So, you have been dreaming of going to Medical School. It is clear all of the reasons you want to, and even how hard and expensive it will all be. All of a sudden you realize, you don’t know what academic track will help get you there. Maybe you start asking yourself, what majors do medical schools prefer? Well, there is undoubtedly a lot of mythology that tells you that you must study within a specific field of the sciences to get started on the right foot. The majority of students at the top med schools have degrees that fit within the social, physical, and biological sciences. It may shock you, however, that at least 25% have majored in something entirely different. These even include degrees in the arts and humanities. If your next question is, does undergrad matter for med school? The answer is, yes. And no.
Because It is rare to find a specific pre-med undergraduate major, a good rule of thumb is to fit the traditional med school prerequisites into a major that interests you. The coursework essential to have under your belt often includes physics, organic chemistry, general biology, statistics, English, calculus, and statistics. It doesn’t hurt to have some public health, psychology, and sociology. It is also helpful to pick a field that will adequately support a foundation of knowledge for medical school but can come in many shapes and sizes.
We have compiled a top ten list, taking into account a variety of factors, of the Best Majors for Medical School that are sure to get your medical education off to a great start.
1. Physical Science
Physical Science majors graduate with a profound grasp on the world that is physical and yet nonliving. It is the opposite of life sciences. The degree can include more specific disciplines like geology, astronomy, chemistry, meteorology, statistics, and even math. The physical sciences can help prepare the brain to dissect the inner-workings of medicine and cellular complexity, which are critical for medical school. This major will also provide students with a sound infrastructure for the MCAT, making it easier when it is time to enter the next phase of a doctor’s educational journey. Those who have focused their undergraduate career on the Physical Sciences have a good track record of making close to $100,000 without even furthering their education. Something to think about in case you decide to go a different route after graduation.
2. Math and Statistics
Math and Statistics are both critical disciplines in medical school. Studying them before taking the MCAT will undoubtedly give students a leg up. Learning to analyze data to solve problems is vital to best practices in medicine. There are also many excellent career paths toward which these fields can pave the road. In other words, if you later decide that medical school is not the track for you, there will be no void of well-paying career opportunities from majors in such disciplines. Most medical schools require coursework in upper-level math and statistics, so if nothing else, this will meet some of the fundamentals necessary for a successful application process to any of the top schools.
3. Biological Sciences
Biology is everything, quite literally. It makes up so much of our world, including organisms found under a microscope to the way plants in nature thrive, and the ways our bodies function at the cellular level. Biology can be an excellent fit for gaining the essential skills for a career in medicine. There are many disciplines beneath this broad umbrella that are bound to entice a doctor-to-be. These include ecology, botany, neuroscience, and genetics. There are also many avenues to focus on the human body, which will surely boost your potential on the MCAT and your medical school career, generally.
Yes, this often comes as a shock because it seems off the beaten path for the would-be doc. However, many medical schools encourage a major like this. The world of medical school admissions is starting to respect Humanities majors more and more. For example, Mount Sinai School of Medicine just created a specific track for non-science majors called the Humanities and Medicine Program. Not only does this program not require the MCAT, but it does not require any of the science-based prerequisites that students may find at another medical school. More and more med schools see that the humanities can offer disciplines that build character and a more well-rounded approach to the workforce.
5. Social Sciences
The social sciences is a catch-all term for a wide range of studies. These studies may include the examination of human societies, politics, economics, and of course, sociology. It is critical when working in the medical field that one has a grasp on communication, social structures including violence and crime, and gender and sexuality. This, therefore, is a perfect field to dive into as a prerequisite for medical school. Many students who go this route take some of the hard science courses, like noncalculus physics, as electives for extra preparation for med school applications. Sociology students are sure to ace the parts of the MCAT that brush on these concepts. Admittedly, there are more than a few.
6. Public Health
More and more medical school admissions officers are seeing Public Health majors who submit compelling applications. PH is a celebrated field, as many students who graduate from undergraduate public health programs show up to medical school with global awareness and a well-rounded perspective on medicine. An exciting possibility for public health majors are opportunities to study abroad in a medical context. PH looks good on any med school application. Those who complete an undergraduate degree in public health have many doors open to them, not only those on the traditional medical school path. This is to say, you never know where a contemporary degree like this one will lead, as far as choosing your own adventure.
7. Health Administration
Many students that end up applying for medical school started with a degree in health administration. There are a lot of benefits for a potential doctor to know the ins and outs of how the medical field works, and how to apply that information to stellar patient care. There is some new coursework that comes out of this major, including ethical studies and medical terminology. There is also a whole segment of the degree linked to financial management, which can lead to many other lucrative career paths if you decide to vier from the original plan of medical school.
I know, another surprising premedical path. There are many examples of people who do it and find great success. One thing about English majors is they are generally engaging in a discipline that they love. Knowing how to find joy in such a challenging field as medicine is a valid survival strategy. Many English majors that pursue a medical path end up doing better on the MCAT then their science-based degree-holding counterparts. Much of this is a result of their trained skill of reading and comprehension. Language and reading is a very underrated aspect of taking the MCAT exam.
9. Biomedical Engineering
Biomedical Engineering is a popular STEM discipline for those interested in investing in a future career in medicine. Students in this discipline will get a foundation of medicine, engineering, and biomedical sciences all in one go. One of the significant aspects of this degree is that it often comes with clinical practice, which is a valuable pathway to undergo early on for a student of medicine. This degree gives students many offerings as far as medicine is concerned, and prepares them for a well-rounded approach to medical school. Another benefit is the salary possibilities directly out of undergrad for this degree.
10. Specialized Health Sciences
If you are already at the end of this article and still thinking what is a health science major? I am glad you’re asking because it can mean many things. Often undergraduate students who study Health Sciences specifically choose to focus on nutrition, epidemiology, or even healthcare management. These programs are all going to be structured differently and have different requirements. It often is the perfect entryway to medical school that allows for many options of interest to the student. Many students even focus on legal issues related to healthcare, which can, of course, be a fantastic foundation for any doctor-to-be. This degree can lead students down a variety of well-paid career paths if they choose to go a route other than the initial medical school aspirations.
There is no sure path to make an undergraduate student a successful medical school applicant. However, many options will take you where you want to go. If you know you want to go into the medical field, but are unsure of medical school, it is great to pick something like one of the above majors that will set you up for a variety of outcomes. Now is a dynamic time in the field of medicine with many ethical, practice-related, and research breakthroughs. Many of the disciplines listed will provide a foundation that can put you at the front lines of medical advances at a variety of entry points. Don’t forget to pick a route that is legitimately fun for you, something that brings you closer to who you want to be in the world, and inspires you to dream of the next step.