Guide for Planning your Pre-med Curriculum

The following information serves only as a guide for arranging when to take your medical school prerequisites; if you have concerns or questions, please contact a pre-med advisor.

The typical pre-medical requirements include:

  • 1 year of general chemistry with labs
  • 1 year of general biology with labs
  • 1 year of organic chemistry with labs
  • 1 year of physics with labs
  • 1 course in biochemistry with a lab
  • 1 course in calculus and/or statistics

The specific option chosen should also match your undergraduate major requirements, for example, some majors require Physics 105 & 106, other majors require calculus-based Physics 191 & 200.

In determining when to take your medical school prerequisites - there are several important factors to keep in mind.

1. What is your major?

Since there is no pre-med major you must choose a discipline of study. Your undergraduate major does not have to be a science as long as you meet the medical school prerequisites and are academically successful in your chosen major. However, if you are intending to major in a science you should anticipate the need to take more than one science course each semester (See Option A or Option B; non-science major, Option E or Option F).

2. Are you planning to go directly to medical school the year following graduation?

If so, you should be aware of the following:

a) You must take the MCAT [Medical College Admissions Test] by late summer prior to your senior year. You should apply to medical schools at the end of your junior year. The earlier you can submit your application to medical school the better your chances of acceptance.

b) Most medical school prerequisites should be completed before you take the MCAT. Biochemistry is not covered by the MCAT, so this course can be taken your senior year.

3. Do you intend to study abroad for a semester ?

As pre-med advisors we think that a study abroad experience in invaluable for your personal, academic, and professional development -- we encourage all students to study abroad.

Spending a semester abroad is considered by many schools to be a valuable experience adding to a student's maturity and cultural awareness. We strongly encourage you to pursue this opportunity at CSB/SJU. By planning early you can avoid difficulties with scheduling [See Option C or Option D]. Please note the following:

a) Medical school prerequisites should be taken at CSB/SJU. Many medical schools discourage taking science prerequisites during summer school, and will not accept coursework from community colleges.

b) Most of the science medical school prerequisites are sequential and cannot be taken out of order. Also, it is not good to take one part of a two semester sequence at one school, and the second part at another school. Each school designs their own curriculum -- courses from one school are not necessarily interchangeable with another school.

4. Are you concerned about your science background and wish to begin slowly with science courses [i.e. one science per semester]?

If you choose to initially follow a slower path [such as Option E, Option F or Option G], you should recognize that after your first year you will have to double-up on sciences, and/or plan on applying to medical school after your senior year, rather than your junior year. Additionally, keep in mind that medical school admissions committees look carefully at your ability to handle a heavy academic load successfully, so taking a full academic load is important.

Pre-medicine program: curriculum options and suggestions

NOTE: the following plans give you a framework and timeline for taking the medical school prerequisite courses. A normal course load is four 4-credit courses per semester. Thus any open spaces will be filled with core courses, requirements of your specific major, and/or electives

Option A: Preferred plan for biology major or biochemistry major

Fall

Spring

First year
Chem 123
Biol 121
Core
Symposium
Chem 234
Biol 221
Core
Symposium
Second year
Chem 235
Math
UDS*
Chem 236
Math**
UDS
Third year
Physics
UDS
Physics
UDS
Senior year
Biochemistry
UDS
UDS
* UDS = upper division science [upper division sciences begin in second year for Bio majors]
** a second math depending on major
Implications of this option:
  • med school prerequisites are completed by the end of the junior year - you should take the MCAT by end of summer prior to your senior year.
  • provides science prerequisites early for upper division biology, chemistry, or other natural sciences courses.
  • completion of lower division courses early permits additional course work accomplished before the MCAT and more course opportunities in junior and senior year.
  • two sciences together each semester in first year.

