Become a doctor to four-legged friends. Start by earning one of the 20 Best Veterinary Degrees in the nation.
Do you love animals, big and small? Do you have a huge heart for the health and wellness of all types of creatures? Are you science-minded and a hard worker? Bring together your head and your heart and earn a degree in veterinary science or veterinary medical technology.
What kind of veterinary degree should you get?
Many of these schools are just the tip of the iceberg to get you started on your path in veterinary science. You could take this degree a number of different directions. These programs will help you narrow your focus and specialize. Hands down, all of these programs will give you a foundation in the sciences, especially biology, chemistry, and anatomy.
Do you envision yourself working with farm animals? Then you should check out University of Findlay, Northwest Missouri State University, or Clemson University.
Is your goal to become a veterinary technician? Start by checking out Michigan State University, Purdue University, and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Are you hoping to go one step further to become a veterinarian? Then look into the Pre-Vet programs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Kansas State University, or Murray State University.
Consider cross-checking these colleges with College Choice’s ranking of the Best College and Universities.
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How much money do people make with a veterinary degree?
You’ll find a wide range of average salaries for jobs in this field. Understandably, the salary ranges correspond with the amount of schooling that is required. Most students who graduate with a bachelor’s in veterinary Science go one of a few ways. They become veterinary technologists or technicians, veterinarians, or zoologists and wildlife biologists. So here’s a breakdown of what you can expect for these specific jobs:
Regardless of how these salaries vary, rest assured you’ll be making a comfortable amount of money. Good news for you, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for veterinarians is expected to increase by 19 percent over the next ten years!
What can you do with a veterinary degree?
As we mentioned above, earning a degree in Veterinary Science can take you in a number of different directions. A few of the programs on this list offer specialized tracks in career-specific areas like Equine Health or Livestock Management. These kinds of concentrations will help carve out a future career for you.
There are plenty of job openings available for you in veterinary clinics or animal hospitals, but you could do something unique too. Many veterinarians travel to farms or ranches to do their work. Others travel to far-flung places to work with wildlife animals. The options are endless!
This degree will also prepare you for graduate-level education. If you want to earn a master’s or doctorate in veterinary medicine, you will have the foundation, knowledge, and research experience to succeed in a competitive academic environment.
What are the requirements for a veterinary degree?
Getting into one of these programs is the first step. The biggest hurdle, though, is if you want to take it a step further and get into veterinary school.
In 2013, there were 6,800 applicants hoping to get into 2,700 spots. That means competition will be a factor in this field. That’s just a fact. However, there are ways to keep yourself at the front of the pack. While you’re completing your undergraduate degree here are a few things you can do to stay ahead:
- Keep your GPA above 3.5
- Volunteer with a vet to get clinical experience
- Study for the GRE and MCAT
- Join a Pre-Vet club
These programs will all give you a solid foundation in the natural and biological sciences. You’ll likely spend the first two years taking courses in biology, anatomy and physiology, and animal nutrition. Make sure you feel confident in these areas. They will serve you well the rest of your career.
In your last two years, you’ll get to the thick of the degree. You’ll jump into a track or concentration that fits your career goals and you take more specific electives. A number of these programs include capstone projects, research opportunities, internships, clinical rotations, and more. Take advantage of it all! Good luck!
What are the best veterinary degrees?
Below you’ll find the 20 best veterinary degrees in the nation. The data team at College Choice constructed a fool-proof methodology. First, they considered the academic quality of each program. Then they looked at affordability and the return on investment. And, last but not least, they factored in student happiness using retention rates and graduation rates.
The methodology draws from the data experts at College Choice, the excellent resources at U.S. News & World Report, and the reliable statistics at Payscale.com. Use your smarts to help and heal animals. Start with one of the best veterinary degrees below!
See our rankings methodology page.
Cornell University isn’t just the best school in the nation for a Veterinary degree; it’s one of the best universities in the nation. This New York-based Ivy League school has graduated Nobel laureates, Rhodes Scholars, and top leaders in industries throughout the United States. The College of Veterinary Medicine was founded in 1894.
