Pre-Med Academics

How to Choose Your Major as a Pre-Med

How do you choose your college major if you’re a premed? Many students know by now that most schools do not have a “premed” major and you don’t necessarily need to major in the life sciences to go to medical school ( If that is true, how then, do you go about choosing a major? What criteria should you be using?

1. Science or non-science

This is the first major decision you must make. Are you going to be a non-traditional premed that majors in the humanities but takes medical school pre-requisites? This option can be challenging because you not only have to finish your major, you have to complete the pre-requisites. This option is also an intriguing option because college may the last time where you can dedicate yourself to learning something besides science (you’ll learn everything you need to know for medical school IN medical school).  Depending on how you weave your own narrative, being a non-science major may be an advantage for you when you apply to medical school (

2. Interest/Passion

You should major in something that you are interested in. You will spend 4 years dedicating yourself to learning a certain topic; you might as well enjoy it. Even if you are planning to go to medical school, college is a time where you can really learn about something different from medicine. If you are passionate about film as well as medicine, be a non-traditional premed who majors in film. If you really are mainly interested in the sciences, don’t be afraid to go for the traditional life science majors. It is not a disadvantage to be a science major when you apply to medical school.

|| Read: Finding an Undergraduate Research Lab as a Pre-Med Student

3. Difficulty

When choosing a major, you must balance what you are interested in with its difficulty level. I have often seen people decide to major in chemical engineering while also pursuing the premed route. They are super passionate about chemical engineering but unfortunately because the classes are extremely hard, they end up with a 3.0 GPA. Although that may be acceptable as an engineer, that is sub-optimal GPA if you are trying to go to medical school. I have also seen biochemistry majors suffer this same fate. Therefore, regardless of what you are passionate about, don’t forget to consider the difficulty of the major prior to officially choosing it.

4. Future Utility

You’ll be surprised at how little of what you learn in college as a life science major actually matters in medical school. It matters even less as a physician. Just because you are a physiology major in college, doesn’t mean you necessarily have an advantage in medical school. And all the physiology you need to know as a physician, you will learn in medical school. With that being said, there are certain majors that may have future utility as a physician. Being a business or economics major may help you run your own private practice or get involved in health administration. Being a statistics major may help you better understand and conduct medical research. Being a foreign language major can help you better connect with certain patient populations, especially if you are particularly interested in that specific population.

Use these criteria to choose your major. Don’t feel pressured into choosing a major just because you think it’ll look “good” on your medical school application. The major that you choose does not truly matter. Ultimately, it is how you use your major to show what kind of person you are during the medical school application that really makes a difference.

Edward Chang

Edward Chang is the Co-founder and Director of Operations of He graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is currently a urology resident at the University of Washington. He also attended UCLA as an undergraduate, graduating with a major in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. If you are interested in contributing to, please contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @EdwardChangMD and Prospective Doctor @ProspectiveDr.

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