Non-cognitive Criteria

Non-Cognitive Criteria

Non-cognitive Criteria

The  Admissions Committee views a solid and broad undergraduate experience to be crucial preparation for successful completion of the veterinary curriculum. When evaluating an applicant, the Admissions Committee considers both academic and non-cognitive qualities which may include a personal interview. When evaluating an applicant’s non-cognitive qualities the Admissions Committee members ask themselves: Does the applicant possess the qualities of a successful veterinarian? In order to answer this question, the Admissions Committee considers various non-cognitive criteria, such as motivation, communication and teamwork skills, compassion and empathy, professionalism, integrity and ethics, maturity, experience with a veterinarian in your desired area of interest, and knowledge of the profession. The following paragraphs describe components of the application that are used by the Admissions Committee to evaluate these criteria. Applicants are encouraged to include experience in all areas as applicable on the VMCAS application.

Experience Categories on the VMCAS Application

The VMCAS application offers the applicant the opportunity to list several types of experience. It is best not to list a specific experience in more than one category (i.e. do not double list). Include all areas of experience as well as those not related to animals extending back through high school, beginning with the most recent. Applicants are evaluated on all of the following experience categories and are encouraged to include experience in all applicable areas.

Veterinary Experience

Veterinary experiences should relate to any veterinary clinical, agribusiness, or health science experiences which took place under the supervision of a veterinarian. Veterinary experience provides a basic knowledge of the veterinary profession. Applicants will be assessed on the quality, depth, and breadth of their experience.  While applicants are encouraged to aim for approximately 250-500 hours of clinical experience, there is no minimum number of hours necessary for consideration.  It is also recommended that experience hours align with an applicant's identified species/career interest.  Do NOT list any veterinary research experiences in this section. ALL research opportunities should be listed in the research section. The experiences you report in this section should also be different from those entered for animal and employment experience. Participating in public health, academic medicine, regulatory medicine, or industry can enhance an applicant’s appreciation for the breadth of the veterinary profession. The Admissions Committee also takes involvement in seminars, practicums, and other veterinary professional activities into account. These experiences can be paid or volunteer, or part of a classroom/internship program.

Veterinary Experience

Employment Experience

List and describe all paid work done OUTSIDE of the animal or veterinary field; for example: a retail or restaurant job. Do not include any experience listed in veterinary, animal, or research experience. This information helps the Admissions Committee better understand time commitments an applicant has beyond the classroom, as well as gives some insight into the applicant’s work ethic. Both full-time and part-time work experience should be included in this section of the application as it helps the Admissions Committee with a composite evaluation of an applicant.

Animal Experience

Animal experiences should include farm and ranch experiences, 4-H and FFA membership, animal training, or other similar activities which were NOT under the supervision of a veterinarian. The experiences you report in this section should be different from those entered for Veterinary and Employment experience. Animal experience may also include (but is not limited to) classroom experiences, pet sitting, care of personal pets, experience at rehabilitation facilities or humane societies and shelters, as well as breeding, rearing, feeding, and showing various companion animals, livestock, laboratory animals, zoo animals, or wildlife.

Volunteer Experience (Community Service)

This category includes volunteer work done outside of the animal care field; for example, working for Habitat for Humanity, tutoring students, church activities, participating in or working for a fundraiser walk, donating blood, donating clothes, donating time to political campaigns, etc. Community service activities are viewed as an indication of an applicant’s desire to contribute to society. The applicant should clearly and succinctly describe their level of participation in these activities. These activities should not be directly affiliated with animals or veterinary medicine, as those types of experiences should be included in other experience categories.

Volunteer Experience (Community Service)

Extracurricular Activities

List and describe ALL extracurricular activities in which you were engaged, including those during high school beginning with the most recent first. Extracurricular activities may include (but are not limited to) participation in sports, clubs, music, arts, hobbies, etc. This information provides the Admissions Committee with an idea of how well rounded an applicant you are, and how outside activities may influence your academic record.

Research Experience

Research should include all experiences in a research environment. Please report research experiences in THIS section, regardless of whether or not they were related to animals or under the supervision of a veterinarian. Be very specific about your work/involvement in the research experiences entered in this section. The Admissions Committee values an applicant’s experience in the broad field of research. This experience does not have to be directly affiliated with veterinary medicine, and research experience is NOT required for admission to the DVM program.


List and describe honors, awards, or scholarships you have received, including those in high school. For honors, awards, or scholarships received in multiple years or semesters, you may either enter them as multiple entries with the same name, or, if the honor or award was received consecutively, as one entry spanning multiple years. Please enter in chronological order from most recent to least recent. If you are unsure of a date, please estimate. Honors and awards may include (but are not limited to) Dean’s List, President’s List, National Honor Society membership, and leadership positions in clubs, organizations, religious groups, and athletics. Achievements, leadership ability, and participation in academic and other activities will be evaluated carefully. These activities need not be directly affiliated with animals or veterinary medicine. The applicant should clearly and succinctly describe their level of participation in these activities.


