Pre-Health Advising for Engineering Students

The Pre-Health Advising team is excited to support UVA students from across academic disciplines. At UVA, Pre-Health is a track, not a major, and we know it can be challenging to align your major classes and preparation with a pre-health track, especially in the Engineering School. Pre-Health Advisors are here to assist you in your overall preparation for a health professional career as well as support you in your engineering studies. Pre-Health Advising is tailored to the individual needs of each student to guide you in each step toward your healthcare career.

We look forward to working with you! In the meantime, we encourage you to review the information below and browse the pre-health web tools in preparation for your pre-health experience at UVA.

Is it possible to major in engineering and be pre-health?

Yes! As an engineering major, you may need to be more strategic and proactive about planning your courses to complete degree requirements and pre-requisites for a health professional school. It’s important to note how your plan and timeline might look different than others in the E-School, but that’s normal. Be sure to meet with a Pre-Health Advisor and your Academic Advisor at least once a semester to ensure you’re on the right path.

Does majoring in Engineering help my application to a health professional school?

Yes and no. Although health professional programs identify basic pre-requisite courses required for admission to their program, these requirements do not dictate what you should major in at the undergraduate level. Schools for the health professions have no preference for what major you select, nor whether you pursue a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree, as long as you complete the necessary pre-requisites and adequately prepare for the required entrance exam. What does help is choosing a major that you truly enjoy. Genuine interest in your coursework will make your time at UVA more engaging and valuable – this is what schools look for in applicants.

Do schools look more favorably upon my GPA because I am an engineering major?

Not necessarily. Health professional schools calculate your GPA in a variety of different ways. For example, they calculate your cumulative GPA, your science GPA (usually Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math), as well as your non-science GPA and evaluate each separately. Additionally, they may also calculate your GPA for your last four semesters of undergrad and, if you’ve taken course work at additional schools, they will look at the cumulative GPAs for each institution. With all of these different calculations, it’s difficult to determine how significantly they evaluate an engineering major’s coursework versus a non-engineering major.

Schools do look to see that you completed rigorous and challenging combinations of courses, and show a strong performance in your courses. They want to see that you pursued and excelled in your academic course of study.

If you’re concerned about your GPA, meet with a Pre-Health Advisor to discuss ways to strengthen your academic candidacy.

Will my AP credit satisfy pre-requisite requirements?

Schools vary on whether they accept Advanced Placement (AP) credit as completion of a pre-requisite requirement.

  • If schools accept the credit, they look for completion of upper level coursework in the same discipline at the university level.
  • If UVA awards you with credit for a science lecture class (i.e. Chemistry or Physics), but not the lab course, you will still need to complete the corresponding lab courses at UVA.
  • Many students choose to re-take science coursework for which they received AP credit in order to prepare for 1) upper level coursework at UVA, and 2) entrance exams which may require a greater understanding of the material than was expected on the AP exam.
  • If you take a course you already have AP credit for, you will no longer receive the AP credit to fulfill graduation requirements.

Do I need to take English courses in the College to fulfill the pre-requisites for a health professional school?

Similar to AP credits, schools vary on their pre-requisite requirements. In the E-School you fulfill your English/Writing Composition courses through the Science, Technology & Society (STS) course requirements. In most cases, schools will accept the completion of your STS degree requirements as your English/Writing Composition pre-requisite requirements. However, as each school differs, as you near your time to apply, it's important to research the specific requirements for each school on your list.

Do I have to major in BME to follow a pre-health track in the E-School?

No. As noted above, there is not a single major that best prepares you for medical school, nor is there a major that medical schools favor. You should choose the major that you most enjoy. It is true that within the E-School, BME has the most overlap with pre-requisite courses for medical schools, but it is possible to fulfill these pre-requisite courses in other E-School majors. Meet with a Pre-Health Advisor and your Academic Advisor to discuss your plans and map out a schedule.

Do I need an internship to be successful in applying to a health professional school?

It depends on your definition of internship. In the field of engineering, having internships in the industry (i.e. the field you’re studying) are important for finding a job post-graduation. However, for health professional schools, the activities you engage in outside of the classroom may look a bit different, and may not be labeled as an “internship.” Check out this Candidacy Assessment to learn how you can build and strengthen your candidacy for a health professional program.

Do I need to finish all my pre-reqs and entrance exam in my third year so I can apply “on time?”

Guess what? Health professional programs do not expect you to apply right after your 3rd year!

  • The average age of a matriculant to health professional programs ranges from age 24 – 28, not 22 (the average age of a UVA graduate).
  • In the last three application cycles, of UVA students who were accepted to medical schools, ~70% completed one or more bridge years between graduating from UVA and starting medical school.

You should not feel rushed to apply to a health professional program at the end of your third year, especially with the heavy and compact course load of engineering. The decision of when to apply to your health professional program is an individual one, based on each student’s unique preparedness.

How do I keep options open to explore engineering and medical school?

Still not sure what you want to do after graduation? That’s perfectly normal! Take this time to explore your different options – you can do this through coursework, but also with your extracurricular activities. For example, you could spend a semester volunteering or shadowing in a clinical setting and spend your summer in an industry-focused internship. These contrasting experiences can help you solidify what you enjoy (and hate). Further, you might find a way to meld your diverse interests into an even more fulfilling career.


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More to Explore

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Learn more about Pre-Law events, courses, and opportunities available!