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Preparing for a Career in Medicine

Once you have decided to pursue a career in medicine, you should:

  1. Declare the Premedical Studies Co-Major.
  2. Read the Pre-Healthcare FAQ that provides general advice for students considering healthcare careers.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the information on this page.
  4. Obtain more detailed information about specific medical school requirements from medical school websites or resources such as:
    • Medical School Admission Requirements
      This resource book, published by the Association of American Medical Colleges, provides the specific admission requirements of each U.S. and Canadian allopathic medical schools.
    • Osteopathic Medical College Information Book
      This resource book, published by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, provides the specific admission requirements of each U.S. osteopathic medical school.
  5. Learn more about the medical profession and medical education by visiting websites such as:
  6. Sign up to receive emails about upcoming pre-health events and opportunities at Miami from the Mallory-Wilson Center (email Ms. Tailyn Walborn to sign up).
  7. Try to attend meetings and events organized by one of Miami's premed organizations (AMSA, Miami MED, Phi Delta Epsilon, and Med Life). These student-run organizations are here to help you attain your goal of becoming a physician.
  8. Try to attend events organized by the Mallory-Wilson Center for Healthcare Education.

For any questions about preparing for a career in medicine, please feel free to contact Miami's Lead Premedical Advisor:

Tailyn Walborn
Mallory-Wilson Center
106 Pearson Hall

or one of the members of Miami's Pre-Health Advisory Committee.

Choice of Major

In addition to being a Premedical Studies Co-Major (while it's not required, we strongly recommend it), you must select a major in a specific academic discipline. Which major should you choose? Well, medical schools do not give preference for admission based on any specific major. However, they do strongly prefer students who excel academically (regardless of major). Therefore you should feel comfortable pursing any major on campus. Just be aware that, regardless of which major you choose to pursue, every premed student has to also take the medical school prerequisites courses (premedical coursework).

Premedical Coursework

Students planning to pursue the Premedical Studies Co-Major will complete the medical school prerequisite coursework as part of the Co-Major. Students who are not planning to pursue the Premedical Studies Co-Major should take the following courses before taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and applying to medical school:

Medical School Requirement - Miami Equivalent
Subject Courses
English 1 year or equivalent
Biochemistry - 1 semester CHM 432
Biology - 1 year with lab BIO/MBI 115, 116
General Chemistry - 1 year with lab CHM 141, 142 and CHM 144, 145
Organic Chemistry - 1 year with lab CHM 241, 242 and CHM 244, 245 or
CHM 251, 252 and CHM 254, 255
Physics - 1 year with lab PHY 161, 162 or PHY 191, 192
Professional Development PMD 101 and PMD 301
Social Science - 1 year PSY 111, 112 and SOC 153
Statistics STA 26, STA 301, STA 368, or ISA 205 (calculus-based)

Additional Requirements

The list of required courses should be considered a minimum list. Medical schools may require courses in addition to those listed above. For example:

  • If you plan to apply to the Ohio State University College of Medicine, you'll need to take the courses listed above, plus a course in Human Anatomy (BIO 201).
  • If you plan to apply to the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, you'd need to take the courses listed above, plus 1 semester of math (i.e. Calculus I (MTH 151)).

In fact, we recommend that all premed students take a year of college math that includes a semester of Statistics (STA 261 ) . This should fulfill the requirements of the vast majority of medical schools that require a year of math.

Therefore, you should look up the specific course requirements of the schools in which you are planning to apply. This way you'll be able to plan your undergraduate curriculum to meet the requirements of those schools. Lastly, in addition to the required courses, take courses that will provide you with a "well-rounded" education, and will help to improve your written and oral communication skills.

AP Credit

While Miami will accept AP credit towards fulfilling undergraduate requirements, you should use caution when using AP credit for classes that are required by medical schools. The reason for this is that medical schools are not standard in how they handle AP credit being used in place of taking their medical school requirements. Therefore, before using AP credit in lieu of taking a medical school requirement, you should look up the AP policy of the schools in which you are planning to apply.

Course Planning

With a little planning, the course requirements for medical school can be completed in three years. Below is a course schedule of a typical premedical student during their first year. This schedule is strongly recommended unless the curriculum required by your major dictates otherwise.


