When fur babies get sick, veterinarians offer the loving, capable hands that animals trust to make them better. Veterinarians understand what animals from pets to zoo creatures are trying to say when they can’t tell anyone else what’s wrong. These 10 schools train the best veterinarians to cure animal ailments and prevent future creatures from suffering through the same illnesses. Future vets need competitive programs, a wide variety of classes, state-of-the-art research labs and facilities and award-winning schools and faculty to make their dream of being the real-life Dr. Dolittle a little more attainable.
We ranked these 10 best veterinary schools take students one step closer to animal whisperer status.
10. Iowa State University
Old MacDonald has nothing on the animal doctors of Iowa. Located in Ames, Iowa, a metropolis surrounded by more rural areas, students at the Iowa State University Veterinary School have a unique advantage of working in both rural and urban animal groups. Whether you want to nurse cattle on your Dad’s farm in Iowa or save animals from wildfires in California, ISU will train you well. After taking basic animal science classes the first two years, students can experience their clinical rotations at the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines or the ISU Dairy Farm south of Ames and many more. ISU offers four tracks for students: Small Animal, Equine, Food Animal or Mixed Animal. Iowa State is known for their agricultural related studies, and the Vet School has also established itself in caring for the animals on farms. “Iowa State is an accredited vet school with professors from all not only all across the U.S. but also the world, giving Iowa State an international view on veterinary medicine that others may not offer as well,” said third-year student Brody Proesch. “The facilities at Iowa State, such as the State of the Art hospitals and clinics give Iowa State the ability to accommodate almost any animal in any situation.” The diverse collection of professors have won national awards as well. In December of 2017, Professor James Roth received 2018 Senator John Melcher, DVM Leadership in Public Policy Award from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC).
9. North Carolina State University
Combine the medical expertise of a DVM with the business sense of a CEO. Not only can students at the North Carolina State University receive their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, they can also combine their degrees with an MBA from the Jenkins Graduate School of Management or a Ph.D. from the NC State Graduate School. When graduating students start their own clinic, they will know how to manage their business as well as their patients. NC State accepted just 11 percent of applicants for the Class of 2020, so you know you’ll study with the best of the best. Veterinary students can also choose from 11 different focus areas to study the health of animals, including Epidemiology, Public Health and Public Policy, Laboratory Animal Medicine, and Zoological Medicine. Students can take a variety of classes, like Introduction to Animal Welfare, Principles of Morphology and Disturbances of Reproduction. During their fourth-year clinical rotations students can study at the NC State Veterinary Hospital, which treats 20,000 patients annually, ranging from small animals to exotic animals. A veterinary student at NC State can encounter anything from a furry kitten to a majestic lion. NC State also helps our feathered friends fly freely, and in 2016, four students and one faculty member were honored at the American Association of Avian Pathologist 59th annual conference.
8. Colorado State University
What’s higher than the peaks of the Rockies? The ambition of future Colorado State veterinary applicants. For those mountain lovers out there that want to save the woodland creatures, Fort Collins, Colorado boasts one of the most competitive veterinary schools in the U.S. Just 8.9 percent of applicants get accepted into the school. The school uses incredibly lifelike artificial tissue to teach its students surgical techniques. Students can use these techniques during their third and fourth years at the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The Teaching Hospital cares for small animals, livestock and equine animals. On top of their veterinary medicine programs, students are encouraged to take other electives related to management, like Fundamentals of Accounting, that would help in owning their own veterinary clinic. That way, students can do what they love and make bank doing it, too.
7. University of Missouri
Even tigers need someone to check their stripes. The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine is home to a unique academic department, the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology. This department’s mission involves research in the fields of pathology, parasitology, microbiology, immunology, comparative medicine, genetics and related disciplines to diagnose and prevent illnesses. Students get hands-on training at the Veterinary Healthcare Center, which cares for 17,000 patients in the hospital and thousands more on farms and houses three specialized hospitals. Some of the most interesting classes at Mizzou include Advanced Equine Lameness and Animals in Emergencies & Basic Response Training. The University of Missouri is also home to the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction, a joint project between the College of Veterinary and the Sinclair School of Nursing. The center focuses on the health benefits for animals and humans of the two species interacting. Students can also see the benefits of interacting with animals when they join any of the awesome clubs on campus. “If I could join every club I would because they all do really cool hands-on wet labs and host interesting speakers,” said first-year student Jessie Everett. “So far, I’ve done a snake euthanasia and necropsy, a nasogastric tube wet lab and emergency and equine rounds. I even went to a talk on elephant reproduction. There really is a club for every interest.”
6. Ohio State University
Once again, those flyover Midwestern states prove to be the best places to learn to care for animals. 11.4 percent of applicants get admitted to the school. The Ohio State University, located in Columbus, Ohio, College of Veterinary Medicine houses the massive Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center. Over 30,000 animal patients visit this center each year, and it remains one of the largest centers of its kind. The faculty includes Six American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellows. In the students’ second year, classes focus specifically on bodily systems verses basic animal science classes. Students can serve their fourth-year clinical rotations at the center, studying large animals, companion animals, farm animals and horses. Along with working at the hospital, Ohio State students take part in outreach services in their community that reinforces their love for animals. The school helps inmates at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections train service animals. They also help out students who cannot care for their pets over the summer or after gradation by providing housing and helping to find new owners. Not only can you make a difference in animal lives, but you can influence the humans around you as well.
