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.
In addition to the courses required for the chosen major and for graduation from Washington College, students will need to take those courses that are required for admission to health professions schools and needed to provide an academic background for admissions tests. Many of these courses also satisfy some of the requirements of various majors, especially majors in the Natural Sciences, and some satisfy college distribution requirements.
Because some of the courses needed for admission for the health professions programs have one or more prerequisites—and because students who want to attend professional school in the academic year after graduation from Washington College will normally need to complete the courses necessary for professional school admission by the end of the Junior year—students should begin to map their future coursework during their first academic advising meeting. The timing of the chemistry courses (a 5-course/ 5-semester series, from Chemical Principles of Organic Molecules through Biochemistry) is especially important.
The courses required for professional school admission vary depending on the type of medical program (e.g., optometry vs. allopathic medicine) and from school to school. The required courses (admission prerequisites) most commonly include the following:
- General Biology I and II w/lab (BIO 111, 112)
- Chemical Principles of Organic Molecules (CHE 120)
- Reactions of Organic Molecules (CHE 140)
- Quantitative Chemical Analysis (CHE 220)
- Chemistry of the Elements (CHE 240)
- Biochemistry w/lab (BIO 409/CHE 309)
- College Physics I and II w/lab (PHY 101, 102) or General Physics I and II w/lab (PHY 111,112)
- Two Math courses (see additional information below)
- Two English courses (ENG 101 is recommended)
- Social Science courses (see additional information below)
- Humanities courses
Given the variation in required courses from program to program and school to school (some schools have additional requirements; some have fewer requirements; some recommend certain courses), students should consult the appropriate websites for each area of medicine (aamc.org, aacom.org, aacpm.org, adea.org, opted.org) and for individual schools. They should also consult those documents that list professional school requirements: Medical School Admission Requirements for U.S. and Canadian Medical Schools (MSAR); Osteopathic Medical College Information Book (CIB); and ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools). Many of these are available online.
Those students who plan to attend a health professions program in the academic year following graduation from Washington College (without one or more gap years) must be aware that the hierarchical nature of the chemistry courses needed for admission to professional schools and for many of the admissions tests such as the MCAT requires them to take CHE 120/140 in the first year, CHE 220/240 in the second year, and Biochemistry (BIO 409/CHE 309) in the fall of the third year. Students who elect not to take Chemistry in the first year will normally not be able to apply to medical school without taking a gap year.
The chemistry courses CHE 120/140/220/240 are the equivalent of General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry.
Students may fulfill the physics requirement for health professions schools 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 in Chemistry with ACS certification need to take the calculus-based physics sequence (PHY 111, 112), as PHY 101/102 will not satisfy the requirements for their major.
Math requirements can vary depending on the program. Statistics (MAT 109) is strongly recommended. Since many medical schools require or recommend Differential Calculus (MAT 111) and the course is required for the major in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, students should normally plan to take MAT 111. The next course in the calculus series, Integral Calculus (MAT 112), is required for some majors (e.g., physics, and chemistry) but is not required for admission to most health professions schools. Students opting to take the calculus-based General Physics course (PHY 111, 112) should note that MAT 111 is a corequisite for PHY 111 and MAT 112 is a corequisite for PHY 112. Note that, based on placement test scores, some students may need to take the two-semester Stretch Differential Calculus rather than Differential Calculus.
In addition to fulfilling prerequisites for admission, the content of many of the above 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)]. The MCAT tests critical analysis and reasoning skills as well as 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). Professional schools may vary in terms of whether the psychology statistics courses count as required math courses.
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 in related health fields such as Physician Assistant programs instead of medical school, as those programs require certain upper level biology courses.
Students who do not major in one of the sciences are strongly encouraged to take more than the minimum required science classes.Additional details can be found in the college catalog, you will need to scroll to the portion of the catalog called "Premedical Program." Do not forget to check the sample schedules.