Typical First-Year Courses for a Premedical Student
Semester Course
Fall  CHM 141 (3)
Fall CHM 144 (2)
Fall BIO/MBI 115 (4)
Fall ENG 111 (3)
Fall Miami Plan or divisional Electives (3-4)
Fall PMD 101 (1)
Spring CHM 142 (3)
Spring CHM 145 (2)
Spring BIO/MBI 116 (4)
Spring Miami Plan or divisional Electives (6-8)
Spring Miami Plan or divisional Electives (6-8)
Spring Miami Plan or divisional Electives (6-8)

Fall Semester 16 - 17 total hours/Spring Semester 15 - 17 total hours

In addition to the specific courses recommended above, you must decide what additional class(es) you want to take each semester. That will depend on your interest and potential choice of major. It is strongly recommended that the class(es) you choose:

  • be of strong interest to you
  • count toward your major
  • be in the social sciences (i.e. PSY 111 and 112, SOC 153) or humanities area

Electing to take math or a language during your first semester should only be done if this is an area of interest and strength for you.

Applying to Medical School

Competition for places in medical school is keen and medical school admission committees choose among many talented students. The evaluation of candidates is based largely on objective criteria; a high overall and science GPA, as well as, competitive scores on the Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT) are very important. Other important factors are:

  • significant prior experience in medicine (we recommend at least 80 hours of physician observation)
  • well-developed interpersonal skills
  • evidence of leadership potential as shown by a few carefully chosen extracurricular activities
  • strong letters of reference

All U.S. medical schools use one of three online application services:

Since it takes approximately 1 year to complete the medical school application process, most students apply to medical school after their third year of undergraduate work with the goal of matriculating into medical school after their 4th year at Miami.

In addition, plan to take Preparing for a Career in Medicine (PMD 301) in the semester before you plan to apply to medical school.

Pre-Healthcare FAQ

What is the Mallory-Wilson Center for Healthcare Education?

The Mallory-Wilson Center for Healthcare Education is the one-stop shop at Miami University for students interested in a pre-health pathway. The center offers a variety of services, including advising tailored to your career path of interest, help finding extracurricular activities, and application assistance. We also host a variety of events throughout the school year designed to help your professional development, and provide networking and mentoring opportunities.

If you have any questions about the center, or about a pre-health pathway at Miami you can email our Assistant Director & Pre-Health Professions Advisor, Tailyn Walborn, at

What do you mean by pre-health pathway and professional healthcare program?

The Mallory-Wilson Center works with students interested in a variety of healthcare related pathways that involve pursuing some level of education after the completion of a bachelor’s degree. Our three most popular pathways include premed, pre-dentistry, and pre-physician associate/assistant. We also work with students interested in pre-optometry, pre-pharmacy, and other less-common pathways. The path for all professional healthcare programs is similar in some ways, and different in others, and we will work with you so that you fully understand your specific pathway of interest.

Please note that if you are interested in nursing at Miami it is a direct-admit only program, and we are not affiliated with that program. You can email for more information regarding this.

Is there a premed, pre-dent, pre-PA, or other pre-healthcare major?

It needs to be emphasized that designations such as pre-healthcare, pre-med, pre-dent, etc. are not majors. Rather, they are indications of intent to attend a particular type of professional healthcare program after college. Professional schools do not give preference for admission based on any specific major. Placement of students in professional healthcare programs is based on performance in required science courses as well as overall academic performance. Both breadth of education and the pursuit of some discipline in depth is expected. A successful applicant should be able to effectively acquire, synthesize, apply, and communicate information. These are skills that can be developed through the study of a wide variety of disciplines.

At Miami, we offer students the Premedical and Pre-Health Studies Co-Major, which is designed as a roadmap to help you complete the required courses for your chosen professional healthcare program, while also completing the requirements for your major. This is called a co-major because you cannot pursue it as your only major, you have to have a primary major in order to pursue this as a second major. The Premedical and Pre-Health Studies Co-Major has two tracks, one that is specifically designed for students interested in medical school, and one that is specifically designed for students interested in other programs, including dental school, PA school, pharmacy school, etc.

