Dec 01, 2023  
2023-24 Western Washington University Catalog 
2023-24 Western Washington University Catalog

Pre-Veterinary Medicine


Veterinarians are highly trained medical professionals who provide for the health of all kinds of animals. Western does not offer a “Pre-Veterinary” major and no specific formula exists for getting into veterinary schools. Applicants are evaluated across multiple areas through a holistic review process. All aspects are important: GPA (both cumulative and science), admission test scores (commonly the GRE), volunteer experience within the field, letters of recommendation, extracurricular and community activities, interview, and personal characteristics as well as background checks (including legal, conduct, and social records).

Western offers undergraduate coursework addressing most DVM prerequisites but programs vary in their admissions requirements. In general, applicants must have strong academic backgrounds in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics and English. Research schools of your choice to confirm all required courses. These are summarized at Veterinary schools do not recruit students from one specific major or discipline but rather emphasize a liberal arts education. Examples of majors popular among students are Biology, Biochemistry, Environmental Science, Kinesiology, Psychology, and Business. 

 Contact Information

Pre-Veterinary Medicine Advisor
Anna Tognazzini
Assistant Director
Career Services Center
Old Main 280

Pre-Veterinary Medicine Advisor
Erika Wiescher
Health Professions Advisor
Career Services Center
Old Main 280

 Pre-Health Resources

How to Indicate you are Pre-Veterinary Medicine:

Although Pre-Veterinary is not a major, the university maintains a record of students who have indicated their intention to pursue healthcare careers. In order to gain access to our Health Professions Advising Canvas site and advising that is relevant to your intended area, send an email to with your name, W number, Western email address with “Pre-Vet” as the subject line.

Course Requirements

Regardless of major, certain prerequisite courses expected by most schools include:


Note: It is helpful if students begin general chemistry as early in their program as possible.



Other (non-science)

Many veterinary schools have English and humanities/social science course requirements, but will often waive them if you earn a bachelor’s degree prior to beginning the program. Check with individual programs to be sure.

Exposure and Experience

Advanced Placement

Check with individual schools whether they recognize Advanced Placement (AP) as college-earned credit. Not all do. It is better to view any earned credits as qualifying to enroll in upper division courses rather than as “testing out” of prerequisites.

Access to Classes

Upper-division courses, particularly in the sciences, tend to be in high demand. Many departments give priority to students declared in specific majors over those needing prerequisites for healthcare programs. Keep in mind that registration policies and procedures for impacted courses can change, so check the department’s website or contact the program coordinator to ask about course enrollment processes.

Repeating/Dropping Courses

When you repeat a course, only your most recent grade is used when Western calculates your GPA. However, the class still shows up on your transcript. Although some students think that repeating a course will help them get into professional schools, this is almost always untrue. Professional schools will take into account all college-level coursework when performing their own calculation of your GPA, and this will include any courses you have repeated at Western. Still, in some circumstances it may be appropriate to repeat a course so talk to an advisor to be sure. Also, dropping a course can have an impact on eligibility for financial aid, scholarships, and athletic participation so consider your options carefully and speak with an advisor before making a decision.

Community Involvement

What students pursue outside the classroom will be considered by professional programs along with what is accomplished in the classroom. It is important to choose extracurricular activities out of genuine interest - not all of activities need to be animal-related or clinical in nature. Your volunteer experience does not necessarily need to be healthcare related, but should be in something you are passionate about and interested in. Find experiences that allow you to serve your community and learn more about how to relate to others different from yourself.


Students should gain shadowing experience with veterinarians, ideally in multiple types of settings (hours vary, 250-500 is typical). Discuss your shadowing options with Health Professions Advisors.

Clinical Hours

Animal experience is essential, and can include owning/walking/volunteering with animals. Keep track of the number of hours you participate in clinical experience to be prepared for the application process. Some vet schools recommend 400-500 hours of specifically veterinary experience, so be sure to check with the programs you are interested in ahead of time. 

Graduate Record Examination

Many veterinary programs have done away with the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) but some still require it. Be sure to check with programs you’re interested in to know for sure. The GRE is offered monthly at the WWU Testing Center, and assesses your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills. Information is available at


Research experience is not required to develop a strong application for professional school, but can be a great way to enhance your application if you are interested. Many opportunities exist both on campus through individual departments and programs, and off campus. Contact your major department, or speak with a faculty member about participating in undergraduate research.

Letters of Recommendation

It is important for students to develop a good relationship with faculty members, supervisors and volunteer coordinators throughout their time as an undergraduate in order to have strong letters of recommendation. 

Note: The above information is for preliminary advising purposes only. We encourage students to meet with a Health Professions Advisor on a regular basis to develop an individualized plan.