The Transition to Competency-Based Admissions: Background and Requirements

Veterinary medicine is increasingly appreciated as a discipline that requires knowledge, skills and abilities which are acquired through experiences and settings both inside and outside the classroom.

To prepare applicants for holistic review that will equally evaluate their personal characteristics and academic readiness for the veterinary professional program, the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VMCVM) will institute a competency-based admissions process or CBA in the 2024-2025 admissions cycle. CBA is an approach to admissions that employs processes intended to determine each applicant’s ability to demonstrate a core set of entry-level competencies needed to succeed in veterinary school and within the veterinary profession.   

We believe this approach will allow the admissions committee to assess all facets of their personal and professional attributes which contribute to their growth towards becoming a competent veterinarian. This "competency-based" approach also provides candidates greater flexibility, for example, by substituting laboratory experience gained, while employed, for laboratory and or course requirements taken in school, or by substituting online courses that free up time to pursue interests that enhance the applicant's level of maturity and readiness for the medical profession. 

In addition to the competency-based admissions approach, the VMCVM will retain a set of pre-requisite courses that must be completed with a grade of C- or better, by the end of spring semester prior to matriculation.    

The Admissions Committee will use the entire application to ensure that the candidate has demonstrated reasonable accomplishment of all of the identified competencies; this includes the VMCAS application, academic record, roster of experiences, letters of recommendation, the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine’s resiliency essay, situational judgement test, written and verbal communication with the Admissions Office, and Multiple Mini Interview. 

Competency-based admissions will become effective with the class entering in 2025 (2024-2025 application year). 

Domains of Competency

There are four domains of competency that the VMCVM Admissions Committee considers during the review process:  

  1. Interpersonal Competencies
  2. Intrapersonal Competencies
  3. Scientific Competencies
  4. Humanities, Social and Behavioral Science Competencies

Where to Meet the Knowledge Competencies

Whereas course work at a four-year college, university or two-year program is our benchmark, if a student chooses to meet a competency component via an alternate route such as through laboratory/work experience, through an advanced placement course, a course taken abroad (during a semester abroad for which the undergraduate U.S. degree-granting institution gives credit, or for which VMCAS will verify and report the grade), or an online course, the candidate  should seek guidance from he VMCVM Admissions Office to ensure that the option meets the above guidelines as well as the rigorous academic standard required by the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

Below you will find a description of each of the competencies below, with subcompetencies and information on how to demonstrate abilities in each of the areas:


Domain 1:  Interpersonal Abilities/Attributes   

Must maintain a high standard of ethical and professional behavior, characterized by patience, empathy, maturity, self-motivation, emotional stability, and personal integrity. These attributes or competencies are important as veterinarians are held accountability to colleagues, clients and patients, and must be dedicated to the practice of veterinary medicine. Below is a list of competencies and their descriptions:

  • Teamwork:  Works collaboratively with others to achieve shared goals; shares information and knowledge with others and provides feedback; puts team goals ahead of individual goals.
  • Cultural awareness: demonstrates knowledge of social and cultural factors that affect interactions and behaviors; shows an appreciation and respect for multiple dimensions of diversity; recognizes and acts on the obligation to inform one’s own judgement; engages diversity and competing perspectives as a resource for learning, citizenship, and work; recognizes and appropriately addresses bias in themselves and others; interacts effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Services Orientation: Commitment to leadership, teaching, collegial interactions, advocacy, and life-long learning to enhance the practice of veterinary medicine.
  • Oral Communication: Effectively conveys information to others using spoken words and sentences; listens effectively; recognizes potential communication barriers and adjusts approach or clarifies as needed.


Domain 1:  Interpersonal 

How Assessed

Competency 1.1:  Teamwork


Competency 1.2:  Cultural Awareness


Competency 1.3:  Service Orientation

VMCAS Application-Holistic Review

Competency 1.4: Communication

Essay responses, MMI, any written communication to the VMCVM Admissions Office, and coursework


Domain 2:  Intrapersonal Abilities/Attributes 

Behaves in an honest and ethical manner; cultivates personal and academic integrity; adheres to ethical principles and follows rules and procedures; resists peer pressure to engage in unethical behavior and encourages others to behave in honest and ethical ways; and develops and demonstrates ethical and moral reasoning.

  • Reliability and Dependability: Consistently fulfills obligations in a timely and satisfactory manner; takes responsibility for personal actions and performance.
  • Resilience and Adaptability: Demonstrates tolerance of stressful or changing environments or situations and adapts effectively to them; is persistent, even under stressful situations; recovers from setbacks
  • Reflection, Growth Mindset and Life-Long Learning: Sets goals for continuous improvement and for learning new concepts and skills; engages in reflective practice for improvement; solicits and responds appropriately to feedback.  

