Veterinary Science Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a veterinary science associate and bachelor's degree program? Read about program requirements, the pros and cons of associate and bachelor's degrees and potential careers.
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Veterinary Science Associate and Bachelor's Degrees at a Glance

Associate and bachelor's degrees in veterinary science focus on animal care and the treatment of animals. You will learn about the protection of animals and how to monitor their health and prevent the spread of diseases. A veterinary science associate or bachelor's degree is designed to give students a broad background in the principals of science and veterinary disciplines.

The majority of veterinarian technicians and technologists assist veterinarians in the diagnoses and treatment of sick or injured animals. While some may specialize in working with cats, dogs and rabbits, others care for horses, farm animals or zoo animals. With a bachelor's degree, you could also assist in research or specialize in a specific veterinarian area, such as critical or dental care. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for technicians and technologists is project to grow 52% from 2010-2020, which is much faster than average.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals who want to work as a veterinary technician or transfer to a bachelor's program People who want to become a veterinarian technologist or continuing their education to become a veterinarian
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary) Veterinary assistant ($24,000)*
- Veterinarian technician ($32,000)*
- Veterinary technologists working in research and development ($38,000)*
- Veterinary technologists working for advocacy organizations ($33,000)*
Time to Completion2 years 4 years
Common Graduation Requirements About 20-25 courses About 40-45 courses
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED High school diploma or GED
Online Availability No Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate Degree in Veterinary Science

An associate degree program in veterinary science offers you the opportunity to work as a veterinary technician or continue your education at the bachelor's degree level. The program will combine academic coursework with practical experience and give you the opportunity to work with and care for animals. In addition to learning about the treatment of animals, some programs may require that you are able to lift a certain amount of weight. While an associate degree will prepare you to work in the field, you will need to take a credentialing exam offered through your state. For example, many states mandate that you complete the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).

Pros and Cons


  • A growing pet population will spur growth*
  • Improved veterinary technology will also increase employment*
  • Opportunity to improve the health and well-being of animals


  • It can be stressful or emotionally draining working with sick and noisy animals
  • Animals may bite or scratch you when they are scared or in pain
  • If you are interested in becoming a veterinarian, you need to pursue graduate training

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Courses and Requirements

In an associate degree program, you will take courses that will introduce you to the veterinary field and prepare you for a career. In addition to veterinary courses, you will also need to take general education requirements. Some common veterinary courses include:

  • Genetics
  • Animal pharmacology
  • Animal breeding and reproduction
  • Animal diseases
  • Nutrition
  • Herd management
  • Anatomy of animals

Online Course Info

Online veterinary science associate degree programs are rare; however, some schools offer online associate's degree programs for students who are already working at a veterinarian office. This is ideal for individuals who are self-motivated and have strong time management skills. Working in a veterinarian office will satisfy practicum requirements.

How to Stand Out

It's important to stay up-to-date in this field, as new procedures will help improve diagnostics and treatment. Technicians also need to have good manual dexterity skills and be very detail-oriented. Communication with pet owners is essential to understand what is wrong with their pets.

Bachelor's Degree in Veterinary Science

Students completing a bachelor's degree in veterinary science learn how to conduct medical tests and diagnose and treat animals with injuries, medical conditions and diseases. A bachelor's degree in veterinary science can prepare you for veterinary school as well as working as a technologist. Career opportunities are available in private clinics, animal hospitals, research facilities, laboratories, zoos and universities. While you will have additional skills after graduation, you may still compete with associate degree graduates for entry-level positions.

Pros and Cons


  • A bachelor's degree will prepare you for additional careers in the field
  • You will complete the coursework necessary for entry into veterinary school
  • Continued support for animal research will improve employment*


  • You may have to work nights and weekends, as well as be on-call for emergencies*
  • If you work with horses or farm animals, you may have to work outside in bad weather and unsanitary conditions*
  • If you decide to work as a researcher, you will work mostly with people in offices or laboratories, instead of animals

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

In a bachelor's degree program in veterinary science, you will focus on coursework primarily in the natural and biological sciences, which can help you get ready for veterinary school. While the first two years will resemble an associate degree, the final two years will feature advanced courses. Examples of advanced courses include:

  • Veterinary radiology
  • Animal studies
  • Anesthesia and surgery
  • Genetics
  • Veterinary nutrition

Online Course Info

Students interested in pursuing an online bachelor's degree related to veterinary science can find programs offering classes over the Internet. Students will be able to access courses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Communication will take place over e-mail, discussion boards and chat rooms.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

If you want to stand out in the field, gaining experience and working with different types of animals will be beneficial. You could spend time working with veterinarians in their office or conducting research. You can also work with animals at a shelter or farm.

Also, if you want to work in a research facility, you can earn certification through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). With a bachelor's degree, you can pursue the laboratory animal technologist (LATG) designation.

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