The Bachelor of Health Sciences degree program offers excellent preparation for students interested in a career in veterinary medicine. The courses offered provide students with differing perspectives across the spectrum of health sciences concentrations, and our graduates are well-prepared to apply for admission to veterinary schools across Canada. The information below provides an overview of the admission process to veterinary schools in Canada, and students are encouraged to do their own research into the specific veterinary schools in which they are interested.
Before the Application
Do What You Love
If you do, you’ll tend to thrive! Choose a university program that interests you since you will usually attain better marks learning something that fascinates you. Be aware that you do not have to be enrolled in a health sciences program in order to apply to veterinary medicine. Most schools in Canada require specific prerequisite courses; however, they can be completed in conjunction with any degree program.
Research the Profession
Consider conducting information interviews with veterinarians, veterinary students, or residents. Ask your veterinarian for an appointment to discuss your career goals and his or her experiences in the field. Know the realities of day-to-day work and how it fits with what you know about yourself. Be realistic and informed by exploring other career options in addition to the role of a veterinarian.
Meet the Prerequisites
It’s important to know what courses are required and obtain them at any time before you apply. Each veterinary school has different prerequisites and different definitions of what constitutes ‘full-time study’, so it’s important to check with the school in your area to ensure you meet the most up-to-date admission requirements.
The following BHSc courses provide excellent preparation for veterinary medicine. Be sure to check the course prerequisites at each school to which you plan to apply.
Aim High Academically
Be sure to keep the doors open. Your undergraduate grades are an extremely important aspect of your education, even if you have continued your education beyond undergrad. Each program calculates GPA in slightly different ways – some schools use every course you’ve ever taken, some use your two best years, and some will drop your three lowest grades – so be sure to check each program to help you strategize where and when you will apply.
While your grades are an important part of your application, they aren’t everything. Become active within your community and with activities that mean something to you. The ability to balance academics with employment, volunteer work, sports, community, and extra-curricular interests is a trait that applications committees are looking for in prospective veterinary students. Veterinarians are often largely active within their communities and successful candidates for veterinary school often show long-term commitment and leadership capabilities. It’s essential to gain experience within a veterinary clinic setting and experience with animals, so look into clinics or shelters in your area and see if they need volunteers.
Although the application for each veterinary medicine program differs, the following items often form part or all of the application process. It is important to note that you must apply to the veterinary school in your area. This means that depending on where you are a resident, it limits the schools you may apply to. For the majority of veterinary schools, a resident is defined as an individual who has lived in the province/territory for 12 months prior to the January 1st application deadline, not including time spent in post-secondary institutions. There are five veterinary schools across Canada, each with specific provinces and/or territories for which their students must be a resident.
- University of Guelph – Ontario Veterinary College: Residents of Ontario
- University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine: Residents of Alberta
- University of Saskatchewan – Western College of Veterinary Medicine: Residents of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories
- University of Prince Edward Island – Atlantic Veterinary College: Residents of PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, or Newfoundland and Labrador
- Université de Montréal: Faculté de médicine vétérinaire
Deadlines for submission of veterinary school application differ greatly for each school across Canada. There is no central application service for veterinary schools, so students must apply to each individual school in which they are eligible. Verify all deadlines for the school and year you wish to apply and allow yourself plenty time to complete the application.
When applying to any graduate program, you will need to arrange for transcripts. All transcripts from high school and any post-secondary programs you have attended must be sent directly from those institutions to the veterinary schools to which you are applying. There is generally a fee associated with this, so be sure to factor this into your application budget and be sure they arrive before the deadline.
It used to be required for students applying to veterinary school to write the MCAT, or Medical College Admissions Test. However, more and more veterinary schools seem to be dropping the requirement for the MCAT. Some schools require the GRE, or Graduate Record Examination, as an admissions test. Check with each school you wish to apply for specific admissions tests requirements.
The application for each school differs, but the general idea remains the same. Aside from personal information and academic history, many schools will ask for an itemized list of activities you have participated in over the years, such as the Background Information Form (BIF) at the Ontario Veterinary College. This can include things such as veterinary and animal experience, extracurricular activities, work experience, and more. You may also be required to write a personal essay, which gives you an opportunity to market yourself to the admissions committee. This is an area where you can discuss why you want to be a veterinarian, your goals, interests, and motivation. Spelling and grammar is an important aspect of the personal essay and you must be able to clearly convey your ideas to the admissions committee. Check with specific schools to determine the non-academic components of their applications.
References / Referee Assessment
Most veterinary schools will ask for two or three referee assessments, at least one of which must be from a veterinarian. It’s important to choose your referees carefully so you can ensure you are getting a positive, unbiased, and professional reference. Simply asking your referee if they feel they can give you a good reference letter may be a good place to start. Be sure to build a relationship with these individuals and ask them well in advance before the application deadline, as to give them enough time to write your assessment. Thank your referees afterwards and keep them updated on your progress.
If you pass the initial application stage, you may be invited for an interview. Most veterinary schools use the MMI, or Multiple Mini Interview, format. The dates for these interviews vary and so it’s important to check with the school you are applying to ensure you can be available.
Please be advised, as mentioned above, you must apply to the veterinary school within the area in which you are a resident. If you wish to apply to international veterinary schools, be sure to contact the school about their admissions requirements, deadlines etc. There are many factors to consider when making the decision to study abroad, including tuition, living expenses, the ability to secure residency training, and the challenges of living in another country. While it is possible to come back to Canada after studying abroad for veterinary school, it can be a hard process. If you do intend to study abroad, it’s suggested you apply to a school accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
There are a variety of different financial assistance programs to help students pay for the expenses of veterinary school. Research financial assistance at the universities to which you are applying, as well as within your province and/or territory. Contact the student awards/financial aid office at the university to which you are applying for other sources of funding.
Canadian Veterinary Schools
Check with each veterinary school to ensure that you have the most accurate and up-to-date admissions criteria.
- University of Guelph: Ontario Veterinary College
- University of Calgary: Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
- University of Saskatchewan: Western College of Veterinary Medicine
- University of Prince Edward Island: Atlantic Veterinary College
- Université de Montréal: Faculté de médicine vétérinaire
For help with strategies for this and other career goals, visit Career Services, which is free to all currently-registered Queen’s students and appointments can be conducted by telephone, since you are not in Kingston: careers.queensu.ca