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Home » FAQs » Undergraduate » Question

I want to be pre-med, but Rutgers doesn’t have a pre-med major. How does that affect me and my chances of getting into medical school? Can I major in biology instead and still fulfill the medical school requirements?

Posted at 12:12 p.m. Jan. 24, 2013,

Long ago most colleges and universities offered a pre-med major, but this is no longer the case. Most medical schools now say that they prefer pre-med students to major in a particular discipline — any field of study — instead of merely taking an assortment of courses lumped together as “pre-med courses.” Consequently, most medical schools require only a relatively small number of courses for admission: General Biology I & II, Chemical Principles I & II, Organic Chemistry I & II, General Physics I & II, and at least one semester of calculus. (All the above science courses must include the accompanying lab, and a student may substitute Elements of Physics for General Physics if desired.) In addition, students must complete a major of their choice. Some pre-med students choose to major in biology because all the required pre-med courses are also required for the biology major, and thus a student can complete two sets of requirements simultaneously. Other pre-med students prefer to major in another discipline — such as chemistry, psychology, history, English, art, or anything else. There are many reasons for doing so. For example, some students feel they will get enough biology in medical school, and thus they want to focus their undergraduate years in another area. Other students feel that choosing a non-biology major may make their application stand out when it is reviewed by the medical school admissions committees. Still other students choose a major based on their contingency plan — what major would help them in a “back-up career” in case they are not accepted into medical school or in case they change their minds. The bottom line: The pre-med major is a thing of the past. A pre-med student can major in any discipline as long as he or she completes the nine required science and math courses.

Posted in: Undergraduate