Get hands-on with veterinary medicine in elephant sanctuaries, zoos, veterinary hospitals, and marine conservation centers.
The semester is designed with pre-veterinary students in mind. Our small, hands-on classes are taught by veterinarians with extensive experience in their fields in shelter, sanctuary, and clinic settings. Each course will be taken in a set sequence, providing the opportunity for one course to build upon another as you progress through the semester. You’ll also get to participate in all the courses with the same cohort of students as you travel and live together during your time abroad.
We know that spending a semester abroad can be daunting for pre-vet students. We’re available to answer all your questions about credit, financial aid, and coursework to make sure this semester abroad is the perfect fit for you!
The Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad has been selected as a Runner-Up for Best Gap Year Program in 2018-2019 on GoAbroad.com!
“As a pre-veterinary student, it was difficult finding a study abroad program…. I wanted to experience a completely new culture but also knew that I needed to gain more veterinary experience. I almost gave up hope in finding the perfect program, but then I heard about Loop Abroad.” — Antonia L., Spring 2017
The Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad is designed to enhance your pre-veterinary knowledge, skills, and experience. Learn how it can add to your Veterinary School application. We can match students with internships, research opportunities, and travel adventures in Chiang Mai and throughout Southeast Asia.
Many students find that they can use their federal, state, and institutional aid, loans, and scholarships to pay the semester fee. You may be able to use your current semester tuition toward your Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad and get credit at your school, and we can help you with this process. Additionally, students can choose to receive a transcript from our university partner, a fully accredited US-based institution. Please contact us so we can help you figure out your options.
The AVMA says “If you have the opportunity to work… for veterinarians who work with different species, that’s a bonus that can make you more appealing to a veterinary school admissions committee.” We’re proud to offer you that opportunity!
Some of our students have been recording their experiences on a video blog. Check it out!
We’re always excited to share what we love about Thailand
The semester is based in Chiang Mai, which is home to many of our staff and holds a special place in the hearts of all of our alumni. Chiang Mai offers unparalleled cultural and animal experiences in a relatively safe and comfortable environment. You will spend approximately half of your program in Chiang Mai, and half your program at other sites throughout Thailand, to which you’ll travel with the same student cohort and staff throughout the duration of your program abroad. Check out the many other places our studies will take us!
Much more than just a diving school, New Heaven has more than 20 years of experience showing and preserving the island reefs and occasionally hosting sea turtles in their small nursery.find out more
Want to fit a semester abroad in Thailand into your pre-veterinary education path? Here’s how it can work for you!
This page is a general overview of the process of Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad, from applying to attending. For more detailed information on any of these points or personalized assistance, contact us! We are happy to help.
The Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad is a full, academically rigorous college semester designed for pre-vet students. It takes place in fall and spring, over the course of 14 weeks. The program has space for up to 12 students and takes place throughout Thailand. Students travel throughout Thailand together and take a set series of courses in a set order. Each student must take all the courses, which are worth a total of 20 credits. The program does not take place on a college campus, but instead in elephant sanctuaries, dog clinics, marine research centers, and other animal facilities in Thailand.
Loop Abroad is not a college. Participants in the Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad will receive their credits and transcript from Iowa Wesleyan University, our school of record in the US. For students who are currently in college, we can help you work with your school to transfer these credits. For participants not currently in school, you will receive a transcript from Iowa Wesleyan.
The tuition for the Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad is $21,450. It includes tuition, housing, meals, transport to class each day, transport within Thailand, books, and lab fees. It does not include airfare to Thailand, health insurance, or a visa.
Financial aid options are available. If you are currently a college student, your semester in Thailand would replace your semester tuition on your home campus. We can assist you in using federal financial aid toward your Loop Abroad tuition.
This program is open to applicants age 18 and over. You can be a citizen or resident of any country. You do not need to currently be in school. All courses are taught in English - no Thai language skills are necessary.
Competitive applicants plan to apply to vet school or otherwise work in a career with animals, have a 3.0 GPA or greater, and have a demonstrated interest in working in animal science. No specific skills or experiences are required. We do require one course of college-level biology as a prerequisite (AP Bio or IB Bio would meet this requirement, and there are affordable online alternatives available.)
Step 1: Talk to your advisor. We suggest that you meet with your advisor about a semester abroad and the credits you would be transferring into your degree program. Usually your advisor will want to see syllabi for all the courses. For a copy of all the syllabi, please send an email to [email protected] Ask your advisor to approve the credits so that you may approach your study abroad office with your plans to participate in a Loop Abroad semester. Note that the course load of 20 credits is a complete semester, and though you may take some credits as pass/fail, you are expected to participate in all courses and class meetings during the semester.
