Health Professions Advising Guidelines
- Medicine (allopathic and osteopathic)
- Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Podiatry, Optometry
- Nursing, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy
There are many paths that you can take on your journey to a health professional school. Although a core of science and English courses are required, any academic major is acceptable. Many students apply to these programs between their junior and senior years of college; others decide to wait until they have finished college before applying. The latter is especially appealing for students who choose to spend a semester or year abroad. Others choose to wait in order to do graduate work in a field of interest or to take time for such experiences as the Peace Corps, AmeriCorp, scientific research, or a job in the medical field. Applying to a professional school after graduation may even be advantageous. Additional experiences and maturity often increase the options for an applicant. In addition to academic work in the sciences, it is important to develop strong verbal skills and a greater appreciation of ideas and cultures. Hence, your work in the humanities and social sciences is also very important.
Core Requirements and Corresponding Allegheny Courses
Biology (with labs) – Biology 220, 221, FSBIO 201
General chemistry (with labs) – Chemistry 120 & 122
Organic chemistry (with labs) – Chemistry 231, 332 and (234 or 386)
Biochemistry – Chemistry 253
Physics (with labs) – Physics 101 & 102, or 110 & 120
English – FS 102; one course from the following options: English 110 – 114; AND one additional course in the humanities or social sciences that requires extensive reading, writing, and discussion (in the English language).
Recommended and sometimes required:
Statistics (Psych 207 or Bio 385)
Psychology (Psych 110, 162, or 170)
Scheduling: Where to begin:
- Math courses your first year.
- If you place into Math 151 or higher, take Math 151 or the higher level course into which you place. Subsequent math course requirements will depend on the major you plan to pursue. You are not required to take any additional math unless you plan to major in chemistry, biochemistry, physics or math.
- If you place into Math 140, take Math 140 in the fall and Math 141 in the spring semester.
- Begin the introductory chemistry sequence your first year.
- If you placed into Math 151 or higher and are considering a major in biology, biochemistry, or chemistry, take introductory chemistry (Chem 120) in the fall. If you are not interested in majoring in these areas and there are other fall courses that interest you more, you may defer starting chemistry to the spring. Doing so, however, may delay your ability to take some upper level biology courses.
- If you place into Math 141, you will need to complete this course with a C or better in order to take Chemistry 120 in the spring of your first year. Completion of Chem 119 with a C or better will also allow you to take Chem 120. If you do not earn at least a C in either your fall math or Chem 119 course, talk to your advisor or the Health Professions Advisor in the Maytum Center for Student Success about your scheduling options.
- Begin the biology sequence with Biology 220 sometime during your first two years. Most pre-health students choose to take Bio 220 as soon as they complete the first semester of introductory chemistry. If you plan to major in biology, biochemistry, or neuroscience, you will probably want to complete the 3 course intro sequence by the end of the sophomore year. Regardless of your major, the courses need to be completed prior to taking the MCAT, DAT, etc, and prior to applying to the professional school.
- Take English at the 100 level at some point during your first two years. English literature is a requirement for medical schools, and we recommend that you complete it no later than the end of your sophomore year. Earlier might be better. Many first and second year students find that an English literature course provides welcome variety to their schedule, which is heavily weighted in the sciences.
- Good choices for elective courses include psychology, global health, statistics, and courses toward your potential major and/or minor.
Additional courses may be required by individual schools. Veterinary, physician assistant and allied health programs, in particular, have requirements that vary from one school to another. Students should investigate early any schools in which they have a special interest.
Some of these occasionally required/strongly recommended courses are:
- Mathematics (through Calculus 1)
- Biochemistry or Molecular Biology (Chem 253)
- Behavioral/Social Science
- Statistics (Bio 385 or Psych 206)
- Cell Biology (Bio 320), Anatomy (Bio 365), Microbiology (310), or Physiology (380)
- AP Credit: If the student has received AP credit for any of the required courses, he/she should take an additional, upper level course in that area. AP credit is rarely accepted by the professional schools.
- Credit/No Credit: NO required core course should be taken on a credit/no credit basis. All required core courses must be taken for a grade.
- Timing: All required courses must be completed before the professional school application is submitted, and, in most cases, before the required standardized test (MCAT, DAT, GRE, etc.) is taken. If the student plans to attend a professional school immediately following college, then the courses must be taken by the end of the junior year. If the student plans to take a year or two between college and professional school, then required courses may be taken during the senior year. It is more important to get a good academic foundation and do well in courses than it is to rush to complete the requirements.
- Analytical Thinking and Writing: Although the core curriculum emphasizes science, extensive work in humanities and social science courses requiring the analysis of written work and the writing of papers is especially helpful to Health Professions students.
- Study Abroad: Study abroad is a wonderful, enriching experience. Students are strongly encouraged, however, to take their pre-health core courses here at Allegheny. If you are considering taking core courses (especially science courses) abroad, you must contact Ms. Peterson (KP).
For more information, contact:
Health Professions Advisor: Kirsten Peterson
Office/Library: Maytum Center for Student Success, Pelletier 255