Prehealth

DaVinci's Man

Choosing Your Courses

Most professional schools require that you take specific courses during your college (preprofessional) career. These courses may vary greatly depending on the professional program or specific school to which you apply. Historically, there has been one set of courses that were required by most allopathic (MD) medical schools, and that set of courses will be used here as an illustration of how important it is to plan your schedule early and to take courses beginning your first year that will allow you to finish these courses (and hopefully learn the material!) before you take the MCAT. Similar courses are required by other health sciences (including dentistry, osteopathy, veterinary medicine, optometry, and podiatry), but there may be additional courses as well.

In the past decade or so, many medical schools have either relaxed some of their prerequisite course requirements (e.g., calculus or other math courses) or have added new ones (e.g., biochemistry). Recently the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has suggested that a specific list of required preprofessional courses should be replaced by demonstrated competency in the natural, behavioral, and social sciences. Such a move has not actually taken place, and it is unclear if medical schools would ever actually abandon specific undergraduate prerequisite courses in favor of the more nebulous notion of "competency," but demonstrating competency in a wide range of medical disciplines has been and continues to be a powerful guiding priciple in setting criteria for passing the U.S. Medical Licensing exams and medical school curricula. Competencies have also been adopted as the basis for foundational concepts that underlay design of the new (2015) MCAT. Accordingly, it is useful to begin to connect undergraduate courses with competencies as described in two reports from the AAMC: Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians (2009) and Behavioral and Social Sciences Foundations for Future Physicians (2011) - and with foundational concepts for the MCAT, as described on the AAMC website.

Courses currently required by most medical schools include: Introductory Chemistry (2 semesters), Introductory Biology (2 semesters), Introductory Physics (2 semesters), Organic Chemistry (2 semesters), and English (2 semesters). Some schools may also require Biochemistry (1 semester). All natural science courses must have a laboratory component. Most schools also require a semester of a behavioral science such as psychology and 1-2 semesters of college mathematics. Although calculus is not required by many medical schools, it is useful in understanding important topics in chemistry, physics, biochemistry, and biophysics. Calculus is required by a few schools, so taking at least one semester helps to keep your options open. A number of schools will also accept other math courses, especially ones related to statistics, and many schools now have no specific math requirements.

With an eye to the future in which prerequisite courses may be replaced by demonstrating competency in selected disciplines, it is reasonable to approach selection of courses from a broader perspective. In doing so, it is important to balance the rigid set of currently required courses with a more flexible list, combined with ancillary resources. You should take care to develop your plan of study with Dr. Thurlow and to keep up with the current requirements of medical schools as described in the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR), available on the AAMC website. To encourage premedical students whose intellectual passions lie outside the natural sciences, one can approach the task of demonstrating required competencies as follows:

1. Enroll in a minimal core set of courses that provide foundations for acquiring competencies in the natural, behavioral, and social sciences: 3 semesters of biology (including physiology), 4 semesters of chemistry (including biochemistry), 2 semesters of physics, 1 semester of statistics (any department), 1 semester of psychology, and 1 semester of sociology.

2. Consider enrolling (if time permits in your schedule) or auditing the following additional courses: a second semester of biochemistry (to enroll you will also need a second semester of organic chemistry), a second semster of psychology (e.g., development or abnormal), a second semester of sociology (e.g., sociology of medicine), and more biology courses (e.g., genetics, cell biology, microbiology).

Recommended courses for your first year that might be appropriate for you, depending on your choice of major. Note: these schedules are suggestions - they are not mandatory! Each of you may come up with a slightly different solution as to how you can keep options open for a future in medicine.

Biology or Biochemistry/Molecular Biology majors: Biology 101/102
Chemistry 101/102
Math 120/121
English (preferably VE)
Perspective

Chemistry or Physics major: Chemistry 101/102
Physics 110/111 or Physics 120/121 (preferred for Physics majors)
Math 120/121
English (preferably VE)
Perspective

Nonscience major: Chemistry 101/102
Precalculus
2 courses in potential major
English (preferably VE)
2 perspectives

Note on math requirements: Math 124/125 (Honors Calculus I & II) may be substituted for Math 120/121, but it is designed primarily for math majors so it might be better to stick with 120/121. Students not eligible to enroll in Math 120 should enroll in whatever prerequisite course is recommended by the Mathematics Department based on their performance on the Mathematics Placement Test (e.g., precalculus).