Step 2: Apply for admission. You can apply for admission at any time, but it is best to apply at least a few months in advance so you have time to meet with the various offices on your campus and make arrangements for your study abroad. In your application, you can indicate if you are applying for financial aid from Loop Abroad, which can award need-based funds of up to $5,000 per student. You would get notice of any financial aid award with notice of admission.
Step 3: Secure funding for your semester. Once you are admitted, and have your credits and study abroad experience confirmed, it is sometimes possible to use your federal financial aid if you are currently enrolled in a US college or university. Your financial aid office can help you with this process, and we will also assist you. In some cases, your school will require specific documentation from Loop Abroad and we are able to work with them to make this semester financially feasible for you. Note that the semester tuition includes housing, meals, and even books, some students actually find it costs them less to go abroad than to stay on their home campus for the semester.
Step 4: Pay deposit and submit necessary paperwork. Before you can be confirmed as a participating student, you must pay the deposit to hold your spot in the upcoming semester. There are only 12 spots available in order to keep the class sizes small. You will also have to complete enrollment paperwork that includes a medical form.
Step 5: Plan for travel to Thailand. The Country Director for the Thailand semester will send you an email with logistical information about travel flights, the required rabies vaccine, international phone plans, and any travel visa requirements. You will also receive a calendar with the dates for your in-country orientation, course schedule, and any school breaks during the semester. We can help you with everything from selecting flights to deciding what to pack!
Step 6: Arrival in Thailand. You will be met by Loop staff when you arrive and taken to your group housing. You will have an in-country orientation and chance to get to know your group before you start your veterinary courses.
During your semester abroad in Thailand, staff is available 24/7 to support you. You will live with your fellow students and your travel between course locations will be arranged as a group by Loop Abroad, with staff traveling with you. The semester is a busy, packed schedule with lots of places to go and lots of work to do, and we’ll do it all as a group. If you have questions about the Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad, from applications to safety and everything in between, reach out to us!
Hands-on veterinary experiences from dogs and cats to exotics and elephants
The semester is divided into blocks that will you take in a set sequence so that you can focus on one course at a time immersed in a shelter, sanctuary, or clinic setting. With each block, you will build and practice new knowledge and skills. The coursework is demanding, but you will go home with memories of a lifetime and key experiences that will prepare you for your veterinary training and career.
The semester in Thailand is comparable to a full semester of courses including labs at your home institution.
Please note: we have listed credits based on the number of hours of instruction, homework, and fieldwork in each course. But the number of credits you receive at your school will vary depending on how you apply for credit and how your school grants it. Through our university partner (School of Record), we can offer all students a full transcript.
Here are the courses offered each semester. Please note that though the sequence may be different for different groups and different semesters, all of the following course are included in your semester abroad.
Course topics and itineraries are subject to change based on the discretion of veterinary instructors.
Unforgettable animal and travel experiences in Thailand and much more
We understand pre-vets. You can’t let a semester pass without making progress towards a competitive vet school application. Join us for animal experiences you can’t get anywhere else on the planet all while developing hands-on veterinary skills, building your resume, and having an amazing adventure in Thailand. You won’t waste a moment.
When you apply to vet school, you have to describe and record hours for three kinds of experiences: research experiences, veterinary experiences, and animal experiences.
In our semester, you’ll log 250+ hours working with a veterinarian (DVM) and 20 hours of research.
Studying in Thailand means you’ll get to experience a ton of different areas of veterinary medicine, which can be an advantage for admission to vet school. North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine says:
“… [S]upervised experiences in three or more different areas are highly recommended for a competitive application…. small animal, large animal, research, food animal production, exotic, aquatic, wildlife, zoological medicine”
Loop offers veterinarian-supervised experiences in five of these areas!
Referring to who gets into vet school, the AVMA says…
“If you have the opportunity to work …for veterinarians who work with difference species, that’s a bonus that can make you more appealing to a veterinary school admissions committee. Get as much experience as you can while you have the opportunity.”
The Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad gives you varied experience in a module schedule, so you’ll have one course at a time, and you and your classmates can focus on learning material and skills from the vet or vets leading your course. You’ll also get to know your vets well because of the small class size and hands-on nature of your coursework, which allows you to learn about their experience in the veterinary profession and allows them to get to know you well enough to write recommendation letters.
