Medical School - General Preparation
Academic preparation for medical school requires a Bachelor’s degree and completion of a set of prerequisite classes, usually science, which vary from school to school. The most common classes are outlined on the final page of this Summary. For your degree, any major is appropriate. There is no preference in this regard, so study something you love!
Preparation for medical school involves engaging in experiences that develop and demonstrate skills in communication, leadership, community service, research, and familiarity with the medical profession. What you do outside of class is as important as what you do in class so don’t neglect these activities. Keep in mind that activities complement your coursework, but will not compensate for low grades. Both are important!
- Make sure you have contact information for supervisors and physicians you work with or shadow in case you need a recommendation letter. Try to keep an open relationship with them after you discontinue activities.
- Keep a record of all hours of service and experiences. The Premed Activities Sheet on our website can help with this. You will find a spreadsheet version under Available Downloads.
- Writing reflections on each activity in a journal will be helpful when you write your personal statement.
Because you are preparing for a humanitarian profession, it is important to have volunteer experiences that demonstrate a commitment to serving others in your community. It is suggested that this be ongoing throughout your college years prior to application for admission. Competitive applicants complete 3 different experiences each lasting 6 months to a year in the 4 years before they matriculate.
Interacting well with patients is one of the key indicators of a successful future provider. Your experience can be either paid or unpaid. It may or may not require certification. Examples include ER volunteer, nursing home, hospice and more. Competitive applicants complete 1-2 different experiences each lasting at least 6 months to a year, total of 100+ hrs.
Physicians depend on medical literature to remain current in their field throughout their careers. Most medical schools highly recommend participation in research. The UUSOM requires a research experience that tests a hypothesis. Your research experience can be from many different areas. It does not have to be medically related or in a lab. Competitive applicants complete at least 1 experience under a supervision of a faculty lasting 6 months to a year.
As a physician, you will be a leader and team member in many ways – with your patients, your staff, your colleagues, and in your community. Examples include offices held in organizations, committee work; leadership in church activities; coordinating a project; managing, training, supervising at work or in other activities; teaching experience of any kind; coaching; peer counseling or mentoring, etc. Competitive applicants complete 3 different experiences each lasting 3 months or longer in the 4 years before they matriculate.
This should be one of your first experiences as a premedical student. Observing a physician in action will help you gather the information you need to fully commit to the profession and to learn about a variety of medical specialties. Many students find physicians to shadow through volunteer experiences at medical facilities. It is a good idea to shadow both M.D and D.O. doctors.
Competitive applicants shadow 3-5 different physicians, spending at least 8-10 hours with each, and have a good balance between primary care and non-primary care physicians.
This guide is designed for applying to a range of medical schools. It is not a comprehensive list. Requirements may vary by school so applicants should look closely at what is required at the schools at which they are applying. The following list indicates the most commonly classes required or recommended by medical schools in the west and the top ten schools that University of Utah graduates attend. See a Preprofessional advisor for more information.
AP & IB CREDIT
Most medical schools will NOT accept Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) credits earned in high school towards their prerequisites, so students with AP or IB credits in science, math or writing should either take the introductory course or a higher level class in the appropriate area. AP credit is fine for General Education requirements and other degree requirements.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE CREDITS
Medical schools vary on their view of prerequisite classes taken at Community Colleges. Some medical schools will not accept them at all. Some accept them but look on them with some disfavor, other schools readily accept them. Students should be aware of this when planning their education.
There are a number of very good reasons for students to begin their college education at a Community College, so we have some recommendations for those who wish to do so. In general it is okay to take the following classes at the Salt Lake Community College. However, to satisfy schools who do not accept Community College work, higher level courses may have to be taken to make up for it.
- MATH 1050 College Algebra and anything below
- MATH 1060 Trigonometry
- MATH 1040 Statistics (equivalent to MATH 1070 at the University of Utah
- BIOL 1610 and 1615 General Biology and Lab (equivalent to BIOL 1210 at the University of Utah)
- BIOL 2325 Human Anatomy
- BIOL 2420 Human Physiology.
- CHEM 1210 and 1215, and 1220 and 1225, General Chemistry 1 and 2 with labs.
- CLEP Credit & Correspondence Study-- Not acceptable as part of the premed curriculum
- AP Credits-- Generally, students must take coursework beyond introductory classes waived by AP
- Online Courses--Online sections of semester based university classes, or online/in person hybrid sections of semester based classes will usually be accepted. Online courses which are not university semester based (independent study with flexible start and completion) will generally not be accepted.
- Withdrawals--W’s should be used only for emergencies, although W’s will not affect your GPA.
- GPA—Medical schools generally look at 3 GPAs, Total GPA, Science GPA, and All Other (Non-Science)
- Generally the minimum GPA for Total, Science, and AO is 3.0, but may be higher or lower depending on the school. The average GPA for accepted applicants is usually in the 3.6 range for MD schools and 3.5 range for DO schools.
