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Do you have to major in a science to go to Med school?

Heard that you didn't just wanted to be sure. #doctor #science #biology

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Nancy’s Answer

No. You have to complete certain science classes that almost all medical schools require, but you can fulfill them as part of many majors or as electives. There is also a math requirement. Colleges that don't have a pre-Med major have pre-Med advising so that you can be prepared. Check out aamc.org for details

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Helen’s Answer

Enlightening to see answers advising that science classes are not required for med school acceptance, however, those are foundational classes that will help you succeed as you work towards a degree in med school.

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Sadiqua’s Answer

No, you don't have to major in science to attend Med school. But it is definitely a base for the medical field.

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Jennifer’s Answer

No, you don't have to major in a science to be a pre-med, however, you'll likely end up devoting most of your elective college coursework towards pursuing pre-med if you don't pick a major in a hard science.


Required courses:

1 year biology with lab (typically taken freshman year),
1 year general chemistry with lab (typically taken freshman year),
1 year organic chemistry with lab (typically taken sophomore year),
1 year physics with lab (typically taken junior year),
1 year advanced math (such as calculus) (typically taken freshman or sophomore year),
1 semester writing (typically taken freshman or sophomore year).


In theory, some of it be can come from AP credit that you take while still in high school (ideally if you score a 4 or a 5), however my understanding is that med schools typically want you to still take these classes in a college setting. If you test out (or have AP credit), you may advised to take higher level version of those introductory-level classes (such as a higher level bio, chem, or physics) which will likely be more difficult and may be challenging depending upon your given courseload in a semester.


Most colleges require that you formally declare a major by the end of your sophomore year, and most courses (be they the premed ones or those in your major) are usually ranked in that you have to take them sequentially.


Example: you typically can't take a higher level class in a major that you're interested in without first taking the introductory survey course, first. Often, those higher level classes within a major (which may be part of what attracted you to a certain major) are usually taught by very specific professors, and sometimes are only offered in certain semesters (such as only in the fall, or only in the spring). If that's the case, try to make sure the courses you are truly interested in will be able to be synced up with your class selection schedule, and also check to see whether or not the professor who teaches them is likely to go on sabbatical within the next year or two of when you're looking to take them.


Some universities may also require that you either have 2 years of a foreign language, or else test out of them, as well as other general humanities credits.


If you think study abroad may be something you may possibly want to consider during your time in college, try your best to plan for it (preferably during a summer) since the on-campus lab requirements for the hard sciences may otherwise make it more challenging to do so, otherwise. If you move forward with med school, typically you'll take your MCATs during the spring of your junior year and go on med school interviews your senior year, and trying to figure out how to work study abroad in may be difficult.


If you're able to get enough AP credits while you're still in high school in order to obtain sophomore standing, try to do so since that might help free you up to take other coursework once you're in college, or else accelerate your studies there so that you can be there for a shorter amount of time (and in theory, take out fewer loans). If you do so, you often need enough AP credits to either shave off a semester or two semester's worth of time for it to make a meaningful difference in terms of not having to take out more student loans since most colleges require a minimum number of credits in order to maintain full-time student status (which may be a condition of both federal as well as institution-specific financial aid).


On a separate note - there also exist Masters of Medical Science programs that some students choose to enroll in after they receive their bachelors degree. They are typically for students who did not know that they wanted to be pre-med while they were still undergrads, or they knew too late (typically junior year or later) and thus weren't able to finish the necessary pre-requisites in time before graduating from college. These Masters of Medical Science programs typically last a year or two (depending on program and how aggressively a student wants to pursue it) and they result in a masters degree. These programs basically take all the premed requirements plus perhaps intro anatomy & physiology and maybe a couple of other courses and compress them into 1 or 2 years. Most students who go through that type of program use that experience help make themselves a more competitive candidate for medical school.


Other areas to consider: if you already have a masters degree, I believe you can later obtain a second masters degree and become a nurse practitioner. Those programs are typically are shorter, maybe another 2 years or so. Physician Assistant school may be another possibility - my understanding is that it's basically like 80% of med school, without as many of the later-year clinical rotations, compressed into 2-3 years. Becoming an NP or a PA-C doesn't require residency after school and you can start practicing upon graduation (with PA-C under a supervising physician).