According to the AVMA, “volunteering at shelters or rescues can provide animal handling experience that will help make you a better candidate [for veterinary school].”
With Loop, you’ll study shelter management while assisting in a shelter. You’ll study marine vertebrates and then identify them while diving over a coral reef. You aren’t just shadowing at the clinic down the road — you’re learning first-hand about the communication challenges of practicing in cross-cultural organizations.
Our semester is designed to give you not only technical knowledge and animal handling experience, but the cultural and communication skills to make the most of your training.
We offer faculty-led workshops and advising to help you with every aspect of applying to Veterinary School and advancing your career. Covered topics include:
We know studying abroad is a big investment. If you are currently in college or university, we can help you to work with your school to get credit for your Loop Abroad courses and be able to access federal financial aid to use toward your Loop Abroad tuition. You may even be able to apply some or even all of your home institution semester tuition toward your Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad tuition, which can mean that studying abroad costs the same or even less than spending your semester on your home campus.
If you are considering applying, let us know! We can walk you through each step from talking with your school advisors to making the program affordable for you.
The Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad comprehensive fee of $21,450 covers much more than just tuition:
That means that you do not pay any additional fees for labs, books, housing, meals, or in-country transport for courses during your program.
Note: International airfare to and from Thailand is not included.
Many students studying abroad use financial aid such as grants, scholarships, and/or loans to help pay their tuition and program fees.
Because we offer transcripts through our US university partner (School of Record), you may be able to use your state, federal, and/or institutional aid and loans towards the semester tuition. For students who are currently in college or university, you may find that you can use some or even all of your home institution semester tuition toward your Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad tuition. Generally the first step is to get your credits approved by your current school – and we are happy to help!
There are also several outside scholarships designed for students studying abroad. We suggest that you talk to your financial aid office for recommendations. We will support your application!
Loop Abroad also offers a limited number of awards for semester students ranging from $500 to $5,000 based on qualifications and financial need.
If you aren’t sure where to start, please contact us! The sooner you start the process, the easier it is to communicate with your school about credits and financial aid.
The Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad in Thailand is open to students from all academic backgrounds, not just pre-vet students.
We welcome students to study with us as a gap year after high school to decide if they want to pursue a veterinary education. We also welcome students who have completed an undergraduate degree but want to enhance their vet school application.
We are proud to often host students on their first trip abroad as well as students who are seasoned international travelers. You do not need to be a US citizen to apply.
We understand studying abroad is a big decision — we’ll walk you through every step. We can help you figure out if it’s a good fit and how research, internship, and course credit as well as financial aid would work for you.
In order to enroll in the Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad, applicants must meet the following requirements by the time the semester begins. For example, if you haven’t completed the biology requirement yet but are ready to apply, you could apply on the condition that you complete the requirement before the semester starts. Affordable online options are available.
The Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad is a cohort of up to 12 students, who work closely with one another and with their veterinarians and instructors. For this reason, the #1 skill we look for in an application is the ability to work as part of a team.
We’re looking for students who understand what the Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad entails and are eager to work hard, support their classmates, get their hands dirty, and work hard.
We don’t require any specific animal experience, but a demonstrated interest in working with animals or in veterinary medicine will strengthen your application. We don’t require a certain GPA, but strong applicants generally have a GPA of 3.0 or greater. Your application is more than just your GPA. We do not consider standardized test scores in our admissions decisions.
Once you’re ready to apply, you can click on the “apply now” link below and get started.
If you’d like our help before applying to make sure that your credits will transfer to your current college or university and that you’ll be able to successfully fit the Thailand Veterinary Semester Abroad into your academic schedule, please contact [email protected] for assistance.
For details on how to apply, please see the first page of the application.
Learn more about Thai culture, conservation, elephants, or veterinary medicine
None of these books are required reading. You can purchase any of the books on our suggested reading lists at the links below.*
Chasing the Dragon’s Tail: The Struggle to Save Thailand’s Wild Cats, by Alan Rabinowitz. Alan Rabinowitz is one of the leading authors on protecting large cats in the wild. He is the director of the Science and Exploration Program at the Wildlife Conservation Society, and has led research expeditions all over the world. He is known for founding the world’s first jaguar reserve, which lies in Belize. This book is a sad and beautiful tale of the author’s struggle to understand Thailand and to help save the wild cat population of Thailand.
