Can A Biology Major Become A Doctor?

"I want to become a doctor, but I have no idea how getting into med school is supposed to work. See, I thought originally I was supposed to major in Pre-Med, except I don’t think that there is actually such a thing as a Pre-Med major at any school in my area. Or is it any school anywhere? So can I just major in biology and become a doctor? Or is there some other specific thing I am supposed to be studying?"

asked by Janet from Austin, TX

It is a common misconception that “pre-med” is an actual major or course of study, but like “pre-law,” it isn’t one. You can technically major in anything you want and go on to get accepted into medical school. You do however need to make sure that you complete the basic requirements set by the majority of medical schools.

Usually these requirements include:

Sometimes specific schools will have additional requirements. If you want to go to a particular medical school, you should check out any other classes they want you to take.

The majority of students who are aiming for medical school major in something which requires these classes, since that way they are working toward their undergraduate degree with their classes instead of filling elective space.

This is however entirely up to you. You get plenty of elective space in your undergraduate degree, so you can just as easily major in something like English or History and still fulfill all the course requirements for getting into medical school.

Your next question is probably whether or not the admissions boards look more favorably upon some majors than others. While your instincts might tell you to major in a science field because that would prepare you best, believe it or not, admissions boards often accept applicants with unusual majors at a higher rate. Why? Many pre-med students underestimate the importance of non-scientific matters involved in being a doctor.

For example, a Communication or English student could impress an admissions board by explaining that they selected their major in order to learn how to communicate with patients better.

So whatever major you do end up choosing, come up with a plan for how you are going to present your choice to the admissions board. Maintain a high GPA, and have a focused approach. No matter what you do, have a way you can present it to the board without it sounding like a random choice.

If you really do love biology or chemistry and want to go with the obvious, do not steer away just because you think you need an unusual major. A real love for science is something that a board will look favorably on as well. Approach the admissions process with confidence and enthusiasm and you will fare well.

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