The AAVMC uses the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) to process primary applications. You will apply during the VMCAS cycle that opens one year prior to the fall you plan to enroll in veterinary school. For example, if you plan to attend vet school directly after Carleton, you will apply during the spring/summer between your junior and senior years. Early VMCAS submissions are recommended as some institutions have rolling admissions.

After submitting your application, schools may require interviews anytime between late fall and early spring. Your major and pre-veterinary advisors will work with you to complete different components of the application and to prepare you for interviews.

Please review the following important information.

Application Timeline

Visit the AAMVC or VMCAS for information regarding the specific dates of your application cycle.

  • Mid-January: The VMCAS application cycle opens
    • Applications for individual veterinary schools have not opened yet, so now is the time to complete your primary application. Begin completing your course and activity entries as well as your personal statement. Request 3-6 letters of recommendation from individuals who meet the requirements of the schools you plan to apply to.
  • April 1: Rough draft of your personal statement due to Pam
  • Mid-May: The first date you can select programs in the application
    • Select which schools you want to attend and begin completing their individual applications.
  • Mid-August: The last date to order Professional Transcript Entry (PTE)
  • Mid-September: The VMCAS application cycle closes
    • This is the last date you can submit your application and request letters of recommendation. It is also the last day for your recommenders to submit their letters and for your GRE test scores to be matched to your application.
  • September – March: Practice/mock interviews
    • When and how you prepare for interviews will depend on the date and type of interview each veterinary school requests.
  • February – April: Veterinary school acceptance decisions are released
  • Mid-April: Deadline for admitted students to accept or decline admissions offers
    • This date depends on when you completed your interview with the school and when the school releases its acceptance decisions. Generally, you receive decisions in February and must accept an offer by mid-April.

The GRE and CASPer Tests

Please visit the Entrance Examinations section of the Veterinary Medicine folder for detailed information regarding the tests themselves. The GRE is no longer required by most veterinary schools, and the CASPer test is only required by a select few.

The GRE should be completed at least two months prior to your VMCAS application cycle deadline. Test results take a few weeks to be returned, and submitting your scores to different schools may also take longer than expected, so it is best to take the GRE well in advance of your September deadline.

The CASPer test should be completed within your VMCAS application cycle as results are only valid for a single application cycle. The assessment is rated and the score is sent to selected veterinary schools 2-3 weeks after the test date, so tests should be completed before August—at least one month prior to the end of the application cycle.

Personal Statements

Why do you want to be a veterinarian? Writing a personal statement is a daunting task, so admissions officers and alumni offered some advice:

Admission officers: Your personal statement should be very organized and arranged in a way that draws everything together. Don’t just list everything; you should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Talk about your journey and why you want to become a veterinarian. Is there a particular experience or mentor that drew you in? Don’t list your experiences, there is a different section of the VMCAS where you can do that. The essay should be broken into paragraphs and should flow. Make your personal statement easy for the readers to digest. Truly show that you know what you’re getting yourself into — keeping up research, working with other veterinarians and technicians, and doing hard work because it will be worth it. Prove you are fully committed.

Veterinary alumni: What would you do as a veterinarian and how would you give back to the community? Think about the broader realm of veterinary medicine outside of dogs and cats — food safety, human and public health, wildlife conservation, aquacultures, and much more. Prove that you understand the breadth of veterinary medicine and that you would be willing to do more than small animal medicine with your degree. Avoid the cliche of using the death of a childhood pet as your motivation for becoming a veterinarian. Give an adult reason for committing yourself to an emotionally challenging career that may not be the most financially rewarding. Write your personal statement such that you couldn’t be applying for another animal-related career with the same essay.

Course and Activity Entry

Course Entry: There are many course requirements for veterinary school, and it is common for students to have incomplete classes when they apply to vet school. Double-check how many outstanding courses each institution allows you to have before you apply to their programs. If you apply to a school with an outstanding course requirement, make sure you complete the class before you enroll in veterinary school the following fall. Often, institutions will require applicants to prove exactly how and when they will complete remaining requirements.

Activity Entry: When keeping track of your experiences, differentiate between animal and veterinary experiences. Animal experiences are those where you gain hands-on experience working with animals (i.e. working at kennels, shelters, farms). Veterinary experiences are those where you work with a veterinarian, typically in a clinical setting (i.e. shadowing, working as a veterinary assistant).

