Requirements and Courses
There are many different paths to medical or dental school so be sure to meet with Prof. Naila Mamoon, director of Premedicine and Allied Health Professions programs, to discuss your timeline, goals, and course sequencing.
You may schedule a group meeting by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; after a group meeting you will meet individually with Prof. Naila Mamoon, Premedicine and Allied Health Professions advisor to discuss your academic path, health interests, and course sequencing.
In addition to your coursework, it is important for you to demonstrate that you value service to others and that you have an in-depth understanding of the profession to which you aspire, so you will need to plan accordingly.
A sustained track record of service to vulnerable and marginalized populations and of exposure to patient care will be critical as you apply to medical/dental/health professions graduate programs. Also, hands-on opportunities provide holistic experience in health and health care, allow you to develop insights into your profession of interest, and enhance your problem-solving and communication skills, all of which will serve you well in your career.
The following courses are recommended for Davidson prehealth students to develop competencies in the sciences. Many of the courses are suitable for first-year students based on their academic background and preparation, so if registration is full for one course, you have many other options for any given semester. Other courses may be taken during your sophomore and junior year.
The listing of courses is a broad curricular outline for reference only, as individual medical and dental school requirements may vary.
Courses by Area
One year (two semesters) of biology with laboratory
- BIO 111: Molecules, Genes, and Cells or BIO 113: Integrated Concepts in Biology I
- BIO 112: Organisms, Evolution and Ecosystems or BIO 114: Integrated Concepts in Biology II
Two years (four semesters) of chemistry with laboratory
- CHE 115: Principles of Chemistry
- CHE 220: Introduction to Analytical Chemistry or CHE 240 Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry
- CHE 250: Introduction to Organic Chemistry (prerequisite for CHE 230)
- CHE 350: Experimental Organic Chemistry (requirement for this course is under review at most medical schools; for many schools CHE 230 (Biochemistry) may be taken in lieu of CHE 350 as the fourth chemistry course.
- Biochemistry: If you choose to take both semesters of organic chemistry, you have the option to take either BIO 303 (Biochemistry) or CHE 230 (Introduction to Biological Chemistry). Regardless of the department, Biochemistry is a prerequisite course for medical school admission.
One year (two semesters) of physics with laboratory
- PHY 125: General Physics with/Calc I: Studio or PHY 120: General Physics I or PHY 130: General Physics with Calculus I or PHY 125
- PHY 220: General Physics II or PHY 230: General Physics with Calculus II or PHY 225
- Students can also mix and match, for example take PHY 130 and then PHY 225 to complete the sequence.
One year (two semesters) of English
- Note that WRI 101 counts as an English course. Some medical schools accept a writing intensive course in lieu of a second semester of English. However, a conservative approach would be to take a course in the English department.
Other recommended subjects/courses include:
- Mathematics: MAT 110, 111, 112, 113
- Statistics: BIO 240, PSY 310, SOC 260, MAT 341, POL 182 or ECO 105
- Psychology: Psych 101 (Introduction to Psychology)
- Sociology/Public Health: SOC/PBH 280 (Introduction to Global Health); Introduction to Epidemiology (PBH 292); SOC 360 (Medical Sociology), PSY 220 (Health Psychology)
- Some dental/medical schools require additional upper-level biology courses, such as anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and histology. Some medical and dental schools will allow the substitution of the second semester of organic chemistry with one semester of biochemistry. Veterinary schools emphasize the knowledge of genetics, microbiology, and animal nutrition. Nursing schools and physician assistant programs require Human Anatomy and Physiology and microbiology.
In addition to the courses listed above, some additional courses are recommended specifically in preparation for the new MCAT.
Additional Study & Research
Some other areas of study you should consider include:
- Public Health: Include interdisciplinary courses in the theory and practice of medicine, including the organization, delivery, and financing of health care, innovations in reproductive and genetic technologies, bioethics, public health, and more. Through these courses, you gain understanding of controversial issues facing American medicine and develop skills in articulating your opinions on those issues.
- Selected courses in biology and neuroscience: Selected advanced biology and neuroscience courses help you develop vocabulary and understand concepts that are important in medical/dental schools, particularly during basic science training.
- Research: The advancement of medicine/dentistry hinges on an understanding of basic research. Many research opportunities are available to you in the biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology departments.
- Education (Study) abroad: Foreign travel adds immeasurably to your education. However, early planning—particularly for laboratory science courses—is necessary to avoid delaying your application to medical/dental school.
Most prehealth students graduate with 32 credits, similar to other students. While you will not necessarily have additional course requirements, you do need to be mindful of what courses you take and when you take them. Students may have to take more than 32 credits to finish up all of the various prehealth requirements unless they have pre-College credit (such as AP/IB/Dual Enrollment Courses), take summer classes, and/or major in Biology or Chemistry.
If you use an AP/IB credit for a course, consider taking an upper level course in the discipline. Among the prehealth prerequisite/recommended courses, AP/IB credits for calculus, chemistry, psychology, and statistics are accepted. We recommend that you take an upper-level course in that discipline.
You may designate a prerequisite course pass/fail only if you retake the course, and you may only earn credit for a course once. Know that medical or dental school admissions use grades from your prerequisite courses to compute your science GPA, so it is often better for you to keep the grade and do well on a subsequent upper level course in the same discipline as it demonstrates resilience and your ability to learn from mistakes, two qualities highly valued by medical and professional school admissions.