Subject focus: Veterinary science programmes in Australia and New Zealand

Vet science students at Massey UniversityThis month's subject focus looks at studying veterinary science in Australia and New Zealand. Land-based industries are hugely significant for Australia and New Zealand, economically and politically, and as a result academic study and research in these areas is seen as being of key importance. The agricultural industry relies on keeping livestock healthy and happy, so an important part of veterinary training is working with a wide-range of different animals - including some of Australia and New Zealand's unique wildlife - making it a great and fascinating place to study veterinary science. 

Veterinary science is usually an undergraduate (bachelors) degree, although there are some graduate entry options available. Veterinary science courses are also practical and hands on in nature. Many universities include clinical practice right from first year. The courses are broad, dealing with small and large animals as well as with wildlife. Students are not asked to choose between specialising in small or large animals. Facilities are excellent – many of the universities have working farms on campus – and the degrees awarded very well recognised. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in the UK has accredited all the Australian and New Zealand veterinary degrees represented by Study Options, which means that graduates can come home to the UK and work as vets immediately, with no need for any further study or professional assessment. Please see the RCVS website for more information.  Many of the courses also hold professional accreditation from the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), making a veterinary degree from Australia or New Zealand a truly global qualification. 

What can I study? Animals and Land

Veterinary science at the University of Adelaide

The School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Adelaide delivers a three-year undergraduate Bachelor of Science (Veterinary Bioscience) which forms the first part of the veterinary science programme. (It is followed by a three-year postgraduate Doctor of Veterinary Medicine programme (masters by coursework (extended)) focusing on the clinical skills required for veterinary practice. To practice as veterinarians, students must complete both degrees)

Veterinary science at the University of Adelaide has a unique focus on Australian livestock production, equine health, aquaculture and biosecurity and involves input from a range of partner institutions, government agencies and industry. This unique focus gives our graduates expertise in these areas in addition to the skills to practice veterinary medicine and surgery across all species of domestic animals and common Australian wildlife species. As part of the programme, students complete 12 weeks of extra mural studies (work experience) at a range of enterprises, including sheep, beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, alpacas, intensive production animals (poultry, pigs, and aquaculture) small/companion animals, laboratory animals and wildlife.

Our veterinary science programme is accredited by the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council, the Veterinary Surgeons’ Board of Hong Kong, and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (UK). Graduates from this programme are eligible for registration as veterinarians in all states and territories of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Employment opportunities exist for graduates in:

  • private and public veterinary practices as veterinarians (following completion of the postgraduate coursework programme)
  • government agencies
  • livestock and agricultural management
  • livestock production and nutrition
  • private companies
  • zoos and animal welfare organisations

Features of the student experience: 

  • The University of Adelaide’s state of the art veterinary facilities are located at our Roseworthy campus, in close proximity to the Barossa wine region of South Australia and just one hour from the city centre.
  • The campus features brand new clinical and teaching facilities include the Equine Health and Performance Centre, Companion Animal Health Centre, and high-tech laboratories for the study of anatomy and physiology.
  • The campus is also a working farm with beef cattle, sheep, alpacas, horses, chickens and pigs all on site and providing ample opportunity for students to experience handling and treating many different species.
  • Students can access a rich and vibrant campus life with the opportunity to participate in many sporting, academic and social activities. You can exercise your mind and body by joining a sporting club, using the campus pool or by meeting up with one of the many student-led animal interest groups.
  • There is also a residential college on campus, providing a supported living environment and the convenience of accessing campus facilities and being part of an inclusive and diverse college community.
  • Enjoy one of Australia’s most liveable cities. Adelaide is easy to get around with a low cost of living. It has an exciting arts culture, friendly people and enjoys fantastic weather with access to wonderful beaches and cafes.

Tess Richardson completed the Bachelor of Science (Veterinary Bioscience) and is currently enrolled in the postgraduate Doctor of Veterinary Medicine programme (Masters by Coursework (Extended))

“I moved to Adelaide to begin my studies in February 2012 from Warwickshire and would recommend the veterinary science programme at Adelaide to anyone!

There is a great support network in and around the campus and a number of clubs to pursue your interests. I am a committee member of the Equine special interest group and general member of the Adelaide Veterinary Students Association, Roseworthy Steer Team, Companion Animal group and Wildlife special interest group. We have many on and off campus events all year around, giving everyone the chance to let their hair down which is great due to the high demands of the course. I have had great fun exploring the whole of Australia with my classmates from interstate so far visiting Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Fraser Island, Darwin, Uluru and much more.”

Programme Details

Duration: Three years (to be followed by the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine programme which is a further 3 years).

Start: Semester 1 (February)

Tuition Fees: A$55,000 per year

Entry Requirements: Chemistry and mathematics. Applicants must also complete a written questionnaire and an interview.