Additional Submission Items


Evaluations/Electronic Letters of Reference (eLORs)

All applicants are required to obtain a minimum of three letters of recommendation (submitted directly from the evaluator through VMCAS), and at least one must be from a veterinarian. A maximum of six LORs can be submitted.  It is recommended but not required that one LOR be from an academic (e.g., professor, teaching assistant, laboratory instructor, academic advisor) who can speak to the applicant’s academic abilities. Graduate students are encouraged to include an evaluation from their major advisor, and longtime employers can be valuable resources as well. All evaluators selected should know the applicant well enough to provide meaningful comments. Letters of reference from family members, personal friends, and high school contacts are discouraged.

Essay Questions

VMCAS Application Essay Questions

This cycle, the VMCAS essay question will be split out into 3 distinct questions, all of which will be required for all applicants. The new questions are as follows:

  1. There are many career choices within the veterinary profession. What are your future career goals and why?
  2. In what ways do veterinarians contribute to society and what do you hope to contribute?
  3. Consider the breadth of society which veterinarians serve. What attributes do you believe are essential to be successful within the veterinary profession? Of these attributes, which do you possess and how have you demonstrated these in the past?

These questions provide applicants an opportunity to make a case as to why they are the best possible student for the DVM program. It is a chance to set yourself apart from other candidates, give the Admissions Committee background information that might not otherwise be included in the application, explain special situations or circumstances that have influenced you as a person, and describe where you see yourself in the future.

WSU/WIMU Supplemental Application Essay Questions

Applicants will answer two essay questions as part of the WSU/WIMU supplemental application:

  1. Please explain opportunities or factors about our program that influenced your decision to apply. (i.e. what does ourprogram offer you?)
  2. Please describe qualities about yourself that make you a good fit for our program. (i.e. what do you offer our program?)

These questions give the Admissions Committee insight into the reasons an applicant has chosen to apply to our program specifically.

Personal Essay / Statement

Explanation Statement

While this section is NOT REQUIRED, you can use it to record information that could not be listed anywhere else within the web application which require detailed explanation. We recommend addressing relevant impacts of COVID-19 in this section. This section can also be used to provide the Admissions Committee additional information that you consider vital to your application. Your explanation statement should be clearly and succinctly written. Examples of pertinent information might include explanations about interruptions in your studies or experiences, unique circumstances you have faced, or reasons for decisions you have made. Extenuating circumstances such as extensive extracurricular work commitments or family responsibilities are also taken into consideration.

Final Evaluation

After all information has been reviewed for academically qualified applicants, the Admissions Committee will meet to recommend which applicants it feels are best suited to enter the veterinary curriculum. Academic and non-cognitive factors will be used to reach the Admissions Committee’s final recommendation. In the case of WICHE applicants, the process will yield a ranked list of all applicants from each sending state. Ranking of applicants from each WICHE state by the receiving regional colleges of veterinary medicine helps determine which applicants are funded each year by their respective states. Admission Committee recommendations for all other applicant pools, including recommendations of applicants who are acceptable for admission and those recommended for denial of admission, are submitted to the Director of Admissions and Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine for final review. This final review of Admission Committee recommendations is based on the same non-cognitive criteria evaluated by the Admissions Committee to ensure that the college is admitting a class that reflects a broad diversity of anticipated career pathways and goals, life experience and circumstance, and stated interests in serving the veterinary profession and society. This process will generate a final grouping of applicants into those who will receive offers of admission, a waitlisted group from which offers of admission may be made at a later date, and a group denied admission.

Washington State University Non-Discrimination Statement

WSU does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. For additional information please visit


The Admissions Unit will not automatically or unreasonably deny an applicant's admission based on an applicant's criminal history.

Notification Procedures

At the time of notification of interview, all unsuccessful candidates are also notified of their status. All applicants who are interviewed are notified of their status within a month following their interview. A number of interviewed applicants who are not initially made offers of admission may be given waitlist status, and may be offered admission at a later date. Barring delays in the ranking process, WICHE applicants should be notified by early spring. Some WICHE applicants are also given waitlist status. Unsuccessful applicants who wish to be considered the following year must submit new application materials.

The Admissions Committee assumes the applicant, if offered admission, is fully prepared to enter the veterinary program starting the next fall semester. Deferral of admission is considered by the Director of Admissions on a case-by-case basis and granted only under special circumstances.