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What should a premed major in?

bluedevilmikebluedevilmike Posts: 11,964Registered User Senior Member
edited November 2013 in Pre-Med Topics
What kind of majors am I allowed to have? Do I have to major in pre-med?

Usually, in fact, it is impossible for you to major in "pre-med". Usually, premeds major in biology, but this is by no means required! In fact, you are allowed to major in whatever you like.

Wow, anything? But surely some majors have better admissions rates, right?

See for yourself:
From MSAR 2005:
Math and Statistics (<1%)
Specialized Health Sciences (<4%)
Humanities (<4%)
Social Sciences (11.2%)
Physical Sciences (11.7%)
Other (11.8%)
Biological Sciences (57.6%)

Accepted Applicants:
Math and Statistics (<1%)
Specialized Health Sciences (<4%)
Humanities (<5%)
Social Sciences (11.9%)
Physical Sciences (12.9%)
Other (10.7%)
Biological Sciences (56.8%)
Most people interpret this result to mean that "your major doesn't matter", and I agree with that interpretation. Still, decide for yourself.

I would urge you to remember two things:
1.) This is including variation in MCAT scores and GPA - that is, this does not control for those. In other words, if chem majors have lower GPAs than English majors, then that does not adversely affect either group.
2.) Now, medical schools overall may not prefer any major, but some specific medical schools - or even tiers of medical schools - might. There is no evidence available on this subject. I do not believe this to be the case, but I can't disprove it, and so I wanted to make that clear.

But don't some majors prepare me better for medical school? Won't an art major be behind, since he'll only know the basics of biology and chemistry?
bluedevilmike:The thing is that medical school only requires the basics in biology and chemistry. A little more - maybe three extra classes of biology - would be helpful, but a major is overkill.

schritzo:It doesn't really matter. You learn a lot of the stuff in med school.

Bigredmed: You will learn it all again... It should be readily apparent that bio is the most transferable major to medical school. However, a bio major is likely to require courses in zoology, botany, and biodiversity at a minimum. There will be many classes that have no correlation to human phys/bio/anatomy within most bio major course sets.

If you take a course in genetics, 2 semesters of biochem, and cell bio, then you will have covered any extra bio that might show up in med school. In my undergrad biochem course we had to know all the steps, intermediates and structure of molecules in glycolysis, the TCA cycle and oxidative phosphorylation, as well as the regulatory molecules for the important steps. For med school, we only had to know the regulatory steps, the molecules that served as part of the regulatory mechanism, and the overall purpose and goal of the entire process. No structures, no steps.

I would reccomend biochem, genetics and physiology as extra bio/other science courses to take beyond the general requirements.

If a bio major is excessive, then perhaps I should major in something like nursing or physical therapy - that would be most direct, right?
my$0.02: While any major, including art or architecture, can lead to medical school admission, a "serious" major will likely serve you better (for example, Biochemistry vs. exercise biology). Mean MCAT scores for various majors are reported at http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/e...ata/sum2005.pdf. Note that "Specialized Health Services" majors score, on average, the worst of all majors.

Quotes from http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/showthread.php?t=205486
Post edited by bluedevilmike on

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