Frequently Asked Questions
- What is VMCAS?
VMCAS, or the Veterinary Medical College Application Service, is the common application service used by most AAVMC accredited veterinary schools.
Although the first round of applications are completed on VMCAS, some schools may require a secondary application through their own website.
The only veterinary school in the US that does not use VMCAS as their application service is Texas A&M University.
- What is the AVMA? The AAVMC? CVMA? SAVMA?
The American Veterinary Medical Association, or AVMA, is the largest association for veterinarians, technicians, students, and staff in the nation. It provides a large range of services to its members and serves to represent the interests of the veterinary profession. It also serves as an umbrella organization for state and local veterinary medical associations (such as the California Veterinary Medical Association, CVMA) as well as the Student American Veterinary Medical Association, or SAVMA.
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, or AAVMC, is the association for veterinary schools in the US and abroad. It provides accreditation to schools as well as VMCAS.
Have other acronyms that are stumping you? Check out our list on veterinary acronyms.
- What is cumulative GPS? What counts as science GPA?
Grade Point Average, or GPA, is a method of quantitatively looking at your grade history. Each grade is give a point value from zero to four. Depending on the school, either an integer scale (A is 4.0, B is 3.0, C is 2.0, etc.) or a 0.3- to 0.4-interval scale (A+ is 4.0, A is 3.7, A- is 3.3, etc.) is used. Cumulative GPA is the average of all the courses you’ve taken at any college (university or community college), whereas Science GPA is the average of all your sciences classes. Different schools classify what counts as “science” – some include math, and some do not. Contact the vet school you plan on applying to determine what they factor into their calculation of Science GPA.
Note: although most colleges will accept a C- or higher as passing, most vet schools (and graduate schools for that matter) only accept a C or higher as passing. Try to avoid getting C- ‘s in classes so that you’re not put in a sticky situation of passing a class through your college, making you ineligible to retake the class, but not passing in the eyes of the vet school.
- What is the difference between veterinary experience and animal experience? Do I have to be in a certain school class or club to gain experience?
Animal experience is any experience, paid or un-paid, involving animals that is not under the supervision of a veterinarian. This could include working as a pet groomer, volunteering at a therapeutic riding facility, etc. Personal pet ownership does not count as animal experience.
Veterinary experience is animal experience but under the supervision of a veterinarian. This could include working as a veterinary assistant at a small animal clinic, shadowing a large animal veterinarian, etc.
There are four other experience types listed in VMCAS – research, extracurricular activities, volunteer (non-animal related), or employment (non-animal related).
- Do I need to have a Bachelor’s degree to apply to vet school?
This depends on the vet school, but for the majority of the programs, a Bachelor’s degree is not required. However, even if you do not receive a Bachelor’s degree, you still have to complete all of the prerequisite coursework to be eligible to apply. Many of the upper division courses must be completed at 4-year universities and not junior colleges –4-year universities will often require you to aim for a Bachelor’s degree. Obtaining a Bachelor’s degree will also make you a more competitive candidate!
- Is there a specific subject I have to major in to apply to vet school?
No – schools often do not require a specific major in order to get into vet school. Keep in mind that even if you choose a non-science major, you will still have to take all of the prerequisite science courses. Applicants often major in some sort of science since major-required lower division classes overlap with the prerequisite courses for vet school.
- What is the MMI technique compared to a standard interview?
The MMI, or multiple-mini interview, is a technique that was developed by medical school admission boards. Instead of talking to only a few people from admission departments about yourself as in a standard interview format, in an MMI you rotate across ten or more stations, each with a interviewer. You are given the question a minute or so before you begin the station – the question is often scenario-based and there is no “right” answer. The MMI model is currently used at UC Davis, Colorado State, Lincoln Memorial, and Michigan State.
Other types of interviews include Behavioral/Situational Based, Blinded, or Panel. Some vet schools do not even require an interview, although you should make all efforts to attend one if you are invited.
- What is a lecture-based/classic teaching model compared to the PBL mode?
The lecture-based model is the “classic” curriculum model – students attend lectures as large groups and then are tested on the content. The PBL model, or Project-Based Learning, is based on smaller group work. In this model you are given cases to work on in groups of 8-10, and it is up to you to solve the case using resources. Along the way you’ll learn required content through research. Although both models put a lot of responsibility on the student, the PBL model encourages more group work and team problem-solving.
A school that specializes in the PBL model is Western University – they pioneered the model and dedicate the majority of their curriculum to small group learning. Alternatively, UC Davis has more of a mixed curriculum. Several hours a month are dedicated to PBLs, but students still attend lectures every day.
- What if my home state doesn’t have a public vet school? Can I still get in-state tuition?
Yes, some schools are contractually obligated to take a certain number from specific states. For example, Auburn University has a contract to accept a certain number of applicants from Kentucky each year. Usually the contract includes granting these applicants in-state tuition. There are also ways to establish residency within some states after living there for a year – therefore, you only pay one year out-of-state and three years in-state.
Here’s a map of all the states where you can get in-state tuition, either by attending a public school as a resident of that state or through a contracted seat.
- What is WICHE?
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, or WICHE, is a program that sponsors students from less-populated Western states to attend select schools at in-state prices. Specific to veterinary medicine, the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP) through WICHE allows residents of Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Wyoming, and the Northern Mariana Islands to attend one of four vet schools at discounted tuition.
The four vet schools that participate in WICHE include Colorado State, Oregon State, Washington State, and Midwestern University. Washington State also allows residents of Idaho and Utah to receive in-state tuition pricing.
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