Students who want to go into medicine may assume their undergraduate study has to perfectly correlate with their future career goals—but that’s not necessarily the case. Students on a Pre-med track can major in a variety of different subjects because they only need to meet certain course requirements for a medical program. However, these courses can take up a lot of time, so it’s best to choose a major that already encompasses some, if not all, of them. Fortunately, that still leaves you with many different options! Your major should give you a good foundation for topics that are found on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Both required courses and MCAT topics encompass areas such as biology, chemistry, physics, biochemistry, and social sciences, which is why these are some of the best subjects to major in. Let’s dive deeper into five of the most promising options.
1. Biological Sciences
Biological Science programs often have a large overlap with the core requirements for medical school as well as topics found on the MCAT, which is why it’s one of the best undergraduate majors for students on a Pre-med track. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), more than half of medical school matriculants or attendees majored in the Biological Sciences, but just a little over a third of Biological Science majors who apply get accepted. This indicates that while most people who attend medical school study Biological Science, it’s a decently competitive area for those applying. This field isn’t limited to biology, however; it encompasses biochemistry, neurobiology, bioengineering, and more, which is why it’s one of the most popular areas of study for Pre-med students.
Related: Where Biological Sciences PhDs Received Their Undergraduate Degrees
2. Physical Sciences
Physical Sciences are another popular area of study for those applying and attending medical school, as they also cover a good portion of course requirements. Some common Physical Science majors include Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physics—all of which are required core courses for medical school and can be found on the MCAT. According to the AAMC data, over 40% of those who apply for medical school with a Physical Science major get accepted and attend, which makes it less competitive and more unique than Biological Science. However, these subjects may not align as much with your desired career path, as they are generally less focused on health and medicine.
3. Social Sciences
Social Sciences are the second-most popular area of study for medical school applicants, but the acceptance and attendance rates are about 7% lower compared to Physical Science students, according to data from the AAMC. Social Sciences cover popular majors such as Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology, and Economics. While only Psychology and Sociology tend to be tied to medical school requirements and MCAT topics, the other majors can be of interest for students who want a broader base of knowledge for their future career. These types of subject areas can make medical school applicants stand out and help avoid burnout in a specific study, but it can also make achieving course requirements more difficult.
Related: 5 Reasons Why You Need a Liberal Arts Education
Like Social Sciences, Humanities can also help medical school applicants stand out and avoid burnout in their future study, but it’s also less popular than the preceding three subject areas. Humanities has an acceptance and attendance rate of almost 45%, according to the AAMC, which is the highest among all the areas of study of medical school applicants. Popular Humanities majors include English, Literature, Art History, Women’s Studies, Ethics, and Cultural and Language Studies. Humanities generally are a diverse area, but again, you can run into the issue of lack of subject overlap between the Humanities and med school requirements; it may be necessary to either extend the time spent on your undergraduate degree or take summer courses to graduate on time. Though that may be undesirable, the breadth of knowledge attained from studying the Humanities can make you a more well-rounded individual with a higher chance of being admitted to medical school.
5. Mathematics & Statistics
Mathematics & Statistics is the least common major for Pre-med students on this list, as it likely has the least amount of overlap with required med school courses and topics found on the MCAT, but there’s still an acceptance and attendance rate of about 40% according, to the AAMC. Usually there’s some sort of mathematics requirement for prospective medical students, like calculus or statistics (depending on the school you wish to attend). But there are less specialized majors for math, with most universities only offering Mathematics or Applied Mathematics programs. You’ll likely need to either take summer courses or spend more time on your undergraduate degree in order to attain the requirements with this path.
Related: Math in the Real World: A Look at Experts in the Field
Choose what’s most advantageous to you
Not all students need to major in these specific areas of study to go into medicine. At the end of the day, there are no specific major requirements for students who are on the Pre-med track, just course requirements. If you plan to attend medical school, it’s best to pick a major that interests you, but it’s important to realize that not all majors meet Pre-med requirements, so it might take more time or effort to get to that point. With that being said, about 34% of those who apply with a major not listed above get admitted and attend medical school, according to the AAMC. The most popular major for Pre-med students is Biological Sciences, and the highest admission and attendance rates are with students who study Humanities. What you major in is totally up to you, and there are many different avenues to get to medical school, so choose what’s most advantageous for your preferences and long-term goals.
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