Is there a right or wrong primary major I should pursue?

The reason we offer the Premedical and Pre-Health Studies Co-Major as a secondary major, and not a primary major, is because we want to encourage our students to pursue whatever major is of most interest to them. There are multiple reasons for this:

  1. Professional healthcare programs don’t expect any specific major, and in fact, may be interested in hearing about your reasoning behind the major you do choose. If you choose a biology major because it overlaps the most with the coursework you know you’ll need to take for your chosen pathway that isn’t going to hurt your application, nor will choosing history as your major simply because it is a topic you enjoy studying. However, if you choose your major for a meaningful reason, like choosing sociology because you grew up in an underserved community, and want to understand the healthcare disparities faced by people in that community, or choosing political science because you’re interested in how the law in different countries can directly impact the health of the citizens, then admissions committees may ask you about this during interviews, and this could be something that helps you to stand out.
  2. You’re going to spend a lot of time focusing on challenging science coursework, as well as pre-health activities outside of the classroom. Pursuing some coursework outside of the sciences can break up the rigor of the pathway, provide you with variety throughout the semesters, and can add to the well-roundedness of your application. Admissions committees are looking for students who have a liberal arts based education, as they understand that certain skills important to being a healthcare professional are developed through the humanities, social sciences, and arts.
  3. If one of Miami’s bright alumni cures death tomorrow, and we no longer need healthcare professionals, what are you going to do? More realistically, if you decide for whatever reason that a professional healthcare program is not the path for you, you want to have a major that you enjoy to help you discover what the right path for you truly is. The Mallory-Wilson Center works with a number of students who decide sometime during their college career that a professional healthcare program isn’t right for them (and some who decide later that it is right for them), and those students are able to succeed because they had a built-in plan B thanks to the major they chose.

Obviously, it’s important to do well in all of your classes, and there are specific science courses that admissions committees are going to look at, but the Mallory-Wilson Center is happy to help students create a plan that includes as major and pre-health courses on a timeline that allows for success in and out of the classroom!

Does my competitiveness correlate with the number of majors and minors I have?

Your competitiveness for healthcare professional school is not based on the number of majors and minors you have. Someone with just one major can have just as much of a chance of being accepted as someone with two majors and two minors, or may even have a higher chance if their metrics are higher, or extracurricular involvement is stronger. Don’t add a major or minor just to add a major or a minor. Only add someone thing if you truly interested in it.

What is the standard timeline for applying to a professional healthcare program?

Most professional healthcare programs require an admissions test, and have an extended application cycle. For example, from the time you take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) until you actually begin medical school, it has likely been over a year, and could even be upwards of a year and a half or longer. Additionally, these admissions tests are often subject specific, meaning that you’ll need to have completed certain coursework prior to taking them. Because of the importance of certain classes, most students take a minimum of three years before they are ready to apply, and when we add in the length of the application cycle, it takes the majority of students a minimum of four years from when they first start at Miami to when they begin their professional healthcare program. 

It is important to understand that even if you are coming in with enough credits to graduate early, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to apply any sooner, or start a professional healthcare program earlier. Tailyn Walborn (, our Assistant Director & Pre-Health Professions Advisor is happy to speak with anyone about individual timelines and expectations. 

It is also important to understand that what is described above is simply the standard timeline, and that there is no right or wrong timeline. More than half of first-year medical students indicate that they’ve taken additional time before applying for a variety of reasons, so you never need to feel like you’re behind, or don’t have enough time to be the strongest applicant you know you can be!

Do I need to complete all of my prerequisites before applying?

Generally speaking, you don’t have to complete all of your prerequisites before applying, but it is best to have as many completed as possible to demonstrate your academic ability in those courses, and there are certain situations that define what courses you do need to have completed.

As mentioned above, certain admissions tests are subject specific, so you will need to have those courses completed prior to taking the test, and you will need to have the test completed prior to applying, so those courses will need to be taken before you apply.

Certain programs have deadlines for prerequisite courses, which also includes a maximum number of courses that can be left outstanding before applying. For example, certain physician associate/assistant programs will specify that you can only have two prerequisite courses left incomplete when you submit your application.

