REQUIRED COURSES for Medical, Dental, or Veterinary Schools

In considering your course schedule and D-plan with an advisor, you SHOULD develop more than one plan for the completion of this curriculum, based on the pace & difficulty of courses and possible routes toward different application dates.

If your plan is to delay entrance to medical/dental/vet schools with a "gap year" or more between graduation and matriculation, this creates much more curricular flexibility and you can work out several paths in consultation with an advisor. If you are pointing towards entering medical/dental/vetschool immediately following graduation, the following courses should be completed before spring term of junior year, the optimum time to take the required MCAT admission test.

The courses listed below are considered an adequate minimum basic preparation by most schools, although a few schools have additional course requirements. To obtain information about specific schools, refer to the current edition of the Medical School Admission Requirements, Admission Requirements of U.S. and Canadian Dental Schools; and Veterinary Medical School Requirements for required and recommended courses; these editions are available in the Health Professions Program office/resource center. You can also consult our summary document that reviews several features of specific medical schools, including course requirements. This was last updated for 2013-14 admissions, so you should double-check the specific requirements of schools you are interested in, as they can change without notice.



Two (2) terms are required by most schools. Writing 5 and First-Year Seminar are satisfactory.

Note: Students are encouraged to take additional courses that stress critical analysis of writing and literature, as this competency is stressed on the MCAT exam.


Two (2) terms recommended by most schools; required by 20% of the schools

Starting in 2015, the MCAT will include questions that use statistical information, and because more schools are requiring statistics as one of the math classes, HPP strongly recommends one calculus plus one statistics course to fulfill requirements.  Several possibilities: Math 3 (or Math 1-2) or 8 and a non-calculus statistics course, such as Math 10 (Sociology 10 and Psychology 10 are equivalent courses). Biology 29 (Biostatistics, has lab) is also a good option for biologically relevant applications. Other options can include an exemption credit for Math 3 or 3/8 and Math 10; most schools want to see at least one math class taken at the undergraduate level even if you have two exemption credits). Many schools require one term of calculus and some require statistics
Note: A student with placement into Math 8 or 11 is NOT required to take the class. The Math 3 credit they are given in  this instance is sufficient to fulfill the calculus requirement.

Check the individual medical school course requirements for additional required or recommended math courses.

Note: You must complete Math 3 or Math 1/2 prior to enrolling in Chemistry 5.



Two (2) terms with laboratory is the minimum requirement at most schools.

At Dartmouth, students wishing to satisfy this requirement should first consider whether or not to take Biology 11 ('The Science of Life'). This course, offered 2-3 times per year without a lab, focuses on problem-solving in Biology and prepares students to take the required laboratory-based courses. Based on a self-administered on-line evaluative exam and other factors, every student should have a conversation with a first-year or pre-health advisor as to the desirability of taking Biology 11 before enrolling in the foundation courses.

 Some students will elect to take Biology 2 (see below) and then proceed to a foundation course. Beginning in the fall of 2015, five foundation courses (all with labs) will be offered. Any two of BIOL 12, 13, 14,15 & 16 will satisfy this minimum requirement with many students choosing as the two courses Biology 12 ('Cell Biology') and Biology 13 ('Genetics') [see note below about physiology]..

We feel that all students should take Biology 13 ('Genetics'). Biology 12 ('Cell Biology)' is the "usual" second lab course taken by a pre-health student, although Biology 15 ('Genetic Variation & Evolution') or Biology 16 ('Ecology') are certainly acceptable. Note that Biology 12 is a pre-requisite for several upper level Biology courses, including Biology 40 ('Biochemistry'). Strong consideration should be given to taking more than just the foundation courses both for MCAT success and for success in the graduate curriculum. Other courses in Biology might be chosen from among BIOL 23, 24, 27 (lab),29, 30 (lab), 34 (lab), 35, 36, 37, 40, 42, 43, 45, 46 (lab), 48, 66, 67, 69, 74, or 78, among others.

