Just as health care for humans has evolved in recent years so too has care for animals. Veterinary science has found new methods of treating ailments and improving quality of life for pets, farm animals and more exotic creatures. And just as human physicians are supported by a team of workers, veterinarians are assisted by technicians, technologists and other staff.
Veterinary science degree programs can lead to several careers within the field. Those earning certificates may go on to work as veterinary assistants. Others use a degree in veterinary technology to enter the workforce as a technician or technologist.
While many programs are offered on-campus, there are some online veterinary degrees. Many states require that technicians be licensed, and students interested in online veterinary degrees should check to be sure their program is properly accredited and meets licensure requirements.
Best Colleges for Veterinary Science Degree Programs
To find the top schools for veterinary science, Schools.com used a methodology that considered factors such as program prominence, student support services and tuition rates. Out of the institutions considered, these ten rose to the top of the list.
The top college for veterinary science degree programs garnered strong rankings for its tuition, graduation rate and student support services. Eastern Wyoming College is a community college with an open admissions policy. That allows students to quickly start their degree program, and once enrolled, they will find small class sizes, flexible scheduling options and academic advising available.
The EWC vet tech program has been an accredited part of the college since 1976. Students can earn either an associate degree in veterinary technology or a veterinary aide certificate. The college has an active veterinary technology club in which students participate in a number of events and conferences each year.
Founded in 1948, Eastern Wyoming College enrolls nearly 2,000 students in its programs. Its campus is in Torrington.
Although not the cheapest of the top colleges for veterinary science, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture does offer a single tuition rate for both resident and non-resident students. What's more, it has the third best graduation rate of the schools on this list. It's also notable for having a prominent veterinary science program, lower student-faculty ratio and career placement services for completers.
Within its veterinary technology systems department, NCTA offers associate degrees in the following areas:
- Equine Health
- Animal Husbandry
- Animal Health Management
- Veterinary Technician
- Veterinary Assistant
There is also a transfer option available that will prepare students to go on to earn a bachelor's degree. Meanwhile, students hoping to enter the workforce more quickly may be interested in the school's animal health care certificate.
Windward Community College in Kaneohe, Hawaii is another top choice for veterinary science students. The college earned solid rankings for its tuition rate, program prominence and student services. Night and weekend classes, as well as an open admissions policy, make it convenient for people to begin work on their degree.
Students interested in veterinary science can choose from two programs at WCC: an associate degree and a certificate. The associate degree in veterinary technology combines classroom instruction with intensive hands-on laboratory work. The final year of the program includes an internship with an area clinic or shelter. The certificate in veterinary assisting also combines classroom and hands-on instruction.
WCC is part of the University of Hawaii system. It was founded in 1972 and serves more than 2,500 students.
Foothill College earned its spot on this list of top colleges for veterinary science thanks to its strong graduation rate and low tuition. It has the second most affordable tuition rate on this list and the second best graduation rate. The school also offers academic counseling, career placement services and night and weekend classes.
Students can earn an associate degree in veterinary technology from Foothill. The program features a rigorous curriculum that is intended to prepare graduates to become registered veterinary technicians. Meanwhile, those interested in online veterinary science degrees may want to pursue a certificate in the school's online veterinary assisting program.
Although its main campus is in Los Altos Hills, California, Foothill College has a learning center in Sunnyvale and offers online courses as well. The school was founded in 1957.
New Mexico's San Juan College has the lowest tuition rate among all the schools included here. It offers its students an open admissions policy as well as night, weekend and online courses. The college has a variety of support services that are intended to help its students succeed both in the classroom and after graduation.
San Juan College is also one of the schools offering online veterinary degrees. Distance learners can earn an Associate of Applied Science in veterinary technology. However, they need to make arrangements to gain hands-on experience through a veterinarian office or other clinic.
After graduation, students should be eligible to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam. SJC also offers a certificate option, but this program does not meet the requirements for the exam.
