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Medical School Course Requirements

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

14 semester hours (12 semester hours of lecture & 2 semester hours of formal lab) or 21 quarter hours (18 quarter lecture hours & 3 quarter lab hours) of Biological Science. 

GENERAL CHEMISTRY

8 semester hours or 12 quarter hours of General Chemistry, including the corresponding laboratory experience. (8 semester hours = 6 hours of lecture & 2 hours of lab; 12 quarter hours = 9 hours of lecture & 3 hours of lab).

ORGANIC CHEMISTRY

8 semester hours or 12 quarter hours of Organic Chemistry, including the corresponding laboratory experience. (8 semester hours = 6 hours of lecture & 2 hours of lab; 12 quarter hours = 9 hours of lecture & 3 hours of lab).

BIOCHEMISTRY

3 semester hours or 5 quarter hours of Biochemistry.  

PHYSICS

8 semester hours or 12 quarter hours of Physics, including the corresponding laboratory experience. (8 semester hours = 6 hours of lecture & 2 hours of lab; 12 quarter hours = 9 hours of lecture & 3 hours of lab)

ENGLISH

6 semester hours or 9 quarter hours of college English.

STATISTICS

3 semester hours or 5 quarter hours of Statistics.

Commonly Asked Question

Do I need to finish all my prerequisites before I apply to medical school?

No you can apply to medical school before you finish all your required classes. You simply need to finish all your prerequisite classes before you actually start medical school.

What is the MCAT?

The Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, is a standardized exam that assesses your proficiency in biology, chemistry, physics, psychology/sociology, and English. It is graded on a scale of 472-528, with 472 being the lowest score possible, and 528 being the highest score possible.

What is the difference between MD and DO?

Both are fully fledged physicians – a licensed DO has the same practicing privileges as a licensed MD. In terms of education, MDs and DOs go through almost identical coursework, although DOs have extra course work such as OMM. However, DO schools tend to have lower average GPAs and MCAT scores, and DOs typically have greater difficulty entering competitive specialties than an MD.

I took dual-enrollment courses in high school/community college classes. Do these count towards medical school prerequisites?

Generally yes, however check with the medical school you are applying to.

What should I major in?

The admissions committee generally doesn’t care about your major. Many premed students opt to major in biology or chemistry because of the significant overlap between medical school prerequisites and required classes for the major sequence. However, all majors have successfully matriculated to medical school. The vast majority of schools will not give you leeway for choosing a harder major.

Should I get a minor?

Minors should be pursued if you are legitimately interested in the topic and/or plan to do something with the knowledge outside of a classroom. It will not help you in admissions.

Aside from GPA and MCAT, what else do I need?

Clinical experience – working as a scribe, shadowing a physician, and voluteering in a clinical setting (e.g. hospital, hospice care, free clinic) provides valuable insight into what it means to take care of a patient. Medical schools want to make sure that you know what you’re getting into. You should have enough clinical experience to write meaningfully about it in your application personal statement and speak intelligently in an interview.

General volunteering and other extracurricular activities – these show that you have an altruistic spark and are a human being that exists beyond the boundaries of the classroom

Research – This shows that you have a mind for critical thinking. Successfully designing and conducting an experiment is futher proof that you have a very good brain.

Leadership – Physicians are considered leaders in their field and showing it in undergrad and beyond is immensely helpful.

Is Research necessary for admissions?

Most matriculates to medical school have had some sort of research experience. This does not mean that research is absolutely necessary.

Does research in insert subject help?

Unless you’re applying to a medical research powerhouse, the topic of your research is unlikely to influence an admission decision. It can be research biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, psychology, history, economics, etc. The key component is testing a hypothesis with the intent of adding to the corpus of human knowledge. Work for a laboratory class usually doesn’t count, unless it’s one of those research project courses. Be able to converse intelligently about your project and how you contributed to it. That said, if you are interested in pursuing competitive residencies, research in the sciences can sometimes help. It grants a degree of familiarity with certain techniques that may be used in a biomedical research lab. If you pursue research in medical school, prior experience is a plus.

What should I do for letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation (LORs) are an important part of the application – establishing a rapport with professors with whom you’ve taken a class is a good way to get strong letters. Typically you need 2 professors who taught a science course (biology, chemistry, physics, math, (maybe) engineering), and one professor who taught a humanities course. Some schools have additional requirements, such as letters from a healthcare professional. Notably, some DO schools require a letter from a DO. If you have extensive research experience, a letter from your principal investigator (PI) is often expected

I made a bad grade in X/had a bad semester/had a bad undergrad. What should I do?

The plan depends on the extent of the damage. If you are still in undergrad, calculate theoretical GPA outcomes to figure out what you need to do. If your final projected GPA is… Less than 3.0: You will need a couple semesters’ to a couple years’ worth of GPA repair. For MD and DO, do well on the MCAT and do post-bacc work (DIY or formal) until your GPA > 3.0 and apply to an SMP or until your GPA is competitive enough. This can be a very long and expensive path; think hard before you commit. Between 3.0 and 3.2: Post-bacc work should be in your future unless you have a lot of other things going for you (e,g, very strong MCAT). Between 3.2 and 3.4: Might need post-bacc work. Depends on the MCAT. Some DO schools and (maybe) low-tier MD schools, probably. Between 3.4 and 3.7: Should be okay. Depends on the MCAT. DO schools and mid/low-tier MD, probably. Above 3.7: Depends on the MCAT.