14 weeks in Thailand
Veterinary Semester

Overview

Learn veterinary medicine hands-on in elephant sanctuaries, zoos, veterinary hospitals, and marine conservation centers.

Now accepting applications for Spring and Fall 2018 semesters

The semester is designed with pre-veterinary students in mind but is not limited to students in pre-vet programs. We focus on small, hands-on classes taught by veterinarians with extensive experience in their fields integrated into shelter, sanctuary, and clinic settings.

We know that spending a semester abroad can be daunting for pre-vet students and we are available to help answer all your questions about credit, financial aid, coursework, and all the details to make sure VSA is the perfect fit for you!

Program Highlights:

Girl with Elephant in Thailand

  • Based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a beautiful, bustling city rooted in an ancient culture and surrounded by an amazing variety of ecosystems yet many wildlife in crisis.
  • Two weeks learning about elephants in a shelter where you will observe and assist the veterinary team with everything from physical exams to basic healthcare.
  • Two weeks on Turtle Island (“Koh Tao”), staying a few steps from the beach! Snorkel over coral reefs surveying coral health, tropical fish, and more. SCUBA Open Water diving certification is included for Spring and Fall 2018 semesters. Learn from the conservationists and experts at the New Heaven Reef Conservation Program. Search for local sea turtles and shark populations and help conserve their habitat!
  • One week at a wildlife center learning about exotic veterinary medicine – restraint, physical exams, welfare and enrichment for a variety of species.
  • Two-week practicum working in a companion animal clinic alongside Thai veterinarians.
  • Two-week Companion Animal Management course taught at a Thai dog shelter, providing hands-on experience and case studies.

Read reviews of this program on GoOverseas!

Loop Abroad Students in vet surgery

The 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. 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 with a video blog. Check it out!

Locations

We’re always excited to share what we love about Thailand with students.

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. Check out the many other places our studies will take us below!

Elephants World

"At ElephantsWorld, we work for the elephants instead of them working for us!"

find out more

Animal Rescue Kingdom (ARK)

A nine-acre shelter for over 100 dogs rescued from the street or abandoned by previous owners. Food, housing, and medical care is provided solely by donations and the hard work of volunteer vets and students.

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New Heaven Reef Conservation Program on Turtle Island

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.

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Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a city of contradictions and surprises. The old city walls and brick Buddhist stupas speak to the city’s 700-year history as the center of the Lanna Kingdom.

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Thailand

From papaya salad to coconut curry, from elephants to gibbons, from bamboo huts to bustling cafes, Thailand is a whole new world to explore.

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Coursework

Hands-on veterinary experiences from dogs and cats to exotics and elephants

The semester is divided into blocks 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.

Vet Student with Elephant

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.

  • Thai Culture and Language - 2 credit
  • Companion Animal Management - 3 credits
  • Veterinary Surgical Skills - 2 credits
  • Veterinary Clinical Practice and Skills Practicum - 2 credits
  • Marine Animal Anatomy, Biology, and Conservation and Lab - 4 credits
  • Elephant Medicine and Management - 3 credits
  • Wildlife Conservation and Care - 3 credits
  • Total - 19 credits

Course topics and itineraries are subject to change based on the discretion of veterinary instructors.

Vet hours

Unforgettable animal experiences in Thailand and much more

Courses Designed for Pre-vets

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.

Research and Veterinary Experience Hours

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 US veterinarian (DVM) and 20 hours of research.

Explore Many Areas of Veterinary Medicine

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!

  • Small animals
  • Exotic animals
  • Aquatic animals
  • Wildlife
  • Zoological medicine

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.”

Cross-cultural Shelter and Clinical Experience

Dog
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.

Workshops to Support you in your Veterinary Goals

We offer faculty-led workshops to help you with every aspect of applying to Veterinary School and advancing your career. Covered topics include:

  • Writing and updating a resume
  • How to talk about your experiences in interviews
  • Seeking and finding additional experience
  • Securing letters of recommendation
  • Writing an admissions essay
  • The vet school application process
  • Veterinary career options

Calendar

Tuition

We know studying abroad is a big investment. 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.

Semester Fee

The Veterinary Semester Abroad comprehensive fee of $21,450 covers much more than just tuition:

  • Tuition for 19 course credits
  • Housing in Chiang Mai
  • Food – all meals during the semester, including group meals and meals on your own
  • Accommodation and fees at wildlife sanctuaries during field courses
  • Transportation for field courses, including airfare to and from Turtle Island
  • Course readings and materials
  • Clinic and lab supplies

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.

Financial Aid

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.

There are also several outside scholarships designed for students studying abroad. Contact us for recommendations. We will support your application!

Loop Abroad also offers a limited number of awards for semester students ranging from $500 to $5000 based on qualifications and financial need.

Student Blog

During the Fall 2016 semester, Antonia L., a Zoology Major at Michigan State, kept a video diary of her adventures. Antonia was featured both in her college newspaper and department website.





How to Apply

The 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.

In order to apply, you must meet the following requirements by the time your program starts:

  • Eighteen years or older
  • High School degree or equivalent
  • College-level Biology or equivalent (AP/IB Biology scores can qualify)
  • Rabies vaccination
  • Passport valid for 6 months beyond the start of the program (Note: you do not need to have your passport yet in order to apply. You must have it before the program begins.
  • Healthy enough to travel and work in a hot, humid climate

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.

1) If you are not a Loop Abroad alum, you will need to complete the application in full

If you are an alum, please contact us to find out what parts of your file need to be updated for consideration for the semester program. At a minimum, you will need to submit the materials in step 3.

3) ALL applicants should email the following to [email protected]

  • Your resume
  • Record of your Biology course requirement. If your Biology course is not on the transcript you upload here in your application, please send a separate record of this course. For example, if you are using an AP/IB course requirement, send us your AP/IB score sheet. If you took a Biology course at a community college or at a university that is not your current school, please send us that transcript.

4) Ready to start the application? Prepare the following before you begin because you CANNOT save an incomplete application:

  • Two references – Name, phone number, and e-mail address of teachers, professors, coaches, advisors, bosses, or others who can speak to your animal handling and/or science ability.
  • Transcript – Legible copy of your official or unofficial transcript
  • Essay – 1-2 page essay that describes, in your own words, what you would bring to the program to which you are applying and what you hope to get out of it.

If you are unable to upload any of the required documents, you can email them to [email protected] after submitting your application. As always, contact us with any questions!

apply now

Reading List

Learn more about Thai culture, conservation, elephants, or veterinary medicine

A special thanks to Charlotte Leonetti, teen book reviewer and student travel blogger, for helping us put together this book list from the huge amount of choices available. You can purchase any of the books on our suggested reading lists at the links below.*

Chasing The Dragon's TailChasing 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 ElephantsA 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 WeepWhen 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 MemoriesElephant 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 vetTales 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 WhispererThe 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 BillieLast 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!

"I loved simultaneously learning about veterinary medicine and Thai culture, and seeing the unique challenges and opportunities here."

Antonia L., Veterinary Semester Abroad Fall 2016

Michigan State University