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.
Dr. Julie Murphree is a lecturer in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts (CISA) at Arizona State University. She teaches classes in captive animal behavior management, wildlife management, the living world, and ethical and policy issues in biology.
Dr. Murphree earned her BS in wildlife conservation biology, her MS in applied biological sciences, and her PhD in biology and society from Arizona State University.
Dr. Murphree’s most recent research investigates science that informs conservation initiatives that address animal welfare concerns, specifically, the ecological, social, and economic aspects of managing free-roaming horses on public lands in the American West.
Dr. Kristyn Vitale is an assistant professor in animal health and behavior at Unity College. She earned her PhD in animal science with a focus in experimental psychology from Oregon State University. Dr. Vitale’s research focuses specifically on domestic cat behavior and the human-cat relationship.
During her graduate career, she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a Visiting Research Fellow at Kyoto University in Japan, where she conducted cross-cultural research into cat-human social interaction. Her research has been featured in Science, National Geographic, The New York Times, and The Times of London.
Dr. Timothy Rozell is a professor of animal sciences and industry in the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University. He teaches classes in anatomy and physiology, and physiology of lactation. Dr. Rozell earned his BS and MS from the University of Missouri, and his PhD from Washington State University. His current research program focuses on heat stress in dairy cattle and the role of exercise and physical activity on heat tolerance in cows.
During the 2004-2005 school year, Dr. Rozell went on a sabbatical in Scotland to help develop new research techniques to examine the expression of variant forms of the follicle-stimulating hormone receptor in cows and sheep, where he collaborated with the University of Glasgow’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
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.
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.
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.
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: