Bachelor Degree in Veterinary Technology

Bachelor Degree in Veterinary Technology Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree

About the bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology

Become a leader in the fast-growing field of animal care.

If animals are your passion, consider a career as a veterinary technologist – one of the fastest-growing occupations in Pennsylvania and across the United States.

The bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology at PennWest California equips you with the knowledge, practical skills and confidence to enter the field as a “vet tech” with specialized training in fields such as small- or large-animal care, laboratory animal management, or shelter medicine.

You’ll gain hands-on experience caring for animals while this accredited four-year, on-campus program prepares you for leadership in the workplace.

Graduates are ready for vet tech careers in settings that range from animal hospitals and humane societies to laboratories and research facilities. The B.S. in veterinary technology also qualifies you for jobs with veterinary practices and organizations, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that require a bachelor’s degree.

Promote animals’ well-being as part of a veterinary medicine team.

The four-year veterinary technology bachelor’s degree builds on PennWest California’s vet tech associate degree. In addition to the coursework, hands-on training and 240 hours of clinical experience required for entering the profession, bachelor’s degree students choose electives in the specialty they prefer and complete an advanced clinical experience.

You’ll study elements of veterinary science including animal anatomy, behavior and diseases, as well as practice management, recordkeeping and laws pertaining to animal care. Through laboratory and clinical experiences, you’ll learn best practices for animal handling, as well as veterinary surgery, dentistry, radiology, pharmaceuticals, and anesthesia and pain management.

Three required courses – Case Studies in Veterinary Medicine, Contemporary Issues in Veterinary Medicine and the Specialty Clinical Experience – help you determine an area of focus. Elective courses build specialized knowledge of topics such as:

  • Shelter medicine.
  • Animal reproduction.
  • Animal behavior.
  • Zoonotic diseases.

At PennWest California, veterinary technology students work with dogs, cats, rats and rabbits that are housed in state-of-the-art facilities on campus. Additional learning occurs in animal exam areas, a clinical laboratory equipped with diagnostic and imaging equipment, and a surgical nursing suite.


Accredited program: The Committee on Veterinary Technical Education and Activities (CVTEA) of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) granted Initial Accreditation to PennWest California’s Veterinary Technology Program, effective February 25, 2021. Accreditation will remain in effect as long as the program continues to meet AVMA CVTEA Standards of Accreditation. Initial accreditation is the only accreditation classification that can be granted to new veterinary technology programs such as ours. It is granted to those programs that have made significant progress towards meeting the Standards of Accreditation. Our program will remain on initial accreditation until achieving full accreditation, or for a period not to exceed five years.

High-tech labs:  Students in this 120-credit bachelor’s degree program put their learning into practice every day. Even first-year students have animal care rotations, and many courses incorporate a lab or a clinical component. Students complete 240 clinical hours, plus specialized coursework and an advanced clinical experience prior to graduation.

Flexible schedule: A rigorous associate degree programis embedded within the bachelor’s in veterinary technology. Flexible scheduling allows bachelor’s degree students to complete the Associate of Science requirements over two, three or four years. Students who earn the B.S. in Veterinary Technology also receive an A.S. degree. Students who successfully complete a program accredited by the AVMA-CVTEA are eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam.

On-campus classes: Veterinary technology students study with classmates who share their passion for animals and professors who are experts in their field. Program director Dr. Nancy Pugh holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and faculty members – not graduate students or teaching assistants —teach every course. Small classes let you get to know your vet tech classmates and your professors.

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Nationwide, the number of B.S. in Veterinary Technology programs recognized by the American Veterinary Medicine Association.
Projected growth in employment for veterinary technicians and technologists by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Degree Benefits

Students in PennWest California’s veterinary technology program build a solid base of knowledge and learn animal care and management skills by working directly with small animals on campus. By selecting electives and additional clinical experience in an area of interest, students customize their education to focus on small- or large-animal care, laboratory animals or shelter medicine.

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Graduate Outcomes

The need for skilled veterinary technologists is expanding due to increases in pet ownership, a growing demand for service and working animals, and expansion of veterinary specialties. Program graduates may find employment in veterinary clinics and hospitals, large-animal practices, wildlife rehabilitation centers, boarding kennels, government and industry labs, humane societies and more. Graduates are qualified for jobs in organizations, such as the USDA, that require a four-year degree, and they are able to instruct in an educational setting.

Veterinary Technology (B.S.)
Vet student working with a rabbit


Last year 41 states, including Pennsylvania, reported a shortage of veterinary services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 20% growth in employment opportunities nationwide for veterinary technicians and technologists. The median hourly wage in the field exceeds $16 per hour, the BLS reports, with opportunities for higher pay in laboratory and research settings.

Vet tech students reviewing an x-ray


Although veterinary technologists often care for animals at private veterinary practices, many graduates with bachelor’s degrees work under the guidance of scientists, researchers or veterinarians in more advanced, research-related positions. In a laboratory setting, they may administer medications, prepare tissue samples, record data, and keep records of animals’ genealogy, weight, diet or behavior. Vet techs also may prepare animals and equipment for surgery, assist with diagnostic or medical procedures, take X-rays or ultrasound images, administer preventive dental care for animals, and provide instruction on animal care.

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Vet at a farm with a horse.


As veterinary specialties expand, the demand for skilled professionals is growing rapidly. In addition to clinical settings, veterinary technologists are employed in:

  • Animal control and humane society/shelter care.
  • Biomedical research and diagnostic laboratory support.
  • Food safety inspection.
  • Livestock health management.
  • Military service.
  • Sales and service for drug, feed and veterinary supply companies.
  • Zoo animal and wildlife care.
PennWest California student with a dog on campus.


Future veterinary technology students must meet PennWest California admissions standards. Candidates who have completed high school biology, chemistry and algebra courses with a grade of C- or higher are most likely to be successful. Once a student is accepted into the program, a tetanus immunization is required and immunization for rabies is highly recommended. Vet tech students are required to wear scrubs for laboratory work and animal care rotations. Students must meet all requirements for the A.S. in Veterinary Technology in order to earn the bachelor’s degree.

B.S. In Veterinary Technology Courses


Course Credits
General Education Courses 42
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100 First-Year Seminar
ENG 101  English Composition I
Public Speaking
Any Public Speaking Course
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
MAT 181  College Algebra (or higher)
Health and Wellness
BIO 226  Basic Microbiology
Technological Literacy
VET 230  Digital Diagnostic Imaging
Any Humanities Course
Fine Arts
Any Fine Arts Course
Natural Sciences
CHE 101  General Chemistry I
Social Sciences
Any Social Science Course
General Education Options
  • MAT 215  Statistics
  • ENG 102  Composition II (recommended)
  • Ethics and Multicultural Awareness Course (Recommended: PHI 307  Medical Ethics  OR  PHI 308  Bioethics)
  • General Education Course
Required Major Courses 36
VET 101  Introduction to Veterinary Technology 3
VET 160  Care and Management of Exotic and Laboratory Animals 3
VET 202  Small Animal Management and Clinical Procedures 4
VET 210  Veterinary Clinical Technology and Laboratory Procedures 4
VET 220  Large Animal Management and Clinical Procedures 4
VET 240  Veterinary Pharmacy and Pharmacology 3
VET 250  Surgical Nursing, Anesthesia and Pain Management 4
VET 292  Clinical Experience  3
VET 301  Contemporary Issues in Veterinary Medicine 2
VET 450  Case Studies in Veterinary Medicine 3
VET 492  Specialty Clinical Experience 3
Required Related (Cognate) Courses 12
BIO 120  General Zoology 4
BIO 230  Anatomy and Physiology I 4
BIO 260  Anatomy and Physiology II 4
Related Electives 12
300- to 400-level BIO, ENS or VET elective courses (Recommended: BIO 450  Immunology  OR  BIO 460  Pathophysiology) 12
Free Electives 18
Total 120

Additional requirements, not counted toward the General Education requirements, include:

  • Special Experience Course (1 course required): VET 492 Specialty Clinical Experience
  • Writing-Intensive Component Courses (2 courses required): VET 301 Contemporary Issues in Veterinary Medicine AND VET 492 Specialty Clinical Experience
  • Laboratory Course (1 course required): CHE 101 General Chemistry I

Program Goals, Outcomes and Technical Requirements

Program Goals

The program maintains the highest level of academic integrity and provides students with knowledge and skills in specialized disciplines within veterinary medicine. The program goals (PG) are specified to meet the needs of the program’s constituencies (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, employers, advisory board, alumni, students and faculty).

  • PG1:To provide students with both the skills and theoretical knowledge to become successful veterinary technicians in a chosen discipline.
  • PG2:To further educate students on the attributes necessary to become an integral member of the veterinary healthcare team.
  • PG3:To enhance the analytical, critical thinking and decision-making skills of each individual student.
  • PG4:To provide a science-based, animal-focused curriculum that enhances the profession’s stewardship of animals.
Student Learning Outcomes

Students completing the B.S. in Veterinary Technology will have an ability to:

  • SO1:Be successful on the Veterinary Technician National Exam.
  • SO2:Perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
  • SO3:Identify, utilize and maintain veterinary instruments and equipment found in a specialty practice.
  • SO4:Communicate effectively with other veterinary professionals and clientele.
  • SO5:Describe the laws, ethics and organizations of the veterinary profession.
  • SO6:Critically evaluate diagnostic findings and relate to animal health and wellness.
  • SO7:Recognize contemporary issues and analyze their role or position as a technician.
SO8: Work cooperatively to achieve optimum and compassionate patient care.
Technical Requirements


Technical Requirements and Essential Functions

PennWest California
Eberly College of Science and Technology
250 University Ave
California, PA 15419

B.S. and A.S. in Veterinary Technology

The technical standards in the field of veterinary technology are both intellectually and physically challenging.  These physical skills and cognitive abilities are required of a student to complete the Veterinary Technology Program at PennWest California (PennWest California). The student must also possess sufficient mental and emotional stability to confirm that they are able to complete the entire course of study along with being employable as a competent Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) with or without reasonable accommodations.

The PennWest California Veterinary Technology Program has an ethical responsibility to ensure the safety of the animals with whom the students will come in contact as well as to the public to assure that the students become capable and competent Veterinary Technician professionals. The students admitted to our program must possess the integrity, compassion, perception, as well as the physical and emotional capacity necessary to practice veterinary technology skills. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ensure that qualified applicants have the ability to pursue program admission. However, all students should meet the essential skills and technical standards to perform functions required of the veterinary technician program and veterinary profession. Students are obligated to notify the administration and faculty in the Veterinary Technology Program of any changes in their abilities to fulfill the technical standards. 

General Physical Expectations

 Students are expected to:

  • Tolerate walking and standing for at least ten minutes at a time, multiple times per hour.
  • Have the capability to lift and/or carry up to 50 pounds, with or without assistance, from floor to waist level or higher at least several times per day.
  • Have the capability to lift objects weighing up to 50 pounds, with or without assistance, to a height of one meter or higher and carry the object or animal for a distance of two meters.
  • Possess sufficient motor function to handle, install, position and move materials, equipment, supplies, and to administer proper animal patient care for varying lengths of time.
  • Capable of handling, positioning, and restraining live animals of small and large animal species.
  • Be able to have sustained contact with multiple species of animals and be amenable to learning the safe handling, restraining, and working with these animals.
  • Be able to sustain contact with multiple species of animals. No individual should be severely allergic to any species of animals to the extent that it would prohibit working in a facility that has them.
Cognitive Ability

Students are expected to:

  • Be able to complete required tasks/functions in a structured environment under stressful and/or unpredictable conditions or time constraints.
  • Possess a willingness to assist with and perform a wide variety of routine medical, surgical, and diagnostic procedures common to the veterinary setting; including humane euthanasia and handling of sick, injured, fractious, or aggressive animals without fear.
  • Be able to complete required tasks/functions under stressful and/or unpredictable conditions, including emergency situations.
  • Possess the mental capacity to assimilate and learn an extensive amount of technical and detailed information and to access information from books, reference manuals, computers, and paper and electronic medical documents to perform duties and safely use equipment without assistance.
  • Have the ability to schedule appointments, admit and discharge patients, and triage according to the client-patient-facility needs through either phone or in person.
  • Have time management skills to be able to perform and complete tasks properly under minimal supervision.
  • Evaluate, synthesize, and communicate diagnostic information to the attending veterinarian and/or staff. 
Communication Skills

Students are expected to: 

  • Read and understand the legal and ethical standards of the veterinary medical profession.
  • Read, write, speak and report accurately and effectively in English.
  • Comprehend and carry out complex written and oral instructions given in English.
  • Communicate with other individuals by speech, either in person or by telephone, to make legible and coherent written notes in English within the margins and space provided on the appropriate forms. 
Professionalism and Interpersonal Skills

Students are expected to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to work effectively, respectfully and professionally as part of a veterinary healthcare team.
  • Students must interact with animal patients, client owners, and the veterinary health care personnel in a respectful and professional manner.
  • Accept constructive feedback from others.
  • Maintain cleanliness and personal grooming consistent with close human and animal contact.
  • Apply an understanding of interpersonal skills in all aspects of team dynamics.
  • Have the ability to exercise good judgment and make appropriate professional and procedural judgment decisions under stressful and/or emergency conditions (i.e. unstable patient condition), emergent demands (i.e. stat test orders), and a distracting environment (i.e. high noise levels, complex visual stimuli, aggressive animals).
Manual Dexterity and Mobility

Students are expected to:

  • Be able to move his/her entire body a distance of no less than three meters within two seconds of a signal to do so, to move rapidly from danger while handling animals in confined spaces.
  • Possess fine motor movements in order to perform the essential functions of the profession. This includes the dexterity to manipulate small equipment, adjust resistance on equipment, hold hooves while cleaning and evaluating, manage syringes, catheters, and common surgical instruments.
  • Possess tactile ability necessary for physical assessment and to perform nursing duties in a timely manner. This includes performing palpation during physical exams, administering oral, intramuscular, subcutaneous, and intravenous medication, insert and remove tubes, collect organic samples from live animals, and perform wound care.
  • Possess the ability to palpate and interpret findings, i.e. palpation of pulses, lymph nodes or trachea to determine proper endotracheal tube size.
  • Have the ability to perform cardiopulmonary cerebral recitation (CPCR) in the event of an emergency.
  • Have the ability to manipulate, or tie materials ranging from a cloth patch to a very fine string. This includes the ability to hold and manipulate a surgical sponge, tie a 00 silk suture, perform endotracheal intubation, inject liquid intravenously, catheterize animals to obtain urine and/or other body fluids samples, and apply bandages without assistance.
Auditory, Olfactory, and Visual Skills

Veterinary technicians should have functional use of senses to safely and correctly assess patients and interpret and record data.  

Students are expected to:

  • Possess adequate visual ability, with or without correction, that allows the determination of minute areas of detail, very small variations in color and adequate depth perception (size, shape and texture), including differentiation of details as viewed through a microscope. This includes ability to characterize and interpret the color, odor, clarity, and viscosity of body structures and fluids, observe variations in skin and mucus membrane color, integrity, pulsations, tissue swelling, etc.
  • Possess visual ability to allow for observation and assessment as necessary in nursing care both from a distance and close by in order to recognize physical status and non-verbal responses including behaviors.
  • Possess the auditory ability necessary to monitor and assess health status, including auscultation of heart and lungs, and hear equipment alarms and warning sounds from animals, humans, and/or equipment of impending danger or injury.
  • Recognize and respond appropriately to distress sounds from animal and alarms/warning signals on animal-monitoring equipment directly and through intercommunication systems to ensure patient safety.
  • Detect and respond appropriately to odors in order to maintain environmental safety and patient needs.
  • Be able to use a compound microscope to identify cells and organisms and be able to differentiate colors of stained objects.
  • Be able to observe movement at a distance ranging from 30-45 centimeters to 15-20 meters at a discrimination level that permits detection of subtle differences in movement of the limbs in animals. This includes the ability to detect and describe a change in color of hair coat caused by licking or trauma, detect abnormal head posture in a parakeet, monitor respiratory rate during anesthesia, and read anesthesia monitoring equipment.
  • Be able to discriminate shades of black and white patterns in which the band is not more than 0.5 mm in width. This includes the ability to characterize bacterial hemolysis on a blood agar plate, density patterns on a radiograph, and see ECG tracings.
  • Possess adequate depth perception to allow detection of a 0.5 cm elevation which is no more than 1 cm in diameter on a slightly curved surface having a slightly irregular surface. This includes detection of tissue swelling on the hip on a smooth-haired dog to determine the presence of a reaction to skin testing for allergies.  be able to perceive the natural or amplified human voice without lip reading to permit oral communication in a surgery room with all occupants wearing surgical masks.
  • Be able to perceive the origin of sound as needed to detect movement of large animals in a pen or corral or monitoring multiple patients in an ICU.
Reasonable Disability Accommodations

Reasonable Disability Accommodations Request for reasonable accommodations must be initiated by the student. Reasonable accommodations may be provided for students with documented disabilities upon submission of appropriate documentation.  Documentation must include the names, titles, professional credentials, license number, addresses, and phone numbers of the medical professionals that evaluated the student as well as the date of the evaluation.  The evaluation report must include a summary of the assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and a narrative summary of evaluation results.  The evaluation must list specific accommodations requested and the rationale for those accommodations. Documentation for eligibility must be current, preferably within the last three years. The age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student's specific request for accommodations. Students may be required to re-submit this documentation each semester to allow for review of continuing eligibility for accommodations.  

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a disability as a substantial limitation of a major life function.  A temporary medical condition does not qualify as a disability and is not covered under the ADA of 1990 or under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act because the extent, duration, and impact of the condition are not permanent. Accommodations may not provide an unfair advantage to the students, fundamentally alter the nature and substance of the curriculum, present an undue hardship for the institution, pose a direct threat to the safety of patients, or compromise the academic integrity of the program.  Students may be required to cover the cost of such accommodations and should be aware that a potential employer may not be amenable to use of accommodations that result in undue hardship to the employer. Students receiving accommodations must be aware that these may not be available from a prospective employer. Veterinary practices with small numbers of employees may be exempt from the requirements of the ADA. Examples of reasonable accommodations that may be available to students that qualify under the ADA for performance of required skills could include the following:

  • Amplified stethoscope
  • Portable speech amplifier
  • Hearing aids
  • Clear surgical masks
  • Magnifying headsets
  • Non-allergenic gloves
  • Magnifying microscope monitor