Medical schools seek well-rounded students with exceptional grades, strong interpersonal skills and excellent references. Medical school admission committees will generally consider any major if the applicant completed the required courses for medical school and possesses other attributes helpful to the practice of medicine. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, applicants must complete one year of coursework in biology, physics and English, plus two years of chemistry. Some medical schools have additional requirements, such as calculus.
The Princeton Review, an educational testing company, describes a pre-med major as a curriculum aligned to the requirements of the Medical College Admission Test, a national examination. The MCAT is a required part of the medical school application process. Most schools no longer offer a pre-med major because medical schools now prefer students who majored in a specific discipline, as indicated by Rutgers University. Instead, many schools offer pre-med programs that offer guidance and mentoring for students aspiring to become doctors. For example, the pre-med program at Canisius University offers pre-med advising, research opportunities and hospital internships for students in all majors pursuing medical school admission.
Many students seeking medical school admission choose to major in science because of the overlap between requirements of their major and medical school. Students who enjoy science are often attracted to careers in the field of health and medicine. For example, the majority of pre-med students at Georgetown College major in biology or chemistry. Pre-med students at Georgetown who select other majors generally complete a minor in biology or chemistry. A solid foundation in math and science is useful when studying subjects in medical school such as biochemistry, physiology and anatomy.
Arts and Humanities Majors
Many medical schools welcome applications from non-science majors who have completed the science and math core requirements, because physicians must be caring and sensitive. Butler University suggests that students with a liberal arts background have insight into human behavior, which enables them to relate to others and show empathy. Courses in arts and humanities can also improve reading and writing skills, useful in rigorous medical school classes. The Association of American Medical Colleges indicates that students taking the MCAT starting in 2015 will be tested on their knowledge of social and behavioral science in addition to science and critical reasoning.
Because medical school admission is highly competitive, some students major in a health-related field as a back-up career in case they're not accepted into medical school. The American Physician and Scientist reported in 2006 that majors such as clinical laboratory sciences, nutrition science, medical imaging and respiratory therapy are excellent choices for students preparing for medical school. In addition, students in allied health majors gain clinical experience and receive training in medical ethics and data privacy regulations.
- Princeton Review.com: Major: Pre-Medicine
- Rutgers: Department of Biology: FAQs
- Canisius College: Pre-Med: Program Overview
- George College: Pre-Med: A Four-Year Plan
- Butler University: Why Medical Schools Like to Accept STS Majors
- Association of American Medical Colleges: American American Physician and Scientist
Dr. Mary Dowd is a dean of students whose job includes student conduct, leading the behavioral consultation team, crisis response, retention and the working with the veterans resource center. She enjoys helping parents and students solve problems through advising, teaching and writing online articles that appear on many sites. Dr. Dowd also contributes to scholarly books and journal articles.