Health Professions Advisory Office

General Information

The Premedical Program of Study at Vanderbilt University

When planning a program of study, students should keep in mind that they must usually meet three different sets of requirements. First are the requirements of the medical school which must be completed before an applicant matriculates. Second are the general degree requirements which are set by the faculty of the college for a particular degree. Third are the requirements set by the departmental faculty for the specific major. Planning must also include completion of the subject matter which will be tested on the MCAT before taking the test. Each of these specific requirements will be discussed below.

Premedical Requirements
There are some variations between schools, but almost all of the U.S. medical schools will accept as minimum preparation in science one year each of general chemistry, organic chemistry, general physics, and general biology and/or zoology, all with the appropriate laboratory. Most also accept a semester of biochemistry in lieu of a third semester of organic. Requirements for specific medical schools are found in Chapter 12 of the AAMC publication, MEDICAL SCHOOL ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS, or MSAR. This booklet is an invaluable source of information and should be consulted before completion of the application so that you are assured of having all requirements for each school to which you apply. Courses usually taken by our students to complete these requirements are charted here.

Course Selection
When selecting courses, pick those that will fulfill your distribution requirements for Vanderbilt University, count toward your major or minor, and/or satisfy the admission requirements of medical or dental schools. These requirements show that at least one year of biology, two years of chemistry, one year of physics, one year of English, and one year of mathematics are necessary for admission to almost all medical schools. Check the MSAR early (or better still, the catalogues of the specific medical schools) to make sure that you select the necessary courses to fulfill the requirements for admission to all the medical schools in your home state.

In selecting electives, a student should consider the following advice from the Catalog of Albany Medical College: "Students are advised not to select courses, such as physiology and histology, which are subjects in the medical school curriculum, to the exclusion of other subjects, such as embryology, which are not." On the other hand, note that biochemistry, one of the most frequently recommended courses, is a part of the usual medical school first year curriculum.

The table given in the link above summarizes the course requirements for admission to U.S. Medical schools indicated in the AAMC "Medical School Admissions Requirements." In all cases, a one year course is recommended if not required, including the laboratory where applicable. The courses taken should be those regularly given for science majors, not courses designed especially for premedical students, survey courses, or courses for non-science majors.