If you want to attend medical school immediately following graduation from Clark, this will be referred to as the "fast track." The fast track is not for everyone. In fact, the average age of a matriculating medical student is about 24, so most applicants do not follow this fast track. Taking 1-2 "bridge years" after graduating can frequently be essential for acquiring additonal experience, focus, and commitment. Deferring your application will also allow you to spread out your undergraduate prerequisite courses over a longer period of time (especially important for nonscience majors) and even pursue other graduate degrees (e.g., a master's).

However, if you want to keep the fast track open, plan to complete Introductory Chemistry, Introductory Biology, Introductory Physics, Organic, and Biochemistry by the end of your junior year. Also try to complete other courses helpful in preparing for the MCAT (e.g., Physiology) before the end of your junior year because your first shot at the MCAT will be in the spring of your junior year.

Typically all the science courses listed above can easily be taken in a timely manner by Biology, Chemistry, or Biochemistry and Molecular Biology majors. However, you should be wondering if it is possible to complete all these courses and still choose a nonscience major. The answer is yes, but the key is early planning. The schedule above for nonscience majors assumes biology and organic chemistry in the second year, biochemistry and physiology in the junior year, and possibly a semester of calculus at some point if required by the target medical schools. Of course this timeline can easily be extended if you choose not to follow the fast track.

You can also move towards achieving competency in the sciences and prepare for the MCAT by using ancillary resources, instead of enrolling in the "helpful" courses listed above. Such additional resources include auditing courses, online (free) courses such as those available at MIT (or Academic Earth, Canvas Network, Class Central, Coursera, edX, Khan Academy, MOOC List, Online College Courses, Open Culture, Open Education Database, Saylor, Udacity, Udemy, etc.) and other online resources specifically modeled on competency-based curricula that are currently being prepared and will soon be available at the AAMC website in a resource currently titled iCollaborative.

Academic Catalog

Additional Links:
Basic Medical School Requirements for Admissions Success
Positioning Yourself for Med School: Academics and Extracurriculars
Pre-med Requirements
Premed Requirements
Required Pre-med Courses and Degree Requirements

Course Requirements of the U.S. Allopathic Medical Schools:

