Medical School Requirements – An Overview
The medical school requirements, or “prereqs” as they’re often called, are similar across schools.
The point of these classes is to help you be prepared for the rigors of medical school.
This will give you an overview of what most schools require.
However, when you do apply for medical school, you’ll want to double check with the schools that you’re interested in to make sure you’ve met all of their requirements.
A few schools have medical school requirements outside of the ones listed here.
Science Medical School Requirements
Since medicine is mainly based in the sciences, the majority of the medical school requirements are science-based.
Here is a summary:
- 1 year of chemistry with lab
- 1 year of organic chemistry with lab
- 1 year of biology with lab
- 1 year of physics with lab
It’s important to note that for chemistry, physics and really any of the classes, you can take the lower level courses and still meet the requirements.
For example, some chemistry and physics courses use calculus, while others do not.
You don’t have to enroll in the calculus-based courses to meet the medical school requirements.
Non-Science Medical School Requirements
While science is the basis for medicine, there is also an “art” to medicine.
Most schools will want you to take these courses before you apply to medical school:
- 1 year of English, including a writing course
- Calculus, statistics or sometimes both
You will probably have to take a year of English courses anyway to get your bachelor’s degree.
A good writing course will serve you well in your career and throughout your life.
You might be surprised how often people ask you to write letters for work, school and even for court!
Statistics is also an important course as you’ll be reviewing scientific journals for the rest of your career. You might be surprised how “statistically significant” isn’t always as important as you thought!
You’ll also learn how statistics can be used to draw a conclusion that isn’t necessarily supported by the data.
These are very important skills, so take your statistics class seriously!
These are courses that are not generally medical school requirements, but will give you a leg up when you get into medical school.
This is generally not a medical school requirement, but will definitely give you an advantage going into medical school. You will spend much of your first year and a good part of your second in the anatomy lab. The more familiar you are with the material, the easier this will be. You’ll also be loved by your anatomy lab partners!
This is the study of human tissues under the microscope. Again, you will spend a significant amount of time your first and second years learning about histology. The more you know from the start, the better.
In histology, you’ll learn what bone, cartilage, skin, muscle and other tissues look like up close and personal. You’ll also probably see some of the diseases that affect tissues under the microscope. Histology will give you a visual memory of what you’ll learn in your physiology and pathophysiology classes in medical school.
Most of your medical education hinges on your understanding of how the body works and what can go wrong with it. These classes will give you a good introduction to these subjects and will put you a step ahead in medical school.
Physiology is the study of how the human body works. You’ll learn a lot about metabolic pathways and the specialized functions of different organs in the body. It was one of my favorite classes in college and is sometimes a medical school requirement.
Pathophysiology is the study of disease and disease processes. You’ll learn about genetic changes that can mess up those metabolic pathways, how cell growth can turn into cancer and many other interesting things in this class.
Many places in America have a large Spanish-speaking population. Learning Spanish will help you as a medical student on the wards and may very well help you get into medical school.
If you can get a basic pharmacology class in, it would be helpful. But you’ll cover this quite a bit in medical school.
So, those are the medical school requirements and my picks to really put you ahead of the class when you get to medical school.
My biggest tip about these classes is to really try to learn the material. It can be easy to slip into the habit of cramming for a test so you know it for the test, but then forget it later. While this will get you the grades, it will hurt you later. If you really learn the material in your science classes, the MCAT will be much easier. If you learn the material from my picks, medical school will be much easier.
Remember: These are general medical school requirements that most schools have. For specifics, check the MSAR and double check with the school. You don’t want to end up not accepted just because you missed an uncommon prerequisite. Do your homework first to make sure you have what the school wants.
For tips on getting into medical school, check out my eBook!