Requirements for Medical Schools and Other Health Professional Schools and Your Undergraduate Program
The basic requirements are four years of basic sciences which include laboratories (Vassar course number in parentheses): two years of chemistry, general and organic with lab (Chem 125, 244, 245 and biochem 272; Chem 121 does not have a lab and if elected needs to be followed by the full sequence); one year of physics (111,112 OR 113,114); one year of biology (Biol 107, Biol 108 and one 200 level biology course). A year of mathematics, usually calculus and/or statistics, as well as a year of English is strongly recommended and sometimes required. For some medical schools, an additional course or courses in biology and chemistry may be required.
The MCAT will require a background in biochemistry, as well as knowledge of concepts in psychology and sociology; therefore courses covering these topics are strongly recommended. Whether or not medical schools will accept “other” reading and writing courses in lieu of the English requirement depends on the medical school; this also applies to AP courses. AP courses should be followed up with a course at the college level and be listed on your Vassar transcript to be considered by medical schools. For more information check out our Q & A about Potential Math Requirements. It is very important to consult the Medical School Admissions Requirements Official Guide or the individual school websites to determine the exact requirements for admission to each medical school.
If your potential major is in chemistry, physics, or biology, consult The First-Year Handbook and note a number of different sequences are possible for completing the basic requirements. At Vassar, it will also be simpler if you elect at least one semester of English in your first year.
For those not planning a natural science major, it is still helpful to complete the basic science requirements as early as possible in your college career. Completion of these is necessary before you take the special aptitude test (medical, dental, veterinary, etc.) that is another requirement for admission to these professional schools.
No matter what your potential major may be, if you do not feel confident about your science preparation, do not overload with science courses early in your college career. For those who are confident, there is nothing wrong with beginning more than one science course simultaneously.
At Vassar, we make an effort to de-emphasize competition for grades. Grading is not done “on a curve”; if you measure up to the standards for a high grade, you get it regardless of how other students in the same class are performing. You should also not regard each test or report or paper as a “do-or-die” crisis. Some first-year students may not do as well as others initially but there have been many instances in which students have become excellent despite a slow start.
Updated July 2019