A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants, by Jaed Coffin. Jaed Coffin lives in Maine, and was raised in the United States as a Thai American. When he was twenty-one-years-old, he left college life in New England to be ordained as a Buddhist Monk in his mother’s native village of Panomsarakram, Thailand. This book is the story of his time in Thailand, and explores themes of displacement, ethnic identity, and cultural belonging. (NOTE: this book isn’t about elephants.)
When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy. This New York Times Bestseller was heralded as “A masterpiece, the most comprehensive and compelling argument for animal sensibility…”. Elephants are the national animal of Thailand, and are an important symbol in religion and culture there. They are also intelligent, social animals who are on the brink of extinction in Asia and Africa. This text is a great exploration of the emotional lives of elephants and an eye-opening tale for students of conservation and the behavior of animals, human or otherwise.
Elephant Memories, by Cynthia Moss. Cynthia Moss is founder and director of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Africa. As a study of a family of African Elephants in Kenya over twenty-seven years, this book is a moving and important book. “One is soon swept away by this ‘Babar’ for adults. By the end, one wants to curse human civilization and cry out, ‘Now God stand up for the elephants!’”, wrote Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of the New York Times.
Tales of an African Vet, by Dr. Roy Aronson Booklist says, “For a veterinarian, it’s one thing when one’s patients are cuddly pet cats, dogs, and the occasional hamster. It’s quite another when the cats turn out to be cheetahs, the dogs are part wolf, and the hamster? Well, that could be anything from a gorilla to an elephant, a puff adder to a crocodile. Through equal parts luck, timing, and desire, Aronson augmented his 25-plus-year career as a small animal veterinarian in South Africa with house calls to treat some of the world’s largest and most dangerous creatures. Except that in Aronson’s case, the “house” was anywhere from a rhino’s cage at the renowned Pretoria Zoo to a lion’s pride in the densest African bush. The case histories of the animals treated in these treacherous locations provide an exhilarating glimpse into the lives of numerous valuable and endangered species. As intrepid as Indiana Jones and as compassionate as Dr. Doolittle, Aronson shares harrowing, and sometimes humorous, adventures in an engrossing memoir about an unexpected career.”
The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild, by Lawrence Anthony Publisher’s Weekly says, “In 1998, prize-winning conservationist Anthony (Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo) purchased Thula Thula, “5,000 acres of pristine bush in the heart of Zululand, South Africa,” transforming a rundown hunters’ camp (dating to the 19th century) into a wild animal preserve and a center for eco-tourism. In 1999, Anthony agreed to take in a herd of “troubled” wild elephants, the first seen in the area in more than a century. Winning their trust, becoming deeply attached, and even learning how they communicate (deep, rumbling “whispers,” sensed rather than heard), Anthony took enormous risks in the form of enraged elephants, distrustful neighbors, and poachers. Over time Anthony succeeds in his larger goal, winning support from the six Zulu tribes whose land borders the reserve (“most Zulus … had never set eyes on an elephant”); they eventually join Anthony’s venture as partners in a larger conservation trust. An inspiring, multifaceted account, Anthony’s book offers fascinating insights into the lives of wild elephants in the broader context of Zulu culture in post-Apartheid South Africa.”
Last Chain on Billie: How one Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top, by Carol Bradley ” Like the majority of captive elephants, Billie was captured as a calf, surfacing in the U.S. in 1966 as a four-year-old. After several years in a private zoo, she joined the circus, where she was trained to perform. Circuses are an extremely demanding environment for elephants, with constant travel from one town to another, multiple shows per week, and continuous noise. Although she learned difficult tricks and was a star, Billie rebelled and began to be known as a difficult elephant, gaining a reputation for attacking her trainers. Meanwhile, two former elephant trainers had grown disenchanted with circuses and the distorted lives that circus elephants lived, and they decided to found a sanctuary for former performing elephants in Tennessee. The story of how Billie got to the Elephant Sanctuary, and of how the sanctuary overcame the prejudices of both the circus and zoo communities, is both heartrending and uplifting. Full of details of the brutal life endured by performing elephants, of battles between Billie’s owner and the U.S. Department of Agriculture over her ultimate fate, and of Billie’s eventual adjustment to a life of freedom, Bradley’s newest has produced a well-researched winner.” – Booklist
*Links are affiliate links – thanks for helping to support Loop Abroad!
"This program changed so many aspects of my life and how I view the world. It exceeded my expectations. The staff were so helpful. They walked me through every step of the process of getting to Thailand, and made me feel very at home when I arrived. Anyone who wishes to be a veterinarian should definitely pursue this program."
Taylor P., Veterinary Semester Abroad Fall 2016
University of Florida