FAQs: Course Advising for Pre-Health

Claire Cornell

FAQs - Course Advising for Pre-Health

What classes do I need to take?

Each health profession has different pre-requisite courses. Find your list of pre-requisites by health profession below:

If a course is listed as “Recommended”, it means that a course is not required by most schools and therefore is listed as a recommended course. For example, Genetics and Cell Biology are recommended courses. Some medical schools may require them, but most schools do not. However, these courses will help you prepare for the entrance exam (MCAT). For some students, these classes may also be a required part of your major curriculum.

Does my AP credit/Dual Enrollment cover pre-requisite courses?

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

  • You should complete lab courses for science coursework if UVA did not award lab credit for your AP science coursework.
  • You may check your SIS Unofficial Transcript to see what UVA has awarded you credit for. If you received 1000T credit for specific subjects, this does not cover the pre-requisite requirements for most health profession schools.
  • Many programs that accept AP credit require you to supplement that credit by completing an equal number of hours in the same discipline at the university level.
  • Some students choose to retake science coursework they received AP credit for to prepare them for upper level coursework, as well as for entrance exam preparation.

Dual Enrollment – provided you earned a C or better in your dual enrollment coursework, you can receive credit for the purpose of health professional program admission requirements. It does not matter whether the DE credit transferred to UVA, since you will have a transcript from your DE college or community college. That transcript will be required in your future program application. We encourage you to complete upper level coursework in the science disciplines to supplement your dual enrollment credit.

Should I take CR/NC for my courses?

This is an individual decision that can vary based on your circumstances. In general, health professional schools prefer to see letter grades. For more specific guidance, check out our blog post about the CR/NC Option for Pre-Health Students.  

Should I take classes over the summer?

You can. However, when you take summer courses, you often have fewer responsibilities than during the school year. This may lead an admissions committee to ask, "Would this student have received this grade if they were also managing the responsibilities of a full course load?" Or if taken at another institution, “Did this student take this course at another institution because there was less competition or less material covered? Would they have received the same grade at their home institution?” If an admissions committee needs to ask these questions about a significant amount of your coursework, it can become a concern. Our general advice is to try and take all of your pre-requisite courses during the academic year at UVA.

We understand that every student’s past coursework and timeline is different, so some students may feel that they need to take summer courses. If this is the case, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with a Pre-Health Advisor to discuss your specific course plan.

What happens if I need to withdraw from a course?

In general, health professional schools will understand one withdrawal from a course if it is accompanied by a detailed explanation of why it was the right decision for you at the time (i.e. unexpected family emergency, an injury or illness that made you incapable of completing the work load, etc.). That being said, if your academic record shows that withdrawals occurred on a regular basis, schools may feel that you were consistently unable to manage your time or gauge your studies appropriately. 

Consult with a Pre-Health Advisor if you have questions about withdrawing from a course or explaining to a school why you chose to withdraw.

How many credit hours should I take per semester?

It is important to take as challenging a course load as you can handle to demonstrate your ability to handle the rigor of the curriculum for your chosen health professional school. With that said, you also need to demonstrate good judgement regarding what is a manageable course load for you. If there is a semester when you make the decision to take a lighter load, we encourage you to ask yourself these questions: 

  1. Am I establishing a trend of taking fewer credits? 
  2. Can I account for how I will utilize the additional time?

Additionally, as a UVA student, you should first and foremost complete the course requirements necessary for your academic major and graduation with health professional program per-requisites as your secondary obligation.

When should I take my MCAT, DAT, GRE, etc.?

This usually depends on when a student wants to apply and if they have completed the pre-requisites courses that cover the material they need to know. We recommend completing the pre-requisites that you will need for your entrance exam prior to taking it. If a student wants to apply after 3rd year, they must take their entrance exam about a month before they will apply at the latest. “At the latest” means that a student can choose to take their entrance exam earlier, as long as they feel properly prepared for it by taking the pre-requisites and planning to study.  

For example, if a student wants to go to medical school the fall after they graduate, they will need to take their MCAT by May of their 3rd year at the latest in order to apply in June:

More common to our successful applicants, if a student takes one bridge/gap year, the latest they can take their MCAT is the May that they graduate (4th year).

Which biochemistry course should I take? (Updated 11/11/2020)

In Spring semesters, CHEM4440 will be offered specifically for Pre-Health students. In Fall 2021, CHEM4440 will be offered. Students can also consider taking CHEM4410 through the Chemistry department in the Fall, but it may not cover all topics/subjects needed for MCAT preparation. If you continue through to CHEM4420 in the Spring, you will likely get all the material covered for the MCAT. However, students typically only need one semester of biochemistry for health professional schools.

*We also encourage you to ensure that whichever biochemistry you take fulfills any specific major requirements you may need.

Which psychology and sociology courses cover the requirement for Pre-Med students?

Generally, you can take any Psychology or Sociology course to go towards a psychology/sociology requirement. However, the introductory courses will prepare you the most for the MCAT.

*If you have AP credit for either psychology or sociology, consider taking the other at UVA. (Ex. I have AP credit for psychology. So, I will take a sociology course at UVA)

What courses will cover the math requirement for Pre-Med students?

Most medical schools want to see one semester of calculus and one semester of statistics. Most of our students will take Intro Stats or Stats for Biologists. We encourage you to research some schools to see their specific math requirements.

*If you have AP credit for either statistics or calculus, we encourage you to take the one you don’t have credit for at UVA. (Ex. I have AP credit for Calculus I. So, I will take Stats for Biologists at UVA)

I am a Biomedical Engineering major. What courses do I need to take to be Pre-Med and BME?

As a BME at UVA, your department has created a document outlining an example of the BME Pre-Med curriculum. Your curriculum for BME covers all of the pre-requisite coursework besides Organic Chemistry. In BME, students do not have to take a specific biochemistry course, as their curriculum covers biochemistry over multiple courses. When you apply to medical schools, the BME department will include wording in your letter of recommendation to put the BME curriculum into context and explain how you have covered biochemistry.

You may also contact Kitter Bishop (kbishop@virginia.edu) for more questions about the BME Undergrad Program.

Who can I go to for help with my major curriculum requirements?

At the end of your second year, all College of Arts & Sciences students declare a major and are assigned an advisor from the major department you choose. If you are still exploring majors and want more support in academic planning, contact your Association Dean or the Director of Undergraduate Programs for the major you are interested in!

As always, if you have any questions about the information above, please schedule an appointment with a Pre-Health Advisor via Handshake or by calling 434-924-8900 Mon-Fri 8AM-5PM!