Cornell University stands above the rest for its Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. You’ll experience clinical studies, engaging lectures, and work with animals from the start. This four-year program involves intensive coursework for the first three years, and reserves the final year for clinical rotations. Some highlight coursework includes:
- The Animal Body
- Animal Health and Disease
- Host, Agent, and Defense
Cornell University students boast top-notch passing rates for the national licensing exam, the NAVLE. In the last five years, cohorts have passed at a rate of 99 to 100 percent. Even more, the employment rate for students post-graduation is an impressive 94 percent.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
The flagship campus of the larger state system, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a large public research university. In fact, it’s the largest in New England with over 30,300 students. Last year, U.S. News & World Report ranked it the twenty-seventh “Best Public University” in the United States.
The Veterinary & Animal Sciences department at UMass Amherst provides a Pre-Veterinary Science major for undergraduates. This program is especially good for students who are hoping to go on to graduate school or medical school. You’ll start by declaring an Animal Science major and then later apply for the Pre-Vet program. You classes might include:
- Basic Animal Nutrition and Feeding
- Animal Cellular and Molecular Biology
- Veterinary Microbiology Lab
- Physiology of Reproduction
Before you enter into the Pre-Veterinary degree, you’ll start in the Animal Science major. Students have the option to undertake two concentrations: Animal Management or Biotechnology. This is a great way to prepare academically for the more focused Pre-Vet degree.
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
East Lansing is home to Michigan State University. Originally founded as one of the earliest scientific agriculture schools, MSU has a long history of competitive higher education. Today, it is known as one of the largest universities by enrollment, with over 50,500 students. The Veterinary Medicine department ranks twelfth in the nation.
MSU offers a unique undergraduate degree in Veterinary Technology. You’ll need to complete around eight prerequisite courses in chemistry, biology, social sciences, and math before being officially admitted into the program. After that, however, you’ll dive right in to upper-level courses such as:
- Veterinary Comparative Clinical Physiology
- Small Animal Nursing Skills
- Radiology for Veterinary Technicians
- Biomedical Research and Regulatory Issues
Toward the end of your program, you’ll have two options for an elective track. The first option gives you the chance to complete an internship in dermatology, oncology, ophthalmology, food animal medicine, or large animal anesthesia. The second option gives you flexibility to take more specialized classes or travel abroad for a semester.
One of the first institutions of higher education in the state, the University of Arizona was founded in 1885. UA is well-ranked both nationally and globally. It is a leader in space and astronomy research, among other things, and excels in the sciences. According to an employer satisfaction survey in 2016, 92 percent said that UA graduates were highly skilled.
Delivered through the School of Animal & Comparative Biomedical Sciences, you’ll earn a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Science. This degree covers everything from human and animal dynamics to microbiology and pathology. Over four years, you’ll combine general education courses with upper-level courses like:
- Medical-Veterinary Entomology
- Animal Anatomy & Physiology
- Equine Nutrition and Management
- Diseases of Wildlife
If you’re at all interested in research, the University of Arizona has amazing resources for you. For example, the Human-Animal Interaction Research Initiative is an ongoing study that you can be part of. You will also have access to the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, where you will come in contact with a wide range of animals.
Pennsylvania State University
Highly regarded as a “Public Ivy,” Pennsylvania State University is a public research institution that provides over 160 majors. In total, the school maintains 24 campuses with its main campus in University Park, PA. Pennsylvania State University has a large Greek system and close to 900 active student organizations.
You’ll complete a total of 124 credit hours for your BS in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at Penn State. The curriculum leans heavily on biology, organic chemistry, and biostatistics. Internship opportunities are available for students during summer semesters. Some of the more specific veterinary classes you’ll take include:
- Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates
- Mammalian Physiology
- Principles of Animal Disease Control
- Comparative Physiology of Domestic Animals
Penn State has a number of fantastic off-campus opportunities for Veterinary students. For example, get the best of both worlds by participating in a year abroad at the University of Glasgow’s Veterinary School. Or get your hands dirty by taking a service-learning class with local Pennsylvania farmers.
Located in South Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Clemson University is one of the state’s premier research universities. Despite its large student enrollment, it maintains an impressive student to faculty ratio of 18:1. Beyond its main campus, Clemson University maintains over 17,500 acres of forested land for research purposes.
