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Chemical Engineering vs Biochemistry for college major

lookagainlookagain 11 replies11 postsRegistered User Junior Member
Hi! I am a rising senior starting to think about applying to college but I am confused on what I want to major in. I know that I want to go to med school and that I can major in almost anything for that. I thought since I'm interested in sciences, biochemistry is a good option but I am not sure how the job prospects are for biochemistry in case med school doesn't work out. I also had biomedical engineering on my list for majors but I had to scratch that out because apparently it's very difficult to find jobs in that field, and I am worried the same might be true for biochemistry. I am also considering chemical engineering (probably at UT Austin). My main concern is having a backup plan -- being able to get a job with good earnings if I am not able to get into med school. Which major would be better suited for that? Are there any problems with finding jobs for either of these majors?

Also, which one would look better for med-school? I know med schools are inundated with applications from biology, chemistry and other science majors, so would engineering give me a leg up since a lot of pre-med kids take biochemistry?

I am interested in the curriculum for both majors (although I am a little scared for my GPA if I take chemical engineering) but I'm also concerned about what will get me into med school and be a good backup plan.

Thanks in advance! And just for a better perspective, I am from Texas and will most probably be looking instate.
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Replies to: Chemical Engineering vs Biochemistry for college major

  • AndorvwAndorvw 331 replies9 postsRegistered User Member
    which one would look better for med-school

    You start with the wrong focus. There are many mistakes made by unsuccessful pre-meds... choosing an engineering or hard science (biochem being one) major is one of the top ones.

    IF you're truly want to get into med school, your focus is to get 3.7+ GPA in any major. Without a competitive GPA, everything else means nothing...doesn't matter your school is HYP/JHU or your major is the hardest engineering or science. Keep this in mind - your plan B should NOT be the killer to your plan A. If you worry too much on how to get job if pre-med does not work out, you already lose your focus. Of course, if you don't have a strong science (bio/chem) background then it is better not going pre-med route.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6667 replies43 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    It's very very hard to get a med school acceptable GPA as a chem e. Not impossible, but much easier to major in something else.

    The other issue is that if you major in an engineering field and need to get hired, employers are going to expect graduates to have internship and/or co-op experience. It's very, very hard to be working full time in the summer and get the volunteering and shadowing hours needed for med school.
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10117 replies200 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Adcomms are very agnostic about majors. They don't care and don't favor any one major over another. Being a biochem, BME or ChemE won't make you stand out for the pack. There are thousands individuals with those majors applying to med school every year.

    If you look at the AAMC data, the majors with the highest acceptance rates are humanities and mathematics. But there is considerable selection bias involved in those numbers. (See: MCAT and GPAs for Applicants and Matriculants to U.S. Medical Schools by Primary Undergraduate Major)

    Don't pick a major because you think it looks good to adcomms. Choose major that you like, choose one where you will be able to maintain the high GPA needed for med school, choose one that offers you a decent Plan B career pathway because 60% of those who apply to med school don't get any acceptances at all.

    (FWIW, both my Ds majored in mathematics/applied mathematics; they picked up some computer programming skills along the way working in research labs, and took all the pre-med coursework. Their math degree + pre med classes offered them multiple career tracks after college in case they hadn't been accepted into med school--including getting a MS in BME or MPH in biostatistics or epidemiology, as well entry level jobs in a variety of technical fields.)
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  • cw3131cw3131 4 replies3 postsRegistered User New Member
    I am also an incoming senior and having this same exact dilemma. So all this being said, are there any specific majors that y’all would recommend for pre med that can offer a solid job and pay if med school doesn’t work out? Or would it be better to simply pursue engineering instead and focusing on getting a solid job from that? Thanks
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10117 replies200 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Whether or not you should pursue premed is going to be very personal decision.

    How committed are you to idea of becoming a physician? If it's the only career that you can see yourself in, then do pre-med and give it your everything.

    If you have mixed feelings about medicine, or are primarily looking for job security or a good ROI on your education--then pre-med is the last thing you should be considering.
    are there any specific majors that y’all would recommend for pre med that can offer a solid job and pay if med school doesn’t work out?

    Look into bio-infomatics and biostatistics. Both offer decent non-med school career tracks. Clinical laboratory science (AKA medical technology) offers excellent job prospects and a decent salary.

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