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Pre-Medicine Courses

Commonly Required and Recommended Courses for Medical Schools (M.D. and D.O.)

Your science GPA is an important component of your medical school application. We’ve addressed some commonly asked questions about the science GPA here.

Be sure to read the section on Choosing Courses for a comprehensive understanding of the introductory coursework that will likely be required as you prepare for the MCAT and for medical school. Also note that Medical schools typically require a minimum grade of C (2.0) in the pre-req courses.

Upper Level Biology

Several sub-disciplines fall under the “Biology” umbrella. Some of these include:  


Physiology is not required, but it is typically tested to some degree in the Biological Sciences section of the MCAT.  There are several lecture courses that work well:

  • BIOLOGY 225: Principles of Animal Physiology and Neurobiology
  • PHYSIOL 201: Introduction to Human Physiology
  • PHYSIOL 502: Human Physiology
  • BIOMEDE 419: Quantitative Physiology

(Note that any of these lectures will work for medical schools, but Physician Assistant programs generally insist on human anatomy only, and thus tend not to take BIOLOGY 225.) Physiology labs are not required but do count as a general biology lab.

  • BIOLOGY 226
  • PHYSIOL 404


Anatomy is not tested on the MCAT. Human Anatomy, however, is among the very first topics taught in the first year of medical school, so a course in Anatomy can be helpful.

  • ANATOMY 403 (Human Anatomy: Structure and Function)
  • ANATOMY 303 (Online Systems Based Anatomy)


While Genetics is tested on the MCAT, this subject is typically covered well enough at the introductory level that you need not take a course in it to simply prepare for the test.  However, it is important to note that a subset of medical schools, including the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, list coursework in Genetics as a specific requirement or recommendation.  Furthermore, many medical schools recommend that applicants take a course in genetics to prepare for their curriculum.  

  • BIOLOGY 305 (Genetics)

Additional upper level biology courses

Additional courses labeled BIOLOGY, CDB, EEB, MCDB, MICRBIOL and PHYSIOL will typically be included as Biology courses.  Note that some medical schools require a specific number of Biology credits or courses taken at the 300 level or higher, including Michigan State College of Human Medicine.  Some examples:

  • BIOLOGY 207: Microbiology lecture  with lab Included [not an upper level course]
  • CDB 450: Introduction to Histology
  • EEB 341: Parasitology lecture with lab included
  • PHYSIOL 541 / ANATOMY 541 / PSYCH 532: Mammalian Reproductive Endocrinology   
  • MCDB 427/429: Molecular Biology lecture & Lab
  • MCDB 428/429: Cell Biology lecture and Lab
  • MICRBIOL 405/350: Microbiology lecture and lab (350 is taught only in Winter)

Biology laboratory courses

Medical schools typically (but not always) require two laboratory courses in Biology.  Note that independent research courses, such as those in which you earn credit for working on a particular research project, may not be considered sufficient.  It is safest to either take two regular methods lab classes or to carefully check the requirements of each of your target medical schools. As an LSA student, you will typically begin with BIOLOGY 173 (Introductory Biology Laboratory), and then take another methods lab associated with a regular biology lecture.   

If you plan to take CHEM 352 lab (Introduction to Biochemical Research Techniques), as a requirement for your major or for interest, note that this lab will sometimes count as a Biology lab for the purposes of medical school admissions.  


Medical schools do not state a preference for either algebra based on calculus based physics. The MCAT tests material covered in the standard introduction to Mechanics, Sound and Heat (Physics I) and Electricity and Light (Physics II).  For Physics course options at UM, refer to Choosing Courses.

Behavioral Sciences

The MCAT  includes a section titled “Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior,” which tests applicants’ understanding of the behavioral and social sciences as these explain the roles of sociocultural and behavioral factors in health and health outcomes.

The LSA departments of Psychology and Sociology were asked to review the topics to be tested by this MCAT section and to recommend some courses that will help students prepare for the exam. They recommended the following courses:

  • PSYCH 111 (Introduction to Psychology) is essential 

  • If you want to take another Psychology course and would like to use pertinence to MCAT prep as part of the rationale for that choice, PSYCH 280 (Introduction to Social Psychology) was determined to also cover a useful amount of content.  Some students choose to self study this.  And it's never a bad idea to choose a course based on your intellectual curiosity, so feel free to look at all the other PSYCH courses when choosing a follow up to 111.


  • SOC 100 Introduction to Sociology (for Freshmen and Sophomores) or SOC 302 Health and Society: An Introduction to Sociology (for Juniors and Seniors)


In addition, it is a good idea to take courses that help you understand medicine in the context of the social, historical, economic, and cultural processes that help produce it (this is especially valuable as preparation for interviews).  Before you register for classes, use the keyword “health” on the LSA course guide to view your options. Here are a few suggestions that will help you learn more:

  • AMCULT 331 Health in America
  • ANTHRCUL 344 Medical Anthropology
  • HISTORY 234 History of Medicine in the Western World from the 18th Century to the Present
  • PUBHLTH 200 Introduction to Public Health
  • PUBHLTH 300 Behavioral and Social Foundations for the Health Professions (non-LSA credit)
  • SOC 302 Health and Society: An Introduction to Sociology
  • WOMENSTD 220 Perspectives in Women’s Health
  • WOMENSTD 300 Perspectives in Men’s Health