Getting into medical school is one of the toughest things you can do. However, every journey starts by taking a step in the right direction. By choosing the right undergraduate school (for pre-med) for your aspiring doctors, the journey can be made easier. In this post, we will look at the best pre-med majors and best pre-med schools.
Of course, during your pre-medical education, you will be required to fulfill certain coursework prerequisites. In addition, you should select other courses in the sciences and humanities to supplement this core curriculum, enhancing your education and your application to medical school. For those who are just starting out, refer to our previous article on how to build profiles for pre-med programs.
Most schools agree on the basic elements for pre-medical education. Minimum course requirements include one year each of biology, general (inorganic) chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and related lab work for each. In addition, about two-thirds require English and about one-quarter require calculus. A small number of schools have no specific course requirements.
Best Pre-Med Majors
More than half of the medical school applicants, as well as matriculants, major in the biological sciences. This makes sense: In biology and related fields, there’s likely to be a high degree of overlap between the requirements for your major and your requirements as a pre-med. Plus, there’s a good chance you want to be a doctor because you already have a keen interest in biological sciences.
Many universities offer a variety of science majors such as neuroscience, physiology, medical science, microbiology, zoology, and biotechnology. Any of these will likely have significant applicability to your medical school pursuits—so feel free to pursue your passions!
A significant number of medical school hopefuls major in the physical sciences. Like biological sciences, these offer training that is often directly applicable to medical school curricula.
Completing the coursework for a major in physics, chemistry, or a related field will also enable you to fulfill many of your major and pre-med requirements at once.
Also like a major in biology, it will serve you better if it’s accompanied by non-science classes—or even a non-science minor field of study.
Math and Statistics
While math and statistics majors make up a small percentage of medical school applicants and matriculants (less than one percent), as a group they have the highest mean overall MCAT score and mean GPA.
While some major requirements are likely to overlap with your pre-med requirements—and while the mode of thinking you’ll hone as math or stats major will certainly prepare you for many of the rigors of medical school—you will likely need to use a considerable number of your electives to fulfill your pre-med requirements.
About ten percent of medical school matriculants come from social sciences majors. Some of these, like economics, may have requirements that overlap somewhat with your pre-med curriculum. Others, like anthropology, political science, or sociology, are likely to overlap just a little (if at all
So, you will likely need to use your electives to ensure that you complete all of your pre-med requirements. Choosing a natural sciences minor may offer a great way to ensure that you’re getting higher-level science courses onto your transcript.
A little less than four percent of medical school matriculants come from humanities majors. Majoring in a humanities subject such as modern or classical languages, literature, or philosophy will certainly set you apart from other medical school applicants. But note that you will have to plan your coursework strategically to ensure that you fulfill all of your major and pre-med requirements.
If you opt to major in the humanities, make sure you take some higher-level science courses because medical school admissions committees will look for those on your transcript.
In addition, consider picking up a natural sciences minor. This offers an easy way to ensure you can fit higher-level science courses into your schedule. Biology or chemistry would be a great choice.
You’ll also want to ensure that you regularly communicate with your pre-med advisor about your course load. Your advisor will help you stay on track with medical school requirements and make sure you properly plan which courses to take before you sit for the MCAT.
Top Pre-Med Schools
A good starting point is to look at schools with a large population of pre-med students.
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What to Look for in Pre-Med Schools during College List Development?
- Med School Admission Stats of the Pre-Med School
- Research Opportunities at the Pre-Med School
- Student Advisory Programs
- Opportunities for Clinical Experience
- Internship Opportunities
Requirements of Top Pre-Med Schools
Considering their reputation and the quality education offered at the best colleges for pre-med, the Admission Requirements are:
- A good GPA of 3.0 or more
- Strong competence in science
- Proof of your desire to become a physician by way of having experience of working with patients by perhaps volunteering at a hospital
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal Statement
- High School Transcripts
- Good TOEFL scores
Best Pre-Med Schools
The best pre-med schools are those that offer superlative study programs, are selective with admissions, are financially viable, and ensure students have a memorable student life on campus.
As per Harvard’s Office of Career Services estimation, 17% of any one of its classes will apply to med school—that’s a huge selection of the student body! Pre-med applicants with a 3.5 GPA or higher had a 93% acceptance rate to med schools in 2013, whereas average acceptance rates that year were about 42%.
