Planning Your Education

"Since the many fields of medicine offer opportunities for those talented in both the humanities and the sciences, students should allow personal interests to dictate their choice of undergraduate major."

(Medical School Bulletin, The University of Michigan)

Medical school admissions committees do not expect all medical applicants to concentrate in the sciences. Indeed, a science major, such as biology or chemistry, is not a prerequisite for medical school. Medical schools recognize that physicians must have a variety of skills and a diverse education to serve their patients well.

It is important for students to carefully consider their area of concentration. What are you interested in? What kinds of knowledge (beyond biology and chemistry) will make you a better physician? What concentration will provide a foundation for the pursuit of several career alternatives? And, again, it is important to consider your own interests. Often, the undergraduate years are the last available opportunity to study in depth a non-science subject that you want to learn about. Don't worry about what will look good. Doing well and having enthusiasm for your studies is what medical schools want to see. Medical schools will consider a biology major, political science major, art history major, or a degree in general studies.

Most medical schools recommend the pursuit of a broad liberal arts education, including the study of humanities and the social sciences. Accordingly, students who have majored in the arts and humanities are considered on an equal basis with those who have majored in a science.

Medical school admissions committees look for well-educated, interesting students who do well when they apply themselves to a task or vocation. YES, students must do well in the required pre-medical courses (biology, chemistry, physics), but there are skills beyond the sciences that make a successful medical student and a good physician. These include:

  • Writing Skills
  • "People" Skills
  • Problem-Solving Abilities
  • Understanding Cultural, Religious, and Ethnic Differences
  • Bioethics
  • Medical Economics