Preparing for Admission to Medical School
Choice of Major
At most undergraduate colleges, including UMBC, deciding to go "PreMed or PreDental" is an informal decision. There is no official major declaration action for PreMed or PreDental, it just means that students have medical or dental school as an eventual goal and are making sure they add the PreMed or PreDental prerequisites to their declared major. Students can decide to go that pathway at any point in their career at UMBC, which might alleviate some decision-making pressure during the freshman year. Although, preparing to become competitive for professional school does take many years and is not a quick-process.
UMBC PreMed/PreDental students declare various majors. Most of these students naturally are attracted to the sciences and decide to major accordingly, although majoring in the sciences is not required for medical or dental school. Any major is acceptable for medical or dental school or the other professional areas that fall under The PreMedical and PreDental Advising Office (pre-medical, dental, optometry, podiatry, vet). Students should follow their individual passions while aligning their choices with their academic strengths and abilities. About 70% of pre-meds, pre-dental, pre-podiatry, pre-optometry, and pre-vet. students are biology majors, followed by 25% biochemistry majors, while the rest fall under Psychology and other myriad choices such as Math, English Literature, Info. Systems, Engineering, Music, etc. Maintaining an excellent academic record is crucial, given our accepted students are averaging 3.7 overall GPA’s and 3.7 science GPA’s.
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: Certain prerequisite courses must be completed before a student takes the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Non-MCAT dependent courses may be completed after the MCAT.
All admission prerequisite courses must be completed by the end of the Fall or Spring semester that precedes a student’s expected August matriculation into medical school. This varies per medical school.
Admission requirements vary among medical schools and therefore, it is a student’s responsibility to refer to the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR), 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.
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 111 or 121).
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.