Course Selection & Requirements

  • What are the traditional core premedical course requirements?

    Currently for most medical schools, by the time you apply you must have completed the following courses:

    • One year of biology with lab
    • One year of general chemistry with lab
    • One year of organic chemistry with lab (or one semester of organic and one semester of biochemistry
    • One year of physics with lab
    • One year of English

    The changes to the 2015 MCAT will include a new interdisciplinary section that covers topics from psychology, social sciences, and biological basis of behavior. Although some medical schools already require coursework in behavioral science, it is possible that other medical schools will add a required course in psychology or behavioral science.

  • Do I have to major in science?

    You may be surprised to learn that you can major in absolutely anything and still go to medical school. Medical schools value Haverford’s liberal arts education for the development of strong critical thinking and communication skills as well as intellectual curiosity and cultural awareness. There is not one “best” major for premedical students. Although an interest and facility in science are natural corollaries to an interest in medicine, many students prepare for medical school while pursuing a non-science major. Many medical schools require or strongly recommend one or two additional upper level biology courses in addition to the core premedical science requirements, and one of those courses should be biochemistry.

  • Can I use AP credits to fulfill pre-med requirements?

    Because medical schools want to see that you can handle college level science and laboratory work, at a minimum you should take as many college level science courses as are listed in the premedical requirements. If you have AP/IB credits, this often means that you may take upper level science courses instead of introductory courses, but sometimes the science departments will still recommend that students take the Haverford introductory science courses. If you have AP/IB credit in science, speak to your advisor and to the pre-health advisor about the best course choices for your individual situation.

  • Can I take another reading and writing course in place of English?

    Most medical schools accept any humanities or writing intensive course in place of an English course. A few, however, are very restrictive about requiring courses only from an English department. If you have an interest in a particular medical school, you should check its webpage, or ask the pre health advisor.

  • Can I take courses pass/fail?

    All science and math courses should be taken for a grade. It is also best to take all your courses for a grade because medical schools look for applicants who have consistently challenged themselves throughout the undergraduate years.

  • What are the math requirements for medical school?

    Approximately 35% of the US medical schools have math requirements. Those that require math usually require one semester of either statistics or calculus.

  • Can I take required pre-med courses in the summer?

    Medical schools prefer that you take all your premedical requirements at Haverford (or at Bryn Mawr). If you feel you must deviate from this pattern please talk to the Coordinator of health professions Advising about the best options. You should not take any premedical requirements abroad.

Study Abroad

  • Will studying abroad interfere with my preparation for medical school?

    Don’t miss the opportunity to experience another culture and way of looking at the world if that appeals to you. Later on you may not have the chance to pursue such experiences. Furthermore, medical schools appreciate applicants who are culturally sensitive. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that if you go abroad it may be easier for you to apply to medical school in your senior year or later, rather than to rush to complete all requirements and activities by the end of your junior year. Remember that the average age of med school matriculants is 24. For more information on study abroad, see the International Academic Programs' Pre-med page.

  • Can I take my pre-med requirements abroad?

    No, ONLY take pre-med requirements at U.S. institutions.

Learning About Medicine Through Extracurricular Activities and Service

  • What kind of extracurricular experiences should I seek?

    Medical schools are looking for more than strong academic qualifications. Schools are looking for candidates who have taken full advantage of opportunities to explore the field so it is important to get some clinical and research exposure during your undergraduate career. You should definitely explore medicine from as many perspectives as possible to be certain that it is the right career for you. This is becoming an increasingly important factor in admissions because candidates with this type of experience are more informed about their decisions to pursue a medical career. You should explore medicine through volunteer work in a local hospital, hospice program, ambulance corps and/or research laboratory. Another excellent way to explore the medical field is through the CCPA’s externship program.

    Get involved in campus activities-- choose to do things that you feel passionately about. You can enhance your skills at working collaboratively and assuming leadership roles through involvement in campus clubs, sports teams and part-time jobs; try to view all of your activities as learning opportunities.

    Medicine is a service based career. You can strengthen your ability to communicate with people from different backgrounds and cultures through community service activities. You may want to participate in one of the many established community service programs that are available on campus through Eighth Dimension and the Center For Global Peace and Citizenship (CPGC).

    Many of our students have experience with laboratory research by the time they apply to medical school. Individuals interested specifically in MD/PhD programs need significant research experience beyond what is expected of most premedical students, a solid two-years’ worth of time in a research laboratory.

Applying to Medical School

  • Should I be thinking about letters of recommendation for medical school?

    When you apply to medical school, you will need to have 5-6 letters of recommendation from faculty, supervisors, coaches, etc. These letters will be submitted to the Pre-Health Office and incorporated into your Pre-Medical School Committee Letter Packet. As you go through your undergraduate career, take advantage of opportunities to get to know Haverford’s accessible faculty (i.e., go to office hours and study sessions), and when you are applying to medical school, contact the individuals who know you best for recommendation letters. For more information, see the Guide for Applicants.

  • Is it okay to take time off between college and medical school?

    It is not only okay, but often advisable. Medical schools appreciate applicants with maturity and life experience, who have demonstrated their vocational aptitude for medicine. The average age for admission to medical school is 24.