Degrees Without Borders: Online Pre-Veterinary Programs

Pre-veterinary programs traditionally prepare graduates for veterinary school, combining physiology, anatomy, biology, and animal science classes. But that’s not their only purpose.

Typically, these programs culminate in a bachelor’s degree in applied biological sciences or a related field, and graduates can go on to many different animal-focused careers, including wildlife biologist, zoologist, or veterinary technician.

While online pre-veterinary programs are still relatively rare, they are growing in maturity and in number. Far from being a simple funnel for veterinary school, they can act as a gateway to various animal-related professions. Veterinary science has never been more accessible with online classes and hybrid labs.

As pet ownership in America hits record highs, graduates of pre-veterinary programs will find themselves well-equipped to meet the rising needs of the companion animal population, but they can also apply themselves to other 21st-century endeavors like sustainability and ecosystem development, too. To learn more about online pre-veterinary programs, read on.

Fast Facts: Why Pre-Veterinary Skills Are Important

  • In-Demand: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the need for veterinarians will grow 19 percent between 2021 and 2031, a rate that’s nearly four times the national average for all professions.
  • Fast-Growing: According to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey, 70 percent of American households have a pet, and the amount of money those households spend on their pets is growing each year, hitting a record $123.6 billion in 2021.
  • Practical: Veterinary medicine is a STEM field, and pre-vet students will learn important fundamental skills in science and math that are broadly applicable elsewhere.
  • Flexible: Pre-vet programs can prepare graduates for various roles, including certified veterinary technicians (CVTs), veterinarians, laboratory technicians, fish and wildlife biologists, or zoologists.

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Online Pre-Veterinary Programs

Arizona State University (BS Applied Biological Sciences)

Arizona State University offers an online BS in applied biological sciences with a concentration in pre-veterinary medicine. Graduates will be competitive candidates for veterinary school. Students will complete the common prerequisites required for veterinary school and be paired with an advisor who will ensure the student is on track for graduate programs. The curriculum explores the anatomy and behavior of animals, and students will gain a firm understanding of biology and chemistry.

Courses include animal nutrition; animal physiology; ecology and adaptations of vertebrates; and veterinary medicine. In addition to the online coursework, students must complete two in-person organic chemistry labs at the school’s Tempe campus; both are compressed into a single-week format over the summer. The program consists of 120 credits in total.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $14,822 per year
  • Program Length: Four years

Unity College (BS Animal Science)

Unity College offers an online BS in animal science program that can prepare students to immediately enter the workforce upon graduation or apply to veterinary schools. The program has three tracks: equine science and management; companion animal care and training; and sustainable livestock management. Students will receive one-on-one professional advice to help them tailor the program to meet their career goals.

Courses include animal behavior; comparative animal anatomy; comparative animal physiology; animal nutrition; and environmental justice. Students may choose to add a concentration in animal health and behavior. The program consists of 120 credits, of which 90 may be transferred.

  • Location: New Gloucester, ME
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $470 per credit
  • Program Length: Four years

Kansas State University (BS Animal Sciences and Industry)

Kansas State University offers an online BS in animal sciences and industry that can be customized with a concentration in pre-veterinary medicine. While the other tracks are focused on food science and industry, this track prepares students to transition to veterinary school.

The core curriculum includes courses in principles of animal science; farm animal reproduction; and the fundamentals of nutrition. Electives include companion animal management; principles of animal disease control; and anatomy and physiology. The program consists of 120 credits.

  • Location: Manhattan, KS
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $462.90 per credit
  • Program Length: Four years

DIY Skill-Building for Pre-Veterinary Professionals

Online education options related to veterinary medicine are still relatively rare. However, some DIY options are available through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). While these courses and modules are not enough, on their own, to meet the requirements for veterinary school or other veterinary-related careers, they can give students a basic understanding of different key concepts related to animal science.


An online learning platform Stanford professor Andrew Ng developed, Coursera offers a large repository of MOOCs. Its courses are often provided in partnership with an accredited university, and many courses can be taken at little to no cost. Some classes related to animal science include:

Matt Zbrog
Matt Zbrog

Matt Zbrog is a writer and freelancer who has been living abroad since 2016. His nonfiction has been published by Euromaidan Press, Cirrus Gallery, and Our Thursday. Both his writing and his experience abroad are shaped by seeking out alternative lifestyles and counterculture movements, especially in developing nations. You can follow his travels through Eastern Europe and Central Asia on Instagram at @weirdviewmirror. He’s recently finished his second novel, and is in no hurry to publish it.

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