How Long Does It Take To Become A Veterinarian?

Sep 23, 2021

Take your pick of beaches to unwind from classes, unspoiled mountains and lush forests to get lost in, an energetic city center to explore the rich history, foods, and culture of the island.  Becoming a veterinarian at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet) could be your opportunity of a lifetime. But  just like other AVMA-accredited DVM programs*, obtaining your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine involves many hours of rigorous academic training. You will be challenged by our seven-semester accelerated preclinical curriculum that integrates unique research opportunities, classroom study, and hands-on clinical experience, preparing you for your final year of clinical training. 

So, how many years does it take to become a veterinarian? How long does it take to become a vet? It depends on what type of vet you want to be, but all veterinarians must pass through several stages of academic training before they’re licensed. The following will walk you through the typical timeline for becoming a vet. 


College students who know they want to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine should start working toward their course requirements during undergrad. At Ross Vet, advanced math, biology, chemistry, and biochemistry are among the prerequisites required as part of our admission process. In addition, vet schools typically require that students have had several hundred hours of animal experience, so acquiring an internship or other job working with animals will increase your chance of getting into your school of choice.  

Students who can’t meet all of the requirements during college or want a leg up before starting grad school have the option to enroll in a post-baccalaureate program. Ross Vet’s Vet Prep program is a valuable way to help make your dream of becoming a veterinarian come true. Vet prep is a bridge program designed to better prepare students for the rigors of vet school years and provide additional assistance in one or more academic areas needed to excel in our DVM program. Students who are offered the program and pass are guaranteed a spot in the next first-semester class.


So exactly how long does it take to be a veterinarian? Most veterinary schools take four years to complete the coursework and clinical training required to earn a DVM, though students who enroll in Ross Vet’s DVM degree program can complete their degree in 3.25 years. 

Once you’ve completed your clinical training, you’ll need to take the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination® (NAVLE®) to complete your DVM. The exam is typically given in November through December and April. Once you’ve graduated and passed the NAVLE, you’ll need to meet the requirement of the jurisdiction where you wish to be licensed. The American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) provides these details and serves to support veterinary licensing boards across the U.S., Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

There is a distinct difference between how long does it take to become a vet versus a medical doctor. Unlike medical doctors who work with people, veterinarians can start practicing as soon as they obtain their license. However,  if you wish to pursue work in a specialized area, you’ll need to receive additional training.  


How long does it take to become a veterinarian including an internship? Many veterinarians decide to complete a year-long internship to gain additional training under the expertise of an experienced vet before working independently. Internships are often at large referral centers, allowing you to gain experience with a wider range of cases than typically offered in private practice. 

After completing an internship, if you wish to work in a specialty area, you may continue your studies through a residency.  Residencies are programs that allow you to gain supervised experience and training in a specialty to qualify for board certification. There are 41 specialties in veterinary medicine, from behavior, dentistry, surgery, and ophthalmology to specialties focusing on specific animal groups. Many specialties require at least three years of additional training before you can apply for board certification. Veterinarians who wish to specialize in reptiles and amphibians, for example, must have at least six years’ experience before they are eligible for certification.


After undergoing residency training, veterinarians wishing to work in a specialty typically apply for board certification. Board certification signifies that a veterinarian has undergone advanced, specialized training and has passed an exam that demonstrates advanced mastery in their specialty. Each specialty has its own organization that administers the exam, so check the website for your specialty’s organization for information on exam dates and processes. 

Now that you know the answer to the question: How long does it take to become a veterinarian? You can take a more educated step towards a fulfilling career that involves caring for animals. 

At Ross Vet, we offer a range of opportunities and experiences to help you find a career path in veterinary medicine that matches your individual talents and interests. Want to learn more about Ross Vet’s DVM program? Start here! 

Related resources:

*Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine confers a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree, which is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA COE), 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173, Tel: 800.248.2862. For more information please visit:

The AVMA COE uses defined standards to evaluate veterinary medical education programs, including facilities, clinical resources, curriculum, faculty, student outcomes and research programs. The standards are interpreted and applied by the AVMA COE-accredited veterinary medical education programs in relation to its mission.

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