As an institution for medical research and a med school, Johns Hopkins has a solid reputation that they have maintained through the years. This directly implies that if you are a student at Johns Hopkins, you have the opportunity to gain from a variety of clinical and research facilities.
Johns Hopkins University has an advising program track for their undergraduate pre-med students. heir advising program track includes group meetings, personal appointments, and a variety of other programs that are specially designed to assist all those who aspire to be students of med-school to succeed.
This university’s med school is also affiliated with a teaching hospital that is considered one of the best in the US. Plus, International Medical Aid was founded at this same university and it has gone on to become a stellar NGO that provides pre-med internships that offer a wealth of experience to anyone lucky enough to join.
Northwestern University ranks among the top 20 best medical schools when it comes to research. This university offers you the opportunity to explore various clinical and research opportunities and build a career from them. It is located in Streeterville, Chicago makes it an attractive prospect if you wish to study in a university located in a busy urban area.
Stanford has an exceptional medical school, which in turn has created a very strong pre-med community among the undergraduate student body. In addition to taking advantage of impressive pre-health advising, Stanford students can join the student-run Stanford Pre-Medical Association, which helps students of all academic and personal backgrounds figure out their health career path by connecting them with internships, volunteer positions, application resources, and like-minded peers.
Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis offers undergraduate students a strong pre-health advising community, as well as numerous volunteer and internship opportunities in medicine and health. Furthermore, the smaller population of graduate students at Wash U means that undergraduates frequently have more opportunities to participate in research alongside medical school faculty.
Washington University also offers the University Scholars Program in Medicine, through which exceptional high school students gain admission to both the university and its medical school.
If you need a med school that is public and offers extensive resources, the University of Washington is for you.
As a student of this great university, you will get the opportunity to get your vocational and academic concerns resolved through the help of advisors and pre-health career coaches. Such concerns as volunteering opportunities, research, choosing classes, and job shadowing are well-addressed at UW so you needn’t worry yourself sick.
University of Pennsylvania
UPenn, as most people call this university, is home to the Perelman School of Medicine; which happens to be ranked among the best medical schools in the US. The University of Pennsylvania’s strong medical school and research-oriented curriculum also make it a great pre-med school.
Approximately 76% of their undergraduates get accepted into medical school which is natural considering that it is one of the best colleges for pre-med. UPenn’s pre-med study program prepares students to do well in MCAT besides offering the best support for other pre-requisite courses to be accepted in a medical college. Between these opportunities and the university’s strong curriculum, Penn students enter medical school at significantly higher rates than the national average.
Columbia’s Medical School is ranked 6th best medical school based on research and 31st when it comes to primary care. As undergraduates, though, students are allocated a pre-med advisor and attend informational meetings sponsored by the Premedical Committee.
Columbia’s appropriate NYC location also guarantees easy access to innumerable clinics and hospitals, giving you plenty of opportunities for clinical and research experience. Also, Columbia provides pre-med students with a sample course curriculum to help them meet the minimum requirements for med school applications.
It is an irrefutable fact that Duke is one of the best universities in the country. Add another fact that Duke has a pre-med program that is quite robust and you get one of the best options any pre-med student can ever wish for.
This pre-med school has a reputation of preparing pre-med students so well that 70 – 85% of their students get accepted into medical college. This rate is near twice the average of the country’s total rate. One of the factors that have made this impressive rate possible is the fact that Duke’s medical school is ranked among the top 15.
This private research university is one of the best pre-med schools and is many a time called ‘Southern Ivy’ because of its superlative academic and social status. Located next to Emory Hospital and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers students the opportunity to take on internships there and enhance their chances of being accepted at medical college.
Emory’s PreHealth Advising Services offers students advice, mentoring, and counseling in preparation for medical school admissions to ensure that up to 93% of their students get accepted.
UNC also offers numerous advantages for its pre-med students and medical school applicants. Given the extent of its resources, both internally and within the larger “Research Triangle” of North Carolina, UNC offers its pre-med students ample opportunities to begin specializing in particular research or clinical fields.
UNC also offers a program known as Medical Education Development (MED) Summer Program which lasts for nine unbelievably interesting weeks. This program can only be described as an exclusive program meant for gifted and diligent students who missed opportunities.
Cornell, as stats have proven, is one of the best pre-med schools in the US. In 2016, 76% of pre-med students from Cornell managed to get into med school with a GPA of not less than 3.4. And, 63% of all the applicants of Cornell got their medical school applications approved and were accepted that same year.