The Bachelor of Science in Animal and Veterinary Sciences degree at Clemson University gives you three areas of focus for your degree: equine business, animal agribusiness, or pre-veterinary and science. You will be more than prepared to jump into a graduate program in veterinary school with a curriculum that includes:
- Domestic Animal Behavior
- Animal-Human Interaction
- Animal Genetics
- Animal Science Laboratory
Clemson University will get you working hands-on from the very beginning. You’ll make use of one of its six livestock farms. They include beef, dairy, equine, poultry, swine, and sheep. Women in this program will also have the chance to live and learn together through the Women in Animal and Veterinary Sciences community.
Northwest Missouri State University
Northwest Missouri State University originally began as a teacher’s college in 1905. Now it offers a wide range of degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Over 97 percent of its undergraduates find work within six months of graduating. Student satisfaction is high, too; 90 percent of first-year students rated their experience as “excellent.”
You’ll find a more specific focus at Northwest Missouri State University with the Animal Science major with a Pre-Vet option. This program focuses on the study of livestock and animal husbandry. Your curriculum will be divided into three areas: science, research, and experiential learning. A sampling of classes includes:
- Principles of Animal Breeding
- Beef Science
- Genetics of Livestock Improvement
- Principles of Animal Nutrition
If you attend Northwest Missouri State University, you’ll have access to the R.T. Wright University Laboratory Farm. This is a 448-acre research facility that is also a fully-functioning farm with livestock and crops. You’ll get to perform pregnancy tests on cows, castrations, and administer vaccines.
Located in West Lafayette, IN, Purdue University is one of the leading science, technology, and agricultural research universities in the region. It also houses one of the largest international student populations in the nation. The College of Veterinary Medicine was established in 1959, and Purdue faculty continue to pursue groundbreaking research in the field.
Out of the total 127 credits in this Veterinary Technology major, 87 of them will be dedicated to upper-level major courses. This curriculum offers both a broad base in the sciences and specific industry-related skills like anesthesia and diagnostic imaging. Some of the stand-out classes in this program include:
- Large Animal Nursing
- Dentistry for the Veterinary Technician
- Parasitology for Veterinary Technicians
- Nursing of Non-Traditional Pets
The Veterinary Technology program at Purdue University does a great job of giving you ample amount of experience in a clinical setting. You’ll have a total of six clinical rotation classes, as well as a practicum. This final practicum can be completed either on-campus or internationally.
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
University of Nebraska–Lincoln is the state’s oldest and largest university. Founded in 1869, it is considered a land-grant university. To this day, the UNL is known for its research in the agricultural sciences and ecology. The Nebraska Innovation Campus is a new expansion that is dedicated to agricultural biotechnology and life sciences.
The Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln covers all the degree requirements of the American Veterinary Medical Association. That means you’ll be more than prepared to go on to graduate work in the field. The curriculum covers not only the core sciences but also the management side of veterinary studies. You’ll take:
- Farm & Ranch Management
- Anatomy & Physiology of Domestic Animals
- Principles and Prevention of Livestock Diseases
- Pathogenic Microbiology
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln realizes that not all students are going through this program to become a veterinarian. That’s why the curriculum gives you the option of two separate tracks: the business option or the veterinary science option. The business option is catered toward students who want to manage a veterinary office or start an animal-related business.
Known as the state’s first school of higher education, Kansas State University is located in Manhattan, KS. It also has branch campuses in Salina and Olathe. The Olathe Innovation Campus is a hub for research in animal health, bioenergy, plant science, and more. The College of Veterinary Medicine is located on the Manhattan campus.
The College of Agriculture at Kansas State University has a versatile and flexible degree in Pre-Veterinary Medicine. It is designed specifically for pre-vet candidates, and covers 64 credit-hours of major requirements. Students also have the option to complete a bachelor’s degree in one of the following areas, which all count as pre-veterinary majors:
- Agricultural Economics
- Animal Science and Industry
- Feed Science and Management
Kansas State University encourages all of its undergraduate students to travel abroad. That is no different for pre-veterinary students. You could take part in trips like the Agriculture Economics Study Tour of Ireland or the Summer Study Abroad Program in France.
The University of Findlay offers over 80 undergraduate degrees, however it is most known for its animal science and equestrian studies programs. Founded by leaders of the Churches of God, UF remains rooted in faith-based teaching. It enrolls around 3,800 each year, most of whom are from the region.
