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What Are the Different Pre-Medical Course Requirements?

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  • Written By: Susan Abe
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 09 August 2019
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Prospective future physicians no longer have to major in biology as undergraduates to be considered for admission to US medical schools. Most US medical schools will consider admission to a college graduate holding almost any major, although they do require satisfactory completion of certain undergraduate courses. These pre-medical course requirements are established for several reasons, including the elimination of undergraduate students unable to master medical-related subjects as well as direct preparation of students for higher-level versions of these classes in medical school. Specific pre-medical course requirements may vary slightly depending upon a medical school's specific admission requirements, however, some general pre-med course recommendations can safely be provided to any pre-med student. These classes include basic and advanced science courses in biology and chemistry, some advanced mathematics courses and at least a year of English.

Undergraduate pre-medical course requirements always include science courses. Basic classes such as biology (101 and 102) and chemistry (101 and 102) are the foundation upon which higher-level classes and medical school classes are built. Following successful completion of these classes, a year of organic chemistry — the study of the chemistry involving carbon and life — is required as well as a year of physics. Organic chemistry and physics are not chosen as pre-medical course requirements arbitrarily. Rather, the ability of a physician to prescribe a correct medication or design a new piece of surgical equipment relies on these classes, albeit after additional training.

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Although not pre-medical course requirements per se, a number of higher-level science courses that would prove helpful to a prospective medical school student and are sometimes recommended by undergraduate advisors include human anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and nutrition. In addition, basic social science courses required for a bachelor's degree for almost every college student — pre-med students included — would include psychology and sociology. Higher-level courses in these social science disciplines such as medical sociology and abnormal psychology might also be considered helpful to future doctors.

Mathematical foundations of standard pre-medical course requirements include basic college mathematics in addition to advanced mathematics such as calculus and statistics. These classes are necessary to design or understand the research behind the introduction of any new medication, treatment or medical device. A minimum of one year of English is a third field of study considered one of the standard pre-medical course requirements. Recently, medical schools have also begun to look favorably toward other types of classes as favorable aspects of diversity. Examples include classes such as advanced foreign languages, comparative religion classes and media courses in communication.

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