- UUSOM minimum recommended is 3.2, and average accepted is around 3.6.
- Repeated Courses—All grades from ALL attempts at a class are counted in your GPA when you apply for medical school. (This is different from the U of U’s policy to only count the most recent attempt.)
Required by Most Schools
The most common Biology requirement is 1 year General Biology with labs. We recommend Cell Biology to fulfill the second semester in order to better prepare for the MCAT.
- BIOL 1610, Fundamentlas of Biology I (3 credits) Formerly BIOL 1210
- BIOL 2020 Cell Biology (3 credits) Prerequisites: BIOL 1210 or 1610 and CHEM 1210
Since 2 Biology labs are required by most medical schools, students can either the Anatomy OR Physiology lab to fulfill the first biology lab for most med schools. The second biology lab can be fulfilled by any biology course such as BIOL 1615, 1625, 3115, 3205, 3235, 3515, 3525 and more. Please note that many of these classes correspond to a class that must also be taken. Taking labs at Salt Lake Community College is also acceptable
1 Semester Biochemistry
- BIOL 3510 or CHEM 3510, Biochemistry I (3 credits) Prerequisite CHEM 2310
Recommended Prerequisites BIOL 2020 and CHEM 2320
- BIOL 2325 Human Anatomy (4 credits) Prerequisite BIOL 1210 or 1610
The lab is included and fulfills one Biology lab for most medical schools
- BIOL 2420Human Physiology (4 credits), Prerequistes BIOL 1210 or 1610 and CHEM 1210
Required or Recommended by Some Schools
- Genetics—2 options
- BIOL 2030Genetics (3 credits) Prerequisite BIOL 2020
BIOL 2210Human Genetics (3 credits) Prerequisite BIOL 1210 or 1610
In order to take the proper math class, you must have ACT, SAT or math placement test scores, or successfully pass a prerequisite math course. Some students will need MATH 0980 or MATH 1010 before starting the Premed Math sequence.
Required by Most Schools
The most common requirement is College Algebra and Trigonometry. University of Utah students need to take Trigonometry even if it is not required because it is a prerequisite for the lowest Physics series accepted by medical school.
- MATH 1050 College Algebra (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1010 or placement
- Math 1060 Trigonometry (3 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1050 or placement
Required or Recommended by Some Schools
1 or 2 semesters of Calculus
- MATH 1210, Calculus 1, (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1060 or placement,
- MATH 1220 Calculus 2, (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1210 or placement
1 Semester of Statistics
MATH 1070 Statisics (3 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1010
Any other statistics course such as PSY 3000 or FCS 3210 can be substituted. Check with your major advisor.
Required by Most Schools
1 year of General Chemistry + Labs
- CHEM 1210 General Chemistry I (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1050, or higher math placement
- Lab CHEM 1215 (1 credit)
- CHEM 1220 General Chemistry 2 (4 credits) Prerequisite CHEM 1210
- Lab CHEM 1225 (1 credit)
1 year of Organic Chemistry + Labs
- CHEM 2310 Organic Chemistry I (4 credits) Prerequisite CHEM 1220
- Lab CHEM 2315 (1 credit)
- CHEM 2320 Organic Chemistry I (4 credits) Prerequisite CHEM 2310
- Lab CHEM 2325 (1 credit)
1 Semester Biochemistry
- BIOL 3510 or CHEM 3510, Biochemistry I (3 credits) Prerequisite, CHEM 2310,
- Recommended Prerequisites BIOL 2020 and CHEM 2320
Required by Most Schools
- 1 year of Physics with labs REQUIRED, students have 2 series to choose from. Algebra and Trig based Physics,or Calculus based Physics
- PHYS 2010 General Physics 1 (4 credits) Prequisite MATH 1060
- Lab PHYS 2015 (1 credit)
- PHYS 2020 General Physics 2 (4 credits) Prequisite PHYS 2010
- Lab PHYS 2025 (1 credit)
- PHYS 2010 Physics for Scientists and Engineers 1 (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1210
- Lab PHYS 2015 or 2215 (1 credit)
- PHYS 2020 Physics for Scientists and engineers 2 (4 credits) Prerequisite MATH 1220 and PHYS 2210
- Lab PHYS 2025 or 2225 (1 credit)
REQUIRED BY MOST SCHOOLS
2 semesters of English Composition courses
WRTG 1010 (3 credits)
WRTG 2010 (3 credits) Prerequisite WRTG 1010
Most CW courses (3-4 credits) If no course in your major, choose something from either Writing or English department
Most medical schools require at least 1 Behavioral Science and 1 either Arts or Humanities course.
