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Pre-med Requirements: Classes You Need for Medical School

Thinking of pursuing a career in medicine? Becoming a doctor is a popular career choice, as it’s a highly lucrative and rewarding path. If you have dreams of going to medical school and becoming a physician, you may be wondering what it takes. So, let’s discuss everything you need to know about pre-med requirements and applying to med school! 

Also see: How to attend medical school for free

What is pre-med?

Pre-med is not a program or major, but rather a collection of required classes that most students complete during their undergrad. It is the term used by undergraduate students who plan to attend medical school and are taking the required courses. This means you can major in anything you’d like, as long as you complete the courses required for medical school. So you could be a Spanish major or an Economics major and be pre-med as long as you’re on track to attend medical school after graduation. 

There are certain majors that are popular among pre-med students because the required courses overlap with pre-med courses. These are some of the most popular pre-med majors: 

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree to apply to medical school, so the pre-med track takes four years to complete for most students. 

What are the pre-med course requirements?

Medical schools will only consider applicants who have completed certain courses during their undergrad years. Most medical schools require the following courses, without exception:

  • Biology – 2 semesters with lab
  • Physics – 2 semesters with lab
  • General chemistry – 2 semesters with lab
  • Organic chemistry – 2 semesters with lab
  • Biochemistry – 1 semester
  • English – 2 semesters
  • Math – 2 semesters

Undergraduate course requirements vary among medical schools, so be sure to check the specific requirements of any schools that you have in mind. 

Also see: How to become a nurse

Other requirements

Now that we’ve gone over the academic requirements you need to complete, let’s talk about a few other things that you should keep in mind as you look forward to medical school. 


First up is GPA. If you plan to apply to medical school, it’s important to keep your GPA as high as you can. You don’t need a perfect GPA to get into medical school, but the higher it is, the more competitive you will be as an applicant. 


Medical schools want to get to know who you are outside of academics, and extracurriculars are a great way to show them. Consider taking a job that can offer you clinical experience, shadowing medical professionals or volunteering your time! 


Last up to talk about is the MCAT! The MCAT is like any other standardized test that schools can use to try and assess how well prepared students are for the material they’ll cover in medical school. In the case of the MCAT, you will be tested on these following sections:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry/Physics
  • Psychology/Sociology
  • Critical Analysis and Reading Skills (CARS)

You should give yourself at least 4-6 months to study for the MCAT, which means you will likely be studying for it during your time as an undergrad if you plan to attend medical school immediately after undergrad.  

See also: Top medical school scholarships

Final thoughts on pre-med requirements

As you can see, the pre-med track is demanding to say the least. But it’s certainly not impossible. Countless students have conquered pre-med and gone on to enjoy rewarding careers as doctors. If your dream is to go to medical school, don’t let the rigorous pre-med track and application process stand in your way.

Related: Grad school financing options

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Pre-med is not a major, but rather is a set of courses that prepare you for medical school
  • Many pre-med students choose to pursue a science major because many of the pre-med classes are already included in that major
  • Remember, there is more to your application than just academics. You’ll also need to focus on extracurriculars and planning for the MCAT
  • Pre-med can feel like a lot at times, but it is certainly more than possible for students who are set on a career in the medical field 
Key Takeaways

Related: Top nursing school scholarships

Frequently asked questions about pre-med requirements

What major is best for pre-med?

Finding the right major for pre-med involves finding a balance between the majors most applicable to medical science and the majors that interest you the most. The most popular majors among pre-meds are in the hard sciences, especially biological sciences. That being said, a significant chunk of med students major in math or statistics, social sciences such as economics or sociology, or the humanities.

As med schools begin to place more emphasis on well-rounded applicants, these other fields are becoming increasingly feasible for applicants. If you don’t take any classes related to med school, a humanities major will not set you up for success.

Can you do pre-med in 2 years?

A pre-med degree consists of a bachelor’s, which the vast majority of students complete in four years rather than two.  However, it is possible to complete your pre-med bachelor’s in two years. It would be a very intensive course load and you’d probably have to come into college with some extra credits, as well as take classes over the summer.

Some schools also require that their students take four years of classes to earn their bachelor’s. So, while it might be challenging to complete your pre-med in 2 years, it is possible!

Do minors matter for medical school?

Minors can be a helpful supplement to your studies. Remember, however, that every decision involves some extent of trade-off. If adding a minor stretches you too thin and your GPA or extracurriculars dip as a result, you might want to consider just taking the courses you’re interested in and skipping the minor. A minor is a nice boost to your application, but it is unlikely to be a major determining force.

What majors do best on the MCAT?

Historically, majors in the fields of hard sciences, math and statistics, and humanities have scored the best on the MCAT. Majors that involve medical-adjacent information, such as biology, are often the most helpful fields of study. That being said, with a thorough study routine and the right tutor, anyone can do well on the MCAT.

Is psychology a pre-med major?

Psychology is a popular major among pre-med students, and recent studies have shown that psychology majors gain admission to med schools at the same rate as biology or chemistry majors. However, as with all pre-med majors, you will want to keep your intent to enter medical school in mind throughout. Certain classes outside your major will also bolster your application and prepare you for the MCAT.