US veterinary colleges increase seats at accelerating rate

More than a third of institutions have had double-digit increases in first-year enrollment in the past five years

By Malinda Larkin
Published: 20 October 2023

The number of first-year veterinary students enrolled for the 2022-23 school year at U.S. veterinary colleges exceeded 4,000 for the first time, according to data from the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC).

From 2012-23, the number of first-year students at U.S. veterinary colleges increased an average of 2.7% per year, or by a total of 37.7%, from 2,938 to 4,047. On average, seats have increased 2% annually since 1980.

These growing numbers come not only from existing veterinary colleges growing their class sizes, but also from new veterinary colleges that are currently enrolling veterinary students—three of which have or will be graduating their first classes between now and 2025. In addition, numerous universities have proposed additional new veterinary colleges. The result will be substantially more veterinary graduates in the years ahead.

Existing schools that are expanding

Overall enrollment for U.S. colleges of veterinary medicine hit 15,157 for the 2022-23 academic year compared with a total of 11,255 U.S. veterinary students in 2012-13.

Any veterinary college that wants to add another cohort, increase its entering class by more than 10%, or that would have a cumulative increase of 15% or more over five years in the total number of students in their program is required to have approval from the AVMA Council on Education (AVMA COE) before doing so. Approval of such a plan is contingent on the information provided to the council and continued compliance with the council’s accreditation standards.

From 2018-19 to 2022-23, the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine saw the largest bump, going from 114 to 150 first-year seats—or 36 total—followed by the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine increasing from 119 to 150—or 31 total—and Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Veterinary Medicine increasing from 101 to 131—or 30 total.

To see the full version of this story, visit the AVMA News website.