In thinking about the premedical/prehealth curriculum, it is important to remember that there is not one right way to plan your studies. The prehealth curriculum is not “one size fits all,” but rather is customizable based on your academic preparation and goals. While most health professions schools have a set list of pre-requisite courses that are required for admission, there can be great variability in how the courses are laid out in a four-year curriculum.
Your choice of major as well as the breadth and level of courses you select should reflect your academic interests and degree of preparation. Although you should not select courses solely with a view toward making an impression on admission committees, you should be aware that these committees give serious consideration to the quality and scope of your education.
It is not advisable to take required premedical courses on a pass-fail basis. Also, Advanced Placement (AP) credit in a core science course may not count as one of your premedical courses, since many medical schools prefer that you take your science requirements while you are in college. However, most schools accept AP credit for their mathematics requirements. If you utilize Advanced Placement credit for a core science, be sure to check individual schools’ policies and take another laboratory course at a higher level in the same discipline.
We strongly encourage all students to consult with a prehealth advisor about developing an appropriate strategy for completing the prehealth requirements.
The core prehealth science courses include:
A minimum of one year of biology with laboratory: This requirement is generally satisfied by Biology I and Biology II (CAS BI 107/108), though this may vary depending upon your major. Although only one year of biology is usually required, an additional year will better prepare students for medical school and the MCAT. Students who do not concentrate in a biological science and post-baccalaureate students are encouraged to enroll in more than the minimum requirements in the life sciences by taking at least two additional courses (e.g. Cell Biology, Genetics, or Systems Physiology).
One year of general chemistry with laboratory: This may be fulfilled by CAS CH 101/102, CAS CH 101/116, CAS CH 109/110, or CAS CH 111/112.
One year of organic chemistry with laboratory: This may be fulfilled by CAS CH 203/204, , CAS CH 203/216, CAS CH 211/212 or CAS CH 203/214.
At least one semester of biochemistry: Biochemistry is currently required by several medical, dental, and vererinary schools, and is necessary in preparation for the MCAT. Biochemistry courses include CAS BI/CH 421, CAS BI/CH 422, and CAS CH 373.
One year of physics with laboratory: You should select Elementary Physics (CAS PY 105/106), General Physics (CAS PY 211/212), Principles of General Physics (CAS PY 241/242), or Principles of Physics (CAS PY 251/252), depending upon your preparation in mathematics and your interests.
One year of mathematics is recommended and specifically required by some schools: Students applying to medical school have the option of taking either two semesters of calculus or one semester of calculus and one semester of statistics to satisfy this requirement. A background in statistics will be helpful in preparation for the MCAT. The calculus requirement may be fulfilled by CAS MA 121, 122, 123, 124, 127, or 129. The statistics requirement may be fulfilled by CAS MA 113, 115, 116, 213, or 214. Students who are required to take a department-based statistics course as part of their major (e.g. Economics and Psychology) will need to consult individual schools to verify that the course will satisfy the schools’ prerequisites.
Humanities/Social Sciences: The General Education (Divisional Studies or Core Curriculum) requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree at the College of Arts & Sciences usually satisfy medical and dental school requirements in these areas. Students not in CAS should consult the admission books listed on page 3 to be sure they meet the minimum requirements. Increasing emphasis is being placed on coursework in the humanities and social sciences by professional schools. Students who complete General Education requirements with AP credits will likely need to take additional college courses to fulfill professional school requirements. A background in psychology and sociology will be necessary in preparation for the MCAT. Recommended courses include CAS PS 101 or CAS PS 261 (for students with a strong background in psychology) and CAS SO 100 or CAS SO 215.
One year of English: Many medical schools require one year of English at the college level – composition or literature or a combination of both. Courses in the CAS Writing Program (CAS WR 100 and CAS WR 150) will fulfill this requirement at most schools.
Others: Health profession schools may have course requirements in addition to the courses stated above. Students should always check the requirements of individual schools.
Examples of Curricula:
Sample curricula are included below to help you begin to think about planning your prehealth studies. These curricula are meant to serve as a guide, not a road map, to completing your pre-requisite science courses. Don’t forget to schedule an appointment with an advisor to develop a personalized plan for satisfying the requirements of health professions schools!