In talking with students about medical school and what they need to be competitive in applying, the topic of majors usually comes up. Let me tell you a little secret about medical school admissions. Medical schools don’t care about your major. Nope, not at all.
Every few years medical schools release data about the majors of the students they have accepted. And the results are always the same. History, English, philosophy and other non-science majors are accepted into medical school in the same percentage as chemistry and biology majors. Are there many more biology and chemistry majors going to medical school? Of course, because the type of student that wants to be a doctor often gravitates to the hard sciences. But it is absolutely not necessary to major in the hard sciences if something else has your interest.
While medical schools do not require any particular major, they do require that students take certain classes. Not surprisingly, these classes are mainly science courses. Because of this it is sometimes easier to schedule classes if you are a science major since the required courses for medical school are typically required for a science major. But that does not make the major any better than any other major.
That being said, some majors are very difficult to do at most colleges if you are also having to take certain classes for medical schools. Majors in business, engineering, music and nursing can all be difficult for pre-med students because these majors typically have most of their classes in the major. This can make it difficult, if not impossible, to get the required medical school pre-requisite classes in your four years of college. Students in these majors will often need to take an additional year or two of college to complete the required courses for medical school.
Some students are afraid to major in a non science subject for fear that they will not look like everybody else. In this case, if you have the necessary grades and MCAT scores to be competitive, having a major different from others actually can work in your favor. Medical schools like to see diversity and that term is used in its broadest sense. Having a non science major makes you look interesting and being able to stand out from the crowd is often very advantageous in the medical school admissions process.
I advise students to major in whatever topic they find most interesting that they think they can do well in. If you like a subject you are more likely to do well in the subject and get better grades. Because of the important of grades to medical school, this can also work to your advantage. Bottom line? Pick a major that you like and that will allow you to take the required courses for medical school and do your best in all of your classes.
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