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Undergraduate Pre-Veterinary Medicine Program

Student and vet looking at sheep

Veterinary medicine is the profession 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 (CVM). Admission to these CVMs is competitive and requires intensive training in both basic and biomedical sciences, and typically takes 3 to 5 years of undergraduate study to complete and become eligible for application to a CVM.

SDSU has an excellent pre-veterinary medicine curriculum that allows students to meet the basic science and other course requirements for application to Colleges of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) throughout the nation. The pre-veterinary medicine curriculum requires roughly two years (60 plus credit hours) of your undergraduate time. Most of the required and recommended classes are also included in related academic majors. Since the pre-veterinary program is not an academic degree, students are encouraged to work concurrently toward a specific B.S. degree during their pre-veterinary program. At SDSU, examples of B.S. degrees in related fields include: Biology, Microbiology, Wildlife & Fisheries, Animal Science, and Dairy and Food Science. Students also may major in unrelated fields such as journalism, music, etc. (A degree in an unrelated field will require more coursework.)

Pre-Vet Medicine Course Requirements

Once students have completed most or all course prerequisites, they may then apply to one or more CVMs, typically in the fall of their junior or senior year. Admission to colleges of veterinary medicine is very competitive and selective. Scholastic performance in pre-professional courses, standardized test scores, animal experiences, and extracurricular activities are used in the selection of candidates. A solid foundation in the sciences is basic to success in veterinary medicine, and scholastic achievement is used as a measure of this foundation.  

Students considering careers in veterinary medicine should take their high school's college preparatory courses. Credits should include all available courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Involvement in leadership roles, academic clubs and other extracurricular activities is encouraged. If possible, job shadowing experiences, volunteer work, and part-time employment with a veterinarian, or with other animal health related activities, should be started during your high school years.

For more information, contact Dr. Bev Cassady at Beverly.Cassady@sdstate.edu.

Career Opportunities

There are over 80,000 veterinarians in the USA. What do Veterinarians do? In short, they protect the health of animals and people. Veterinarians address the health needs of every species of animal and play a critical role in environmental protection, food safety, animal welfare and public health. As a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, there are a variety of ways you can participate in this effort. Everyone is familiar with the hometown veterinarian and what they do at the community level. However, veterinarians are also significantly involved with research and development of both human and animal health products, education, and public service. To learn more, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website and browse the Jobs section. 

Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine

SDSU and the University of Minnesota (U of M) are offering a new collaborative Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine leading to a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (DVM). Students first complete all their pre-veterinary requirements and apply to the new program for admission to the professional program.  Students in the professional program complete the first two years of their veterinary medical education at South Dakota State and the final two years at U of M’s College of Veterinary Medicine on the St. Paul campus. The first 20-student cohort will begin classes on the SDSU Brookings’ campus in the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department in August 2021. 

The formal application process for the first class of 20 students will open in the summer of 2020 and applications will be due in early fall 2020. The new collaborative program will concentrate on preparing veterinary students for mixed animal practice. The new program helps 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, while supporting a growing agriculture-based industry in the upper midwest and addressing the growing concerns of student debt in veterinary education. South Dakota students participating in the new program will pay tuition based on in-state rates.

For more information, contact Dr. Gary Gackstetter at Gary.Gackstetter@sdstate.edu.