What Are the Best Pre-Med Majors?

There are many educational paths that can make you a competitive medical school applicant. Many schools recommend majors in chemistry, biochemistry or biology, and some schools offer specific pre-med planning programs that complement your major studies. Read on to find out what you need to do to qualify for medical school. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Recommended Pre-Med Majors

Most medical schools don't require you to major in a certain subject to qualify for admission; however, you will need to meet minimum academic requirements, such as coursework in social science, math, English and the physical sciences. You'll also have to do well on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Since medicine is a scientific discipline, you may consider majoring in one of the sciences, such as biology, chemistry or biochemistry.

Important Facts About Medical Education

Common Courses Foundations of Medicine, Ethics and Professionalism
Prerequisites Standardized test scores, courses in the core sciences, acceptable grade point average, recommendation letters, interviews
Online Availability No courses are available online
Possible Careers Physician, surgeon, developmental psychiatrist
Median Salary (2018) $200,890 (for physicians and surgeons, all other)
Job Growth (2016-2026) 13% (for all physicians and surgeons)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Major in Biology

If you major in biology, you'll study human, plant and animal life. These programs typically are geared toward students interested in pursuing careers in the biological or health sciences. You may be required to specialize in a subdiscipline, such as ecology, genetics or neurobiology, or your school might allow you to major in biology with a specialization in medical professions. Many of your courses will have both classroom and laboratory components, so, in addition to attending lectures, you'll spend time practicing what you've learned in a hands-on environment. Courses tend to include:

  • Cell biology
  • Molecular genetics
  • Plant development
  • Genetic systems
  • Infectious diseases
  • Neurobiology
  • Physiology

Major in Chemistry

If you major in chemistry, you'll study how chemicals and molecules interact with each other. As with a major in biology, much of your coursework will be laboratory-based. You might be required to specialize in a subdiscipline of the science, like enzymology or biophysical chemistry, although your school may offer a chemistry program specifically for pre-med students. Curricula often include classes in:

  • Organic chemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Laboratory techniques
  • Physical chemistry
  • Molecular structure
  • Chemical analysis
  • Experimental chemistry

Major in Biochemistry

Some medical schools recommend that applicants major in biochemistry. These programs often are offered through a collaboration between chemistry and biology departments. As the name of the major suggests, biochemistry programs focus on a blend of biology and chemistry coursework in both the classroom and laboratory. Students learn to recognize and analyze chemical processes within living organisms. Your courses might include:

  • Medical biochemistry
  • Molecular chemistry of the body
  • Structural biology
  • Quantum chemistry

Pre-Med Programs

Some colleges and universities offer pre-medical planning programs. These programs generally do not culminate in a degree; they supplement a degree program. They're typically geared toward students of biology, chemistry and other sciences who need help planning their undergraduate coursework to meet medical school requirements. A pre-med planning program also might help you prepare for the MCAT, medical school interviews and the application process.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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