The pre-health journey begins with academics because your education lays the foundation for your professional development and future success in a healthcare profession. Health professions graduate and professional programs require and/or recommend specific undergraduate courses as the content aligns with the advanced curriculum you will be taking once in these programs. This section will outline important academic considerations as you determine your pre-health path.
Students are sometimes surprised to learn they may choose any major to pair with their chosen pre-health program of study. It is true: you may major in anything you would like to study. There are no set or mandatory majors you have to select for a health professional program. Instead, you should choose your major based on what you most want to study.
Pre-health students often choose a science major because their interest in medicine or other healthcare professions stems from a love of science. This is a great reason to choose a science major: a genuine interest in studying science. Do not feel you must study a science major, however, if your interests run to any other subject from Music and English to History or Business. Talk with your general and pre-health advisors about your favorite subjects and learn how to coordinate your academic major with your interest in pursuing a pre-health program of study.
You can meet with an LSA advisor to talk about the best major for you. Click here to schedule an advising appointment.
Note that your pre-health program of study–whether pre-medicine or any pre-health program of study–is not degree-granting. Instead, pre-health programs (and the advising that comes with it) are more of a process to help you develop the skills, experiences, knowledge, and competencies you need to become a competitive candidate.
While you can major in anything, you still need to take the prerequisite courses required for the health track you are pursuing. Prerequisites refer to the required science courses required by your target health professions school. Prerequisites also prepare you to take entrance tests such as the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Dental Admission Test (DAT), Optometry Admission Test (OAT), or other tests for your chosen program.
Our Pre-Health Checklists are a helpful guide to help you plan the pre-health coursework you will need for your given path. Pre-health prerequisites for different professions and programs share similarities but can vary significantly. It is your responsibility to be aware of the exact requirements for your intended health profession and your intended target programs.
Grades are an important factor in the health professions application process and can be viewed as a reflection of your learning and effort. This page will expand on GPA and how to calculate it.
Before you take a prerequisite course pass/fail (and not for an actual ‘grade’), check with the health professional programs where you plan to apply. They may have a limit on how many courses you can take under a pass/fail system, if they allow any at all.
You may enter college with advanced placement (A.P.) credit for basic science courses. Some health professions schools do not accept any A.P. credit. Most schools will accept a limited number of A.P. credits if you have taken some upper-level coursework in that subject area. It is very important for you to inquire about policies at your target schools. In any case, it is a good idea to take upper-level courses in the department of your advanced placement credits in order to show admissions committees a college course grade in that field of science.
Balancing Rigorous Pre-Health Science Courses
The courses taken along the pre-health path are demanding and require commitment and dedication to master the concepts. The course level at which you begin depends on high school experience, A.P. credits, and your performance on placement exams during orientation. Carefully consider other factors that might affect your schedule, such as the transition to college, hours of employment, and extracurricular activities.
It is important to stay true to you - you know yourself best, and what works for your success may not work for your friend and vice versa. Starting this path with one science class in your semester is perfectly appropriate, and as you gain fluency and confidence with the workload, it is common for pre-health students to take two science-based courses per term. And, for some students, taking three science-bases courses in a term is perfectly okay, and they excel.
If you feel more comfortable taking 12-13 credits so that you can focus and do well in your science courses rather than 15-16, it is okay as long as you understand this may require you to enroll in summer classes to catch up on additional credits. Balancing your term with courses in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts is encouraged.