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Academic Requirements

Although many students who plan to attend a professional school in the medical field (e.g. medical school, dental school) major in one of the natural sciences, you may choose any major offered by the College. Regardless of which major is chosen, we encourage students to explore courses and activities outside their major.

Certain courses are typically required for admission to these programs and others are important for performance on exams such as the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or the Dental Admission Test (DAT). At a minimum, students should plan on taking the following courses:

Required Courses for Admission to Medical School, Dental School, and Veterinary School typically include:

  • 2 semesters of  English (ENG 101 plus one additional English course)
  • 2 semesters of  General Biology (BIO 111, 112)
  • 2 semesters of General Chemistry (CHE 111, 112)
  • 2 semesters of  Organic Chemistry (CHE 201, 202)
  • 1 Semester of Biochemistry (BIO 409/CHE 309)
  • 2 semesters of  Math [Differential Calculus (MAT 201) is strongly recommended and required for some majors; Integral Calculus (MAT 202) should be considered and is required for some majors; Statistics (MAT 109) is recommended.]
  • 2 semesters of Physics [College Physics (PHY 101, 102) or General Physics (PHY 111, 112)]. Note that PHY 111-112 is required for students who major in Physics as well as those students who major in Chemistry who plan to receive an ACS-certified degree. MAT 201 is a co-requisite for PHY 111 and MAT 202 is a co-requisite for PHY 112. College Physics is the algebra-based course.
  • Social Science and Humanities courses

Please note: Some schools have fewer requirements, while others, especially veterinary schools, have additional requirements. Students who major outside of the sciences should plan on taking more than the minimum number of required science courses. As admission requirements vary among institutions, students are encouraged to consult the web sites for each area of medicine (aamc.org, aacom.org, aacpm.org, aavmc.org, adea.org, opted.org) as well as books that list requirements of each professional school: Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR), Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements in the United States and Canada (VMSAR), and ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools. These books are available in the Premedical Reading Area of the Toll Science Center.


Additional details can be found in the college catalog. Link to the 2013-2014 catalog or continue reading from the catalog below! Don’t forget to check the sample schedules!

Information from our catalog

Students interested in pursuing a career in allopathic medicine (M.D.), osteopathic medicine (D.O.), podiatric medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, or optometry should take advantage of the College’s Premedical Program. The Premedical Program is not a major; it is a program under the guidance of the Premedical Committee designed to assist students with pre-professional planning and applications to one of the above types of professional schools. Premedical students should consult members of the Premedical Committee early in their academic careers and formally notify the Premedical Committee Chair of their interest in considering a career in medicine. Premedical Committee members include Professors Kathleen Verville (Committee Chair), Anne Marteel-Parrish, Juan Lin, George Spilich, and Matthew McCabe.


To become aware of expectations, requirements, procedures, and deadlines, premedical students should read the advising information found on the College’s premedical Web site, Canvas site and in the college catalog and attend all premed meetings (announced through email and the Premed Canvas site). In addition, each premedical student is strongly encouraged to frequently seek out individual advice from Premedical Committee members. Students seeking a Committee Letter from the Washington College Premedical Committee (required/recommended by the majority of medical schools) must be aware of the need to complete a file with the Premedical Committee, file requirements, the deadline for file completion, and the procedures for obtaining a Committee Letter.


Students should begin to plan their program of coursework immediately upon entering the College. Although many premedical students major in one of the Natural Sciences, any major offered by the College may be chosen. Regardless of major, students are encouraged to explore courses and activities outside their major. In addition to fulfilling the requirements for the major and for graduation from Washington College, premedical students will need to take those courses required for professional school admission. These vary depending on the type of medical program (e.g. veterinary medicine vs. allopathic medicine) and, to some extent, from school to school. The required prerequisite courses most commonly include: General Biology (BIO 111, 112), General Chemistry (CHE 111, 112), Organic Chemistry (CHE 201, 202), Biochemistry (BIO 409/CHE 309), Physics [PHY 101, 102 (the algebra-based course sequence) or PHY 111,112 (the calculus-based course sequence); see information below], two semesters of Math (see information below), two semesters of English (ENG 101 plus one additional English class), Social Science courses (see information below), and Humanities courses.