Experiential learning is the name of the game at the University of Findlay. From the get-go, you’ll be working and learning alongside four on-staff veterinarians. You’ll also have access to the UF Equine Hospital. This program’s curriculum focuses specifically on farm animal care and management with classes like:
- Food Animal Medicine
- Software Applications in Equine Business Management
- Advanced Reproduction Techniques
- Beef Production and Management
Your front row seat to facilities like the Equine Hospital and the Richard Beckett Animal Science Building gives you a head start when it comes to becoming a veterinarian. That’s why the University of Findlay boast a veterinary school acceptance rate that is twice the national average.
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State University is a land-grant institution based in Starkville, MS. Its early start as a school dedicated to agriculture and applied science has guided its current academic strengths. Veterinary Medicine is one of the eight academic colleges at MSU. It is known as the largest veterinary school in the country.
At Mississippi State University, your core classes for the Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Medical Technology won’t start until your third year. Before that, you’ll be taking pre-requisite courses in biology, chemistry, and more. But then you jump right into heavy-hitting vet classes like:
- Diagnostic Imaging for Veterinary Technologists
- Small Animal Technical Skills and Nursing Care
- Equine Diseases and Management
- Anesthesiology for Veterinary Technologists
If finances are a concern for you, Mississippi State University has good news for you. First, it is one of the more affordable programs on our list (with an average net price of $15,628). Second, there are two scholarships available to you specific to the program through the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association and the Mississippi Associate of CVT.
Lincoln Memorial University
Located on a beautiful campus that borders the Cumberland Gap, Lincoln Memorial University is a gem of Tennessee. The College of Veterinary Medicine, however, is located in Ewing, VI on a 700-acre farm. Students are able to have on-site education with cattle, horse, sheep, dogs, and more.
You’ll earn a BS in Veterinary Medical Technology at LMU. This program is designed for students who have already completed their AS degree in veterinary technology. Therefore, most of your classes can be completed in just two years. You’ll take some of the following courses:
- Animal Husbandry
- Animal Diseases & Zoonosis
- Emergency & Critical Care Procedures
- Surgical Nursing & Anesthesia
There are numerous ways for you to get involved with the broader veterinary community at Lincoln Memorial University. You can join the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America or the Tennessee Veterinary Technician Association. Or, LMU sponsors its own Veterinary Medical Technology Club on campus.
A top school in the region, Murray State University is a consistent front-runner in the state of Kentucky. U.S. News & World Report named it eleventh among other public universities in the South. Students choose from 11 associate’s, 65 bachelor’s, and 42 master’s degrees. Murray State University is the most affordable program on our list.
At Murray State University, you’ll focus your degree on either Veterinary Technology or Pre-Veterinary Medicine. Your curriculum will be boosted by amazing facilities such as four farm complexes, an Equine Instructional Facility, and the Animal Health Technology Center. Some stand-out classes in your curriculum include:
- Small Animal Diseases
- Beef Science
- Veterinary Parasitology
- Applied Pharmacology
Beyond the classroom Murray State University makes it easy to gain experience and connect with your community. For example, you’ll participate in Doggie Day Spas, Animal Health Day, and other local events. You’ll also have the chance to attend the Mid-America Veterinary Conference that is held annually.
Morehead State University
Based in the leafy foothills of the Daniel Boone National Forest, Morehead State University is a public institution in Kentucky. MSU puts students first. Over 90 percent of undergraduates receive some kind of financial aid. MSU is also known as one of the safest campuses in the nation.
In order to earn a BS in Veterinary Technology at Morehead State University, you’ll start with the basics. This means your first year will be heavy in chemistry, biology, and agricultural management. Your last three years of the program will get you into the nitty-gritty of veterinary science with classes like:
- Concepts of Large Animal Diseases
- Small Animal Medicine and Surgery
- Veterinary Clinical Pathology
- Veterinary Dentistry
Morehead State University is more than equipped to give you the highest caliber of education. Between the MSU Veterinary Technology Small Animal Teaching Hospital, the Equine Health and Education Center, and the Derrickson Agricultural Complex, you’ll learn from doing.
