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Overview of Online Part-Time Program: Veterinary Technology Program

The next class begins in Fall 2015.

The last date to apply for the online program is May 1, 2015.

Prospective Student Information

The Veterinary Technology online program is a distance learning program. However, not all course requirements are satisfied from a distance by online activities alone. On average, two or three visits to the Loudoun Campus are required of the student in person, but there may be more. The student must be working in a veterinary practice for an average of at least 20 hours per week as a veterinary assistant (working with animal patients) where they are supervised by a licensed veterinarian.

The online program is designed for the student working in a veterinary practice. The success of the student, and ultimately this program, depends greatly on participation and commitment of the veterinary practice where the student is employed. Since students will be getting most of their clinical experience through their employment, and not in a college laboratory setting, the mentoring that students receive at their practices is essential. The requirement for student admission is current employment of at least 20 hours per week in a veterinary practice where the student is to be supervised by a mentor who is a licensed veterinarian. Documentation from the mentor and information about the practice also must be provided as a condition for admission. Employment in a veterinary practice with supervision by a licensed veterinarian must continue throughout the program.

Courses are administered online using Blackboard and are offered through the Extended Learning Institute (ELI), which provides online courses and services to NOVA students. Students use class notes from the online course site and textbooks to study and complete course assignments. Students participate in online class discussions and communicate regularly with faculty online and by email. Formal examinations are taken at a local Virginia Community College testing center. Laboratory review and clinical examinations are held at NOVA's Loudoun Campus. Many methods of evaluation of clinical skills are employed including: video-taping, product evaluation (i.e. radiographs and blood slides, etc. done by student), assignments, task list check off by mentors and student journals, as well as on campus testing.

When an applicant for the program has fulfilled all requirements for application (i.e. sent in letters of recommendation, transcripts etc. listed on the application checklist) they will be contacted for an interview. Interviews begin in the spring. The class selection is completed soon after all interviews are completed.

Basics of the online program:

1. Students must work at an approved veterinary facility, an average minimum of 20 hours per week. The facility is expected to be registered with the Board of Veterinary Medicine.

The student, the mentor and the faculty will complete a Memorandum of Agreement that outlines the goals of the program and expectations of each participant. Mentors will also complete a task and equipment list survey to indicate the tasks that students would have the opportunity to eventually perform there by graduation and the equipment available for use in their facility. These lists are derived from the same lists that veterinary technology programs in the U.S. adhere to for AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) accreditation. It is expected that students will have to gain some experience at other facilities for requirements such as those pertaining to other animal species and emergency work.

2. Students must have a mentor at the practice where they work. The mentor must be a licensed veterinarian and will receive acknowledgement as an adjunct clinical professor after verification of credentials. The mentor will work with the student and NOVA faculty members on specific educational objectives, they will meet with the student on a regular basis and stay in touch with the college faculty by phone or email. The mentor has the option of appointing another veterinarian or licensed veterinary technician to assist the student and sign off on clinical tasks as required for each course.

3. It will require three years (8 semesters in total) for program completion. Attendance during the summer semester is required.

4. Two or three veterinary technology courses will be offered per semester for eight semesters, and classes must be taken in sequence. Students are also required to complete several general education requirements for the Associate in Applied Science degree. General education courses can be taken at local community colleges and transferred to NOVA, or taken online through ELI.

5. On average, students must attend the Loudoun Campus two to three times per semester for testing and/or study.

6. College admission and veterinary technology admission requirements include:

  • Admission to NOVA with Loudoun designated as home campus.
  • Student must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Satisfactory scores on NOVA placement tests for reading, writing and mathematics.
  • Completion of one unit of high school level algebra or equivalent.
  • Completion of at least one unit of high school biology and one unit of high school chemistry.
  • Past academic achievement in the above course requirements must reflect a C average or better. Deficiencies may be corrected in the college's developmental program before entering the Veterinary Technology program.
  • Three letters: two letters of recommendation (one should be from the primary mentor) and a letter of intent from the student.
  • Completed Memorandum of Agreement for Student, Mentor and College.
  • Completed survey of Task List and Equipment List.

These guidelines have been established in accordance with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and are similar to requirements of other existing accredited distance/online programs for veterinary technicians in the U.S.

Preference will be given to those who have completed their college general education requirements for admission to the program.

Evaluation and Grading

Student's clinical skills, knowledge, and activities may be evaluated in several ways, including:

  1. Clinical skills task lists will be provided to students with individual skills listed that will be observed by mentors, and after satisfactory practice will be signed off by the mentor.
  2. Mentors or other hospital personnel may videotape students performing clinical tasks.
  3. Students may keep a portfolio of their clinical work, for example radiographs and hematology slides.
  4. Students may document their clinical activities using logs and journals.
  5. Students may perform particular skills for program faculty at campus visits.
  6. Online quizzes, exams and discussions.
  7. Written assignments.

Testing and Grading

  • Written exams will be taken at the students' local community colleges using the Blackboard system.
  • On average, there are required face to face meetings two or three times or more per semester at the Loudoun Campus. Clinical skills will be reviewed in a formal setting at the NOVA Loudoun Campus.
  • Clinical skills will be evaluated via video taping.


  • Five full-time professors from the accredited Veterinary Technology Program at NOVA teach the classes.
  • Mentors (veterinarians) will be recognized as adjunct clinical professors, an honorary, unpaid position. They will be involved in supervision of the student’s clinical skills activities at the site of employment and will work closely with the students to help meet requirements involving both academic and clinical skills.
  • The NOVA faculty, student mentors and students will work as a team in the educational process to assure the highest academic standards and proper supervision on the job.

Mentors and Teaching Sites

Each student must have a mentor who is a graduate licensed veterinarian in good standing with the Board of Veterinary Medicine.

The mentor is required to sign a Memorandum of Agreement. This Memorandum is not a binding or legal contract. The purpose is to document credentials and clarify the mentors’ responsibility. Part of the mentoring agreement includes completion of a survey regarding clinical tasks that can be performed at the facility and equipment that is available at the mentoring site. This task and equipment list is based on the same document that all veterinary technology programs are required to submit to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for accreditation.

The mentor is required to provide credentials to the Dean of the Natural and Applied Science Division of the Loudoun Campus via the Head of the Veterinary Technology Online Program.

The mentor can assign other qualified individuals to assist the student, either another veterinarian or a licensed veterinary technician at the mentoring site. The Memorandum of Agreement documents, Task List survey and Equipment list survey can be viewed or downloaded from the section Apply Here.

What It Takes to Succeed in the Program

This program is designed for the working student who for whatever reason is not enrolled in a full time campus program. This program is equal to the on-campus program in regard to material presented and testing methods. It is not "watered down" or a correspondence course.

Dedication: This is a difficult and rigorous curriculum, and by taking the program via the Internet part time it will take three years to complete the degree. It is important for student success and that of the program that a long-range commitment be made.

Self motivation and independence: Most of the time students will be working on their own, without the companionship or camaraderie of classmates or the close face to face supervision of program faculty members. A student who dislikes working alone or needs the interaction and support of others should choose the on-campus program.

Reading and comprehension skills: Most educational materials will be in written form. Students who have trouble understanding written instructions or comprehending complex written concepts are better suited for the on-campus program. Often people who are visual and auditory learners find they are better suited to the on-campus program.

Great mentor and facility: Absolutely essential! Without a supportive mentor and an adequate facility available,  it is impossible to do the program.

Support structure: Family and friends must be aware that this is a college degree program, and that the student is not just "surfing the Web". Support and study groups are strongly encouraged. Making connections with other students who live nearby is very helpful for studying and carpooling. Course discussion boards will be posted and e-meetings (synchronous online meeting) with faculty may be scheduled. Also, there will be some small group assignments during campus visits so students can get to know each other.

Communication: Staying in touch with the instructors is essential to success in our courses. Following the directions and checking the announcements frequently in each course Blackboard will help accomplish this. If an assignment is missed or a student is having difficulties, contacting the instructor directly for help and advice in a timely manner is very important. It is also important to check one’s NOVA email account frequently to avoid missing any important messages from the instructors or Online Program Head.

Time management: This aspect of online education cannot be overemphasized. Use the calendar/scheduling technology on your cell phone or another device. Make a study schedule the first day of class and stick to it.

It is so easy to put things off until tomorrow - especially if the class is online. Most courses have weekly assignment deadlines to meet that keep the student on schedule.

Students should set aside time every day to study the material and to practice clinical skills. Most experts say that for every hour spent in class, or for every credit hour assigned to an online course, a student should spend three hours outside of class each week working on review and study in order to do well in the course. For example, if you are taking an online course that is three credits, you should expect to spend at least nine hours each week working on the course to do well in that course.

Although a student can log into the Blackboard course at any time to get to course materials, work on assignments and respond to forum questions, students must log on regularly (more than once a week) to keep up with course requirements. In addition, there are some specific times a student will be required to attend campus activities for a grade. The student will need to arrange their work schedule to accommodate the campus visits and any field trips that are required.