Should I consider a gap/growth year?

A gap/growth year refers to any extra time you take in between completing your bachelor’s degree at Miami and starting a professional healthcare program. There is nothing wrong with taking a gap/growth year(s) as long as you have a plan for how you will spend that time. Additionally, some students may need this extra time, and admissions committees often encourage students to take this extra time, as they love hearing how a student benefits/grows during their gap/growth year(s). This is something that should be discussed individually with our Assistant Director & Pre-Health Professions Advisor, Tailyn Walborn (

What if I’m not a strong applicant by the end of my time at Miami?

Just because you’re not a strong application by the end of your time at Miami doesn’t mean you won’t be a strong applicant someday. It’s important to understand why you aren’t a strong applicant, and if you are able to address those reasons. Time can be spent after completing your bachelor’s degree taking additional courses, participating in research, working in healthcare, etc. This is something you can discuss individually with our Assistant Director & Pre-Health Professions Advisor, Tailyn Walborn (

What do I need to do to become a strong applicant for a professional healthcare program

Although there is no secret equation to gaining acceptance into a healthcare professional program, there are important factors to focus on during your time as a pre-health student. Admissions committees look at metrics, community service, healthcare experience, research, extracurricular involvement, and other activities to determine whether or not you will make a successful professional healthcare program student.

Metrics: The first thing admissions committees are looking at are your admissions test score, cumulative GPA, and science GPA. There is no value that guarantees admittance, but some programs do have cut-offs. Work with our office to determine whether or not your metrics are competitive for your professional healthcare program of choice.

Community Service: Healthcare providers are leaders within their communities, who have a drive for helping people. Admissions committees want to see that applicants have already stepped up as leaders within their community, and a great way to do this is through community service. You can participate in any combination of community service activities, they don’t all have to be healthcare related, but you should show a long-term commitment.

Healthcare Experience: Although healthcare experience isn’t necessarily required by all professional healthcare programs, it is a great way to strengthen your application while making sure that healthcare is the correct path for you. There are some programs that absolutely require direct patient care experience as well, so you’ll want to make sure you’re working with our office to determine how much, if any, is necessary for your pathway.

Research: Although not all professional healthcare pathways require research, it is a great way to apply concepts you learn in your classes, develop relationships with faculty and graduate students, and become familiar with the process of producing reliable studies that can be replicated by colleagues. Healthcare is a profession that is constantly changing, and it’s important that you understand how to interpret and apply future studies, and some programs want to see that you’re committed to furthering your profession through research.

Extracurricular Activities: The term extracurricular refers to activities that take place outside of/separate from the classroom. Some of what we’ve discussed above technically fall into this category, but are often considered separate by admissions committees. Typical extracurricular activities include student organizations, arts and music, and athletics. Admissions committees are looking for applicants who have been able to balance a challenging course load while continuing involvement in activities that they are passionate about. It is recommended that you get involved with a pre-health focused student organization so that you have a support system, but there are no guidelines for what else you can be involved with. Show the professional healthcare programs you apply to who you are by participating in activities that you feel connected to.

Other Activities/Hobbies: Admissions committees want to get a feel for who you are as a person, which includes your interests, passions, and hobbies. Do you love to cook? They want to hear why you value your time doing so. Is running something you do for relaxation? Explain to them how you’ve benefited from this. Don’t be afraid to spend some time doing something completely unrelated to healthcare, as this shows them the real you, and can help you to stand out from other applicants. Furthermore, this is a way for you to demonstrate your more tactile abilities that your other activities may not have taken advantage of. This can be extremely important for certain professional healthcare programs, as they want to know that you are able to work intricately with your hands.

Do I need perfect metrics to get into a professional healthcare program?

You do not need perfect metrics to get into a professional healthcare program, as admissions committees often take a holistic (whole person) approach to reviewing your application. That being said, they are looking for a demonstration that you will be able to handle the rigorous coursework of their program, and perform well on any required exams, so good grades and test scores are important.

What courses do I need to take?