If you do decide to continue on and pursue medical school, I recommend you take advantage of any clinician shadowing opportunities along the way to try to gain a better sense of what specific aspects of healthcare you are most interested in.


Something else to consider if you find yourself drawn towards helping prevent disease from occurring in the first place on a population-level (as opposed to individualized tertiary care once a patienter has already become afflicted with disease) may be the Master of Public Health degree. The MPH is a terminal professional degree (meaning that you don't necessarily need to obtain another degree after it in order to work in the healthcare field), although I noticed a number of students who went through the same program used their MPH status to make them more competitive candidates for their medical school applications.


I'd also recommend looking at OT, PT, nutrition, speech pathology and other allied life science schools to see if any of those might be of interest to you, as well. Aside from PT school (which now requires a doctorate in order to practice), I think the others you may be able to practice with just a bachelors (although, most OT's I know have master degrees...unsure if that's a coincidence or a requirement).


Something to consider as well are combined degree programs (sometimes dual bachelors/masters degrees or dual masters degrees) from the same university since those are sometimes ways for motivated students to compress/overlap related coursework and accelerate their studies while lessening financial burden.


While you are still in high school, make sure to study hard and get good grades. Try to also be somewhat well-rounded so that your college application does't just say academic school work (ex: part-time job, volunteering, mentorship, seeking out other opportunities to make a difference, leadership experiences). Do your best also to learn how to tell a compelling story, since that matters both when you're writing your admissions and certain scholarship essays, as well as when you're meeting and interviewing with potential university reps. My recommendation is to try your best to make general concepts personal and meaningful to your audience.


If you find you are able to obtain enough AP credit for sophomore standing, do some research on possible scholarships and university affiliations with specific medical schools. For instance, my alma mater offers the opportunity for select students with sophomore standing to apply to and interview for med school slots while still a senior in high school. If you're accepted, and you continue to do well in the program, you're guaranteed a med school slot. It's exceptionally competitive, especially since there don't tend to be many opportunities for full scholarship for a professional degree program, but from those I've known who have gone through it, it was worth it. At the same time, their coursework was almost completely laid out for them during their entire tenure as students at the university.


Life experience-wise and as a matter of perspective, I'd also say enjoy your time in high school and college with your friends and family and pursue opportunities that matter personally to you. You may find over time that whether or not you get into med school may not necessarily be the end goal, and that's ok. Something like at least 1 in 3 people who are pre-med don't end up actually going to med school, usually because they change paths along the way and find it's not for them. It's important that whatever major you choose and that you're devoting your hard-earned money and time towards pursuing makes sense for you, and that if for some reason you aren't admitted into med school (or at least not the first try around), that you put yourself in as competitive of a position as possible that you would be ok with alternative career opportunities that others with the same major tend to pursue for work. If not, you may find that it may be better to pursue a different major. I also don't recommend overloading courses your freshman year, especially hard science courses, since for some students, that first year of college may be a huge adjustment.


Good Luck!

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Maureen’s Answer

You don't have to major in a science to go Medical School but obviously taking as many biology classes, etc, as an undergraduate would be very helpful.
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Blake’s Answer

Hey Devetra,

No you don't have to major, but you do have to complete the pre-requisite classes for med-school which are mainly science based classes.

Thanks,
Blake
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Sara’s Answer

No, but look at med schools you might be interested in applying to and make sure that you still take the required pre-requisites. Whatever you do decide to major in it should be something that you'd like to pursue as a back-up career.

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Brian’s Answer

It is not an absolute requirement; however, you will need to complete a pre-medical curriculum which includes (but is not limited to) courses in physics, chemistry and biology. These courses are aligned to the subject matter which is covered on the MCAT and will help provide the foundational skills needed to succeed in medical school.

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Keith’s Answer

An undergraduate degree is not required though it is beneficial in terms of prerequisites that most med school programs have.

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