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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. It is unclear if medical schools will abandon specific undergraduate prerequisite courses (actually a growing number already have!) 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 principle in setting criteria for passing the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) 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 Science 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) or Statistics (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/statistics. 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 only a very 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 semester 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 additional 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, Learning Advisor; MOOC List, Open Culture, Open Education Database, Saylor Academy, 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:

Admission Requirements for Medical School
General Medical School Requirements
Medical School Insider Medical School Requirements
Medical School Requirements
Nontraditonal Medical Student Requirements
Positioning Yourself for Med School: Academics and Extracurriculars
Pre-med Requirements
Premed Requirements
Prerequisites of Medical School
Required Pre-med Courses and Degree Requirements

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

Albany Medical College
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
Baylor College of Medicine
Boston University School of Medicine
California Northstate University College of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Central Michigan University School of Medicine
Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science College of Medicine
Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Cooper Medical School of Rowan University
Creighton University School of Medicine
Drexel University College of Medicine
Duke University School of Medicine
East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine
Eastern Virginia Medical School
Emory University School of Medicine
Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
Florida State University College of Medicine
Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Georgetown University School of Medicine (Select "Application Requirements")
Harvard Medical School
Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine at Hofstra University
Howard University College of Medicine
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Indiana University School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California
Loma Linda University School of Medicine
Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans
Louisiana State University School of Medicine in Shreveport
Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine
Mayo Medical School
Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University
Medical College of Wisconsin (Scroll down to "Prerequisites")
Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine
Meharry Medical College School of Medicine
Mercer University School of Medicine
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
Morehouse School of Medicine
New York Medical College
New York University School of Medicine
Northeast Ohio Medical University
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (Select "Courses")
Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health (Select "What undergraduate courses should I take to prepare me for medical school?")
Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine
Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Rush Medical College of Rush University Medical Center
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Saint Louis University School of Medicine
San Juan Bautista School of Medicine (Select "Requirements")
Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota
Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University (Scroll down to "Course Requirements")
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
Stanford University School of Medicine
State University of New York Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine
State University of New York Upstate Medical University (Select "What pre-requisite courses do you require?")
Stony Brook University School of Medicine
Temple University School of Medicine
Texas A&M University System Health Science Center College of Medicine (Select "Undergraduate Course Requirements")
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine
The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University
The Commonwealth Medical College
The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences
The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Tufts University School of Medicine
Tulane University School of Medicine
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine
Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine
University at Buffalo State University of New York School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
University of Alabama School of Medicine
University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix
University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine (pdf, pp. 15-16)
University of California, Davis School of Medicine
University of California, Irvine School of Medicine
University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
University of California, Riverside School of Medicine (Select "Program Prerequisites")
University of California, San Diego School of Medicine
University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
University of Central Florida College of Medicine
University of Chicago Division of the Biological Sciences, The Pritzker School of Medicine
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
University of Colorado School of Medicine
University of Connecticut School of Medicine
University of Florida College of Medicine
University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine
University of Illinois College of Medicine
University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine
University of Kansas School of Medicine
University of Kentucky College of Medicine
University of Louisville School of Medicine
University of Maryland School of Medicine
University of Massachusetts Medical School
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
University of Michigan Medical School (Select "Prerequisites for 2016 Entering Class" or "Prerequisites and Core Competencies for 2017 Entering Class and Beyond")
University of Minnesota Medical School
University of Mississippi School of Medicine
University of Missouri School of Medicine
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine
University of Nebraska College of Medicine
University of Nevada School of Medicine
University of New Mexico School of Medicine
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences
University of Oklahoma College of Medicine (Select "Application Requirements")
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (Select "Admissions Requirements")
University of South Alabama College of Medicine
University of South Carolina School of Medicine (Scroll down to "Preparation")
University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville (Scroll down to "Preparation")
University of South Florida Health Morsani College of Medicine
University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine
University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School (Scroll down to "Prerequisite Courses")
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
University of Texas Medical School at Houston
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine
University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas Southwestern Medical School
University of Utah School of Medicine
University of Vermont College of Medicine
University of Virginia School of Medicine
University of Washington School of Medicine
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Virginia Commonwealth U. School of Medicine
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
Wake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
Wayne State University School of Medicine
Weill Cornell Medical College
West Virginia University School of Medicine
Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine
Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine
Yale School of Medicine

Course Requirements of the U.S. Dental Schools:

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

Course Requirements of the U.S. Optometry Schools:

Optometry School Prerequisites Table

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

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

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

Course Requirements of the U.S. Podiatry Schools:

Podiatry School Prerequisites Table

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

Course Requirements of the U.S. Veterinary Schools:

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

Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine (Scroll down to pp. 6-7)
Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine
Louisiana Sate University School of Veterinary Medicine
Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine (Scroll down to "Admission Prerequisites")
Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine
North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences
Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine
Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine (Scroll down to "Course Requirements")
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine (Scroll down to "Prerequisite Courses")
University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine (Select "Prerequisite Courses")