U. of Alabama School of Medicine
U. of South Alabama College of Medicine
U. of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix
U. of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson
U. of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine (pdf, pp. 15-16)
Charles R. Drew U. of Medicine and Science College of Medicine
Keck School of Medicine of the U. of Southern California
Loma Linda U. School of Medicine
Stanford U. School of Medicine
U. of California, Davis School of Medicine
U. of California, Irvine School of Medicine
U. of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
U. of California, Riverside School of Medicine (Select "Program Prerequisites")
U. of California, San Diego School of Medicine
U. of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
U. of Colorado Denver School of Medicine
Quinnipiac U. Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine
U. of Connecticut School of Medicine
Yale School of Medicine
The George Washington U. School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Georgetown U. School of Medicine
Howard U. College of Medicine
Florida Atlantic U. Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine
Florida International U. Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
Florida State U. College of Medicine
U. of Central Florida College of Medicine
U. of Florida College of Medicine
U. of Miami Miller School of Medicine
U. of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine
Emory U. School of Medicine
Georgia Regents U. Medical College of Georgia
Mercer U. School of Medicine
Morehouse School of Medicine
U. of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine
Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin U. of Medicine and Science
Loyola U. Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
Northwestern U. Feinberg School of Medicine
Rush Medical College of Rush U. Medical Center
Southern Illinois U. School of Medicine
U. of Chicago Division of the Biological Sciences, The Pritzker School of Medicine
U. of Illinois College of Medicine
Indiana U. School of Medicine
U. of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine
U. of Kansas School of Medicine
U. of Kentucky College of Medicine
U. of Louisville School of Medicine
Louisiana State U. School of Medicine in New Orleans
Louisiana State U. School of Medicine in Shreveport
Tulane U. School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins U. School of Medicine
Uniformed Services U. of the Health Sciences F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine
U. of Maryland School of Medicine
Boston U. School of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Tufts U. School of Medicine
U. of Massachusetts Medical School
Central Michigan University School of Medicine
Michigan State U. College of Human Medicine
Oakland U. William Beaumont School of Medicine
U. of Michigan Medical School (Select "Subject Requirements")
Wayne State U. School of Medicine
Western Michigan U. School of Medicine
Mayo Medical School
U. of Minnesota Medical School
U. of Mississippi School of Medicine
Saint Louis U. School of Medicine
U. of Missouri School of Medicine
U. of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine
Washington U. in St. Louis School of Medicine
Creighton U. School of Medicine
U. of Nebraska College of Medicine
U. of Nevada School of Medicine
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Cooper Medical School of Rowan U.
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
U. of New Mexico School of Medicine
Albany Medical College
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva U.
Columbia U. College of Physicians and Surgeons
Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine at Hofstra U.
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York Medical College
New York U. School of Medicine
SUNY Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine
SUNY Upstate Medical U. (Select "What pre-requisite courses do you require?")
Stony Brook U. School of Medicine
U. at Buffalo State U. of New York School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
U. of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Weill Cornell Medical College
The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina U.
Duke U. School of Medicine
U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
Wake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
U. of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Case Western Reserve U. School of Medicine
Northeast Ohio Medical University
The Ohio State U. College of Medicine
U. of Cincinnati College of Medicine
The U. of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences
Wright State U. Boonshoft School of Medicine
U. of Oklahoma College of Medicine (Select "Application Requirements")
Oregon Health & Science U. School of Medicine
The Commonwealth Medical College
Drexel U. College of Medicine
Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson U. (Scroll down to "Course Requirements")
Pennsylvania State U. College of Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine at the U. of Pennsylvania
Temple U. School of Medicine
U. of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences (Scroll down to number 13, "What undergraduate courses are recommended for preparation for medical school?")
San Juan Bautista School of Medicine (Select "Requirements")
Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine
U. of Puerto Rico School of Medicine
The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Medical U. of South Carolina College of Medicine
U. of South Carolina School of Medicine (Scroll down to "Preparation")
U. of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville (Scroll down to "Preparation")
Sanford School of Medicine of the U. of South Dakota
East Tennessee State U. James H. Quillen College of Medicine
Meharry Medical College School of Medicine
U. of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine
Vanderbilt U. School of Medicine
Baylor College of Medicine
Texas Tech U. Health Sciences Center at El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine
Texas A&M U. System Health Science Center College of Medicine
Texas Tech U. Health Sciences Center School of Medicine
U. of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
U. of Texas Medical School at Houston
U. of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio
U. of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas Southwestern Medical School
U. of Utah School of Medicine
U. of Vermont College of Medicine
Eastern Virginia Medical School
U. of Virginia School of Medicine
Virginia Commonwealth U. School of Medicine
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
U. of Washington School of Medicine
Marshall U. Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine
West Virginia U. School of Medicine
Medical College of Wisconsin
U. of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Course Requirements of the U.S. Dental Schools:

U. of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry
A. T. Still U. Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health
Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine-Arizona
U. of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry
U. of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry
Loma Linda U. School of Dentistry
U. of the Pacific Dugoni School of Dentistry
Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC
Western U. of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine (Select "Prerequisite Courses"
U. of Colorado School of Dental Medicine
U. of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine
Howard U. College of Dentistry
LECOM School of Dental Medicine
Nova Southeastern U. College of Dental Medicine
U. of Florida College of Dentistry
Georgia Regents U. College of Dental Medicine
U. of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry (Under "Required Coursework" click on "These courses")
Midwestern U. College of Dental Medicine-Illinois
Southern Illinois U. School of Dental Medicine
Indiana U. School of Dentistry
U. of Iowa College of Dentistry
U. of Kentucky College of Dentistry
U. of Louisville School of Dentistry
Louisiana State U. Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry (Scroll down to "Specific Required Courses")
U. of New England College of Dental Medicine
U. of Maryland School of Dentistry
Boston U. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
Harvard School of Dental Medicine
Tufts U. School of Dental Medicine
U. of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry
U. of Michigan School of Dentistry
U. of Minnesota School of Dentistry (Select "Preferred elective coursework")
U. of Mississippi School of Dentistry
Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health at ATSU
U. of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry (Scroll down to "Find out the required undergraduate coursework")
Creighton U. School of Dentistry
U. of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry
U. of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine
Rutgers School of Dental Medicine
Columbia U. College of Dental Medicine
New York U. College of Dentistry
SUNY at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine
SUNY at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine
East Carolina U. School of Dental Medicine
U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry
Case Western Reserve U. School of Dental Medicine
Ohio State U. College of Dentistry
U. of Oklahoma College of Dentistry (pdf)
Oregon Health & Science U. School of Dentistry
U. of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine
U. of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine
Temple University Kornberg School of Dentistry
U. of Puerto Rico School of Dentistry
Medical U. of South Carolina College of Dental Medicine
Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry
U. of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry
Texas A&M U. Baylor College of Dentistry (Scroll down to "What specific college courses must an applicant take?")
U. of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston
U. of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School
Roseman U. of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine
U. of Utah School of Dentistry
Virginia Commonwealth U. School of Dentistry
U. of Washington School of Dentistry
West Virginia U. School of Dentistry
Marquette U. School of Dentistry

