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Incoming Pre-Health Student Registration

What is Pre-Health?

If you are considering going to medical, dental, veterinary, nursing or physician assistant school sometime after you finish your undergrad degree, you are a “pre-health” student. Preparation for professional school applications requires consideration of academics, experiences, and personal characteristics. Pre-Health advising can help you to assess your candidacy and plan your future coursework and activities.

What major is best for medical school?

While there is no required major for medical school, there is a list of prerequisite courses that include general biology, general chemistry, physics, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and statistics, which will prepare you for the MCAT. As long as you take the prerequisite courses, you can major in anything you enjoy. There is value in having a well-rounded education. Do well in whatever you do major in – that is the key.

Guidance for Students with AP credit considering medical school.

Premed students must be aware of how medical schools will treat their AP credit. Policies vary at different medical schools, and policies change. Some general things to consider when making the decision:

  • How well did your high school prepare you, and do you feel comfortable starting college in a sophomore level class?
  • AP Biology and Chemistry
    • Medical schools require students to take two semesters of biology and two semesters of general chemistry with lab (common classes you can earn AP credit for). AP credit often cannot be used to substitute for this requirement, however students with AP credit may take more advanced biology electives (with lab) instead of intro biology.
      • Example: If you are an intended Biology major, you could use your AP Biology credits for BIO 121 and BIO 122 and potentially BIO 123 and 124 because you will be taking many other upper-level Biology courses and labs within your major. Medical schools will accept these more difficult courses for their biology requirements.
    • Chemistry can be more difficult, however. Most medical schools will not accept AP credit for general chemistry. If you were to use your AP credits for general chemistry (CHE 106 and 107; CHE 116 and 117), you would likely need to take 8 additional credits of upper-level Chemistry courses during your time at Syracuse. For those not intending on a Chemistry major, it is advisable to take general chemistry and forgo AP credits rather than planning on taking additional 300- or 400-level chemistry courses.
  • Taking science courses as an undergrad is especially beneficial as the grade in the course will also be applied to your math and science GPA that is of utmost importance when planning for applications.
  • If you are considering a non-science major, you are encouraged to give up your AP credit and retake the classes at Syracuse.

Pre-Med/Dental/Vet Requirements

  • General Chemistry, two semesters with lab (CHE 106/107 and CHE 116/117)
  • Organic Chemistry, two semesters with lab (CHE 275/276 and CHE 325/326)
  • General Physics, two semesters with lab (PHY 101 and PHY 102 or PHY 211/221 and PHY 212/222)
  • General Biology, two semesters with lab (BIO 121/122 and BIO 123/124 or BIO 123/224)
  • Statistics (MAT 121, 221, or APM 391)
  • Biochemistry I (BCM 475)
  • Microbiology (BIO 409) – Dental and Vet only

Other Health Careers

Physical Therapy, Nursing, OT, and Physician Assistant programs have similar, but often additional prerequisites such as anatomy and physiology (BIO 216 and 217 OR BIO 316 and 317), microbiology (BIO 409) and developmental psychology (PSY 335, 336, 337). Please talk with the pre-health office and individual post-graduate programs to determine additional requirements.

What classes will I need to take Fall of my freshman year for pre-health?

Most students will take introductory biology (BIO 121 and BIO 122) and general chemistry with lab (CHE 106 and 107) their first semester along with a math class (either calculus or statistics).

If you are considering a non-science major or feel unsure about taking both biology and chemistry in your first semester it is possible to stagger your sciences. This is not recommended for biology majors but can be an option for students considering other majors. Please keep in mind at Syracuse we only offer introductory biology (BIO 121 and BIO 122) and general chemistry (CHE 106 and 107) during the fall semester. If you don't take both your first semester, you will most likely need a gap year when applying to medical school. If you need help deciding on this option, you can talk to your academic advisor.

What is a gap year?

The requirements for a competitive medical school application are rigorous and demanding. It is common for students to take extra time after college graduation to continue their development as aspiring physicians. A gap year (or two) can afford students extra time to build their experiences and maturity in areas where needed. From a practical perspective, for those who do NOT take a gap year, the MCAT should be taken during junior year and the med school application is submitted at the end of junior year. This allows only three years for solid preparation, so this timeline is only feasible for those who begin their prerequisite coursework and other preparation in the first semester of college.

More Frequently Asked Questions and Myths