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Veterinary Medicine

Veterinarians provide health care services to non-human animals, including companion animals, livestock, wildlife, and zoo animals.  They become skilled in microbiology, pathology, physiology, pharmacology, and surgery.  Many veterinarians are private practitioners, but training as a veterinarian can also lead to careers in animal research, public health, food safety, regulatory medicine, and education.

Becoming a veterinarian requires specialized training and licensure, or completing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM/VMD).  There are many veterinary schools in the United States, and each has somewhat different admissions requirements.  We recommend students visit the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges website to explore programs and learn more about what is needed to become admitted.  When pursuing a DVM, some programs offer the option to concurrently earn a master of science (DVM/MS), master of public health (DVM/MPH), or Ph.D. (DVM/Ph.D.). 

Biology Specializations - Veterinary Medicine (PDF)

Recommended Courses

The core courses of the Biology Program and appropriate advanced courses provide very good preparation for pre-veterinary students.  Students should closely examine the admissions requirements for their chosen schools and prioritize those classes when selecting advanced biology coursework.  

We recommend taking at least 9 credits from the list below (lab courses are denoted by • ): 

Course # Course Name Credits
BIOL 335 & L • Human and Other Animal Physiology & Lab 4
BIOL 336 Ecological and Evolutionary Animal Physiology 3
BIOL 351 • Comparative Chordate Anatomy 5
BIOL 352 • Vertebrate Histology 4
BIOL 353 Introductory Parasitology 3
BIOL 354 & L • Animal Behavior & Lab 4
BIOL 364 Invertebrate Biology 3 to 4
BIOL 365 • Vertebrate Biology 4
BIOL 402 Introduction to Pathology 3
BIOL 423 & L • Developmental Biology & Lab 4
BIOL 428 Topics in Cell Biology 3
BIOL 434 Endocrinology 3
BIOL 436 Neurobiology 3
BIOL 457 & L • Herpetology & Lab 3
BIOL 458 & L • Ornithology & Lab 3
BIOL 459 & L • Mammalogy & Lab 3
EEOB 507 Advanced Animal Behavior 3
A ECL 454 Principles of Wildlife Disease 3
AN S 319 Animal Nutrition 3
AN S 331 Domestic Animal Reproduction 3
AN S 332 • Laboratory Methods in Animal Reprodudction 1
AN S 333 Embryo Transfer & Related Technologies 3
AN S 334 • Embryo Transfer Lab 1
AN S 337 Lactation 3
AN S 345 Growth and Development of Domestic Animals 3
AN S 352 • Genetic Improvement of Domestic Animals 3
AN S 419 Advanced Animal Nutrition 2
ANTHR 307 • Biological Anthropology 3
ANTHR 319 • Skeletal Biology 3
BBMB 405 Biochemistry II 3
BBMB 411 • Techniques in Biochemical Research 4
BBMB 420 Mammalian Biochemistry 3
B M S 329 Anatomy and Physiology of Domestic Animals 3
B M S 401 • Intro Aquatic Animal Medicine 1
ENT 374 & L • Insects and Our Health & Lab 4
MICRO 302 & L • Biology of Microorganisms & Lab 4
MICRO 310 & L • Medical Microbiology & Lab 4
MICRO 408 Virology 3
MICRO 475 Immunology 3
PSYCH 310 Brain and Behavior 3
PSYCH 315 Drugs and Behavior 3

We strongly recommend practical experience in an animal or biomedical research and practice, either through an internship or research with a faculty mentor.

Suggested Supporting Science Courses

Pre-veterinary students should plan to take a full year of general chemistry, a full year of organic chemistry, and strongly consider taking more advanced biochemistry courses. Pre-veterinary students should also consider taking a full year of physics. Completing Biology Program requirements for math/statistics should meet most vet school entry requirements, but bear in mind that a few schools specifically require calculus.

Student Spotlight

Sam Schepers

Hometown: Adel, Iowa
Major: Biology
Minor: Spanish
Next Steps: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine

Opportunities at ISU

Biological Sciences Club (BSC)

The departmental club for Biology majors and anyone else interested in life science, the Biological Sciences Club features regular faculty speakers on a diverse range of life science topics.

Undergraduate Research Experience

Students in the Biology Program can engage in life science research and earn academic credit for the experience.  Students will learn how to seek out these opportunities during orientation and they are also welcome to discuss this with their academic advisor.  

Aquatic Animal Medicine Club

The Aquatic Animal Medicine club aims to promote aquatic animal education to students interested in aquarium and aquaculture focused veterinary medicine. 

Veterinarians Without Borders

Veterinarians Without Borders is a club for anyone who is passionate about animal care or medicine. We conduct service trips in under-served communities worldwide to help improve the quality of life for both the animals and the people that inhabit them.

Pre-Veterinarian Club

Pre-Vet Club (PVC) at ISU is designed to serve as a forum where students interested in the field of veterinary medicine and supported fields gather to learn.