Tied for having the most prominent program, Colorado Academy of Veterinary Technology specializes in teaching veterinary science. As a newer institution, it has a vision of being a premier school of veterinary technology. According to the Schools.com methodology, it is just that.
Students at CAVT take part in a two-year vet tech program. It prepares them to sit for the National Technician Exam. The school also offers continuing education opportunities to those already working in the field. At 10-1, the student-faculty ratio at CAVT is the second lowest among the schools on this list. It is also notable for its solid graduation rate and student support services.
Colorado Academy of Veterinary Technology is a private institution with a campus in Colorado Springs.
While Stautzenberger College has been educating students in Ohio since 1926, its Brecksville campus only opened in 2005. Since then, the location has developed an animal sciences department that deserves to be listed among the best colleges for veterinary science degree programs.
At 9-1, the student-faculty ratio at Stautzenberger College - Brecksville is the lowest among the top schools for veterinary science. The college also ranks fifth for the prominence of its program. Students can earn a veterinarian technician associate degree or choose from diploma and education programs that cover companion animal care, grooming and animal welfare management.
Stautzenberger College is a private institution. In addition its Brecksville campus, it has a main campus in Maumee.
As one of seven schools within the Dallas County Community College District, Cedar Valley College is notable for its affordable tuition rate. It is a career-centered institution focused on providing practical skills and flexible learning options.
Veterinary technology is one of the school's signature programs, and the school has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association since 1978. Today, students have access to both on-site and online veterinary science degrees. Options include an associate degree in veterinary technology as well as certificates in small animal assisting and large animal assisting. Among the school's features is a 170-acre stock farm with breeding herds of horses, cows and goats.
Cedar Valley College was founded in 1977 and has its main campus in Lancaster, Texas.
Located in a Kansas city of the same name, Colby Community College provides a number of one-year and two-year degree programs. It is not only among the best colleges for veterinary science degree programs, but is also one of the more affordable choices. The college has a range of student support services - from academic counseling to career placement - that help people succeed academically and professionally.
CCC is one of only a few schools nationwide to offer online veterinary science degrees. Its program combines online classwork with hands-on experience in a veterinary hospital. Meanwhile, its on-campus vet tech program is among the oldest in the country. Both options result in an Associate of Applied Science degree.
Founded in 1964, Colby Community College enrolls nearly 2,000 students.
As another school that focuses exclusively on veterinary technology, Vet Tech Institute ties for first for the prominence of its program. The institute also has the best graduation rate among the top colleges for veterinary science. Beyond that, the school features academic counseling and placement services among its student support resources.
However those aren't the only reasons Vet Tech Institute might appeal to students. The institute's accredited program can be completed in as little as 18 months. Plus, with onsite kennels, it's convenient to get hands-on experience. Upon graduation, students receive an associate degree in veterinary technology.
Vet Tech Institute is a private institution that operates seven campuses, including a Pittsburgh location which earned the number ten spot on this list.
Veterinary Science Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
Getting the right education is essential to becoming a veterinary technician. Most states won't license workers who haven't graduated from an accredited veterinary technician degree program. Approved programs are commonly two-year associate degrees, but four-year degrees in the field are also available. In addition to traditional degree programs, there are some accredited distance education programs that combine online courses with in-person clinical experience.
Career Outlook for Veterinary Science Majors
Demand for pet care continues to be strong, meaning job prospects those working in veterinary science should be bright. Here's a closer look at the career outlook for vet tech occupations.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Veterinary Technologists and Technicians||$36,670||110,650||19.3%|
|Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers||$29,690||97,030||19.1%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships for Veterinary Science Degree Programs
Scholarships for veterinary science degree programs are available from various sources. Some, such as the Sir John D. Spurling Award from the American Kennel Club can be used at any college. Others, like Oxbow Animal Health scholarships, may be limited for use at partner schools. In addition to scholarships, students may be able to pay for on-campus and online veterinary science degrees using institutional aid and government grants and loans.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015