Career Preparation

Academic Prerequisites

Each medical school lists its specific requirements for admission in the directory "Medical School Admission Requirements" (MSAR), published annually by the Association of American Medical Colleges. There are comparable publications for dental schools, schools of veterinary medicine, and other health professions programs; these resources are available for review in the Office of Health Professions Advising.  For the most common requirements for an array of fields, see Academic Prerequisites for Programs in Health Care. Information pertaining to the various health care fields and specific schools can also be found through the “Health Field Links.”

The following list is applicable for the majority of medical and dental schools, and is the foundation for veterinary and other health care programs that have additional requirements, as well.  Please be aware that AP credits may not be used to fulfill the science prerequisites.

Biology: Two semesters with lab (at a level higher than Bio 101).

Most students interested in the health professions complete Biology 109 or the 101-102 sequence by the end of sophomore year.  Although only two college biology courses with lab are required for many health care fields, we strongly recommend that you take some additional biology.  Prospective biology and biochemistry majors should follow the recommendations of those departments.   

General or inorganic chemistry: Two semesters with lab.  Any two of the following may be used to fulfill this requirement: Chemistry 101, 102, 109, 210, 240, 251.   

Based upon the results of the placement test, the Chemistry Department will indicate in which course it is most appropriate for you to start. Please note that Chemistry 101 is offered only in the fall. If you are advised to start with this course and are giving thought to studying abroad during junior year, you should consider taking Chemistry 101 first semester.  Otherwise, you will be unable to complete Organic Chemistry until senior year.

Organic Chemistry: Two semesters with lab (Chemistry 225 and 226).

Prospective science majors and students who plan to study abroad typically complete this sequence during their sophomore year.

Biochemistry: One semester (Bio 224 or Chem 232).

Although only certain schools require biochemistry, most strongly recommend it. We strongly encourage you to complete one semester. Very soon it will be a prerequisite at almost all schools. 

Physics: Two semesters with lab (Physics 103 and 104 - or 104 and 223, if place out of 103).

If you are recommended for Physics 93, consider fitting it in during your first semester. (It doesn’t have a lab.) This course is offered only in the fall and provides a helpful foundation for 103. Physics 103 and 104 are calculus-based, so must be taken after completion of or concurrently with Math 161 and 171, respectively, unless you have placed out of these math courses. 

Mathematics: Although relatively few medical schools have a specific math requirement, most value competence in calculus and statistics. Be sure to follow the recommendation of the Math Department. As indicated above, the introductory physics offered at Bowdoin requires, as a background, Math 161 and 171 or their equivalent. Math 50 may be a good starting point if you would like to strengthen your skills before jumping into calculus. 

Other courses to consider are Biostatistics (Math 165) and Biomathematics (Math 204/Bio 174). At present, some veterinary and many allied health programs require a semester of statistics, and it is soon going to become a prerequiste for most medical schools. Math 155 and Psych 252 are additional courses in statistics.

English: Two semesters are required by most health care programs.

Any First-Year Seminar, regardless of the department through which it is taught, will take the place of one semester of English. Although in some instances schools will accept another writing-intensive course in lieu of an English class (with a letter from the professor), we urge you to take at least one course offered through the English Department.

Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences: Most health care programs prefer that applicants have a background in these areas, and some require it.