Required Courses

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If you are considering a career in a health profession, such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary school, and some others, there is a set of courses that you must take before applying. The most common ones are listed here.  However, keep in mind that it is possible for a given school to have additional requirements and IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW THE REQUIREMENTS SPECIFIC TO THE SCHOOLS TO WHICH YOU PLAN TO APPLY

There are several resources you can use to discover if a school has requirements beyond the common ones listed below.  The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) compiles the requirements for North American medical schools in a volume called the  Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR), which you may purchase online at the same site you will use to apply to medical school: The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) does the same for dental schools in the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools  Students can find more information about specific school bulletins, the MSAR, the ADEA Guide, and other resources through the Newnan LSA Academic Advising Center (1255 Angell Hall) and at the UM Career Center (Student Activities Building). 

You may also look for this information via the websites of the schools themselves.  For example, links to medical schools may be found here, dental schools may be found here,  pharmacy schools here, veterinary schools here, and schools for osteopathic medicine here

The basic "pre-health" curriculum consists of two years of chemistry, one year of biology, one year of physics, a course in biochemistry, a course in mathematics, and two English courses. This is the core curriculum for nearly all health professions.  If you plan to concentrate in the sciences, you should expect to take some upper-level science in addition to the basic pre-med sequence, in accordance with the concentration requirements described in the LSA Degrees and   Requirements section of the student website.

The following section lists subject areas and courses, taught at the University of Michigan, which are required and/or recommended by medical schools and many health profession programs. The number in parenthesis denotes semester credit hours. It is important to use this list in conjunction with periodic consultations with an academic advisor. The course level at which a student starts, especially in the natural sciences, depends on high school experience, AP credits, and placement exams administered during orientation. Other factors should also be taken into account when choosing your courses: transition to college in your first semester, hours of employment, extracurricular activities, number of credit hours, and "doubling-up" on science or quantitative type courses.

List of Required Courses

The LSA Course Guide contains more detailed information on the courses listed in the next section, and the Concentrations and Minors section of the student website can provide you with more information on the science departments. The Chemistry, Biology, and Physics departments have individual websites as well which provide course and departmental information.

Physics +

Two academic terms (one year) including lab work. With respect to pre-health professions preparation, there is no preference for either algebra-based or calculus-based physics, and there is no calculus on the MCAT (students should make sure they are taking the version of physics appropriate for their concentration, however).  Note also that students who start out in calculus-based physics may switch to algebra-based, and vice-versa

Physics web site:

PHYSICS 125/141 or 136: General Physics: Mechanics, Sound, and Heat (4); and Lab (1) algebra/trigonometry-based.


PHYSICS 126/128 in Fall 2010 and 236 in terms thereafter: General Physics: Electricity and Light (4); and Lab (1) algebra/trigonometry-based.


PHYSICS 140/141: General Physics I (4) and Elementary Laboratory I (1) calculus-based.


PHYSICS 240/241: General Physics II (4) and Elementary Laboratory II (1) calculus-based.


PHYSICS 135/136: Physics for the Life Sciences I (4) and Elementary Laboratory I (1) calculus-based.


PHYSICS 235/236: Physics for the Life Sciences II (4) and Elementary Laboratory II (1) calculus-based.

Biological Chemistry +

The great majority of medical and dental schools either require or strongly recommend a course in biochemistry (NOTE: The UM Medical School and the UM Dental School both require 3 credits of biochemistry.)

MCDB 310: Introductory Biochemistry (3)


BIOLCHEM 415: Introductory Biochemistry (3)


CHEM 351: Fundamentals of Biochemistry (4)

Biology +

This will work out to at least three academic terms for UM students (Three lectures, Two labs if students do not have AP credit for BIOLOGY 195).  (Note: A number of allied health schools require one term of anatomy and one term of physiology, and a few medical schools require specific upper-level biology courses.)  The list of Upper Level Biology courses, below,  is reasonably extensive but not completely exhaustive.  You may find other courses that interest you and please feel free to ask one of the health professions advisors regarding its applicability to preparation for graduate and professional programs.

More information about these courses may be found at the Biology web site:

Introductory Biology

BIOLOGY 171:  Introductory Biology: Ecology and Evolution (4)
BIOLOGY 172: Introductory Biology: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental (4)
Introductory Biology Laboratory (2) (Note that this course integrates elements from both BIOLOGY 171 and 172 and should be taken concurrently with the second introductory  lecture course, or after both lectures have been completed.)


BIOLOGY 162:  Introductory Biology (5) (Note: As of the Fall 2007 term, BIOLOGY 162  was replaced by the three courses: above.  Students who completed BIOLOGY 162 do not need to take either BIOLOGY 171, 172, or 173 and are free to move into the upper level Biology courses.  These changes are outlined in depth on the Biology department's website at: 

AP Credit in Biology: Students with AP credit for BIOLOGY 195 should take BIOLOGY 173 to complete the introductory sequence, and then at least 2 of the upper-level Biology lectures plus at least one more lab, in addition to their AP credit. Students with AP credit for BIOLOGY 162 should take 2 upper-level lectures and 2 labs, in addition to their AP credit .

