What is the course load of a first-year veterinary student?

Hi again and welcome.

If you are applying to veterinary school, then you might be wondering what your schedule will be like as a first-year student.  Every program runs differently and has a unique curriculum.    In the United States, we first specialize in a subject like Biology or Chemistry at a university and obtain an undergraduate degree.  This usually takes around four years and then we can reapply to a professional for four more years.  So with all of the basic sciences out of the way, we really focus on veterinary specific curriculum with the ultimate goal being to pass the NAVLE in our fourth year.

Here is an example of our first-year fall semester schedule:


The pace picks up a bit in the second semester as seen below:


When you compare the two images, during the first semester we are only taking 19 hours versus the second semester when we are taking around 23.  In order to make the first semester more of a transition period, UGA decided to move Neuroanatomy to the second semester.  Personally, I am a big fan of this because I feel like I am more in a groove second semester where I can balance more rigorous courses and not get too overwhelmed.

At the University of Georgia, we also have a program called “Wellness Wednesday”.  On this day, we don’t start class until 1 pm.   So we get the morning off to do whatever we want (see the blank space in the schedule above)! The faculty encourages us to do anything other than school: sleep in, relax, work out.  Many students also use the opportunity to catch up on school or shadow at the UGA Veterinary Teaching Hospital.  Shadowing is a neat opportunity to get to know some of the clinicians before clinics begin in your third year

uga Veterinary curriculum from fall 2017-Spring 2018:

Fall 2017 Spring 2018 Electives (Only for Spring 2018)
Small Animal Anatomy and Lab Large Animal Anatomy and Lab Emergency and Critical Care
Histology/Microscopic Anatomy and Lab Neuroanatomy and Lab Zoological Medicine
Cellular Biology Virology Large Animal Infectious Diseases
Physical Diagnosis Immunology and Lab Public Health
Small and Large Animal Nutrition Professional Skills and Development Special Topics Public Health
Physiology I Physiology II International Veterinary Medicine
Bacteriology Applied Integrative Materials  *All of these are optional, although they encourage 3-5 hours of electives per semester.

Not every Veterinary School offers electives or tracking, but the University of Georgia is one that does.  Personally, I like it because I feel like the students have more say in their education.  I also love the Wellness Wednesday to exercise or just catch up on school work.  I have also used it to schedule doctor’s appointments and shadow at the teaching hospital.  The faculty at UGA really care about our success and our mental health, which is extremely refreshing.  It fosters an open environment where we can all grow as individuals and become the best veterinarians we can be.  If you want to learn more, please see my blog post 5 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety.

If you have any questions about particular courses, don’t hesitate to reach out.  Although it looks overwhelming, veterinary school is all about stamina.  If you keep up with the material and do things for yourself, you will be a success.

Want to read about what happens when you stop taking care of yourself in vet school?  Click here to read about Burnout.

Lots of love,


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