New economic report examines the market for veterinary education

2017 AVMA & AAVMC Report on The Market For Veterinary EducationThe average DVM degree debt for veterinary students has been increasing by approximately $5,400 per year for the last 16 years, but was much lower last year, rising just $1,363 between 2015 and 2016, according to the newly-released 2017 AVMA & AAVMC Report on the Market for Veterinary Education.

It’s too early to tell if last year’s decrease signals a new trend. The increase in the previous year, from 2014 to 2015, was $7,111, according to the report.

The new report is now available free of charge to all AVMA members and Student AVMA (SAVMA) members. It’s the second report in the four-part Veterinary Economic Report Subscription series, which is available for purchase by all interested parties but provided to AVMA and SAVMA members as a downloadable PDF.

The debt-to-income ratio for graduating veterinary students – a key indicator in assessing the economic health of the veterinary profession – held steady in 2016 at approximately 2-to-1, according to the report. The debt-to-income ratio, known as the DIR, connects the market for education and the market for new veterinarians.

The new report also offers other key findings related to the economics of veterinary education. Among these:

  • About 14 percent of graduating veterinary students surveyed by the AVMA in 2016 reported no debt, up from approximately 11 percent the previous year.
  • 93.1 percent of last year’s veterinary graduates had found full-time employment or received offers to pursue continuing education at the time the survey was conducted, while 6.9 percent had not.
  • From 2001 through 2016, the mean starting salary for new graduates increased from just under $40,000 to more than $58,000 – a mean increase of $1,220 per year.
  • The number of applicants to veterinary medical colleges increased slightly in 2016, to 6,667, and increased even further in 2017 to 7,071 – the most since 1981.
  • In 2016, 40.2 percent of veterinary school applicants said they would be willing to pay up to $150,000 for veterinary education. That was an increase from 37.1 percent of applicants in 2015, but both figures represented a sharp drop from 2014, when 53.3 percent of applicants said they would pay that much for veterinary schooling.
  • New veterinarians finding employment in public practice consistently had the lowest debt load during the 2001-2016 period, while new veterinarians pursuing internships and residencies had the highest.

We encourage all AVMA and SAVMA members to download and read their free copy of this report, as well as the 2017 AVMA Report on Veterinary Markets, released in April.  The remaining reports in the series –examining the markets for veterinarians and veterinary services – will be released later this year.

5 thoughts on “New economic report examines the market for veterinary education

  1. Thanks for asking about sharing this reply. Yes, we agree that others might be interested in the same information. Here is the answer:

    With respect to your question, the mean starting salary for all new graduates in 2016 was in fact $58,000. This includes those with full-time positions, part-time positions, those pursuing internships, residencies and those registering for continuing education and have been promised a stipend.

    The debt-to-income ratio only measures the ratio of new graduates with a full-time position. Consequently, those who reported pursuing non-full-time positions were not included in the DIR calculation as they do not accurately represent the income typically awarded to new veterinarians but a discount, dependent upon their pursuant activity.
    The mean debt for 2016 was $143,757 and the mean income of those with full-time positions was $73,380. The DIR however, was calculated by dividing each student’s debt by their individual income- if they secured full-time employment. So the DIR is in fact close to 2.0.

    Thank you for your enquiry, I hope this clears things up for you.

    • I appreciate your input. I think we crossed lines where it comes to calculating the “mean”.

      To me, and most definitions that I can find, the mean is the average of all numbers, as in everyone. All debt and all income from all graduate veterinarians.

      So, approx. 144 k divided by 58 equals a mean DIR of 2.48

      Now, if you want to calculate the DIR using only new graduates within the highest starting salary class, then your number is not really the average.

      Perhaps we should just call it as it is….that the debt to income ratio of the highest earning new graduates is 2.0. I believe that to be more accurate.

      Anyways, thanks for clarifying. I won’t take up any more of your time.


  2. May I share to the public the response you sent to my personal email? I think your dues paying members would like to see how these numbers were obtained and choose for themselves if the DIR of 2.0 is accurate or not.

    Thank you

  3. Just a question with regards to the debt to income ratio.

    On this page, you have stated that the mean starting salary of new graduates was 58,000 dollars in 2016. You also stated that the debt to income ratio has held steady at 2-1.

    Yet, elsewhere on the AVMA site I believe I have seen the average debt around 150K. Perhaps I am wrong, but wouldn’t that make the debt to income ration closer to 3-1?

    Are we talking average debt and average starting salary, or are we cherry picking numbers to make things look better? It is an honest question that I would like an honest answer to.

    Thank you