Preparing for admission to medical or dental school
Admission to medical and dental schools is extremely competitive, so it is important to obtain advising from the PPHS coordinator to plan an individually appropriate and competitive academic plan.
Key factors considered by medical and dental school selection committees are based on the following:
- Grades (both science and non-science and in an upward-trending trajectory)
- Strong performance on the MCAT or DAT
- An “in-house” interview, recommendation, and letter of evaluation from the SPU PPHS Committee
- Health-related clinical experience with a support letter
- Other support letters highlighting extracurricular, leadership, and service experience
- Research experience (strongly encouraged)
- A strong interview with the medical or dental school admissions committee
A graduate degree in medicine is obtained by attending an allopathic medical school and earning a medical doctor (MD) degree, or by attending an osteopathic medical school and earning a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree. Both types of graduates are fully eligible to become board certified in any specialty and practice medicine in all 50 U.S. states.
A graduate degree in dentistry is obtained by attending any U.S. dental school and earning either a dental medical doctor (DMD) degree or a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) degree. The type of degree varies by school, but both types of graduates are qualified to practice dentistry in all 50 U.S. states.
Since specific coursework requirements vary from school to school, you should become familiar with the specific prerequisites of the medical or dental schools to which you intend to apply. However, nearly all medical and dental schools have at least the following minimal expectations for coursework:
- Chemistry (30 credits)
- One year of lab-based “general” (CHM 1211, CHM 1212, and CHM 2540) and one year of lab-based “organic” (CHM 3371, CHM 3372, and CHM 3373).
- Biology (20–25 credits)
- One year of lab-based “general” (BIO 2101, BIO 2102, BIO 2103); plus selected upper-division core courses, especially biochemistry, genetics, and physiology.
- Students who plan to take the MCAT in 2015 or later should take two quarters of biochemistry.
- Physics (15 credits)
- One year algebra-based with lab (PHY 1101, PHY 1102, and PHY 1103) or calculus-based with lab ( PHY 1121, PHY 1122 and PHY 1123).
- English (10 credits)
- “ENG” courses in composition and/or literature. Some schools may accept UCOR 1000 or UFDN 2000 to substitute for an ENG course.
- Math (5–20 credits)
- Variable amounts of college-level mathematics, ranging from one quarter of statistics to one full year of calculus. Students who plan to take the MCAT in 2015 or later should plan on taking statistics.
- Other (10 credits)
- SOC 1110 and PSY 1180 should be taken by students interested in taking the MCAT in 2015 or later.
Total: 90–110 credits
Additional science courses are strongly recommended (and sometimes required), such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, microbiology, developmental biology, histology, bioethics, and upper-division chemistry courses. Check the requirements of the individual schools that interest you.
All applicants must complete a minimum of 135 quarter-credit hours (three years) of academic work. However, with the increasing competition to enter medical and dental schools, it is extremely rare for applicants to be admitted with less than four years of undergraduate work and a bachelor’s degree.