Dermatology is one of the most competitive specializations for those considering a career in medicine. Dermatologists tend to work fewer hours and with fewer physical demands than doctors in other specialties, while maintaining an average salary well over $250,000, as of 2013. College courses can only prepare a future dermatologist for applying to medical school, not for their specific career goal, but should be geared toward medical school prerequisites. Regardless of your major -- doctors could have degrees in liberal arts and the humanities -- it’s imperative that you consider the course expectations in advanced life sciences, mathematics, and the human condition in order to prepare for the MCAT and have a strong application.
In order to apply to medical school, most pre-med students major in the sciences because a bachelor’s degree in biology covers the basic coursework needed. However, potential applicants from any major should maintain a strong record in biology, as this is the most important concern for anyone hoping to apply to medical school. Most schools require at least one year of biology or zoology, though some may require two or more. Pre-med students should be sure to take a biology class with an associated biology lab.
The University of California at Berkeley recommends that students start coursework in chemistry early on in their college careers in order to allow time for both general and organic chemistry. Organic chemistry is considered one of the more difficult specializations in chemistry, but will give a future dermatologist the necessary experience in handling chemicals that are necessary for being able to perform skin treatments down the road.
Many medical schools expect an applicant to have a history of coursework in mathematics at the college level as a means of laying a foundation for the basic sciences. Most students choose to satisfy this requirement with a calculus class, though Hamilton College recommends that pre-med students take a semester of both calculus and statistics in order to differentiate themselves from their competition. Statistics can aid future dermatologists in their studies by guiding their understanding of medical research and literature.
Pre-med students hoping to apply to the University of Washington, one of the country’s top medical schools, have one unique and interesting course requirement: the “human condition” requirement. In order to satisfy this expectation, college students must complete four semesters or six quarters of courses in social sciences or the humanities. This requirement, designed for breadth of knowledge and experience in the student body, covers subjects as varied as ethics, cultural studies, philosophy, English literature, and music appreciation.
Suzy Kerr graduated from Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia. She completed her Master's degree in Nutrition Sciences, also at the University of Georgia. Suzy has been a successful health, fitness and nutrition writer for more than 10 years, and has been published in various print and online publications.