Most 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. And, some schools still require that you take certain courses prior to applying. Research the requirements for schools in your region as well as 1-2 "dream" or "reach" programs to make sure you are on track.
- Introductory biology: BIOL 001 & 002 or BCOR 011 & 012 or BCOR 021
- One year of upper level biology: We recommend BCOR 101 & BCOR 103
College of Nursing & Health Sciences and engineering majors may be able to use BHSC 034 & BIOL 002 to fulfill the first year / introductory biology requirements, and should plan to take BCOR 101 and another upper level biology course.
Chemistry & Biochemistry
One of the following sequences is recommended, based on your major:
- Most life science and non-science majors: CHEM 031 & 032, CHEM 141 & 142, and BIOC 201
- Most Chemistry majors: CHEM 047 & 048, CHEM 051 & 052 (labs), CHEM 165, CHEM 231, and BIOC 201
- Most Biochemistry majors: CHEM 047 & 048, CHEM 051 & 052 (labs), CHEM 131 & 165, BIOC 205, 206 (& 207 - required for major)
- Most non-physics majors: PHYS 011 & 012 and PHYS 021 & 022 (labs)
- Some physics majors, and non-physics majors interested in calculus-based physics: PHYS 051 & 152
- Most engineering majors and some physics majors: PHYS 031 & 125 and PHYS 022 (lab)
Statistics & Calculus
Understanding mathematical concepts and an ability analyze and manipulate scientific data are necessary for success on the MCATs, although no calculus is required. Requirements vary by school for statistics and calculus; for example, UMass requires 1 semester of calculus, and Harvard highly recommends it. Schools that require calculus typically accept AP credit.
- Statistics: STAT 141 and/or STAT 200
- Note: STAT 111 meets this requirement but is not preferred by most schools, and statistics-heavy courses required for certain majors (e.g. PSYC 054) will satisfy a statistics requirement at nearly all schools
- Calculus: MATH 019, 020, 021, or 022
Those interested in additional statistics should consider STAT 200 (Medical Biostatistics & Epidemiology).
English, Writing-Intensive Courses & Humanities
Recommendations vary by school, from “show competency in written and spoken English” to requiring two courses.
- We suggest taking two writing-intensive courses, with at least one offered within the English department in order to appropriately gain expected competency and meet the recommendations at nearly any medical school. The second class can be a writing-intensive course offered in any of the humanities or social sciences.
- Note: ENGL 001, all TAP classes, and HCOL 085 seminars are all considered writing-intensive courses
- Additional courses in the humanities are strongly encouraged as the profession of medicine encompasses both art and science.
An understanding of psychological concepts and sociocultural factors that influence human perception, interactions, behavior, health, and access to healthcare (i.e., the social determinants of health) is needed for MCAT preparation. More importantly, it is required for healthcare providers to be effective caregivers and advocates for all patients. A wide breadth of coursework is encouraged, but the following should meet minimum requirements for most medical schools:
- PSYS 001
- SOC 001, or other sociology, anthropology, political science, gender/sexuality/women studies courses that meet the above description