In three years time, I will have (hopefully) finished a biochemistry degree at the ETH Zürich. I'm thinking about moving to the USA/Canada after that to study Vet Med. In most places I've read, there are so many requirements that I'd be surprised if any international students actually get accepted into those programmes. The most common requirements are: having taken enough English courses (mainly literature); having completed a 4-year Bachelor's degree and having completed one year of undergrad studies in the USA (this last one is especially bothersome when applying for an MD).

Are there any common paths for international students that I've missed (the requirements seem impossible)?
On a side note, what's funding like for non-residents (grants ...)?

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    Veterinary medicine and MDs are different things, so why have you brought up MD requirements? Feb 28, 2023 at 0:20
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    I also remove graduate-students because vet and med students are known as "professional" students in the US. Congrats on a new tag Feb 28, 2023 at 0:21
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    You seem to be confusing the requirements for earning a bachelors in the US (general education requirements) with the requirements for joining a graduate or professional program. Once you have a "suitable" degree as determined by a university, you don't need to also fulfill US bachelors requirements.
    – Buffy
    Feb 28, 2023 at 0:29
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    As a side note, getting in to veterinary school is harder than into medical school - there just aren't as many vet schools as med schools, and lots of folks apply. Source: rooming with some vet students many years ago... As for grants - good luck...
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 28, 2023 at 0:37
  • You've probably seen it, but I'd recommend looking at VMCAS. It processes applications for most vet schools and has lots of information.
    – Peter K.
    Feb 28, 2023 at 2:31

2 Answers 2


Veterinary medicine degrees in the US, like human medical degrees (and graduate degrees in law or terminal masters programs), are considered professional degrees to prepare you to earn a relatively high professional salary. Most US veterinary medicine students pay their way with loans that they plan to pay back while working in the US as a vet. Programs at state colleges and universities may be subsidized for residents of that state, but not international or out-of-state students.

Knowing some people who have gone down this path, a DVM is a tough career path. The education costs aren't much less than an MD, the pay is substantially less, and the hours can be pretty intense, with lots of time spent on call on weekends, overnight, and holidays. I would not recommend it unless you are passionate about caring for animals, and certainly would not recommend a US DVM education if you do not plan to work in the US unless there is another place with comparable salaries. That said, while the financial aspects of the job tend to be a target of complaint, the actual job itself seems to be very rewarding.

There are a handful of grant/scholarship opportunities for DVM students, but it's not something you should plan to rely on. Your specific admissions qualifications are better directed to individual programs. I expect that European 3-year programs will substitute for US 4-year bachelor's programs; specifying "4 year" is meant to make clear that a 2-year US associates degree is not appropriate, they just aren't outlining all the different possibilities for international students, the programs likely have too few international applicants at all to bother with a country-by-country breakdown.

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    Speaking as a long time pet owner in many states in the US, and who has invested in relationships with DMV's for my pets, this→ "I would not recommend it unless you are passionate about caring for animals…" seems strongly prevalent among vets.
    – Alexis
    Feb 28, 2023 at 17:07
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    I would also point out that only a small percentage of vets are 'urban pet doctors' and the vast majority work in industrial scale agriculture.
    – quarague
    Mar 1, 2023 at 8:25

Veterinary school in the United States is intended to prepare students to be licensed as veterinarians in the United States. As an "international student" without a visa to work in the United States, you have no use for a license that is not valid elsewhere. There are plenty of domestic students. That is why veterinary school is not set up to admit international students.

Some countries give residency to international students who earn certain degrees. The United States does not.

Canada has a completely different education system.

  • -1 (a) A vet degree is not the same as a license to practice. (b) A U.S. vet degree is not invalid or useless elsewhere. Source: My dad's a DVM of 50 years and several of his classmates came from, and later worked in, foreign countries. May 3 at 0:49
  • @DanielR.Collins The answer is from the perspective of the U.S. vet school. A student who works in another country likely finds the degree useful. The vet school does not. In most cases, the vet school serves the state that contributes to its funding. May 4 at 1:43
  • My comment is also from the perspective of a U.S. vet school -- with close contact with someone who actually went there and worked in that profession. The claim that "veterinary school is not set up to admit international students" is simply misinformation. For example, here's the page for Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, International Student Admissions. May 4 at 4:04
  • And here's the U. Penn vet school application page: "Penn Vet welcomes international applicants. Currently, Penn Vet accepts the majority of the starting class of 125 students from outside the state of Pennsylvania. This includes all other states within the U.S., U.S. territories and internationally." Etc. May 4 at 4:48

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