Option B: Preferred plan for traditional Chemistry major

Fall

Spring

First year
Chem 123
Math 119
Core
Symposium
Chem 234
Math 120
Core
Symposium
Second year
Chem 235
Biology 121
UDS*
Chem 236
Biology 221
UDS
Third year
Physics
UDS
Physics
UDS
Senior year
Biochemistry
UDS
UDS
UDS

* UDS = upper division science

Implications of this option:
  • preferred initial background for chemistry major.
  • med school prerequisites are completed by the end of the junior year - can take the MCAT in April of junior year.
  • organic chemistry and biology taken together.

Option C: Preferred plan for a semester abroad junior year (either fall or spring)

Fall

Spring

First year
Chem 123
Biology 121
Core
Symposium
Chem 234
Biology 221
Core
Symposium
Second year
Chem 235
Physics
Chem 236
Physics
Third year
abroad
or abroad
Senior year
Biochemistry
Math
Math*

* a second math depending on major

Implications of this option:
  • prerequisites are completed by the end of the sophomore year so that the MCAT can be taken by end of summer following the second year.
  • abroad experience does not interfere with the interview/acceptance process for med school occurring in senior year.
  • requires early academic planning.
  • heavier science load first and second years.
  • as pre-med advisors we think that a study abroad experience in invaluable for your personal, academic, and professional development -- we encourage all students to study abroad.

Option D: Preferred plan semester abroad senior year (either fall or spring)

Fall

Spring

First year
Chem 123
Biology 121
Core
Symposium
Chem 234
Biology 221
Core
Symposium
Second year
Chem 235
Math
Chem 236
Math*
Third year
Physics
Physics
Senior year
abroad
or abroad

* a second math depending on major

Implications of this option:
  • sciences courses can be spread out over 3 years.
  • MCAT can be taken by late summer prior to senior year.
  • Biochemistry must be taken senior year during the semester you are not abroad.
  • this option severely restricts your availability for med school interviews.
  • difficulty in communication with med school - your acceptance of a medical school offer must be responded to promptly or the position may be offered to someone else. If you are traveling it may be difficult to notify you of your acceptance.

Option E: Preferred plan for Non-science major applying after junior year

Fall

Spring

First year
Chem 123
Symposium
Chem 234
Symposium
Second year
Chem 235
Math
Chem 236
Third year
Physics
Biology 121
Physics
Biology 221
Senior year
Biochemistry
or abroad
Implications of this option:
  • only one science course the first year.
  • since you are a non-science major you can take science courses more slowly since you will not be taking upper division science courses.
  • two science courses with labs during junior year when typically taking upper division courses for major
  • MCAT can be taken by late summer prior to senior year.
  • cannot consider semester abroad until senior year -- and there are disadvantages to that (see Option D).
  • if you change to a science major in your second year - will have to take three sciences together some semesters.
  • can't take upper division sciences until lower level courses are taken.

Option F: Preferred plan for Non-science major applying after senior year

Fall

Spring

First year
Chem 123
Symposium
Chem 234
Symposium
Second year
Chem 235
Math
Chem 236
Third year
Biology 121
Biology 221
Senior year
Physics
Biochemistry
Physics
Implications of this option:
  • only one science course the first year - since you are a non-science major you can take science courses more slowly since you will not be taking upper division science courses.
  • year off after undergraduate - this is either positive or negative depending on your viewpoint and what you do with that year.
  • grades from all 4 years will be considered in the application process - may help improve GPA from weak first year.
  • cannot consider semester abroad unless you extend your education beyond 4 years.
  • MCAT can only be taken after senior year.

Option G: Preferred plan for Science major - one science per semester first year

Fall

Spring

First year
Chem 123
Math
Core
Symposium
Chem 234
Math*
Core
Symposium
Second year
Chem 235
Biology 121
Chem 236
Biology 221
Third year
Physics
UDS**
Physics
UDS
Senior year
UDS
Biochemistry
UDS
UDS
* a second math depending on major
** upper division science
Implications of this option:
  • only one science course the first year.
  • can't take upper division sciences until lower level courses are taken.
  • MCAT can be taken by late summer prior to senior year.