Requirements for professional healthcare programs can vary between programs and specific schools, so it’s important that you work with our office and do your own research to make sure you are meeting the minimum requirements for the schools you plan on applying to. That being said, requirements are just the minimum admissions committees expect to see, and there are other courses that can benefit you on your admissions test and in future classes, so here is a list of courses that are typically either required or recommended for all pre-health students (this is not an exhaustive list, so please work with our Assistant Director & Pre-Health Professions Advisor, Tailyn Walborn ( to make sure you are taking everything you should):

  • BIO 115 - Biological Concepts: Ecology, Evolution, Genetics, and Diversity (4)
  • BIO 116 - Biological Concepts: Structure, Function, Cellular, and Molecular Biology (4)
  • BIO 201 - Human Anatomy (4)
  • BIO 203 - Introduction to Cell Biology (3)
  • BIO 305 - Human Physiology (4)
  • BIO 342 - Genetics (3)
  • MBI 201 - General Microbiology (4)
  • CHM 141/144 - College Chemistry Lecture and Lab I (5)
  • CHM 142/145 - College Chemistry Lecture and Lab II (5)
  • CHM 241/244 - Organic Chemistry Lecture and Lab I (5)
  • CHM 242/245 - Organic Chemistry Lecture and Lab II (5)
  • CHM 332 or 432 - Biochemistry (4)
  • PHY 161 - Physics for Life Sciences with Laboratory I (4)
  • PHY 162 - Physics for Life Sciences with Laboratory II (4)
  • STA 261 - Statistics (4)
  • PSY 111 - Introduction to Psychology (3)
  • SOC 153 - Sociology in a Global Context (3)
  • PHL 131 - Introduction to Ethics (3)

Is it okay to withdraw from a class?

If you feel as though you need to withdraw from a class it is okay to do so, but this shouldn’t be something you do regularly. Any more than one or two Ws on a transcript can raise a red flag.

Can I take a class as pass/fail?

You should not take a class as pass/fail, as this can raise a red flag for admissions committees for a variety of reasons. If you don’t think you can do well in a class you need to ask yourself why, and consider other options.

Should I put my social activities on the backburner?

Although it is important to maintain good grades, and have regular involvement in extracurricular activities, it is also important to take care of yourself. Professional healthcare programs don’t expect you to put your social life on hold through undergrad and graduate school, as they understand there is more to life than school and work, and a good work-life balance is one of the best ways to avoid burnout and other mental health issues. It is important to make time for you to relax, do things you enjoy, and hang out with friends, you just need to practice good time management skills.

Can I use AP to fulfill pre-health course requirements?

It is recommended that you take biology, chemistry, and physics at Miami, even if you’ve received AP credit for these courses. There are three main reasons for this.

  1. Not all professional healthcare programs will accept AP credit for prerequisite courses.
  2. Just because you are awarded credit for a specific course doesn’t mean your AP course actually covered everything that is covered in that specific course. Being that a lot of these courses are the first in a series of courses, and are prerequisites for professional healthcare programs, it’s important that you are exposed to all of the content covered in the Miami version of these courses.
  3. Even if you had a wonderful AP course, which did cover all of the content Miami’s course covers, you are still allowed to take that course at Miami, which would hopefully be an easy A, and give you a leg up for your GPA.

Will I be able to study abroad as a pre-health student?

If studying abroad is something you’re interested in, you can absolutely do this as a pre-health student, but you’ll need to plan in advance. Miami has a variety of study abroad opportunities for students, offered during all terms - summer, fall, winter, and spring. Some of these are healthcare focused, and some that are not, but there can be just as much of a benefit participating in one that isn’t healthcare focused as there is one that is healthcare focused. It is important to understand that you should not do any of your pre-health coursework abroad, you should only be completing major courses, general education courses, and other elective courses. Because of this, studying abroad during a fall or spring semester can set you back in your pre-health coursework, and that one semester can actually delay your application year for a professional healthcare program by an entire year. There is nothing wrong with that, as we’ve previously discussed how there is no correct timeline for applying, but if you are someone who doesn’t want at least one gap/growth year, you will want to discuss a plan to study abroad with our Assistant Director & Pre-Health Professions Advisor, Tailyn Walborn ( as early as possible.

