7 answers

Can a Major in CS be helpful for Premeds?

Updated Lenoir, North Carolina

My goal is to become a physician, however, I want to major in CS as I'm interested in it as well. I don't know if I should just major in Biology instead of CS or if a major in CS would actually be more helpful.
#medicine #technology #computer-science #healthcare #computers #technology

7 answers

Christopher’s Answer

Updated Portland, Oregon

Hi Rossel!

Computer Science and Premed are both excellent career paths; challenging but greatly rewarding. I will say this, one's college degree does not dictate the path you may take (I majored in and completed graduate studies in chemistry but am doing software engineering now). I will also say that I am aware of people obtaining multiple degrees before going into medical school and still yet people moving on to do M.D. Ph.D.'s and focusing medical research (which could include computer modeling!).

I would say it doesn't hurt to know some CS because we live in an increasingly interconnected world via the internet and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. CS as a field will definitely teach you critical thinking skills allowing with problem solving which are always good to have. That said, I would also be sure to focus heavily on biology, as from my experience CS and biology sometimes felt disjointed (except in bio-molecular computer modeling).

I think to at least get a taste of what people who do CS do during their careers (most likely programming) you can check out websites like:

https://www.codecademy.com/

https://www.khanacademy.org/computing/computer-programming

https://www.freecodecamp.org/

Additionally, you can watch lectures for free from MITs introduction to computer science course:

https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/6-00-introduction-to-computer-science-and-programming-fall-2008/

Christopher recommends the following next steps:

  • Check out some computer science lectures
  • Try out some coding

Tanya’s Answer

Updated Portland, Oregon

This is a great question! Thanks for asking!

I was an academic advisor to a gentleman who did exactly what you are asking. He was a double-major in Computer Science and PreMed. It worked for him because:

1. He was really good at being proactive and scheduling his entire curriculum. He worked with both me (his CS advisor) and another advisor in PreMed to figure out what courses he needed to take and how to fit them all in five years.

2. He was really organized and had really great study habits.

3. He acknowledged the big academic challenge and didn't force himself to finish his degree in four years.

But like others point out, this kind of double-major is really intense. Premed and CS have very little overlap in their two curriculums.

If you are interested in Premed, go for it!

If you are interested in CS, consider other fields in which you can develop medical devices or applications for medical practitioners.

There are a lot of ways to marry these two interests other than just a double major. Try to think outside the box. But if you find that the double-major makes the most sense for you, go for it!

I wish you all the luck in the world!

Daniel’s Answer

Updated Seattle, Washington

If your end goal is medicine, definitely don't neglect biology. If you think you can swing a CS major and still do well on the mcats, sure. At the very least, having a CS degree will give you a lucrative fallback (tech) if med school doesn't pan out.


Also note that medical devices are a reasonable intersection between comp sci & medicine (though nothing to do with being a physician), and is an already large and still growing industry. In addition to that, a lot of medical research relies a lot on software now, so having some med experience while also being able to program can open some doors there too.

Updated
Computer science courses are really helpful in developing problem solving and technical skills. In all professions, having strong problem-solving skills can be extremely helpful. Furthermore, as more and more professions become digitized, having technical skills can be very valuable as well. With that said, computer science should be used as a compliment to primary majors that lead to medical school, such as Biology.

Sharr’s Answer

Updated Portland, Oregon

Hi Rossel,

Technology, and especially machine learning, is changing all industries, medicine included! If you already know what college you want to go to for medical school, go to their website and look into their requirements for the program you're interested in; they may have suggested or required undergraduate focus areas. Coursework in natural sciences are foundational to success in medicine; but maybe there is room to explore CS through a concentration or minor.

Some colleges are starting to build new education programs to combine technology and medicine; for example the University of Illinois has an "engineering based college of medicine" program which lists computer science skills as important for success in obtaining an MD through their program. You can find out more information here: https://medicine.illinois.edu/

Good luck with your research!

Srivatsan’s Answer

Updated Portland, Oregon

Hello Rossel

I'm a Software engineer, therefore can't attest to the helpfulness of CS degree towards premeds directly. I believe CS degree teaches you ways to think about a problem logically and in pieces. I have found this type of thinking to be useful in many instances outside of the computer industry and would assume the same for medical industry.

Best Regards,

cameron’s Answer

Updated Portland, Oregon

I guess it depends where you'd like to go with it. There is a huge market in medical software and hardware devices, many created by physicians. What you suggest is a double major, CS and Pre-med. Sounds exhausting, and probably unnecessary. Again, if you see a future in medical tech, major in CS, minor in pre-med (bio, chem, physics). If you see a tech-savvy MD, a minor in CS is probably sufficient. I work with several exceptional scientists who added CS once their original degrees were completed.

Ashton’s Answer

Updated Portland, Oregon

Hello Rossel!

Being honest, medical majors and computer science majors are both time consuming, and it is a bold goal to do both. I don't think it's impossible! But, I would suggest trying both as an undergrad, then deciding if you want to commit to one, or minor/major is some combination later. You don't need to fully commit to a double major immediately, and you may find that you enjoy one more than the other.