5. Texas A&M University
The Texas A&M mascot has been Reveille the Dog since 1931, but that’s not the only the only way the school commits themselves to animals. The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences has an advanced and in-depth research department. Some of the areas of research include Science and Technology Journalism; Toxicology, Environmental Health Science, and Food Safety; and Neuroscience, Anatomy, and Functional Imaging. Students can study under five different departments that all focus on the One Health concept, which theorizes that animal and human health and the environment are all intertwined. Texas A&M’s specialty tracks include Animal Dentistry, Animal Dermatology, Zoological Medicine and more. In 2017, the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences received one of 24 2017 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Awards from INSIGHT Into Diversity. The school is currently building the Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine Complex, which will provide a space for equine teaching, research, outreach and athletic programming. Students can take classes about anything from small animals, large animals, feedlot animals, zoo animals and more. In a state as large as Texas, you never know what kind of creature might need assistance.
4. Kansas State University
These students say “I Kan(sas)” to solving any problem. If you are looking to solve seemingly unsolvable problems within the animal world, Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine is the place for you. KSU’s research centers maintain their standard of excellence in caring for animals and finding cures for infectious diseases. The Center for Epithelial Research studies the tissues that line the surfaces and cavities of blood vessels and organs throughout animal bodies, meaning researchers search for cures for diseases that affect our pets at their bodies’ most basic level. The Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases tackles root causes of animal illnesses too, with faculty researching prevention and cures for disease threats. Those researchers love to help their students excel in their veterinary classes. “One of the best parts about Kansas State University is the large animal faculty,” said second year student Maggie Massey. The staff and faculty have a direct connection and impact on the cattle industry and provide us with insight and push us to think on a different level to groom us to also be industry leaders.” Along with the expectations of faculty to produce outstanding research, the school lists specific expectations in learning objectives that students must reach by the end of each year, like a proficiency in surgical skills and the ability to identify and treat diseases. Students can take classes such as Practice Management and Food Animal Local Practice to zone in on specific parts of being a vet that may be ignored. Kansas State is also home to The Rabies Laboratory of Kansas State University, the largest rabies serology laboratory in the world. The lab handles over 80,000 serum samples from potentially rabies-infected animals and humans each year. And no animal is too small for quality care at KSU. The Veterinary Health Center implanted a pacemaker in a pet ferret last year.
3. Cornell University
Andy Bernard from The Office would fight for Cornell University to the death, and you will too for their cutting-edge veterinary school. You have to apply quickly and perfectly, as they only have 120 open seats in each class each year. Students can study in one of five academic departments: Biomedical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, Microbiology and Immunology, Molecular Medicine and Population Medicine, and Diagnostic Sciences. The Cornell Veterinary Biobank collects biological samples from healthy animals and animals with diseases to do comparative research about causes of genetic diseases. The faculty at Cornell excel in their fields and in helping their students excel. “We’re taught by professors who are pioneers in their respective fields and they are willing to help the students in any way possible,” said first-year student Gianna Paganelli. “The teaching facilities are unparalleled and allow for a multitude of invaluable experiences.” Students begin their clinical rotations in their third year rather than the fourth like many other veterinary schools. Students take distribution courses as 30 percent of their curriculum, allowing them to choose a focus area of study. One student even studied llamas. The excellence of Cornell University shows through on their North American Veterinary Licensing Examination test scores, which have been 100 percent for the last five years. The school boasts six American Veterinary Medical Association Award winners between the faculty and alumni. This top Ivy League school only turns out the best of the best.
2. Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
Tufts lets your studies get as unique as a leopard’s spots. Students at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University have the unique advantage of tailoring their studies to their interests. Tufts offers two dual degree programs, The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public Health and the DVM and MS in Lab Animal Medicine. The four specialty programs are referred to as “signature opportunities” that students can study to differentiate themselves from graduates from other veterinary schools These specialty programs include International Veterinary Medicine, Wildlife and Conservation Medicine, Accelerated Clinical Excellence (ACE), and Animal Welfare, Ethics and Policy. The school uniquely focuses on how animal health interacts with the human environment with the Center for Animals and Public Policy. This center researches how societal issues affect animals and their place in the world. Students at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine can also access a much larger amount of information than other schools. The Webster Family Library on campus supports veterinary students learning with the most books on veterinary medicine in any New England library. In 2013, American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care designated The Tufts Foster Hospital for Small Animals as one of the first Veterinary Trauma Centers.
1. University of California, Davis
Step aside, Hollywood—the real stars go to the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Veterinary students at UC-Davis find no shortage of opportunities for research and advancement. Thirty-six research centers call UC-Davis home, dedicated to helping animals and curing disease in many different ways. These centers, like the Center for Children’s Environmental Health, not only study animal health, but also the complex relationship between animal health, human health and the environment. “Besides being able to work at the teaching hospital, students are often engaged outside of school to provide preventative care in the neighboring communities. Our school focuses not only the animal’s well-being but also addressing societal needs,” said first-year student Maria Virgen. “This includes working with the homeless population and under-served communities by providing veterinary care. More recently, we were fortunate enough to be able to provide emergency care and shelter to animals who were burned during the California wildfires.” In a time of what seems like constant negative news, UC-Davis veterinary students give helpless creatures hope. Students spend their fourth-year clinical rotations studying at any of these 36 centers. The curriculum at UC-Davis is cleanly divided into the foundational classes the first year, specific bodily systems the second year, focusing in on large animal or small animal studies the third year and clinical rotations in the fourth year. In 2017, alumni won six different national and international awards for veterinary medicine.