Is taking my pre-health classes over the summer beneficial since I can focus on one class at a time?

Although there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of a summer or J-term if you want to get ahead in some coursework, you should avoid taking your pre-health coursework outside of the fall and spring semesters unless it’s absolutely necessary. Admissions committees for professional healthcare programs want to see that you can handle the rigor of pre-health coursework while you are taking a full load of courses, and participating in extracurricular activities. If you continually take your pre-health courses during summer and J-terms that is going to raise some red flags to what you are able to handle. Remember, your academic record is important, as it gives the admissions committees a look into how you will perform as a pre-health student.

Should I avoid challenging courses so I don’t put my GPA at-risk?

Admissions committees want to see that you are able to handle challenging coursework, as the coursework in professional healthcare programs will be just as challenging, if not more. If you are avoiding a relevant science course because you are afraid of the impact it will have on your GPA, you should ask yourself why you don’t have the confidence in yourself to succeed, or why you believe you won’t do well in that course. If it’s a subject area that applies to healthcare, you will absolutely cover that subject in a professional healthcare program, and not having the foundation from a college-level course covering that topic can make the course in professional school even more challenging.

Is it true that I can’t get into a professional healthcare program with a C?

You can absolutely still get into a professional healthcare program with a C. Admissions committees understand that things happen. Whether you had a bad semester, took a while to figure out your studying and time management routine, or you just had a course that you couldn’t seem to get on top of - as long as you demonstrate in other related, upper-level coursework that you can be successful, one or two lower grades is not the end of the world. That being said, some programs may have grade minimums, so if you earn a grade that is lower (often a C-), then you will need to repeat that specific course.

How are repeated courses handled on my application for a professional healthcare program?

Although Miami has a course repeat policy where you can repeat up to two courses in which you earned a C- or below, and use only the higher grade of the two attempts for your GPA, this doesn’t apply to most professional healthcare programs. If you have repeated a course, both of your grades will be used to calculate your GPA for your application - so every attempt at every college level course you take (including courses taken through CCP in high school) counts toward your application GPA for professional healthcare programs.

Do grades from other institutions count toward my application GPA for professional healthcare programs?

All college level coursework completed, whether it be during high school through a CCP program, or during your time as an undergraduate student, and whether it was at Miami or another institution, must be reported on your application for a professional healthcare program, and will be used to calculate your application GPA.

As a pre-health student, should I view other pre-health students as competition?

Although there are fewer seats in professional healthcare programs than there are applicants, it’s more important to focus on what you can do to make yourself the strongest applicant you can be, not how you can outshine other students. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, has different narratives, and aligns differently with the missions and visions of different professional healthcare programs. Just because another student has a higher number of extracurricular activities, or a higher GPA doesn’t mean they are a stronger applicant, or that you both won’t get into the right school for you. Comparing one applicant to another is often like comparing apples and potatoes (apples and oranges are both fruits thank you). Unfortunately, there are pre-health students who feel the need to brag about their test scores, or belittle other students because of a grade they earned. At the end of the day, there is no guarantee that any applicant will be accepted - and there are always 4.0 students with high test scores, and seemingly strong extracurricular activities who don’t get accepted for one reason or another, and there are absolutely students with lower GPAs and test scores, and few extracurricular activities who do get accepted, and this can be for a number of reasons. Bottom-line, worry about yourself. You can be there to learn from and be a mentor to others, you’re the only person who impacts the strength of your application.

Should I drop pre-health if I’ve had a horrible semester/year?

There are a variety of reasons someone may have a horrible semester or year. Although it may feel like you are trying to climb out of a hole, admissions committees for professional healthcare programs know that unfortunate things happen, and look for signs of upward trends and resilience. If you know that you are going to finish the semester with lower grades, it’s important to meet with our Assistant Director & Pre-Health Professions Advisor, Tailyn Walborn (, to discuss the reasoning behind your struggles, and to develop a plan. There’s no reason to lose your confidence, but you do need to work hard to prevent yourself from continuing to earn low grades.

Mallory-Wilson Center for Healthcare Education

106 Pearson Hall
Oxford, OH 45056