Math requirements can vary depending on the program. Statistics (MAT 109) is strongly recommended. Since many medical schools require or recommend Differential Calculus (MAT 201) and the course is required for the major in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, students should plan to take MAT 201. The next course in the calculus course series, Integral Calculus (MAT 202), is required for some majors (physics and chemistry). Students opting to take the calculus-based Physics course (PHY 111, 112) should note that MAT 201 is a prerequisite for PHY 111 and MAT 202 is a co-requisite for PHY 112. Note that students may need to take Precalculus (MAT 110) to be adequately prepared for Differential Calculus. (Registration for Precalculus requires permission from the Math Department.)


Students may fulfill the physics requirement for medical school by taking either the algebra-based physics course [College Physics I and II (PHY 101, 102)] or the calculus-based physics course [General Physics I and II (PHY 111, 112)]. Those students planning a major in Physics or planning to major in Chemistry and receive an ACS-certified degree need to take the calculus-based physics sequence (PHY 111, 112).


In addition to fulfilling prerequisites for admission, the content of many of these courses is included on the tests required for admission [Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), the Dental Admission Test (DAT), and the Optometry Admission Test (OAT)]. Beginning in 2015, in addition to testing verbal reasoning skills, the MCAT will test knowledge of general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, statistics, psychology, and sociology. Therefore, students planning to enter programs that require the MCAT (allopathic medicine, osteopathic medicine, many podiatric medicine programs) should consider fulfilling the social science distribution requirements with General Psychology (PSY 111, 112) and Introduction to Sociology (SOC 101). Knowledge of statistics for the MCAT can also be gained from Statistics and Research Design I and II with lab (PSY 209, PSY 309).


Note that many programs require or recommend additional biology courses beyond General Biology. These biology classes are also important for students who ultimately opt for programs such as Physician Assistant programs instead of medical school.


Ethics courses [e.g. Ethical Theory (PHL 225), Foundations of Morality (PHL 235), Biomedical Ethics (PSY 325)] are also encouraged.


Students who do not major in one of the sciences are strongly encouraged to take more than the minimum required science classes.


Given the variation in requirements from program to program, and the fact that some schools have additional requirements, students are encouraged to consult the appropriate Web sites for each area of medicine (aamc.org, aacom.org, aacpm.org, aavmc.org, adea.org, opted.org) as well as books that list professional school requirements (Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR), Osteopathic Medical College Information Book, Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR), and ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools). These books, which are updated annually, are available in the Premedical Reading Area of the Toll Science Center.


Students should plan to take the appropriate test (MCAT, DAT, OAT, GRE) before applying to professional school. Advice about which test is required for particular programs, when to take these tests, and how to prepare for them should be sought from the Premedical Committee. Strong test scores and GPA are essential for a successful application to these highly competitive programs. The exams should not be taken without adequate preparation, and students should plan to take the test one time only.


Students may plan to attend professional school the academic year following graduation, but are strongly encouraged to consider taking additional time. Those who wish to attend professional school immediately following graduation must plan coursework especially carefully so that courses required for admission (many of which are also necessary for successful completion of the admission tests) are completed by the end of the Junior year. This allows an application to be submitted early in the summer between the Junior and Senior years. A sample schedule for each major that allows for completion of required courses by the end of the Junior year is shown below; however, because there are many other possible course arrangements and because students differ in academic background, each student is encouraged to seek individual advice about course planning. The course schedule presented is rigorous and may not be appropriate for every student.


Regardless of the timing of the application, careful and early planning of courses required for the major, graduation, and medical school admission is important because many required courses have prerequisites, some students may need to take additional courses (e.g. Precalculus) for adequate preparation, and some course combinations are not recommended.


Students with Advanced Placement credit in required premedical courses should seek advice from the Premedical Committee, as many professional schools do not accept AP credit for required courses. Those schools typically ask students either to retake the course at a four-year college or to take additional upper level courses in the discipline(s) in which the AP credit was received. Those students planning to study abroad should seek advice about coursework planning and should take required premedical courses in the United States.


Required courses, which should not be taken Pass/Fail, have minimum grade requirements. All science classes taken should be majors level and have a lab.


Students who do not have U.S. citizenship or permanent residency should seek out early advice about career planning and be aware that it is very difficult for non-U.S. citizens/permanent residents to gain entry into U.S. medical schools and to finance their medical education.


See sample schedules for students planning to attend professional school the year following graduation.