of calculus. Calculus is the study of the rates of change of functions, and calculus 1 and 2 focus on functions in one dimension, also known as single-variable calculus. Calculus is an important advanced mathematics course that focuses on two main topics: derivatives and integrals. In particular, students learn how to take derivatives and integrate a variety of different functions.


In addition to calculus, many veterinary schools also require students to take a semester of statistics while they are in college. This course covers introductory topics in statistics such as estimation, different types of graphs and plots, and an introduction to regression and probability. Furthermore, students also learn the difference between correlation and causation and how to work different computer programs, such as SPSS, which statisticians use to calculate statistical data.