The Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program (Pre-Vet) at South Dakota State University (SDSU) is dedicated to assisting students who have a desire to attend veterinary school to become a veterinarian. Veterinary medicine is the field dedicated to protecting the health of both animals and people through the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of animal disease. Veterinarians are trained at the professional level in medicine and surgical procedures for multiple species over a four-year curriculum at a College of Veterinary Medicine.
While the Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program itself does not offer an academic degree (meaning you won't graduate with a degree in pre-veterinary medicine), there are many degree-granting majors at SDSU that complement it well. Students in this program often elect to major in Animal Science, Biology, Chemistry, Microbiology, Dairy Manufacturing or Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences because most of the required and recommended classes for acceptance into veterinary school are also required for the previously state academic majors. However, any major is acceptable. Students work towards acceptance into veterinary school through their academics, gaining veterinary and animal experience, participating in extracurricular activities and volunteering.
The Pathway to Veterinary School
Students interested in becoming a veterinarian can begin to prepare while still in high school. Here are a few suggestions to begin preparing to become a veterinarian while still in high school:
- Take science courses like chemistry, biology, and physics offers by your high school
- Start gaining veterinary experience by shadowing your local veterinarian
- Get involved! Involvement with extracurricular activities, volunteering in your community, and awards, honors, and scholarships earned during high school can be included on your veterinary school application
- Take Advanced Placement (AP) courses, dual credit courses, or other classes offered to high school students, which can be applied as college credits for your general education requirements
Undergrad at SDSU
Pre-Vet students at SDSU pursue an academic major of their choice and are designated as a student with a Pre-Vet career interest. This designation allows students to be assigned a Pre-Vet adviser, who is a licensed veterinarian themselves. Although an undergraduate degree is not required for acceptance, a large majority of students entering veterinary school have earned a bachelor's degree prior to attending veterinary school. Therefore, students will typically submit their veterinary school application the summer before their senior year, interview, and hear about acceptance during the spring semester of their senior year. Prior to submitting an application, here are some recommendations to help prepare a competitive application during undergraduate years at SDSU:
- Complete the courses recommended for Pre-Vet Students
- Gain veterinary and animal experiences through employment, volunteering or shadowing
- Become involved with the many clubs and other organizations at SDSU and in Brookings
Attend Veterinary School and Become a Veterinarian
Beginning in August 2021, students attend the first two years of veterinary school at South Dakota State University. The SDSU Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine (PPVM) is a collaborative program with the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine (UMN CVM). Each year 20 students, who have completed their Pre-Vet coursework and applied to veterinary school, are accepted into the the PPVM program at SDSU where they complete the first two years of education before transferring to the UMN CVM to complete the final two years of veterinary school and earn their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. The SDSU PPVM is helping to address a growing shortage of food animal veterinarians, creating additional opportunities for South Dakota students to pursue careers across the spectrum of veterinary medicine, supporting a growing agriculture-based industry in the upper Midwest, and addressing the growing concerns of student debt in veterinary education. For more information, visit the PPVM website.
Is Getting into Veterinary School Competitive?
Like all other professional programs, (e.g. medical, dental, physical therapy, physician assistant, etc.). Acceptance into veterinary school is competitive. Here are a few ways to present a competitive application:
- Academics - a competitive GPA for veterinary school acceptance is 3.5 or above. Every veterinary school has a specific list of classes known as prerequisite courses, which are required to even apply. SDSU has an excellent pre-veterinary medicine curriculum that allows students to meet the basic science and other course requirements for application to the veterinary school(s) of their choice.
- Experiences - as an applicant, your responses within the Experience, Awards and Essays sections of your application provide an opportunity for the Admissions Committee to learn about you, particularly your passion for veterinary medicine and your understanding of the veterinary profession. Here are some ways to gain those crucial experience hours:
- At SDSU
- Get involved with undergraduate research
- Work at the South Dakota Animal Disease Research & Diagnostic Laboratory or at one of the SDSU Livestock Units
- Be a Teaching Assistant for your favorite class
- Get involved with the Pre-Vet club or one of 250+ clubs on campus
- Outside of SDSU
- Summer internships
- Employment outside the field of veterinary medicine
- Shadowing a veterinarian
- At SDSU
- Meet with your Pre-Vet Advisor - every Pre-Vet student is assigned a Pre-Vet adviser their first year at SDSU. This Pre-Vet Adviser is an SDSU faculty member who is also a licensed veterinarian and can assist with many aspects of applying to veterinary school.
With a DVM
Veterinarians can pursue a variety of career opportunities. The most common career path that people associate with a veterinarian is private practice, like your hometown veterinarian. However, many veterinarians are also involved with research, education, government, public health, shelter medicine, and much more! Visit the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges website to learn more about what veterinarians in each of these areas do.
Without a DVM
What happens if I change my mind or don't get into veterinary school? Don't worry! This is where the academic major you are pursing comes into play. Students who have decided not to pursue veterinary school or have not been accepted have several other career options outside the field of veterinary medicine. For example, SDSU students who have graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Animal Science - Science Specialization, but did not attend veterinary school, have found careers in research, genetics, sales, animal reproduction, college recruitment, as veterinary technicians/assistants and have even attended law school!