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Veterinary School: Application Process


The Application Process

Veterinary schools admit students once a year in the Fall.

Applications are submitted at least 12-15 months in advance of the desired enrollment date. However, the timing depends on when you will complete your degree and the necessary coursework, and successfully take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) if necessary.

While applying early in the cycle has advantages, the best time for you to apply is when your application is the best it can be.

Requirements vary from program to program. Research schools early for specific information about requirements.

Before submitting applications, have people with an unbiased eye go over each entire application to catch any errors. Your Preprofessional advisor is happy to do this for you.

The Veterinary School Application includes 5 main components

  1. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)Most schools
  2. Primary Application
  3. Letters of Recommendation
  4. Supplemental Applications—Most Schools
  5. Interviews

Follow social media of programs of your interest, visit their website, attend webinars, and visit their campus if possible.

Choose schools that are of serious interest to you, but give your list enough variety to maximize your chances for admission.

Types of Schools to Consider

  • one or two “reach” schools where your GPA and GRE might be on the low end
  • at least one to two solid "back-up" schools at which your chances are very good
  • several school where you are likely competitive, but in the middle of the pack

On average, students apply to 5-10 programs. You can find a list of veterinary medical schools and their requirement on the AAVMC website. Assess your credentials realistically and give your school selection careful thought.

Ask these questions as you select schools you want to apply

  • Size of School and size of individual classes.
  • Location and environment--do you prefer a large metropolitan area or a smaller city atmosphere? What about surrounding area, quality of life, etc.?
  • Cadaver labs and other facilities--quality of cadaver/simulation labs, tutoring and other academic support services, adequate staff, study/meeting space, open hours, etc.
  • General “personality” of School--what are your impressions from their faculty representatives you meet?  Are you looking for an intense, more competitive environment or more of a community feeling?
  • Special interest areas: combined degree programs; specialized courses, student organizations in your area of interest; early decision program availability, etc.
  • Student/faculty ratio.
  • Student body--How do you fit in with GPA and Standardized Test Score averages of students previously admitted? How balanced and diverse is the student body? How is the student morale? Do students have input in operation of School?
  • Faculty diversity—Are they largely all from the same background or relatively diverse with respect to race, creed, gender? Are they well-balanced in educational experiences or only from the same School or schools? What is the extent of their research and professional activities? 
  • Faculty-student relationships--Are faculty accessible and committed to teaching? Is there an “open door” policy?
  • Opportunities for clinical programs, research, international clinical rotations, diversity of animal, student-run free clinics etc.
  • What student support programs are available? If applicable, what minority or disabled student services are available?
  • What are the board certification exam passage rates? Are graduates finding employment in the geographic areas you are interested in? What are the average or median salaries of graduates?
  • Tuition costs. You cannot ignore the cost, but neither can you use it as your only criterion. Consider the cost and potential indebtedness along with the other factors, and make sure you are choosing the right schools for the right reasons.

Most Veterinary schools require the GRE. The GRE is administered throughout the year. It may be repeated, but the best strategy is to prepare thoroughly and take it once. Taking the exam by spring the year before you wish to enter Veterinary school will enable you to apply earlier. More information on the GRE, including sample questions.

October is the last GRE accepted by most schools for their following Fall entering class.

GRE structure:

  • 2 multiple choice sections which are scored on a scale of 130-170
    • Verbal Reasoning
    • Quantitative Reasoning
  • 1 Analytical Writing essay that is scored on a 6 point scale.

University of Utah Continuing Education offers GRE Prep Course. For more information, please click here.

Primary Applications are processed through a central application service called the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS).  Primary applications are not school specific. The same information is sent to all schools to which you are applying.

Deadlines: The VMCAS application becomes available in late January every year and is available until mid-September. One year prior to the entering class to which you desire admission, you should start working on your application in January. Applicants may start submitting applications in mid-May. School deadlines are typically October 2, but VMCAS requires all materials by mid-September in order to meet that deadline. Because many schools use a rolling admission process (they begin reviewing applications and admitting before deadlines applicants are strongly encouraged to apply well before the deadline.

Make sure you will have plenty of time to fill out the application. Completing the application will take at least one week, and most students take several weeks. READ ALL INSTRUCTION MANUALS AND DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY!

