Pre-Health

Prerequisites

For students interested in pursuing a career in medicine after obtaining a B.A. or B.S.

You do not need to major in the sciences to apply to medical, dental, or veterinary schools. However, regardless of major, you need to do well in your courses, and especially in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, to be a competitive applicant to medical, dental, or veterinary medical schools.

Below are the prerequisites needed to apply. You are strongly encouraged to visit the websites of the schools you are interested in applying to make sure you have all the needed courses as schools may have slightly different requirements.

You are encouraged to visit the Center for Career & Professional Development website, which contains many helpful documents.

Students often take the MCAT in April of their junior year and prepare their medical school applications during the summer prior to their senior year. Therefore, we encourage you to complete the prerequisites by then. Other students schedule the MCAT later in anticipation of taking a gap year between completion of Southwestern and the start of medical school.  You should carefully consider your options and understand the deadlines associated with each. 

Prior to taking the MCAT and applying to medical schools, students must have completed the following courses:

  • Biology first-year courses: BIO50-123/121; BIO50-133/131
  • Methods courses in biology: BIO50-232
  • Upper-level biology*
  • Principles of General Chemistry with lab (CHE51-103/101)
  • Chemistry Kinetics and Equilibrium with lab (CHE51-203/201)
  • Organic Chemistry I and II with labs (CHE51-314/311 and CHE51-324/321)
  • Principles of Biochemistry (CHE51-604; for some medical schools)* or General Biochemistry I and II (CHE51-614 and CHE51-624; for some medical schools)* 
  • Introduction to Statistics (MAT52-114)
  • Calculus I
  • Physics I and II with labs (calculus base) (PHYS53-154 and PHY53-164)
  • Two English courses (one composition)
* Even though not all medical schools require Biochemistry, there will be test questions about concepts from Biochemistry on the new MCAT, and all medical schools (in Texas) strongly recommend taking Biochemistry. 
* TCU Medical school requires Organ Physiology BIO50-424 and Genetics BIO50-314

For veterinary schools, students must have completed the following courses:

  • Microbiology (BIO50-484)
  • Genetics (BIO50-314)
  • Principles of Biochemistry (CHE51-604) or Biochemistry I and II (CHE51-614 and CHE51-624)
  • Probability and Mathematical Statistics (MA52-574)
  • Public Speaking (COM75-594)                      

During your first year, consider taking biology and chemistry. However, if you feel like you can take only one or the other, choose chemistry because you can begin the biology introductory courses in the spring, but you cannot begin the chemistry sequence in the spring semester. Students who consider postponing the first-year Chemistry courses until the sophomore year, will then take Organic Chemistry in their junior year together with Physics. Or defer, Physics until the senior year. Furthermore, keep in mind that many upper-level biology courses have Organic Chemistry I as a pre-requisite. Thus, deferring first year chemistry to the sophomore year would then result in submitting the applications materials during the summer of your senior year, resulting in a bridge (‘gap’) year. 

 

Some medical schools also require additional courses in calculus, comparative morphology, and quantitative analysis; others do not accept AP credits for prerequisite coursework. Since January 2015, behavioral-sciences and biochemistry questions are also being included on the MCAT. We recommend the following courses, which will maximize your general-education courses and help you prepare for the new MCAT:

  • Principles of Psychology (PSY33-104)
  • Social Patterns & Processes (SOC34-114) or Social Problems (SOC 34-124)

The content of these courses is most appropriate for the types of competencies being tested on the new MCAT.

Please contact Dr. Maria Cuevas, chair of the Pre-Medical Advisory Committee, and other members of the Pre-Medical Advisory Committee about your plans for preparing for the medical school admission process.