Domain 2:  Intrapersonal 

How Assessed

Competency 2.1:  Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others

eLORs, SJTs and MMIs

Competency 2.2:  Reliability and Dependability


Competency 2.3:  Resiliency and Adaptability

eLORs, SJTs, MMIs and response to resiliency essay prompt

Competency 2.4:  Reflection, Growth Mindset and Life-Long Learning

eLORs, SJTs, and MMIs


Situational Judgement Tests
Situational Judgement Tests or SJTs are a type of psychological test which presents the test-taker with realistic, hypothetical scenarios and may ask the individual what they would do in the dilemma and why they would do it.  SJTs assess your “people skills”, which are important to an individual’s success in the veterinary profession.  Further information to follow.
Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs)
Multiple Mini Interviews are an interview format that assesses very specific attributes that our DVM veterinary program considers important for our candidates to possess at a very foundational level. The scenarios do not test or assess scientific knowledge, but instead focuses on the following attributes: 
Attributes assessed utilizing the Multiple Mini Interview Format: Growth Mindset, Resiliency, Cultural Awareness, Teamwork, Critical Thinking, Decision Making, Empathy, Self-Awareness and Oral Communication
The MMI format is done asynchronously and virtually through Kira Talent© for out-of-state canidates.   


Domain 3: Scientific Knowledge

Candidates must demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge and skill in the natural sciences to solve problems related to molecular and macro systems. Applicants are encouraged to explore the variety of scientific disciplines that is of interest to them. Regardless of an applicant's chosen major, in preparation for studies in animal physiology, pharmacology and the biological basis of disease, applicants applying to veterinary school should obtain a solid foundation in the biological, chemical and physical sciences. Pre-veterinary coursework should include laboratory-based courses in which applicants learn to collect data, analyze it and draw scientifically rigorous conclusion.

How Assessed: Candidates may self-select courses to fulfill the scientific competency, but must have a minimum of 24 credit hours within this area. We will accept a maximum of 30 credit hours. Examples of some courses that meet this competency requirement are, but not limited to: physiology (animal or human), anatomy (comparative or human), immunology, nutrition (animal or human), reproduction (animal or human), cell biology, molecular genetics, ecology, environmental sciences, chemistry, biology, etc. A candidate may use up to 6 credit hours of math towards this competency requirement. 

Domain 3: Scientific Knowledge and Abilities

How Assessed

Competency 3.1:  Knowledge in Natural Sciences

Coursework completed

Competency 3.2:  Problem Solving

Coursework completed

Competency 3.3:  Quantitative Reasoning

Coursework completed

Competency 3.4:  Scientific Inquiry

Coursework completed

Domain 4: Humanities, Social and Behavioral Science Knowledge

While applicants are not expected to achieve expertise in all disciplines, it is important to understand the factors that influence individual, community and societal decisions. This awareness can be gained through courses in disciplines such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, public health, literature, economics, history, philosophy and ethics. Applicants should have a basic understanding of key issues in veterinary medical ethics.

How Assessed: Candidates may self-select courses to fulfill the humanities, social and behavioral science competency, but must have a minimum of 16 credit hours within this area. We will accept a maximum of 20 credit hours.  Examples of courses that meet this competency requirement are, but not limited to:  history, economics, anthropology, psychology, art, sociology, music literature, languages, writing, and ethics.  

Domain 4: Humanities, Social and Behavioral Science Knowledge

How Assessed

Competency 4.1:  Empathy

Coursework, eLORs, SJTs, and MMI

Competency 4.2:  Critical Thinking

Coursework, eLORs, SJTs, and MMI

Competency 4.3:  Resiliency and Adaptability

Coursework, eLORs, SJTs, MMI, and response to resiliency essay prompt

Competency 4.4:  Social Advocacy

Coursework, eLORs, SJTs, and MMI
Competency 4.5:  Perspective-Taking  

Coursework, eLORs, SJTs, and MMI


Required Coursework and Competencies:

An understanding of inorganic and organic chemistry is essential to understanding the biochemistry of living organisms. Applicants should have a working knowledge of:

  • Atomic and molecular structure, chemical reactions, catalysis, chemical equilibrium, thermodynamics, reaction rates, binding constants and reaction mechanisms with a focus on redox reactions, acid-base chemistry, enzyme catalysis and biological chemistry;
  • The structure and function of biologically important molecules including DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids and carbohydrates and the pathways for synthesis, modification and degradation of these macromolecules.

An understanding of microbiology is essential to understanding of how organisms cause disease.  Applicants should have a working knowledge of:

  • How microbes play key roles in nutrient cycling, biodegradation/biodeterioration, climate change, food spoilage, the cause and control of disease, and biotechnology.
  • How microbes can play a role in drug development
  • How microbes interact with their hosts and how the host responds

Communication skills are essential to work effectively with clients and meaningfully collaborate with colleagues. This competency can be fulfilled with writting intensive or oral communication courses. Applicants must have:

  • Excellent spoken and written language abilities;
  • Language abilities that enable them to read, evaluate and use the information from scientific literature;
  • Excellent interpersonal interaction and communication skills, including empathy, active listening, and the ability to interact with people from diverse socioeconomic, cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds;
  • Basic computer skills that enable them to utilize common software given its importance in veterinary education and practice.