  • There is a word limit, so be short and sweet with your descriptions and highlight the most impressive activities of your experience
  • Stay away from “walked dogs and cleaned kennels” if you “assisted in [clinical procedure] and used glucometer to monitor diabetic boarders”
  • All activities are important!
  • Keep track of exact hours and kind of experience—using a CV can be helpful

Letters of Recommendation

Most veterinary institutions require at least 3 letters of recommendation. Typically, at least one of these letters must be from a DVM. VMCAS requires you to request between 3 and 6 recommendations. Applicants can neither complete nor submit these evaluations and VMCAS will notify applicants of missing LORs. Paper and emailed evaluations are not accepted—recommenders submit evaluations via the eLOR portal. All programs will receive the same set of recommendations, regardless of their individual LOR requirements.


Some veterinary schools do not require interviews and some only request to interview in-state or otherwise-selected applicants. You may be faced with preparing for the following types of interviews:

  • Structured – A standardized set of questions are presented in the same order for all applicants.
  • Panel – Two or more panelists interview the applicant simultaneously and present questions in a round-robin format.
  • MMI (Multiple Mini Interviews) – A series of interview stations, each focused on a different scenario or question
  • PBL (Problem-based) – Similar to MMIs; a series of questions that present a variety of realistic challenges. You must work through your problem-solving process. 
  • Behavioral/Situational judgment – Interviewers ask applicants to describe situations in which they displayed certain behaviors and how those experiences would assist in a future roles

When preparing for interviews, reach out to your major, science, or pre-veterinary advisors to request mock interviews. Requesting help from professors and advisors allows them to gather more information that could help them write more meaningful recommendations. Provide your mock interviewers with information regarding the types of interviews you may undergo and request mock interviews well in advance of the real interviews.

Choosing Veterinary Schools

How do you decide where to apply to veterinary school? The American Veterinary Medical Association has accredited 33 institutions in the United States, 5 in Canada, and 18 abroad. Most Carleton students and alumni have applied to between 4 and 7 veterinary institutions, so here are some guidelines to help you narrow your choices:

  • Geography – Where do you want to live for the next four years? Are you ready for another few winters in Minnesota, or would you prefer some rainy years in Edinburgh? Consider areas of the country/world where you do not want to live and eliminate those schools from your list.
  • Location & Environment – Choosing between urban/rural and coastal/mountainous campuses may seem irrelevant to your education, but vet school is a long and challenging commitment and these factors will affect your quality of life as a student. Additionally, you should consider how far away from family you are willing to live.
  • Competition – Are you a competitive applicant? VMSAR, the AAVMA’s Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirements resource is a great tool for comparing veterinary schools by entrance requirements, cost, location, experience, and more. Vet schools are using more holistic reviews of applications, so what may seem like a “reach” school to you, could actually be a good fit. Please meet with Pam Middleton to discuss your choices.
  • Educational Programs – Do you already know what species you want to work with when you become a veterinarian? Some schools allow you to track early in your vet school career while others prefer to focus on problem-based and case-based learning and don’t offer tracking. Consider the kinds of programs that fit best with your veterinary interests.
  • Specialty Areas – Along similar lines, consider what disciplines of veterinary medicine you have found the most interesting during your pre-veterinary experiences. If you really enjoyed working at wildlife hospitals, then eliminate schools that don’t offer courses in wildlife medicine. Also consider interests in small, large, exotic, or equine medicine as well as public health or research.
  • Course Requirements – Each veterinary school has their own unique set of course requirements. Some require classes like Animal Nutrition and Medical Terminology which are not offered at Carleton and must be taken online. This means you may be limited in choosing vet schools simply because you haven’t had the opportunity to complete all of their requirements.
  • Cost – Veterinary school is a financial commitment. Consider in-state and out-of-state tuition and note which institutions allow you to establish in-state residency after your first year.

You are not the first Carleton student to apply to vet school. Many alumni have gone before you are willing to share their application and interviewing experiences. They can give you insight into the institution that they chose and what prompted them to make that decision. Please see a complete list of Carleton veterinary alumni who have agreed to be contacted by pre-veterinary Carls under the Veterinary Alumni section.