Most Affordable Veterinarian Programs 2021

October 6, 2021

reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Most Affordable Veterinarian Programs 2021 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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In 2020, more than 10,000 students applied to about 44 veterinary colleges throughout the country. The number of veterinary program applicants continues to increase, but the number of institutions remains the same. This means getting admitted to a veterinary program is becoming more competitive.

Students pursue this challenging and competitive field for many reasons, including an innate love for animals and the desire to turn a passion into a career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), veterinarians earn a median annual salary of $95,460, which is more than twice the average median pay for other occupations ($39,810).

Additionally, the BLS projects jobs for veterinarians to grow 16% between 2019-2029, significantly faster than all other occupations. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Veterinarian Programs Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What kind of degree do you need to become a veterinarian?

Bachelor's degree-holders must complete a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree and become licensed before they can practice independently as veterinarians.

Q. How many years does it take to become a veterinarian?

Learners often need eight years to become a veterinarian. They spend four years in undergraduate study and another four years completing a DVM program.

Q. What is the difference between a DVM and a VMD?

A VMD stands for veterinariae medicinae doctoris, which is Latin for DVM. There is no difference between a DVM and a VMD.

Q. Do veterinarians need a license?

Yes. Veterinarians need a license before they can practice independently anywhere in the United States.

Most Affordable Veterinarian Programs 2021

Career and Salary Outlook for Veterinarians

Veterinary programs offer many specializations, allowing enrollees to concentrate in an area relevant to their career goals. Specializations can focus on specific animal groups such as canines, felines, or equines, or a practice arena like small animal surgery, equine dental, or radiation oncology. See below for some of the most common career paths for veterinary professionals.


DVM degree-holders examine, diagnose, and treat different animals depending on their area of expertise. They perform many of these duties as medical doctors, including performing surgery, prescribing medication, treating wounds, and preventing diseases. Veterinarians also monitor and mitigate the spread of viral infections to safeguard animal and human populations.

Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

Most veterinary technicians work under the supervision of veterinarians. They perform tasks such as preparing animals for surgery, administering anesthesia and vaccines, and restraining animals during examinations. Veterinarians often rely on these professionals to keep accurate records and perform basic lab tests, such as blood counts and urinalysis.

Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers

These professionals often feed and bathe animals, provide emergency care for injured animals, and assist in the collection of blood and urine samples. They also maintain the cleanliness and security of animal facilities, such as laboratories and animal shelters.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Veterinarians $95,460 16%
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians $35,320 16%
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers $28,590 16%

Source: BLS

Accreditation for Veterinarian Programs

Accreditation is the process in which an independent accrediting body evaluates the quality of a school or program according to established standards. Nonprofit, degree-focused private and public institutions typically seek regional accreditation, while for-profit, career-centered schools seek national accreditation.

Regional accreditors often adhere to stricter evaluation measures, which many stakeholders prefer. However, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) recognizes both accreditation types. A school's accreditation matters since the ED channels financial aid only through accredited institutions.

Some accrediting agencies focus on specific programs rather than entire schools and issue programmatic accreditation. The ED recognizes the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as the nation's main accreditor for veterinary schools and programs. AVMA develops separate standards for DVM and veterinary technician programs.

Veterinarian Licensing

Veterinarians need a license before they can practice. Specific licensure requirements vary by state. Veterinary students should familiarize themselves with the licensing procedures and educational and training mandates of the state where they plan to work.

Many states require licensure applicants to take the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) administered by the International Council for Veterinary Assessment. Although only some states require veterinary technicians to obtain licensure, many require them to be credentialed in some way. Most states allow practitioners who pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam to work in the field.

Courses in a Veterinary Program

Veterinary programs typically include courses such as biochemistry, anatomic pathology, and ancillary diagnostics. Many veterinary schools include business and management courses since veterinarians often run their practice as a business. A well-crafted veterinary program features classroom instruction and clinical training to help enrollees develop the skills to succeed in their veterinary practice. See below for some of the most common courses in veterinary programs.

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Students develop the skills required for routine veterinary practice, such as collecting and submitting clinical specimens, interpreting laboratory test results, and identifying disease processes. This course covers microbiology, diagnostic clinical pathology, and parasitology.

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Enrollees study disease dynamics and transmission in small and large animal populations. They learn how to use record analysis as an efficient diagnostic tool and study topics such as biosecurity, outbreak investigations, and disease eradication and control. Students examine recent observational studies and results of published clinical trials to learn about successful and cost-effective disease intervention protocols.

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This course teaches students how to determine appropriate therapeutic protocols relevant to the presenting pathology and the animal species. Learners study the pharmacological drug classes fit for animal use, how to prevent and control antibiotic resistance, and the risks and benefits in drug administration, including adverse side effects and long-term repercussions.

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Scholarships for Veterinary Students

Many veterinary schools support their students through various fellowship and grant programs. Students can also explore financial aid options from private nonprofits and professional associations. See below for three scholarships available to veterinary students.

AVMF Scholarships

Who Can Apply: AVMF offers several scholarships for different groups of veterinary medicine enrollees, including veterans, women, and students specializing in feline medicine. Each program maintains specific eligibility and application requirements, so applicants must determine the scholarship for which they are most qualified to apply.

Amount: Varies

Margaret A. Haines Telephony Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Administered by the American Quarter Horse Foundation, this program accepts applications from third-year veterinary medicine students attending an AVMA-accredited institution. Applicants need a 3.0 GPA or higher and must intend to pursue an equine-focused veterinary practice after graduation.

Amount: Varies

Walkin' Pets Veterinarian and Rehab/Vet Tech Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Walkin' Pets sponsors a $1,000 scholarship for doctoral students entering their senior year of veterinary school and a $500 scholarship for canine rehabilitation or veterinary tech students. Full-time students enrolled in an accredited veterinary program may apply. Application requirements include a 1,000-word essay and an enrollment certification letter.

Amount: $500-$1,000

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