Pre-Med/Pre-Health: Required Classes
Registering with Pre-Med/Pre-Health Advising
All students interested in medical, dental, or PA school should sign up for the Pre-Med/Pre-Health Newsletter. It is also important to meet with an advisor regularly throughout your time at UMass Amherst. First-year students can attend group meetings and meet individually with peer advisors. After the first year, students should meet with one of the professional advisors once each semester. See the Directory of Advisors for information about peer and professional advisors in the PreMed/PreHealth Office.
What major is best for...?
Since there is no pre-med/pre-health major, students should select a major that is interesting and challenging and allows them to pursue a variety of career opportunities. Any major is acceptable as long as it allows the student to complete the requirements listed below.
What classes should I take for medical or dental school?
Requirements can vary by school, but most medical and dental schools require the courses listed below. If you are interested in PA/physician assistant, visit our Physician Assistant page.
Medical and Dental Schools prefer CLASSROOM-BASED coursework and labs taken during regular academic semesters (fall and spring). Therefore we DO NOT recommend winter/summer session or any on-line courses for the prerequisites.
|Course||UMass Course Title||Possible Substitutions||AP Scores Accepted?*|
|Intro Biology I & II with lab||Bio 151, 152, 153||BioTAP||No|
|General Chemistry I & II with lab||Chem 111, 112||Chem 121H, 122H (Chem majors)||No|
|Organic Chemistry I & II with lab||Chem 261, 262, 269||Chem 265, 266, 267, 268 (Chem majors)||N/A|
|Intro Physics I & II with lab||Phys 131, 132||Physics 151, 152 (Math, Engin majors) or 181, 182 (Phys majors)||For first semester only|
|Calculus I||Math 127||Math 131 (BMB, Math, Chem, Phys, Engin majors)||Yes|
|Statistics||Stats 240||Psych 240, ResEcon 212, PubHlth 223
Most 200+ level stats courses
|Elementary Biochemistry||Biochem 320 (prev 420)||Biochem 423 (Biochem majors)||N/A|
|One Year of English/College Writing||EnglWrit 112, Junior Year Writing||Other writing intensive courses are often accepted.||No|
*See the advanced placement courses section below for additional details.
Students should verify the prerequisite courses for their top choice programs, as requirements can vary. Some notable exceptions are outlined below.
Medical school applicants should strongly consider taking the following courses, which have content that appears on the MCAT:
- Psychology 100: Introductory Psychology (Gen Ed: SB)
- Sociology (any 100-level class)
Dental school applicants should strongly consider additional upper-level life science coursework. Tufts Dental requires an additional upper-level biology course in addition to the courses in the above table. University of New England (UNE) Dental School requires Anatomy (Kin 270) as well as Microbiology with lab (Microbio 310 & 265). Common upper-level courses that are recommended include, but are not limited to, Biology 283, Biology 288, Microbiology 310 with 265, Kinesiology 270, or Kinesiology 272.
Advanced placement (AP) and community college courses
Many medical and dental schools will not accept AP scores as a substitute for requisite science courses. While many will accept AP Math and Statistics as well as one semester of AP Physics, there are a number of popular programs—Boston University (BU) dental, Tufts dental, University of New England medical—that will not. Before using AP credit, research programs of interest to learn their policies. Additionally, most dental schools, including Tufts and BU, will not accept community college coursework for requisite science courses.
Note that many schools will accept advanced course work of comparable length in the same discipline in which the student has an AP score or community college coursework. Thus, if a student has AP or community college credit in chemistry and decides not to take General Chemistry, the student should plan on taking advanced course work in chemistry (or perhaps biochemistry) equal to a full year with laboratory. Organic Chemistry does not count in this case since it is already one of the courses required for admission to medical school.
What classes should I take for other pre-health programs (pharmacy, optometry, PT, OT, nursing, etc.)?
Course requirements for many pre-health programs vary widely from school to school. Students should look at the admissions websites for programs of interest annually to be sure they are on track with prerequisite coursework and to confirm that the requirements have not changed. (Visit the Physician Assistant Information page for more information on course requirements for PA programs.)
Admissions requirements for optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, podiatry, accelerated nursing, and nurse practitioner
Admissions requirements for these programs can vary from year to year and program to program and are best searched directly on the individual program websites. You can find programs in each of these fields at the following professional association websites:
Nurse Practitioner Programs (Nurse Journal)
Optional electives for students interested in a health career
The following courses are not prerequisites for most health-care programs but may be interesting general education electives for students seeking to understand medicine from a breadth of perspectives.
- Anthro 104: Culture, Society and People (SB, G)
- Anthro 312: Medical Anthropology
- Classics 250: Classical Origins of Western Medicine & Medical Terminology (HS)
- Nursing 312: Cultural Diversity in Health and Illness (SI, U)
- Nutrition 130: Nutrition for a Healthy Lifestyle (BS)
- Nutrition 140: Nutrition, Weight & Fitness (BS)
- Philosophy 164: Medical Ethics (AT)
- Public Health 129: Health Care for All (SB, U)
- University 203: The Science of Thriving: From Stress to Strength
Optional multidisciplinary programs for pre-health students
- Certificate program in medical humanities
- Culture, health, and science (CHS) certificate program
- Medical anthropology (see Anthropology Department for more info)