If you have an undergraduate degree but didn't take pre-med, you may have missed some medical school prerequisites, and you might have to make up those classes before you can begin a med school program. Every institution sets its own conditions for admission, so check first to see what you are missing. In any case, be sure your school of choice is certified by an accrediting organization such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
To get into medical school, you must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. As long as you have passed certain prerequisite courses, your major does not impact the acceptance process. Schools are more interested in what kind of classes you took, how difficult they were and how well you did. In addition to the required science courses, medical schools often favor students whose studies include a range of liberal arts and humanities classes.
A full-year class in biology is required. This course should provide an overview of the life cycles and metabolic activities of a variety of organisms, including plants, animals, viruses and bacteria. The class must include a laboratory component so students develop the skills needed for inquiry and research. Since genetics is important to so many areas of medicine, the biology class must include a significant amount of genetic content. If it doesn't, you should take a class in genetics. Advanced placement courses taken in high school don't count towards this requirement.
Other Science Classes
You will need one to two years of chemistry, including coursework in both general and organic chemistry. A lab may be optional. These classes should cover a wide range of chemistry topics, because they'll prepare you for biochemistry and molecular biology in med school. At least one full year of physics plus a lab is required. Topics should include Newtonian physics, states of matter, measurement, energy and optics. Some schools accept AP credit as part of these prerequisites.
One year of mathematics is mandated. This is usually calculus, although sometimes statistics may be substituted. In general, this work should prepare you for developing equations, creating graphs and understanding probability. Classes in the liberal arts and humanities are often prerequisites. These include writing-intensive courses and social and behavioral sciences classes such as anthropology and psychology. In addition, you will need excellent computer skills as a doctor. If you're not completely comfortable with online communication and research, you should look for a computer course.
- Emory University School of Medicine: Prospective Students Frequently Asked Questions
- Harvard Medical School: Application Requirements
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Requirements
- AAMC: Admission Requirements
- Princeton Review: Advice for Nontraditional Applicants
- CHEA: Regional Accrediting Organizations 2013-2014
- Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images