REQUIRED OR RECOMMENDED BY SOME SCHOOLS
Any Psychology course
Any Sociology or Anthropology course
OPTIONAL BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE COURSES FOR MCAT PREPARATION
Any of the following courses will help you take the new MCAT, and most will clear one or more graduation requirement
- FCS 1500 (BF) Lifespan Hum. Development
- FCS 3290 (HFDV) Ethnic Minority Families
- PSY 3040 (DV) Psychology of Gender
- SOC 3650 (IRQBQI) Population & Society
- SOC 3673 (QBQI) Social Epidemiology
- ECON 3190 Intro to Health Economics
- ANTH 1010 (BF) Culture & the Hum. Exp.
OPTIONAL PREPARATORY COURSES FOR MATH, CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS
- MATH 10 (non credit) Math Boot Camp for Intermediate Algebra, 1 week workshop offered the week before fall and spring semesters begin
- MATH 15 (non credit) Math Boot Camp for Precalculus, 1 week review workshop offered the week before fall and spring semesters begin
- CHEM 10 (non credit) Chemistry Boot Camp for General Chemistry, 5 hours per day 5 days per week for 2 weeks
- CHEM 1200 (3 credits) Preparation for College Chemistry, Usually offered online. Check class schedule for more information
- CHEM 1208 (1 credit) Introduction to the Periodic Table, Offered online between semesters for 2 weeks
- CHEM 2308 (1 credit) Introduction to Organic Chemistry Offered online between semesters for 2 weeks.
- PHYS 1500 (3 credits) Preparation for College Physics, Offered once a year. Check class schedule for more information
OPTIONAL COURSES FOR EXPLORING THE MEDICAL FIELD
- UGS 1020 (1 credit) Introduction to Premed/PrePA. CR/NC. Offered only during the first half of Fall and Spring Semesters.
- College of Health LEAP, LEAP 1100 (3 credits) and 1101 (3 credits), 2 semester seminar course for Freshman considering health majors.
- HEDU 2010 (3 credits) Introduction to Health Profession (Fall only). Explores health professions excluding medicine.
- FMP 5005 (3 credits) Introduction to Medical Professions
- PED 5900 (1-4 credits) Clinical Research Methods I. Beginning class in the sequence for the Pediatric Clinical Research Minor
Prepare for Letters of Recommendation
Requirements for letters vary between schools, so research schools early and know what you need. Most schools require 3 or 4 letters. As a general rule, we recommend students get to know people from the following categories so they can write excellent letters for you when the time comes.
Academic Letters: letter writer who can speak to your academic ability and/or intellectual curiosity.
Science Professor (Only from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Math)
Non-Science Professor2nd Science Professor (Requirements vary by school)
Mentoring letters: Letter writer who can speak to your commitment to service, leadership ability, growth as an individual, interpersonal and/or teamwork skills.
Patient Exposure, Community Service (Direct Supervisor or Volunteer Coordinator), Research Supervisor, or other Supervisor (a professional mentor, or work or internship supervisor)
- Tell professors at the beginning of the semester that you would like them to keep an eye on your performance in class. It will give them a longer observational window.
- Visit their offices regularly
- At the end of the semester, if you do well, ask them if they would be willing to write you an excellent letter of recommendation when you are ready to apply.
- A key to a good letter is the establishment of a relationship between student and
professor based on shared academic interests.
- Ask thoughtful questions
- Delve deeper into concepts presented in lectures
- Share your academic and career goals
- Ask for recommendations for additional reading
- Inquire about their areas of interest and research
- After you have gotten to know professors, ask about further opportunities, e.g. teaching assistantships, individual research projects, etc.
- Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED) AED provides premedical students opportunities and experiences to help them become a more dynamic applicant for applying to medical school. Contact: AEDUtah@gmail.com
- American Medical Women Association (AMWA) Premed Chapter at the U Empower, educate, and support women to advance within medicine. Website, Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) Promoting healthy lifestyle for Latino/a population through volunteer projects, health Fair, etc. Website: http://west.lmsa.net/ Contact: LMSAUtah@gmail.com
- Pre-SOMA Pre-SOMA is the undergraduate division of the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) , a national organization of students pursing a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Degree. Pre-SOMA is a way for pre-medical students to become a part of this community before getting into medical school. It’s a way to help decide if osteopathic medicine is for you. Contact: email@example.com.
- Health Opportunities for Everyone (HOPE) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- International Health Scholars Contact: email@example.com
- More than 200 student organizations can be found at https://getinvolved.utah.edu/.
- AspiringDocs.org Find out about medical and premed education.
- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) Find about Osteopathic Medicine and get information about DO schools around the nation through this website!
- DO Doctor Search Find DO doctors near you.
- University of Utah School of Medicine (UUSOM) The University of Utah School of Medicine has three major missions: education, research, and clinical service. The three missions are closely interrelated. Each supports and, in turn, benefits from the others.
- UUSOM Office of Inclusion and Outreach