The VMCAS Application will include:

  • Your GRE score, if applicable
  • A list of all college classes taken, as well as official transcripts from each college where you have earned credit.
  • A list and descriptions of your activities since graduating from high school
  • A Personal Statement outlining your motivation for pursuing a career as a Veterinarian
  • Letters of Recommendations

NOTE: To help us advise other students, we would appreciate it if you would release your statistical information from your applications to the Health Professions Advisor when prompted. This information will always be kept confidential.

The personal essay is about you and your motivation for pursuing a career as a veterinarian. Remember, why you want to be a veterinarian is different from how you were inspired to become one. Describe your current passion for the field with specific examples from recent experiences. Try to choose a theme rather than random thoughts. The primary application activities section provides a list of accomplishments. Your personal essay is an opportunity to provide additional, more in-depth information.

REMEMBER, your audience is smarter, has more medical knowledge, and knows what is like to be a veterinarian. Don’t try to impress them with your knowledge of the field.

Get feedback! Have 3 or 4 people you can trust to be honest with you (professor, veterinarian, veterinary student, parent, advisor, Writing Center, tutor, etc.) read your essay and offer feedback.  Do not ask too many people to read it. Having too many opinions can become confusing.


DO answer the questions “Why do you want to be a veterinarian?”

DO concentrate more on actual experiences rather than speculation about future accomplishments.

DO focus more on what you can give rather than on what you can get by becoming a veterinarian

DO limit the number of “I” statements you use

DO share your background if it is appropriate

DO describe meaningful experiences

DO use all five senses as you tell your story

DO pay careful attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation


DO NOT devote too much space to writing about other people (family, patients, veterinarian you shadowed)

DO NOT summarize or simply repeat what is on the activity list on your primary application

DO NOT use overly flowery language or words you do not know how to use

DO NOT overuse medical terminology or abbreviations

DO NOT assume everyone knows what you know

DO NOT try to make jokes

DO NOT use foreign language

DO NOT begin your essay with a quote

Submitting Letters of Recommendation

You will have your letters submitted to VMCAS. From there they will be distributed to the Veterinary schools to which you apply.  These schools will request Letters of Recommendation (LORs) after they receive your VMCAS Primary Application, so do not delay submitting your primary application while waiting for letters to arrive.

Requirements for letters vary between schools, so research schools early and know what you need. Most schools require 3 letters.

Requesting Letters of Recommendation

  • Ask if potential writers if they feel capable of writing a supportive letter. If anyone is hesitant, you should probably try someone else.
  • Get business cards with your recommenders’ contact information.
  • Ask if recommenders would welcome any written background material. You could include a brief biographical sketch or resume, your interests and activities, career goals, and motivation toward your intended profession. You could also include a snapshot, a copy of a paper or assignment from their class, or transcript.
  • For recommenders who are unsure of how to write a good letter, the PPA Advising office provides a Guide for Letter Writers.
  • Always give recommenders ample time. Two to three weeks at a minimum. Follow up to make sure that your letters have been sent.
  • Send thank you notes.

For more detailed check out our “How To” Guide 

 In addition to VMCAS, most schools require supplemental application materials and fees. These are specific to each school, and vary in length and structure, but often require one or more additional essay.  FOLLOW DIRECTION CAREFULLY.

Fees are paid directly to the individual schools when you send in the additional materials. Some schools that require supplemental material will first review your VMCAS application, then will notify candidates who have been selected to complete the application, other schools will send them to everyone who applies.

Deadlines for supplemental applications vary, but some schools require that EVERYTHING (VMCAS, supplemental, all fees, transcripts, evaluations) be in by October 2. Follow the instructions provided by each school.

The most common types of interviews are:

  • One on one interview—Usually one or two 30-45 minutes interviews
  • Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)—7-10 rooms with a different prompt or scenario posted on the door. You are typically given 2 minutes to think about the prompt before entering a room, and 5-8 minutes to respond to the prompt and any follow up questions, or play out the scenario with a trained actor.
  • Group interview—Either one applicant interviewed by several interviewers, or in a group of applicants interviewed by one or more interviewer.
  • Standardized Video Interview—This is new interview method being used by the University of Utah School of Medicine. Before interview day, applicants are sent a link to a site where they will be asked to provide 4 timed video responses to questions and 1 timed written response.

