What Is The Best Pre-Med Major?

"My whole life I have wanted to become a doctor. I originally thought that I would be majoring in Pre-Med. Only I just got accepted into college, and as I discovered during my college search process, there is no such thing as a major called “Pre-Med.” “Pre-Med” is apparently whatever you make of it. You just major in … what, exactly? Biology? Chemistry? And then you apply for medical school and hope you get accepted. How can I increase my chances of getting accepted into medical school through my choice of major? Which major is ideal?"

asked by David from Cincinnati, OH

You are not the only student who has been surprised to discover there is not a clear route to medical school as you are earning your bachelor’s degree. Chemistry and biology may seem like logical choices, and they are, but only if you are really interested in either of them.

Keep in mind that there are a ton of biology and chemistry majors who apply for medical school.

There aren’t as many applicants who major in other fields like History, English, or Art. But they do exist, and they are often accepted. Some statistics even seem to point toward a higher acceptance rates of students with unusual majors.

You might be wondering, “Why would a review board look more kindly on an English major than they would on a Biology major?” After all, doesn’t the biology major theoretically know more about medicine than the English major? It depends.

Maybe the English major did a lot of extracurricular activities like volunteering or shadowing doctors, while the Biology major didn’t. And maybe the English major was genuinely interested in English while the Biology major wasn’t.

It also comes down to how you sell yourself to the review board. If you stand up and say, “I majored in Biology because it was logical to cultivate an understanding of how cells work,” you will not blow away a review panel. You might on the other hand if you say, “I majored in Biology because I am fascinated with the workings of cells and anatomy, and now I want to apply that passion for science to helping others.”

But you could also impress a review board just as easily if you said, “I majored in English because I love the study of language and I enjoy reading literature and developing an empathetic bond with the characters. I really care about and connect with people on a deep level, and that is why I want to become a doctor. You will see in my extracurricular activities I have been volunteering at the local hospital and shadowing doctors and nurses.”

Basically, there is more to becoming a good doctor than just having a knowledge of science, even though that is obviously important. Caring about others is important too, and so is being passionate about what you do.

So what is the best major for pre-med? Whatever you are interested in and care about. Just make sure you take all your pre-med prerequisite classes!

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