An introductory medical terminology course that covers the correct pronunciation, correct spelling, and meaning essential to use and understand medical terminology is required. This course requirement can be fulfilled online or at any accredited college or university.

  • An understanding of a standardized language for veterinary medical professionals.
  • An awareness of how medical terminology can improve patient safety and client compliance.
  • An awareness of how medical terminology can improve the efficiency of care.

Please note: The 2024-2025 application cycle will be the last cycle to require medical terminology.

  • Including but not limited to:  physiology (human or animal), anatomy, animal sciences, immunology, cell biology, molecular genetics, ecology, environmental science, chemistry (organic or general), biology, physics, etc. Up to 6 credits can be math credits, can be met by courses in algebra, pre-calculus, or calculus.  
  • Including but not limited to:  History, economics, anthropology, psychology, art, sociology, music literature, languages, writing and ethics 

Where to Meet Co-Curricular Activities and Relevant Experiences:

  • Undergraduate Research
  • Work Experience (not related to veterinary medicine)
  • Veterinary Experience (working or shadowing with a veterinarian repersentative of any area of the profession)

Prerequisite Evaluation Request Form

To submit a request for a course substitution for one of VMCVM's prerequisite requirements, please complete this form and email it to by September 15.

Academic Guidelines

Undergraduate Majors

  • VMCVM does not require a specific undergraduate major; however, it is strongly recommended that applicants enroll in a degree program of their choice to prepare for alternate career goals.
  • Students majoring in liberal arts or other non-science disciplines are advised that they may find it less difficult to deal with the veterinary curriculum if they do not limit their science studies to the minimum course requirements.

Course/Program Completion

  • While the college requires applicants to have two years of undergrad academics,  in order to qualify for Federal Financial Aid you must have completed three academic years (or six semesters) of college courses by the end of the spring term of the calendar year in which matriculation at the veterinary college is sought.
  • All required coursework must be completed by the end of the spring term of the year in which matriculation is sought. There is no option to complete prerequisite courses during summer term of the year of matriculation.
  • If an applicant fails to register for or withdraws from a prerequisite course projected for spring-term completion, his or her application will be removed from consideration, and any offer of interview or admission will be retracted.
  • If an applicant is currently enrolled in graduate school, a letter is requested from the applicant’s advisor and department head stating that if accepted into veterinary college, the applicant will have made satisfactory arrangements for completion or release from the graduate program.

Suggested Minimum Credit Hours and Experiences

  • In our experience, successful applicants  have had a minimum of three years of study toward a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university in the U.S. or Canada as well as 40 credit hours of science and mathematics, including advanced biology courses for which letter grades are available (not Pass/Fail, unless college policy), 40 credit hours of humanities and social sciences, and substantial experience in clinical, community, and/or research activities.

Policy Regarding Course Work Older than Five Years

In an effort to prepare our candidates for the rigors of a DVM professional program, we require the following:

  • Applicants who have completed all of their pre-veterinary course requirements five years prior to the time of application must show evidence of participation in either academic or work experience in the biological sciences.
    • Academic Experience would require a current science course (completed 5 years post-graduation) such as cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience or higher-level science course.
      • All coursework must be completed prior to the end of spring semester prior to matriculation with a C- or higher.
    • Work Experience in the biological or physical sciences, clinical investigation or working as a licensed healthcare provider (e.g. nurse, physician, licensed veterinary technician). 
  • Please communicate your intent by writing a formal letter to the Admissions Office with detailed information regarding either academic or work experience.

Advanced Placement/Credit by Examination Guidelines

  • Advanced placement credit or credit by examination for other pre-vet course requirements will be accepted. However, advanced placement credits will not be calculated in grade point averages, and no grade will be assigned. 
  • If you plan to use AP credit to fulfill a required prerequisite, your AP credit must appear on your official college transcripts.


  • Applicants are considered for admission to the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine without regard to their country of origin.
  • Applicants with disabilities are eligible to apply.
  • Eligible applicants include U.S. citizens, permanent U.S. residents holding a valid visa, individuals who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the time of application, undocumented students, and international students.
  • International Students must have studied for at least one academic year at an accredited college or university in the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom, prior to applying for admission. 
  • Applicants must have completed at least two years of undergraduate work, prior to applying for admission.
  • Students must earn a "C-" or better in all prerequisite courses.
  • Prerequisite courses in which a "D" or "F" was earned must be repeated. Both the original and repeat grades will be included in grade point calculations for the cumulative and last-45 GPA. For any repeated prerequisite, the highest grade will be used.
  • Transcripts from all colleges or universities where academic credit was earned, including high school dual enrollment, must be submitted through VMCAS.
  • All applicants have until the end of the Spring semester after submitting an application to complete prerequisites. Final official transcripts are due electronically to VMCVM's Admissions Office ( by June 30, 2025.