Upper Level Biology (including both a lecture and a laboratory).  The following is a list of some, but not all, of the courses that may be used to satisfy this requirement.  (Note:  As of 2007, the UM Dental School requires 3 credits of microbiology, in addition to another semester of Upper Level biology.  Note also that an increasing number of dental schools list Anatomy as a prerequisite.  You should make sure of the requirements for the schools in which you are interested well in advance.)

BIOLOGY 207: Microbiology (4) Lab Included.
BIOLOGY 225/226 : Animal Physiology and Animal Physiology Lab (3/2).
BIOLOGY 252: Chordate Anatomy and Phylogeny (4) Lab Included.
BIOLOGY 305: Genetics (3) and MCDB 306: Genetics Lab (3).
EEB 341: Parasitology (4) Lab Included.
BIOLOGY 541: Mammalian Reproductive Endocrinology Lecture (4).
MCDB 427/429: Molecular Biology. Lecture & Lab in Cell and Molecular Biology. (4/3).
MCDB 428/429: Cell Biology. Lecture and Lab in Cell and Molecular Biology. (4/3) if not already taken with MCDB 427.
MEDADM 403 or BIOMEDE 403: Human Anatomy: Structure and Function (5) This class does not have a lab; however, it does count as one of the pre-med Biology lectures.
MICRBIOL 301/350 - Microbiology lecture and Microbiology lab (3/1).
PHYSIOL 201: Human Physiology (4) This class also does not have a lab;  however, it does count as one of the pre-med Biology lectures.
PHYSIOL 502: Human Physiology Lecture (4) This class does not have a lab; however, it does count as one of the pre-med Biology lectures.

Chemistry +

Medical schools and many other health professions graduate programs require two academic years (including laboratory experience) - usually one year of inorganic chemistry and one year of organic chemistry. At the University of Michigan, the Chemistry Department has set up the following 4-semester sequence: General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry (I), Organic Chemistry (II), Physical Chemistry. The starting point for students is determined by the results of the placement tests in chemistry and mathematics that are taken during orientation. To meet medical school requirements, students must take four terms of chemistry with lab.

Chemistry web site:

Most Students begin with:

CHEM 130: Macroscopic Investigations & Reaction Principles (3)

CHEM 125 and 126: General and Inorganic Chemistry: Laboratory (1,1)

Some students with AP credit or a high score on the Chemistry and Math placement exams begin with:

CHEM 210: Structure and Reactivity (4)

CHEM 211: Investigation Laboratory (1)

This is followed by:

CHEM 215: Structure and Reactivity II (3)

CHEM 216: Synthesis and Characterization of Organic Compounds Laboratory (2)

The last term of chemistry includes:

CHEM 230: Physical Chemical Principles and Applications (3) 


CHEM 260 : Chemical Principles 

(Note: Students considering applying to the Michigan School of Pharmacy should take CHEM 260.  There are also certain concentrations, such as Chemistry and Biochemistry that require CHEM 260, and students should defer to the requirements within their concentration in this case.  Engineering students may be required by their concentrations to take courses that are the equivalent of CHEM 230/260 for the purposes of preparation for health professional schools.  They are encouraged to contact health professions advisors with questions about this.)                                                                     

English +

Two standard courses in composition and/or literature are required.  To be safe, at least one of these  courses should be English composition (e.g., ENGLISH 124 or 125).  A very small number of schools actually require 2 terms of English composition.  With many other schools it is possible to satisfy the requirement with either two English composition courses or an English composition course and an English literature course, provided there is substantial writing required by the literature course.  In any case, exposure to composition and literature should not be minimized because medical and other health professional schools value effective writing skills and comprehensive reading skills.

NOTE: Writing courses in departments other than English do not necessarily satisfy this requirement, even if they do satisfy the LSA First-Year Writing Requirement or the Upper Level Writing requirement.

Mathematics and Statistics +

While it is generally considered good for students to take mathematics courses when preparing for medical school, the actual requirements for mathematics coursework can vary significantly from school to school.  Some schools have no specific mathematics requirements.  Others have a non-specific requirement, such as six credit hours of college level mathematics.  Twenty-one allopathic schools require at least one semester of college level calculus, and three of those require two semesters.

There are six allopathics schools that require Statistics.

Non-Science Subjects

Many medical schools require a minimum number of courses in the humanities and social sciences. Medical schools value a broad educational background and encourage students to immerse themselves in the liberal arts experience. The University of Michigan has over 70 academic departments and areas of study, and exploration in multiple disciplines will help a student develop critical problem-solving skills.

Psychology +

Several medical schools require a course in psychology; many recommend one. Most allied health schools require introductory psychology (PSYCH 111) and developmental psychology (PSYCH 250); some also require abnormal psychology (PSYCH 270).

Foreign Language +

Many medical schools state that proficiency in a second language is highly desirable. Some schools highly recommend a working knowledge of Spanish, especially those in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Florida.

Advanced Placement (AP) credit

Students may enter college with advanced placement (AP) credit for basic science and pre-med courses. Some medical schools do not accept any AP credit. Most medical schools WILL accept a limited number of AP credits, if and only if the student has taken some upper-level course work in that subject area. It is very important for students to inquire about policies at the individual medical schools to which they plan to apply. In any case, it is in the best interest of the student to take upper level courses in the department of their advanced placement credits in order to show Medical School admissions committees a college course grade in that field of science. AP courses are not equivalent to college courses.