Should DE Linear Algebra & Multivariable Calculus be taken by an aspiring pre-med student?

For reference, I am currently a rising sophomore about to go into the IBDP. For a long time, I have been very interested in the medical field. I know that in terms of mathematics/sciences that heavily rely on mathematics, you need to have a strong grip on Calculus, Statistics, Physics, and Chemistry, among other subjects. However, should rigorously-leveled Linear Algebra and Multivariable Calculus courses be taken by aspiring pre-med students? Is it necessary to take such courses at the high school level, or college level? I plan on taking AP Calculus BC next year, so will the AP calc and multivariable calc overlap too much, resulting in redundancy? Also, should I take differential equations, or will AP calc and diff equations overlap too much as well? Please share your insights!

AP Calc BC does not overlap with MVC, LA or DiffyQ. I don’t believe that the higher level math class are prerequisites for any med schools. However, they may be a requirement for your undergraduate major.

Only if the student has run out of math to take at school.

ps, most med schools just want 1-2 semesters of calc (the joint HMS/MIT program does want more advanced math, but it is a pretty specialized program).

Definitely not required for premed, but if you’re interested in math, it won’t hurt either. As I’ve told my kids, “Math is good. More math is better.”

Med school pre-reqs typically only require 1-2 semesters of college calculus and/or stats. And most (not all) accept high school classes equivalent to APCalcBC as sufficient to fulfill that requirement.

Pre-med per se does not generally require math beyond single variable calculus and (sometimes calculus-based) statistics.

Note, however, that some medical schools do not accept AP credit for some or all pre-med courses, so if you complete single variable calculus with a high enough AP calculus BC score, then you may want to take a more advanced college math course like multivariable calculus.

Of course, if your major requires more math than pre-med does (e.g. math, statistics, physics), or if you are just interested in math, then you may want to take more math anyway.

Take it if you want to but it’s not necessary. The last time I counted, only about 10% of medical schools required calculus (I believe UMass still requires 2 semesters). A similar fraction required statistics. The remaining medical schools have either no math requirement or want “college math”. The outlier is Carle, which is an engineering-based school of medicine so they recommend multivariate, diff eq, linear and some CS coursework.

Your decision on how many and which math courses to take should be guided by your interests and your intended major, as something like physics obviously requires more math than do biology or sociology. Additionally, you should look at the math prerequisites for your in-state medical school (most applicants have the greatest success being admitted at their state institution) and any other med schools that are your top choices to ensure you have met their prerequisites.

Having said all that, at some undergraduate institutions calculus is a prerequisite for physics, which is required by almost all medical schools. Those students will need to take calculus in order to complete physics or they will need to make a plan to take algebra-based physics at another institution prior to matriculating to medical school. Talk with your academic or premedical advisor to make an individualized plan based on where you’d like to apply and what you’d like your major to be.

Typical introductory physics sequences acceptable for pre-meds:

A. Physics for biology majors, no calculus. (AP physics 1 and 2 emulates)
B. Physics for biology majors, with single variable calculus.
C. Physics for physics and engineering majors, with single and multi variable calculus.
D. Honors physics for physics and engineering majors.

Usually, colleges will offer A or B, in addition to C (and maybe D). Some colleges may only offer C or D.

Note that A or B is typically a terminal sequence, meaning there are no more advanced physics courses to take if your college gives you subject credit for AP physics 1 and/or 2. In that case, you may have to choose between repeating (and marking repeat on the medical school application) or taking C or D.