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Pre-professional Study

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Pre-professional Study

Iowa State University is a great place to prepare for careers that require professional school training, such as medical school, law school or veterinary school. Requirements for admission to most professional academic programs can be met during your studies at Iowa State University. The specific courses taken in a pre-professional program will depend primarily upon the admission requirements of the professional schools to which a student wants to apply.

In some programs where professional schools require only three years of pre-professional work, a student may, by careful planning, complete requirements for the bachelor’s degree upon transferring to Iowa State up to 32 semester credits of professional coursework. Generally, these reverse transfer credits will be counted as electives, but a maximum of 24 may be used to apply to a major in Interdisciplinary Studies and a smaller number may be used to meet requirements in other majors as approved by the faculty.

All students, whether they have selected a major or not, are encouraged to identify their interest in a professional career by designating it on their application to the university. Students who have not decided on a major can enter Iowa State as pre-professional students, selecting pre-medical, pre-law, pre-professional health (PHP), Open Option, or General Undergraduate Studies Pre-Veterinary Medicine (GENPV), until they choose a major or transfer to a professional school.

Information about pre-professional program admissions requirements and career opportunities in human health or law is available in the Liberal Arts and Sciences Advising Center. Information about veterinary medicine admissions requirements and career opportunities is available from the coordinator of the pre-veterinary program in the Office of the Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Learn More About These and Other Pre-Professional Pathways

Pre-Health & pre-medical Advising

Iowa State University is a great place to prepare for careers in health and medicine. As a major research university with an exceptional student experience, we’re excited to help you create a competitive application for medical or professional school. Whether you are aiming for a career in human medicine, dentistry, occupational health, physical therapy, pharmacy, optometry, health information management, dietetics, hospital and health administration, medical technology, clinical lab sciences, or many others, you can find the classes and experiences you need to be prepared for the next steps in your professional training. Learn more on the Pre-health and Pre-medical Professions Advising website.

PRE-Law Preparation

A student planning to enter law school may pursue an undergraduate degree in any discipline. The choice of the bachelor’s degree should reflect a student’s passion and personal interests rather than be limited by a belief that law schools require a specific major. Students should complete courses that will enhance their strengths in critical thinking, analytical writing, research and oral communication. Courses from a broad range of disciplines will provide students with the knowledge base and skills to support their preparation for law school. Courses might include accounting, criminal justice, economics, English literature, history, management, mathematics, political science, psychology, philosophy and statistics. Advanced writing courses and speech communication courses will also serve students well. The American Bar Association advises students that “taking a broad range of difficult courses from demanding instructors is excellent preparation for legal education.” The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences participates in a 3+3 program with the Law Schools at Drake University and at the University of Iowa. Visit the Liberal Arts and Sciences Student Academic Services office for details about the 3+3 program and pre-law club, and to explore your pathway to law school.

Learn more on the Pre-Law Advising website.

Pre-Veterinary Medicine

Deanna Gerber (

About 75% of all veterinarians are engaged in private practice. In a mixed practice, they diagnose and treat health problems among a variety of animals. Others specialize in one species (e.g., feline, pet bird) and still others specialize in a specific discipline within veterinary medicine (e.g., cardiology, ophthalmology). Veterinarians may also choose public and corporate practice (e.g., public health, education, research, food safety, industry, laboratory animal medicine, aquatic animal medicine, poultry medicine, and military veterinary medicine).

The professional program requires four years at a college of veterinary medicine and leads to the doctor of veterinary medicine degree (D.V.M.). Admission to a veterinary college involves at least two years of preprofessional college education. Candidates must take courses in biology, chemistry, genetics, physics, English, humanities, social sciences, speech, anatomy and physiology, and biochemistry. (For Iowa State University see Pre-Veterinary Medicine Preparation in the Veterinary Medicine section of the catalog; for the most current information regarding applications and admission to the College of Veterinary Medicine, please refer to the College website at

Students may pursue their pre-veterinary preparation in any college at Iowa State University. A major (pre-veterinary medicine is not a major) should be selected that is allied to each student’s vocational interests in veterinary medicine or that otherwise offers vocational satisfaction in the event that plans for entry into the College of Veterinary Medicine change. Students are encouraged to pursue a bachelor’s degree; the most effective progress toward a bachelor’s degree is made when a major is selected upon entry and no change occurs before graduation. However, students who have not even considered a career other than veterinary medicine may need some time to explore possibilities before selection of a major.

To assist students who have indicated interest in the pre-veterinary program for the College of Veterinary Medicine and are undecided about a major, an advising category is available known as GENPV (General Undergraduate Studies Pre Vet). Orientation and advising services for these students are designed to help students fulfill pre-veterinary course requirements, to introduce available majors and careers allied to veterinary medicine, and to introduce career options in veterinary medicine. GENPV students must select a major by the end of their second semester. Some Iowa State University majors allow, by careful planning, the opportunity for a student to earn the bachelor’s degree by combining credits from three years of preprofessional study and one year of professional study in the College of Veterinary Medicine.