If you plan to pursue allopathic (M.D.) or osteopathic (D.O.) medical school, there are courses you will need to take to fulfill application requirements and/or recommendations. You should consult AAMC's list of required courses for additional information specific to certain MD institutions and Choose DO Explorer to investigate DO schools. Connect with your academic advisor to determine the best timing for these courses as you work to fulfill major, College, and institutional requirements.
The MCAT should ideally be taken soon after completing the courses whose content are included on the exam. For those planning to incorporate one to two growth years before starting medical school, the ideal MCAT timing is in the summer between junior and senior years, if the relevant courses are completed by then. Note that most successful applicants matriculate into medical school 1-3 years after graduating from UVM.
Many medical schools are transitioning to competency-based admissions rather than requiring specific courses. Competencies are the cumulative achievement of knowledge and skills. Your competencies are assessed by Admissions Committees through:
- Rigor, depth, and breadth of your transcript
- MCAT subset scores
- Evidence of experiences that require you to apply your knowledge, like undergraduate research, paid work, volunteering, and other life experiences
- Quality of the application itself
Even with this shift to a competency-based model, there are still specific courses that most candidates for medical school should consider taking to develop these competencies and prepare for the MCAT. Many schools still require certain courses prior to applying. Successful completion of the following will set an applicant up to be eligible to apply to nearly all schools. Research schools in your home state as well as 1-2 "dream" or "reach" programs to clarify any specific additional requirements unique to those schools.
Most premedical students should plan on taking a minimum of two years of biology over their undergraduate years. This will meet the requirements or recommendations of every medical school and be excellent preparation for the MCAT.
One year of general biology with lab, fulfilled via ONE of the following options, based on your College/major:
- Principles of Biology 1&2: BIOL 1400 & 1450
- OR: Exploring Biology 1&2: BCOR 1400 & 1450 (or a single semester, Accelerated Biology: BCOR 1425 for those so placed)
- OR: Human Cell Biology: BHSC 1340 & Principles of Biology 2: BIOL1450
At least one additional year of biology is encouraged. Courses most frequently suggested by medical schools (and most likely to help supplement knowledge on the MCAT) are:
- Genetics: BCOR 2300
- Molecular & Cell Biology: BCOR 2500 (with lab) OR BCOR 2505 (without lab)
Chemistry & Biochemistry
One year of general chemistry with lab, one year of organic chemistry with lab, and one semester of biochemistry are recommended to fulfill requirements or strong recommendations at nearly all medical schools, regardless of whether AP chemistry credit was granted.
General (inorganic) Chemistry:
- General Chemistry 1&2: Chem 1400 & CHEM 1450 (this will be the sequence taken by MOST pre-med students)
- OR: For some Chemistry/Biochemistry majors who take Organic Chemistry for Majors in their first year
- Exploring Chemistry 1&2: CHEM 1410 & CHEM 1460 (two 1 credit general chemistry labs) AND
- Intro Physical Chemistry: CHEM 2600 AND
- Inorganic Chemistry: CHEM 2400 OR Advanced Inorganic Chemistry: CHEM 3400 (based on Major requirements)
- Organic Chemistry 1&2: Chem 2580 & CHEM 2585
- OR: For some Chemistry/Biochemistry majors:
- Organic Chemistry for Majors 1 & 2: CHEM 1500 & 1550
- Fundamentals of Biochemistry: BIOC 3001
- OR: As required for biochemistry and chemistry majors:
- Biochemistry 1: BIOC 3005 (taken as part of a two-semester course which includes BIOC 3006)
The physics sequence (one year of general physics with lab) will be influenced by your major requirements. Those with strong physics backgrounds who have been granted AP Physics may choose to use that credit to take advanced level physics. Physical Chemistry can be considered upper-level physics for this purpose.
- Elementary Physics (algebra-based): PHYS 1400 & PHYS 1450
- Note: PHYS 1410 & 1460 -- 1 credit Problem Solving courses associated with Elementary Physics are not required for medical school and can be taken based on student comfort with content
- OR: Fundamentals of Physics (calculus-based): PHYS 1600 & PHYS 1650
- OR: Physics for Engineers: PHYS 1500 & PHYS 1550
- Because PHYS 1550 does not include a lab, those taking this course will want to make sure their curriculum includes a physics-oriented lab in at least one additional course. For BME students, this will be one of the Core Courses.
Calculus is no longer required by most medical schools. Some schools continue to recommend it, and for those that do, any CALC course will suffice.
If calculus is not required for your degree and you elect not to take a calculus course in college:
- Research medical schools of interest to confirm that you will be eligible to apply without calculus AND
- Complete two statistics courses (see below)
At least ONE statistics course should be taken by all applicants to medical school. [If an applicant has opted not to take calculus, then TWO statistics courses are recommended.]
- Basic Statistical methods: STAT 1410 (preferred over Elements of Statistics: STAT 1110)
- Note that some departments have a major-specific statistics course required for that degree (e.g., Statistics for Psych Sci: PSYS 2010; or Statistics for Engineering: STAT 2430), which are acceptable alternatives to STAT 1410
- Med Biostat & Epidemiology: STAT 3000
- Biostatistics is recommended by several medical schools. Therefore, for those with AP Stats credit, or for those opting not to take calculus, or for anyone seeking to enhance their statistical preparation for medical school, this course is also recommended.
English & Writing-Intensive Courses
To gain expected competency and meet the recommendations for nearly any medical school, we strongly recommend that applicants to medical school complete two writing-intensive courses. All WIL1 options will fulfill one of these. Choosing a second course that centers on English literature and literary analysis will ensure that recommendations at nearly any medical school are met. (Students with AP English Lit & Comp credit should take at least one English/writing intensive course during their undergraduate years.)
Social Sciences & Other Humanities Courses
A broad undergraduate education helps prepare individuals for a career in medicine by fostering observational skills and analytical reasoning, encouraging empathy and self-reflection, and providing insight into the experiences and realities across the landscape of humankind. We encourage all potential medical school applicants to take advantage of the opportunity to diversify their education through thoughtful course choice. Some medical schools will require a certain minimum number of courses in the social sciences/humanities. Consult schools of interest for specifics.
One MCAT section (Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior) will assess, in part, an understanding of the non-medical forces that influence individuals’ health outcomes. These social determinants of health are learned through hands-on engagement with people and healthcare systems and supplemented through reading and coursework. There are several classes offered at UVM that may help a student gain an understanding of these issues, including many SOC, ANTH, GSWS, HSCI, HLTH courses (among others). Prior to medical school application, we encourage pre-medical students to explore courses and experiences that will allow them to develop a deep understanding of, and commitment to addressing, the social determinants of health. In addition, students should take at least one psychology course as an undergraduate. Before taking the MCAT, applicants should have a firm understanding of the terms and concepts covered in Intro to Psychological Science: PSYS 1400. We suggest that students with AP Psychology credit use that to enroll in an upper-level course.