Preparing for Admission to Medical School
Prerequisite Courses Required by Medical Schools
Most medical schools require a minimum of
- 8 credits of biology courses with accompanying laboratory courses
- 8 credits of inorganic/general chemistry with labs
- 8 credits of organic chemistry with labs
- 8 credits of physics with accompanying labs
- 3 credits of Calculus
- 6 credits of English composition and/or literature courses
A few medical schools (5 out of 132) require two semesters of Calculus, while most other medical schools require one semester of Calculus or two semesters of College Mathematics. Given the variability in the prerequisites required by different medical schools, it is advisable for UMBC students to complete at least two semesters of college-level mathematics, one of which should include one semester of Calculus, at minimum. In addition, several medical schools (15 out of 132) require 3.0 credits of Biochemistry. Many other schools strongly recommend completion of Biochemistry and therefore it is advisable for students to try and complete a biochemistry course before they graduate. These recommendations are based on a survey of the AAMC’s 2011-12 Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) book.
NOTE: The science prerequisite courses must be completed before a student takes the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
All prerequisite courses must be completed by the end of the Spring semester that precedes a student’s expected August matriculation into medical school.
Admission requirements vary slightly among medical schools and therefore, it is a student’s responsibility to refer to the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) book, an annual publication of the Association of American Medical Colleges to ensure they take the prerequisites required by the schools to which they plan to apply.
Copies of AAMC’s Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) book are available at UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Library.
A list of the UMBC equivalents of the medical school prerequisite courses is linked below. This list provides the general minimum requirements for most medical schools.
Advanced Placement (AP) Credit for Science Prerequisites
Students frequently ask if they can use AP credit in lieu of taking the prerequisite courses for a grade and credit at UMBC. Pre-medical students should not rely on AP credits to fulfill medical school prerequisites. Not all medical schools accept AP credit, particularly for the science prerequisite courses, even if UMBC accepts AP course credits for those same courses. Each medical school has the final say if a student meets its admission requirements and every medical school has different policies regarding AP credit. In order to prepare students to meet the requirements of as many institutions as possible, it is advisable that UMBC students complete the science prerequisite courses at UMBC for a grade and credit and not rely on AP credits to fulfill prerequisite coursework. This is particularly true for the chemistry and physics sequences. First-year students with AP credit in chemistry and physics are urged to begin science coursework at UMBC at the introductory level (with CHEM 101 and PHYS 11 1 or 121).
Slightly more flexibility exists if a situation arises where a student decides to use AP credit for BIOL 100 and BIOL 100 Lab. In such a circumstance, sometimes medical schools will accept advanced biological sciences coursework at the intermediate level. In this instance, the student would then be required to complete either a 300 or 400 level biological science lecture course that has an accompanying laboratory, such as Cell Biology with lab or Comparative Animal Physiology with Lab. The student could then use BIOL 302 with Lab and either Cell Biology with Lab or Comparative Animal Physiology with Lab towards fulfillment of the minimal 8.0 credits of biological sciences, required by medical schools. Again, UMBC cannot promise that all 132 medical schools will function in exactly the same manner and therefore, students are advised to proceed with caution when using AP credits towards fulfillment of the medical school requirements.
Also, CLEP (College Level Examination Program) course credit, long-distance, or online courses are generally not accepted by medical schools toward fulfillment of the prerequisite courses.
Advanced Placement (AP) Credit for Non-science Prerequisites
Each medical school sets its own standards, but generally, most medical schools are more accepting of AP credit for prerequisite courses in mathematics, English and the humanities, and social sciences than they are for the science prerequisites. For example, most medical schools will accept AP credit toward fulfillment of MATH 151 or ENGL 100 as long as the AP credit appears on an official transcript from an undergraduate college or university.
Profiles of Accepted Applicants
This PDF includes profiles of accepted medical school applicants from one application year at UMBC. These profiles include all experiences from first-semester freshman year up to and including the Spring semester that preceded submission of the AMCAS application. They can serve as a tool to help students critically analyze their individual competitiveness for admission to allopathic medical schools. Many factors influence the admissions decisions of medical schools.
At UMBC, there are many opportunities for undergraduates to get involved in research. Please visit the Office of Undergraduate Education’s Undergraduate Research website and UMBC’s Research and Scholarship website for instructions on how to get started with research not only at UMBC, but also at locations across the country.
The Baltimore-Washington, D.C. corridor also offers a plethora of research opportunities at medical schools and government organizations.
Some off-campus locations where students have completed undergraduate research include:
Extracurricular Involvement and Leadership
With over 200 campus organizations at UMBC, there is a club or organization for almost any interest area. Please visit the UMBC Office of Student Life website for more information.
Current UMBC students can learn more about the Pre-Medical Society by accessing the Office of Student Life’s Student Organizations List. Students are strongly encouraged to join the Pre-Medical Society listserv, even if they cannot attend the meetings. Please email one of the officers of the Society from your UMBC email account and request that you be added to the listserv. The listserv provides weekly information about workshops, professional school visits, internship postings, walkin advising hours, advising appointment schedules, and much more.