Founded in 1869, Wilson College is a small Presbyterian school in Chambersburg, PA. It started as a women’s college, but recently opened its doors in 2013 to become co-educational. The Fulton Center for Sustainability Studies and the Helen M. Beach Veterinary Medical Center are both hubs for veterinary students.
At Wilson College, you’ll earn a degree in Veterinary Medical Technology. Unique to this program, you can specialize in one of three areas: Veterinary Biology, Veterinary Business Management, or Equi-Assist. You’ll get both clinical and classroom experience in all three areas with classes like:
- Clinical Aspects of Microbiology
- Equine Health Management
- Animal Disease & Nutrition
Wilson College is one of the only schools to offer the Equi-Assist concentration. Students will be trained to offer equine nursing veterinary support for horses’ specific needs. If you have a passion for horse care, this might be the perfect avenue of veterinary science for you!
One of the largest universities by enrollment in the state, Auburn University is home to over 29,000 students. Founded as East Alabama Male College, Auburn University became co-educational in 1892. It is a designated land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant institution.
Auburn University offers a competitive and rigorous BS in Veterinary Technology. In total, you’ll take 157 credits, which is considerably higher than other programs. This is in part because you’ll complete clinical rotations in veterinary medicine in your final year. Some of the highlight courses along the way include:
- Organology of Domestic Animals
- Veterinary Neurosciences
- Genetic and Cellular Basis of Animal Disease
- Veterinary Food Safety
If you’re hoping to go on to graduate school after your degree in Veterinary Technology, Auburn University has great research opportunities for you. You’ll have three courses that are dedicated to mentored research. Even more, you can get hands-on research with Auburn’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, which was recently ranked #1 in the nation.
North Dakota State University
A landmark for higher education in the state, North Dakota State University is a public research institution with a lot to offer. It was founded as an agricultural college and still operates a number of agricultural research extension centers throughout the state. Undergraduates at NDSU choose from over 102 programs.
During your first year at North Dakota State University, you’ll take pre-professional courses in Veterinary Technology. After that, you’ll apply to the professional part of the degree. You’ll have clinical classes in which you will handle large and small animals. At the end of the program, you’ll complete a clinical externship. Classes along the way include:
- Animal Restraint
- Large Animal Techniques
- Veterinary Surgical Nursing Techniques
- Veterinary Hospital Information and Procedures
The Veterinary Technology Club at North Dakota State University will keep you connected with other students. It will also keep you involved in community events, which is a great way to boost your resume. The club meets twice a month and is completely student-run.
A small private school in Massachusetts, Becker College maintains two campuses in Worcester and Leicester. Becker College is the third-largest producer of undergraduates with veterinary technology degrees in the nation. Undergraduate vet-tech students at Becker College maintain an average score of 90 percent on the national exam.
The BS in Veterinary Science at Becker College encompasses three concentration areas: Veterinary Technology, Laboratory Animal Science, and Pre-Veterinary. All three tracks follow a similar curriculum. However, they diverge in upper-level electives. Some of the cross-over courses you can expect to take include:
- Farm Animal Skills
- Clinical Animal Behavior
- The Human and Animal Bond
- Clinical Veterinary Nutrition
The Lenfest Animal Health Center is the on-campus veterinary clinic at Becker College. Students are able to work alongside professional on-staff veterinarians at the clinic. Lenfest Animal Health Center sees over 1,000 animals each year. This is a great way for you to get hands-on experience as an undergraduate.
University of Nevada, Reno
The only land-grant institution in the state, the University of Nevada, Reno is a four-year public research university. It maintains 18 different academic schools and colleges. Last year, U.S. News & World Report listed it among the top 200 national universities.
Offered through the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Veterinary Science, you’ll earn a BS in Veterinary Medicine. This is a pre-professional program that will fulfill all the requirements if you want to pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. You can complete this degree in either three or four years. Some core classes include:
- Elements of Livestock Production
- Animals in Human Cultures
- Range-Livestock Interactions
- Animal Genetics
University of Nevada, Reno wants to make sure you are more than ready for a professional program in Veterinary Medicine. That’s why all students are able to complete an internship in their area of choice. This program also has a number of student scholarships that are available from the Gordon MacMillan endowment.