Students should strongly consider including a course that emphasizes physiology and anatomy, since these subjects are heavily represented on the MCAT exam. General courses in the Biology Dept that include these subjects are Biology 2 and 30 (lab).  In the fall of 2015, Biology 30 becomes Biology 14, a foundation course with a course content identical to Biology 30. There are other courses that emphasize these topics as well;  consult with a pre-health advisor.

Students who are uncertain about their interest in a health career or feel they have weak backgrounds in Biology (and science) prior to matriculation at Dartmouth or who are hesitant about college science courses in general should consider Biology 2 ('Human Biology') as their entry course in the fall of their first year. While this course is not intended to provide all the skill sets typically used in the foundation courses, it does cover most of the topics of Biology 11.

Note: The laboratory-based courses, Biology 12, 13, 14,15 & 16 can be taken in any order, though many Biology faculty feel that Biology 12 should be taken before Biology 14, if possible.
Note: Most vet schools also require Biology 46 (microbiology), Biology 40 (biochemistry) and another course with biochemistry emphasis (e.g. Biology 66, Biology 69 or Biology 78).


Two (2) terms of General Chemistry Chem 5/6; or Chem 10 (by competitive exam; carries two terms of general Chemistry credit)

Two (2) terms of Organic Chemistry Chem 51/52 or Chem 57/58 are the options

Note: If you choose to enroll in Chemistry 5, you may be placed into Chemistry 2, based on your pre-matriculation mathematics and science record. Chemistry 2 is a course for students who intend to take Chemistry 5-6, but who need additional preparation for quantitative and analytical aspects of general chemistry. Satisfactory completion of Chemistry 2 is a pre-requisite for enrolling in Chemistry 5. Students can petition to be included in Chemistry 2 if they believe their science backgrounds, especially in Chemistry and Math, are weak.

Note:  If you choose to delay general chemistry until sophomore year, you could lock yourself into scheduling six (6) consecutive enrolled terms without a vacation term if you plan to enter med/vet/dental school in the fall of 2017. For many students, the only alternative to the six-term enrollment will be to delay entrance until the year 2018 or later.


Two (2) terms of Physics

Physics 3/4; Physics 13/14; or Physics 15/16 are the three options. Physics 3/4 is the most frequently selected option if one is NOT considering majoring in Physics, Chemistry, Math or Engineering. Physics 13/14 (or 15/16) is required in these latter instances. Many, but not all, students NOT considering these possible majors frequently postpone taking Physics until their junior or senior years, since the two terms of physics is not a pre-requisite for other required courses.


One (1) term of Biochemistry

Note: Currently, ~30 medical schools REQUIRE a course in Biochemistry (and that number continues to rise), and nearly all RECOMMEND it (and more will be requiring it in the next few years). Veterinary schools nearly all REQUIRE a course in biochemistry. Furthermore, the MCAT exam beginning in 2015 will require compentency in Biochemistry. Given all these factors, we strongly recommend that everyone take a course in biochemistry. Biology 40 or Chemistry 41 would meet this requirement.


Beginning in 2015, the MCAT will include a section termed the Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior.  To achieve these competencies within the Dartmouth curriculum, we are recommending enrollment in Psychology 1 and either Sociology 1 or Sociology 2 (all are one term courses).  There may be other ways to achieve these competencies (few medical schools actually require these courses for admission) that can be discussed with a pre-health advisor.

These are minimum requirements. If your grades in these courses are good, and your schedule is filled with courses necessary for your major, you need not go beyond these unless an individual school of your choice has additional prerequisites. Check individual school requirements in the current edition of the Medical School Admission Requirements, our summary document or the dental or veterinary medical school directories available in the HPP Resource Centers. For students preparing for veterinary medical schools, prerequisite courses differ from school to school, but most include courses in microbiology and biochemistry. Learn the requirements of the schools of your choice during your first year. For information and scheduling advice, consult a Health Professions Advisor.

If your academic record does not clearly establish competency in laboratory sciences, you should include more upper-level science courses. Additional biology and/or chemistry courses are recommended by most schools and required by a few schools.