Best Online Degrees in: Veterinary Science
Explore a Bachelor’s Degree in Veterinary Science
Veterinary science degrees are often pre-professional programs designed to prepare students for entry into professional schools of veterinary medicine. A bachelor’s degree in veterinary science is a good fit for students who love working with animals, who come from a ranching or farming background, and/or who are otherwise concerned with animal health and welfare. This field of study is also well-suited for students who have a penchant for the hard sciences. Students gain a solid foundation in the hard sciences, research skills, and the basics of animal care that will prepare them for future graduate study.
Veterinary science degrees are designed to be completed in four years of full-time course work. However, program length can be longer if students must complete prerequisites to qualify for this major or if students need to take a lighter course load because of the rigors of the science-heavy curriculum. Program length may be shorter if students transfer in credits from other approved higher education institutions or from AP courses taken in high school that count toward a student’s basics.
From the beginning, course work in a veterinary science bachelor’s degree program is rigorous. Students start out taking courses in general chemistry, advanced mathematics, statistics, microbiology, and organic chemistry. Included in a student’s basics are English composition, speech communication, fine arts, and humanities. Along with additional course work in organic chemistry, genetics, biochemistry, physics, and parasitology, students may take courses in the following:
- Animal Nutrition. In this course, students learn how various nutrients function in an animal’s body, the signs that an animal is deficient in a certain nutrient, and how food is digested in ruminant and non-ruminant animals. Students also learn about the most common types of animal feed, and the best ways of setting diet plans for domestic animals.
- Diseases of Domestic Animals. This course examines infectious diseases in domestic animals and the many causes of these diseases, including microorganisms, poor nutrition, consumption of toxic plants, and inherited genetic problems. This course also discusses animal immune systems and their role in disease prevention.
- Animal Physiology. In this course, students learn how the bodies of animals function in their natural environment. Healthy animal function is discussed as well as physiological problems in animals. Specific topics might include eating and digestion, animal metabolism, elimination of waste, and overall animal movement.
The homework and projects you are assigned in a veterinary science program will vary, and you may be asked to write papers, conduct presentations, or complete projects, depending on your instructors’ teaching style. Students may need to write a paper on proper nutrition for a certain class of animal or complete a project that requires them to shadow a veterinarian and document the steps he or she takes to treat a certain disease in an animal. Internships are encouraged and sometimes required in veterinary science programs so that students can get hands-on experience working with animals at approved sites, such as veterinary clinics and hospitals, laboratories, and zoos.
Building a Career
A bachelor’s degree in veterinary science alone will not be enough to enter the veterinary profession. To become a licensed veterinarian, you must earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from an accredited college of veterinary medicine after completing the necessary undergraduate course work. While veterinary science is not the only undergraduate path you can take to prepare yourself for vet school, it is one of many degree paths that can help you complete the science-heavy prerequisites that are needed for entry to vet school. After completing a DVM program, individuals must also pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam and meet all other state requirements in order to obtain licensure. The median yearly salary for veterinarians was $82,040 as of May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Students who do not want to become full-fledged veterinarians may pursue careers as veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers. These workers are projected to have excellent job prospects, and earned a median yearly salary of $22,040 as of May 2010, with those working in research positions earning more on average, according to the BLS. Students may also pursue careers as animal care and service workers who feed, water, groom, bathe, or exercise domestic animals.