Academic Preparation

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Registering with Pre-Med/Pre-Health Advising

All students interested in pre-med/pre-health should (1) make an appointment with the Pre-Med/Pre-Health Advising Office early in their sophomore year and (2) sign up for the Pre-Med/Pre-Health newsletter. First-year students should attend the group advising sessions held in fall and spring semesters, regardless of academic major.

Majors and Pre-Med/Pre-Health

Since there is NO PRE-MED/PRE-HEALTH MAJOR, students should select a major—ideally no later than second semester freshmen year—that is interesting and challenging and allows them to pursue a variety of career opportunities. Any major is acceptable as long as it allows the student to complete the requirements listed below.

What Classes Should I Take for Medical or Dental School?

Though requirements vary by school, most require the following courses:

Course Course Title Possible Substitutions AP Scores Accepted?*
Biology 151 Intro Biology I BioTAP No (Bio 110)
Biology 152 Intro Biology II BioTAP  
Biology 153 Intro Biology Lab BioTAP  
Chemistry 111 General Chemistry I Chemistry 121H No
Chemistry 112 General Chemistry II Chemistry 122H No
Chemistry 261 Organic Chemistry I Chemistry 265 (Chemistry majors)  
Chemistry 262 Organic Chemistry II Chemistry 266 (Chemistry majors)  
Chemistry 269 Organic Chem Lab Chemistry 267, 268 (Chem majors)  
Physics 131 Intro Physics I Physics 151 Usually
Physics 132 Intro Physics II Physics 152 No
Math 127** Calculus I Math 131 Yes
Statistics 240 Statistics Pscyh 240, ResEcon 212, PubHlth 223
Most 200+ level stats courses
Biochem 420 Elementary Biochem Biochemistry 423 (Biochem majors)  

*See the section Advanced Placement Courses below for additional details.
**Most medical schools recommend but do not require calculus.

Students should verify the pre-requisite courses for their top choice programs, as requirements can vary. Notably, Tufts Dental requires an additional upper-level biology course in addition to the courses in the above table, and both UNE Dental and Medical Schools have course requirements beyond those listed.

Students applying to dental school should aim to have at least 60 credits in the sciences if they do not choose a major in the sciences. The courses in the above table may be included in those 60 credits. Students applying to medical school should strongly consider taking the following courses which have content that appears on the MCAT:

  • Psychology 100: Introductory Psychology (Gen Ed: SB)
  • Sociology (any 100-level class)

Advanced Placement and Community College Courses

Many medical and dental schools will not accept AP scores as a substitute for requisite science courses. While many will accept one semester of AP Physics, there are a number of popular programs—BU dental, Tufts dental, University of New England medical—that will not. Before using AP credit, research programs of interest to learn their policies. Additionally, most dental schools, including Tufts and BU, will not accept community college coursework for requisite science courses.

Note that many schools will accept advanced course work of comparable length in the same discipline in which the student has an AP score or community college coursework. Thus, if a student has AP or community college credit in chemistry and decides not to take General Chemistry, the student should plan on taking advanced course work in chemistry (or perhaps biochemistry) equal to a full year with laboratory. Organic chemistry does not count in this case since it is already one of the courses required for admission to medical school.

What Classes Should I Take for Other Pre-Health Programs?

Course requirements for many pre-health programs vary widely from school to school. Students should look at the admissions websites for programs of interest annually to be sure they are on track with pre-requisite coursework and to confirm that the requirements have not changed.

Optometry, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, Podiatry, Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Nurse Practitioner (Direct Entry), Occupational Therapy. The table below shows courses that are commonly required for each of these programs:

Course Course Title Optometry Pharmacy PT PA Podiatry Accel. BSN NP OT
Biology 151 Intro Biology I      
Biology 152 Intro Biology II      
Biology 153 Intro Biology Lab      
Chemistry 111 Gen Chemistry I  
Chemistry 112 Gen Chemistry II ο ο  
Chemistry 261 Org Chemistry I   ο ο  
Chemistry 262 Org Chemistry II ο   ο      
Chemistry 269 Org Chemistry Lab        
Physics 131 Intro Physics I        
Physics 132 Intro Physics II          
Math 127 Calculus I            
Statistics 240 Statistics*  
Biochemistry 420 Elem Biochemistry            
Economics 104 Macroeconomics              
Kinesiology 100 Intro Kinesiology     ο          
Kinesiology 110 Human Perf. & Nutrit.     ο          
Kinesiology 270 Anatomy & Phys I    
Kinesiology 272 Anatomy & Phys II    
Kinesiology 470 Exercise Physiology              
Microbiology 310 Gen Microbiology      
Microbiology 265 Gen Microbiology Lab      
Nutrition 130 Nutrition Healthy Life            
Nursing 210 Human Dev/Life Cycle          
Psychology 100 Intro Psychology      
Psychology 380 Abnormal Psychology              

• Course is required for admission.
ο If the required courses are taken at UMass Amherst, this class, too, will be needed because it is a pre-requisite for one of the required courses.
*Programs often allow other versions of statistics; see admissions website of prospective programs for details.

The list below is a sample of some of the kinds of classes that some schools mandate beyond the more common requirements:

  • Optometry Anatomy & physiology I and II
  • Pharmacy Biochemistry, calculus II, upper-level psychology, public speaking, physics II, microeconomics, ethics
  • Physical Therapy Medical terminology, developmental psychology, 300+ level kinesiology, pharmacology, pre-calculus
  • Physician Assistant Ethics, upper-level biology, genetics, minimum of 30 credits of biology/chemistry/physics
  • Podiatry 2 writing courses through the English department. Suggested courses: anatomy & physiology I and II, biochemistry, microbiology, genetics.
  • Accelerated BSN General chemistry II, ethics
  • NP Ethics, pathophysiology, general chemistry II, social/behavioral science coursework
  • OT Physics I, childhood development, kinesiology, neuroscience with lab, medical terminology, sociology or anthropology, neuroanatomy, ethics

Note that not all pharmacy programs require a bachelor’s degree for enrollment. This pdf includes a full list of Physician Assistant School Requirements in Massachusetts for the 2017-18 application cycle.

Optional Electives for Students Interested in a Health Career

The following courses are not pre-requisites for most healthcare programs but may be interesting general education electives for students seeking to understand medicine from a breadth of perspectives.

  • Anthro 104 Culture, Society and People (SB, G)
  • Anthro 312 Medical Anthropology
  • Classics 250 Classical Origins of Western Medicine & Medical Terminology (HS)
  • Nursing 312 Cultural Diversity in Health and Illness (SI, U)
  • Nutrition 130 Nutrition for a Healthy Lifestyle (BS)
  • Nutrition 140 Nutrition, Weight & Fitness (BS)
  • Philosophy 164 Medical Ethics (AT)
  • Public Health 129 Health Care for All (SB, U)
  • Public Health 160 My Body, My Health (SI)