Required Coursework

One of your goals as a pre-health student will be to acquire the necessary academic background to assure success in medical, dental, veterinary or other health professions school. Besides the general academic skills in which you will be expected to show high proficiency, you will also have to demonstrate good results in a basic core of math and science courses.

One year each of the following courses is required by most medical and dental schools:

  • General Chemistry with lab
  • Organic Chemistry with lab
  • Principles of Physics with lab
  • Mathematics (at least one semester each of calculus and statistics is recommended)
  • Biology with lab – Students typically enroll in Introductory Biology I and a second biology course with a lab. Students can choose from courses such as Introductory Biology II, Genetics, Biological Chemistry, or Microbiology. Students in the School of Nursing and Health Studies meet this requirement with Human Biology I & II.

These are the typical minimum requirements at most medical schools; they are adequate if grades are uniformly strong. Individual schools may require additional courses or fewer courses. For example, some medical schools require biochemistry and some dental and veterinary schools require courses in physiology or microbiology. Students should consult individual school websites or check available reference materials to review specific requirements. Coursework above the minimum requirements is generally recommended if there is space in your schedule.

Medical, dental, and veterinary schools are interested in how well you are able to handle a full and demanding curriculum. They will want to see evidence that you can carry a normal full-time course load with science labs, and with a reasonable amount of outside activities to show you have broad interests.

The math and science courses listed above should be taken before the MCAT or DAT. If you intend to matriculate into medical school immediately following graduation, you should schedule the courses in your first three years so that the exam can be taken in the spring of your Junior year or the summer before Senior year. Students planning on waiting a year or more after graduation to apply should consider taking the MCAT at a later date. These are very individual plans and a pre-med advisor can help with your scheduling. Click the link on the left Preparing Yourself for Medical/Dental School and select “Coursework” to see sample scheduling plans. 

Advanced Undergraduate Courses 
There is a strong tendency for medical schools (especially the more competitive ones) to prefer additional coursework above the minimum requirements, so you may also wish to take advanced science courses, such as: Genetics, Biological Chemistry, Mammalian Physiology, Microbiology, Cell & Developmental Biology, Immunology, Neurobiology, etc.