If you are a freshman in college or have ever been a freshman in college, then you are probably aware of the relationship between “biology” and “pre-med.” Students who say their major is biology are most likely trying to head the “pre-med” route, or at least to some sort of a health field. Conversely, students who say their dream is to become a doctor are surely majoring in a biological sciences disciple. But is it true that the terms “biology” and “pre-med” go hand-in-hand, or is it just a common misconception?
According to a survey conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), this notion seems to be a myth. In a particular survey, AAMC took note of every medical school matriculate’s primary undergraduate major in 2011. The study found that only about 51 percent of students who enrolled in medical school that year majored in a biological sciences discipline. In addition, approximately 13 percent majored in physical sciences, mathematics, or statistics. However, the most surprising fact is that roughly 34 percent of these students majored in a field unrelated to any science discipline such as the humanities and social sciences. So how does one become a doctor without majoring in a scientific discipline when every intuition within in our souls tells us you must?
Every medical school has a list of pre-requisite courses that students must take in order to apply to a particular medical school. These courses typically include biology, chemistry, physics, math, statistics, and English. This means that a student of any major can apply to medical school as long as these required courses are completed. In other words, whether you major in biology, math, economics, history, or art, you can apply to medical school. However, a natural question arises with this fact. Does majoring in a certain discipline increase your chances of getting into medical school? According to most medical schools, the answer to this question is no. No matter what your intuition says, the very fact that you majored in a science discipline does not increase one’s chances at medical school. What can help is if students major in a discipline that they like and excel at.
Arguably the most important admission factor that medical schools consider is GPA, both overall and science GPA. Most of the required courses for medical school (such as biology, chemistry, physics, and math) are included in the science GPA. Now if you are a science major, then most likely the science GPA will consist of more than just those required pre-requisite courses. However, if you are non-science major, such as history, the pre-requisite courses will make up most, if not all, of your science GPA. Medical schools do not care how many science classes you have taken and how many non-science classes you have taken. They only care about how well you did in the classes you did take. This is why many medical school admission counselors will advise you to carefully choose your major based on your preferences and talents; you want to make sure your GPA is as high as possible.
Conclusion? If you have the desire of entering medical school, you should choose a particular major because you like and excel in it. If you love art, major in art. If you love biology, major in biology. If you love chemistry, major in chemistry. Regardless of your major, you will have to take pre-requisite science courses and have to do well in them. Majoring in a field students like and are good at will likely increase their GPA, and higher the GPA, the higher the chances you have at getting into medical school.
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