Course Requirements of the U.S. Optometry Schools:

Optometry School Prerequisites Table

U. of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry
Midwestern U. Arizona College of Optometry
U. of California, Berkeley School of Optometry
Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University
Western U. of Health Sciences College of Optometry (Select "Prerequisite Courses")
Nova Southeastern U. Health Professions Division College of Optometry
Illinois College of Optometry
Indiana U. School of Optometry
New England College of Optometry
Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State U.
U. of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry
State U. of New York College of Optometry
The Ohio Sate U. College of Optometry
Northeastern State U. Oklahoma College of Optometry
Pacific U. College of Optometry
Pennsylvania College of Optometry of Salus U.
Inter American U. of Puerto Rico School of Optometry
Southern College of Optometry
U. of Houston College of Optometry
U. of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry

Course Requirements of the U.S. Osteopathic Medical Schools:

Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (Select "Prerequisite Coursework")
Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine of Midwestern U.
A.T. Still U. of Health Sciences School of Osteopathic Medicine-Arizona
Touro U. College of Osteopathic Medicine
Western U. of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific
Rocky Vista U. College of Osteopathic Medicine
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-Bradenton Campus
Nova Southeastern U. College of Osteopathic Medicine
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine-Georgia Campus
Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine of Midwestern U.
Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Des Moines U. College of Osteopathic Medicine
U. of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine
U. of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
Michigan State U. College of Osteopathic Medicine
William Carey U. College of Osteopathic Medicine
Kansas City U. of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine
A.T. Still U. of Health Sciences Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine
Touro U. of Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine
Rowan U. School of Osteopathic Medicine
New York College of Osteopathic Medicine of New York Institute of Technology
Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine-New York
Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine (Scroll down to "Minimum Requirements for Admission")
Ohio U. Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
Oklahoma State U. Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine
Western U. of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Lincoln Memorial U.-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine
U. of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth/Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at Fort Worth
Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Liberty U. College of Osteopathic Medicine
Pacific Northwest U. of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine
West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine

Course Requirements of the U.S. Podiatry Schools:

Podiatry School Prerequisites Table

Arizona School of Podiatric Medicine at Midwestern U.
Barry U. School of Podiatric Medicine
California School of Podiatric Medicine at Samuel Merritt U. (Scroll down to "Academic Requirements" and "Prerequisite Coursework")
Western U. of Health Sciences College of Podiatric Medicine (Select "Prerequisite Courses")
Des Moines U. College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery
Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin U. of Medicine and Science
New York College of Podiatric Medicine
Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine
Temple U. School of Podiatric Medicine

Course Requirements of the U.S. Veterinary Schools:

Veterinary School Prerequisite Chart; College Specific Requirements (Click on the individual school for coursework requirements.)

Auburn U. College of Veterinary Medicine
Tuskegee U. School of Veterinary Medicine
Midwestern U. College of Veterinary Medicine
U. of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Western U. of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine (Select "Prerequisite Courses")
Colorado State U. College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (pdf)
U. of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine
U. of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine
U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine
Purdue U. School of Veterinary Medicine (pdf)
Iowa State U. College of Veterinary Medicine
Kansas State U. College of Veterinary Medicine
Louisiana Sate U. School of Veterinary Medicine
Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
Michigan State U. College of Veterinary Medicine
The U. of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
Mississippi State U. College of Veterinary Medicine
U. of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine
Cornell U. College of Veterinary Medicine
North Carolina State U. College of Veterinary Medicine
The Ohio State U. College of Veterinary Medicine
Oklahoma State U. Center for Veterinary Health Sciences
Oregon State U. College of Veterinary Medicine
U. of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine
U. of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine
Texas A&M U. College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
Washington State U. College of Veterinary Medicine
U. of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine