To enter professional school, you will be expected to demonstrate good academic performance while taking full loads and rigorous course combinations. Plan to take 4 units (16 credits) a semester, including two or more science courses. You can major in any subject, but you need to take a core of courses. The courses listed below are required for medical schools but should satisfy the major portion of the requirements for other health professional schools (dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, etc.). You are encouraged to investigate the requirements of professional schools you are interested in early in your college career so that you can plan your schedule accordingly. Most required courses should be taken before applying and before taking the admissions test (potentially as early as between the junior and senior years).
Nearly all medical schools require these core courses:
- Introductory Biology - BIOL 141, 142
- General Chemistry - CHEM 141, 142
- Organic Chemistry - CHEM 201, 301
- College Physics - PHYS 121, 122
- Mathematics - Most medical schools still expect that you take some college-level math, however many do not specifically require it. Statistics has become more important to medical schools than most other math courses, even calculus. Still, many of our pre-medical students will take either MATH 130 and 131 or MATH 141, and many will take MATH 125.
- English - Most medical programs still specifically require 2 'English' courses. However, our students usually just take an FSEM, a JSEM and several writing enhances courses (which is accepted by the medical programs).
Most medical schools require (and these are on the MCAT exam):
- Biochemistry - CHEM 204
- Psychology - PSYC 101
- Sociology - SOCI 101
Usually recommended but not required for medical schools are:
- Microbiology - BIOL 301*
- Genetics - BIOL 302
- Cell Biology - BIOL 320
- General Physiology - BIOL 401
- Biochemistry II - CHEM 304
- Human Anatomy and Physiology - IHSC 201, 202*
*required for most veterinary and physician assistant programs
Handouts for courses:
- Additional Elective Course Options for Pre-Health Students
- Required & Recommended Pre-requisite Courses for Professional Schools Chart
Choosing Your Major
You do not have to be a natural science major to get into medical school or other graduate programs in the health professions, but you are expected to show excellent achievement in a wide range of science courses (outlined above). Medical schools look at the cumulative grade point average (GPA) and the GPA in natural science courses (specifically Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics). Your goal to be competitive for admission to medical school is a GPA above 3.5. A GPA above 3.0 can be competitive for other health professional schools (see Applying to Health Professional Schools section to follow).
Many students choose to major in a natural science because it is the easiest way to fulfill the requirements of the professional schools. However, it is best to select a major that matches your interests and abilities (even if outside of the natural sciences) and will allow you to excel in the required courses for professional school. When registering for courses, please do not hesitate to have an HPAC member check your schedule to ensure that you are fulfilling the pre-health requirements in a timely fashion.
Don't forget a minor! You can choose a minor that enhances your major course of study. If you think you would like to have your own practice one day, you may want to consider a business minor. If you choose not to major in a natural science, it might be a good choice for a minor. Other subjects like applied ethics, communications, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and health sciences will enhance any pre-health curriculum. There are many potential combinations; try to find one that is right for you.