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Every health professions track has slightly different academic requirements and pre-requisite coursework. For more information about specifics, see each section below.

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Pre-Health Studies Overview

The majority of health professions programs practice holistic review of applications by reviewing several factors that contribute to success in their program.  For example, the Association of American Medical Colleges has a page dedicated to the Anatomy of an Applicant, and individual medical schools have their own approach for Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students.  While each health profession has its own set of competencies you'll want to explore as you prepare your credentials for future application, this information is relevant to characteristics of all health professions providers.

Generally, pre-health students may and do major in any discipline without adversely affecting their admission into a health professions school.  However, there are basic prerequisite courses that must be completed prior to matriculation and for the respective admissions exams. See Entrance Exams. Each health professions school has its own individual set of pre-requisite requirements and school websites have the most current information for these requirements.

Note: Advanced Placement courses and/or Acceleration Credits often do not satisfy premedical requirements for admission to medical or other health professions schools, but may be used to elect advanced courses in those disciplines.  Speak with a health professions advisor about how these credits pertain to your own individual plan.

In addition to challenging coursework, applicants should look for opportunities to demonstrate a range of competencies by gaining practical experience in the health professions.  Applicants should consider volunteering in a direct patient contact setting, showing practitioners in their chosen profession, and getting involved in community service. A well-rounded sampling of extracurricular activities or work experiences, both related and unrelated to medicine, will help broaden an applicant's knowledge and development. Get Involved.

Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) Medicine

There are some basic requirements for admission to most U.S. & Canadian Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) medical schools and it is important you investigate the individual prerequisites for each school to which you plan to apply.

At a minimum, students will likely complete the following types of courses:

• One year of biology with lab
• One year of physics with lab
• English and/or Writing (amount varies by program)
• Two years of chemistry (some combination of general, organic and biochemistry) with labs

Some schools may have additional course requirements such as advanced level biology or statistics. Always refer to individual allopathic and osteopathic websites for specific medical school requirements. Ideally, since the medical schools will judge you on the basis of the work you have completed when you apply for admission, the majority of prerequisite courses should be completed by the time of application.

All U.S. and Canadian medical schools require applicants to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).  The test assesses your problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. The sections of the exam are:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Dental Medicine (DDS/DMD)

There are some basic requirements for admission to most U.S. & Canadian dental schools and it is important you investigate the individual prerequisites for each school to which you plan to apply.

Required courses generally include:

• 8 hours Biology with lab
• 8 hours Physics
• 8 hours English
• 8 hours General Chemistry with lab
• 8 hours Organic Chemistry with lab

All U.S. and Canadian dental schools require applicants to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). This computerized test measures general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information and perceptual ability. Completion of at least one year of college level courses in biology and general and organic chemistry is recommended before taking the DAT.

Veterinary Medical School (DVM)

The majority of students who enter a college of veterinary medicine have a bachelor’s degree and some have completed graduate study. Check the specific veterinary admissions requirements for your schools of interest. 

Some typical prerequisite courses include:

  •     6-9 credits of biology or zoology with lab
  •     6-8 credits of inorganic chemistry with lab
  •     4-8 credits of organic chemistry with lab
  •     3-4 credits of biochemistry with lab
  •     6-8 credits of physics with lab
  •     6 credits of English
  •     3-6 credits of mathematics; some programs also require statistics
  •     6-15 credits of humanities and social science

For information about general admissions and entrance exam requirements, visit the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC).

Public Health Programs

While schools of public health look for high graduate entrance exam scores and GPA, other aspects of an applicant's record, such as a career achievement, professional experience, and clarity of career goals, are equally important. Admissions decisions are based on an overall assessment of the ability of applicants to successfully complete the degree track area selected.

Core Areas of Study:

Biostatistics: Application of statistical procedures, techniques and methodology to characterize or investigate health problems and programs.

Environmental Health Sciences: Concerned with the identification and control of factors in the natural environment (air, water, land) which affect health.

Epidemiology: Study of the distribution and determinants of disease or disability in population groups; essential for evaluating the efficacy of new preventive and therapeutic modalities and of new organizational patterns of health care delivery.

Health Policy and Management: A multidisciplinary field of inquiry and practice concerned with the delivery, quality and costs of health care for individuals and populations.

Social and Behavioral Science: Using specific methods, skills, and program strategies to help people change to healthier lifestyles, to make more efficient use of health services, to adopt self-care practices and to participate actively in the design and implementation of programs that affect health.

(Information adapted from the Association of Public Health)

Each program or track within a given department may set additional requirements for admission; therefore, applicants should refer to the individual programs for details. Find an academic program.

Post-Baccalaureate Programs

Students who choose not to complete their science pre-requisite courses during their undergraduate years can complete the requirements in a Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program before applying to a health professions school. Learn more about Post-Baccalaureate options.

Post-Baccalaureate Programs.

Other Health Professions

Visit the association websites of Other Health Professions to learn about their pre-requisites.