The final stage of the application process is the interview. If you receive an invitation for an interview, that is an indication that a program has decided that you are a qualified applicant and they want to get to know you better. Most vet programs hold “interview days” where they bring in a group of applicants for a day that may consist of some or all of the following: Interviews, written essays, school tours, and opportunities to meet students and faculty. Remember:  the entire day is the interview, not just those times when you are in a formal meeting.  Be on your best professional behavior all day!

Interviews can take many forms, so it is important to research your schools and be prepared for each kind. The PreProfessional Advising office can help you with preparation tips and practicing your interviewing skills.

The most common types of interviews are:

  • One-on-one interview
    • Usually one or two 30-45 minutes interviews
  • Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)
    • 7-10 rooms with a different prompt or scenario posted on the door. You are typically given 2 minutes to think about the prompt before entering a room, and 5-8 minutes to respond to the prompt and any follow up questions, or play out the scenario with a trained actor.
  • Group interview
    • May be either one applicant interviewed by several interviewers, or in a group of applicants interviewed by one or more interviewer.

PreVet Mock Interviews Offered Through PPA

The PreProfessional Advising Office offers traditional one-on-one mock interviews for current and former University of Utah prevet students. 

  • Our tranditional mock interviews are one hour long.  The first half will consisit of the actual interview and the second half consists of the advisor providing verbal feedback.
  • To schedule a traditional mock interview, please call our office at 801.581.5744 to have our reception team schedule this appointment.  Students cannot schedule these mock interviews online; they must call.  If a student schedules a regular 45-minute appointment online, the advisor will not conduct the mock interview


General Timeline

When to Submit

Applications are submitted at least 12-15 months in advance of the desired enrollment date. However, the timing depends on when you will complete your degree and the necessary coursework, and successfully take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) if necessary.


  • It is helpful to create a timeline for yourself when applying to medical school but your timeline should be flexible. Course scheduling, extra-curricular activities, deadline changes, etc. all contribute to the need of having flexibility in your timeline.

Check Specific Deadline Dates

For specific application deadline dates, you should always check the VMCAS Website.

Prior to Applying

Letters of Recommendation

Talk to potential writers of your Letters of Recommendation. Give them plenty of time to write the letters. The PPA Website has helpful information on asking for letters and guidelines that you can give to your writers.

Continue Extracurriculars

Continue with your volunteer, work or research activities until you have received an acceptance letter from a medical school.

Do not stop these activities until you have an official offer of admission. It may take two or more application cycles to gain admission, so you need to be continually improving your application until you do.


Prepare for and take the Graduate Record Exam. Try to take it by May of the year you submit your application.

Research Programs

Research programs using the VMCAS website College Descriptor Pages, and/or the Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirements (VMSAR) book.

The Application Year

May - July

  • Primary Applications through VMCAS opens in late May-early June. Begin to fill out primary applications as soon as possible. Read instruction manuals carefully
  • Order official transcripts from ALL colleges and universities that you have attended to be sent to VMCAS
  • Request LORs to be sent to VMCAS
  • Take GRE

July - March

  • Complete supplemental applications AS THEY COME IN
  • October is the latest GRE most Veterinary schools accept for the following Fall.
  • You must submit your VMCAS application and deliver other application materials (3 LORs, Transcripts) to VMCAS no later than the application deadline (usually October), at 12:00 Midnight, Eastern Time. No late documents are accepted.
  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA , in October
  • Prepare for and attend interviews. Interviews occur from October - April
    • The PPA Advising office offers mock interviews so you can practice. If you have an interview scheduled, call the office 801-581-5744 and ask to schedule a mock interview
  • Respond to admissions offers. Offers usually begin in January


  • Continue to respond to admissions offers
  • When you make a final decision, withdraw other admissions offers promptly
  • Veterinary schools can begin requiring applicants to make final decisions


Student Groups

PreVeterinary Club

Helpful Websites

WIMU Regional Program

Utah does not have a Veterinary Medicine school, but through the Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah (WIMU) Regional Program  Washington State University allows Utah students to complete the first two years at Utah State University.

Fee Assistance Program

A limited number of VMCAS fee waivers are provided to qualified applicants on a first-come, first-served basis until allotted funds are exhausted.  Each fee waiver covers only the initial application fee, so if you wish to apply to additional programs, you are responsible for the remaining balance.  The VMCAS fee assistance program will open in June.

VMCAS Fee Assistance Program

Last Updated: 10/5/22