Additional entry requirements include, but are not limited to, the physical capacity to handle a range of large and small animals, required vaccinations, and effective communication skills.

Contact Study Options for more information about studying veterinary science at the University of Adelaide.

Due to the nature of veterinary practice, veterinary science students must demonstrate the ethical, physical and emotional capacity to participate in the full curriculum and to achieve the level of competence required. The University will make reasonable adjustments to the requirements of the veterinary programs to cater for students with disabilities but without compromising the academic integrity of the programmes.

Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc) at Massey University

Join a world-leading veterinary science programme and fast track your veterinary career

By studying veterinary science at Massey University in New Zealand, you’ll join a world-leading veterinary programme that will qualify you to work as a veterinarian in many different areas.

If you successfully complete Massey University's Bachelor of Veterinary Science you will be qualified in just five years. You will need to work hard, and apply yourself, but the result will be an interesting, varied, and rewarding career.  Upon graduating, you will have the opportunity to work in a wide variety of challenging and rewarding areas relating to animal and human health.

If you choose to work as a clinical veterinarian you’ll provide high-quality care for animals, whether they are pets, working animals, farm livestock, or wildlife. You’ll use diagnostic and communication skills to promote the health and wellbeing of a range of animals, to make a real difference for both them and their owners.

There are many other career opportunities for you with your veterinary qualification, such as:

  • Animal incursion investigator helping to diagnose new and emerging animal diseases, and working on responses to potential outbreaks.
  • Food safety and biosecurity
  • Veterinary researcher contributing to animal health and production
  • Protecting endangered wildlife at home or abroad.

Accreditations and rankings

The Massey University BVSc programme is fully accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the Australasian Veterinary Board Council (AVBC), and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). In fact, our veterinary school was the first in the Southern Hemisphere to be accredited by the AVMA. The BVSc also has reciprocal recognition from the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA).

This means you could work as a veterinarian not only in New Zealand, but also the UK, Australia, Canada, the USA, and many other countries.  You’ll also get some amazing world experience while you study.

The Massey University veterinary school has been given the maximum rating of 100 for employer reputation and the veterinary degree is ranked 15 overall in the world in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) rankings (the only ranking system for veterinary programmes globally). 

Bachelor of Veterinary Science Programme

  • Massey University is the only tertiary provider authorised in New Zealand where students can study to become a veterinarian. There are 100 places in the programme for domestic students and 24 for international students each year. 
  • The academic year begins in late February and has two semesters each year. 
  • Degree length is a maximum of five years of full-time study. This is composed of a pre-selection phase (semester one) and the professional phase (semesters 2-10). 
  • The pre-selection phase is offered at the Auckland Campus (Albany) and the Palmerston North Campus (Manawatū). The professional phase is offered solely at the Palmerston North campus (Manawatū).
  • The BVSc programme attracts high quality students and is rigorous and challenging but the rewards are worth the hard work and effort required.
  • The BVSc degree has a strong emphasis on both high level academic instruction and 'hands on' practical training.  It is a broad degree which covers all common domestic species so you can work with any species upon graduation.

Teaching and Research Facilities

Veterinary teaching and research facilities includes access and involvement for students within four on-site clinics (companion animal, production animal, equine and wildlife), as well as numerous university farms. A new 24-hour pet emergency centre and equine hospital opened in 2014, and building is underway on a new wildlife hospital.  A strength of IVABs is its research and expertise with native New Zealand wildlife. 'Wildbase' is a dedicated new facility for the treatment and recovery of rare, native and endangered avian species.


International students from the UK generally obtain admission to the BVSc programme by Group 1 international admission.  Group 1 students come to New Zealand and undertake the Pre-Selection Semester (semester one) to compete for entry into the professional phase of the programme.  Selection into the Professional Phase (4.5 years) of the BVSc degree is competitive, and is judged on academic performance.

Previous UK applicants have been very successful at being selected into the professional phase as Group 1 applicants.  To give yourself the best chance of being selected, you should have:

  • A background in physics, chemistry, biology or mathematics,
  • Academic admission to university (e.g. A-levels)
  • English Language competency if English is not your first language (Toefl/IELTS)

Massey’s History in Veterinary Sciences

Massey University began teaching the Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree in 1965 following the early beginnings of the university as an agricultural college (1927). Massey has always had an exceptional international reputation in land based sciences and is now, as a comprehensive multi-disciplined teaching and research institution, among the top three percent of the QS World University Rankings.  

Contact Study Options if you would like further information about this degree or university.

Programme details

Duration: Five years to become a fully qualified veterinarian

Start: Semester one (February) for pre-selection; Semester two (July) for professional phase

Tuition fees*: First Semester NZD$14,570, Semesters 2-10 NZD$29,310 per semester (*Tuition fees quoted are estimates only)

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