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Required Courses for Medical, Dental, or Veterinary Schools

Note: these are the courses that are minimally required for application to medical/dental/vet school

  • Writing/English: Two terms are required by most schools. Writing 5 and a first-year seminar are satisfactory. Students are encouraged to take additional courses that stress critical analysis of writing and literature, as this competency is stressed on the MCAT exam, and an important skill as a health professional.
  • Math: Two terms recommended by most schools; required by 20% of the schools.  Because the 2015 MCAT test 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, Economics 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 AP credit and Math 10; or two terms Advance Placement (if the AP courses are accepted by the medical school in question - most schools want to see at least one math class taken at the undergraduate level even if you have two AP 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. Nor, for the purposes of pre-health pre-requisites, does a student need Math 3 credit.
    • Note: Math 3 (or Math 1-2) must be completed prior to enrolling in Chemistry 5. Although in certain cases, with permission Math 3 may be taken concurrently with Chemistry 5, although it is not recommended for a first term. Math 3 can be taken concurrently with Biology/Chemistry 8/9 (see below).
  • Biology: Two 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 non-lab course, offered 3 times per year, 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 or a biology faculty member as to the desirability of taking Biology 11 (or its equivalent Bio/Chem 8/9 (see below)) before enrolling in the foundation courses.  [See below for an alternative option towards completing Biology 11(Biology/Chemistry 8-9)]. Some students will elect to take Biology 2 (see below) and then proceed to a foundation course.
  • The foundation courses are the 4 laboratory-based courses (Biology 12, 13, 15 & 16) that will satisfy this minimum requirement with many students choosing as the two courses Biology 12 ('Cell Biology') and Biology 13 ('Genetics').  HPP feels strongly 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 however a pre-requisite for several upper level Biology courses, including Biology 30 ('Physiology') and 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 24, 27 (lab), 30 (lab), 34 (lab), 35, 36, 37, 40, 42, 46 (lab), 48, 66, 67, 69, 74, or 78, among others. Students should consider including a course that emphasizes physiology and anatomy, since these subjects are represented on the MCAT exam. General courses that include these subjects are Biology 2, 30 (lab) and 35.
  • 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 could consider Biology 2 ('Human Biology') as their entry course in the fall of their first year.  While this course is not constructed 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, 15 and 16 can be taken in any order.
    • Note: Most veterinary schools also require Biology 46 (microbiology), Biology 40 (biochemistry) and another course with biochemistry emphasis (e.g. Biology 66, Biology 69 or Biology 78).
  • General Chemistry:Two (2) terms of general chemistry: Chemistry 5-6; or Chemistry 10, which carries two terms of general chemistry credit. A student with AP credit for Chemistry 5 could begin with Chemistry 6, although not everyone wishes to do so. (See below for an alternative option for completing Chemistry 5 [Biology/Chemistry 8-9].)
    • Note: If a student has been invited into Chemistry 2, s/he must complete Chemistry 2 prior to enrolling in Chemistry 5. Chemistry 2 emphasizes the quantitative and analytical aspects of general chemistry.  Invitation to enroll is based on your pre-matriculation mathematics and science record.
    • Biology-Chemistry 8-9 is an interdisciplinary class combining the principles of both disciplines.  Taken together over two consecutive terms, this option gives students credit for BOTH Biology 11 and Chemistry 5. If a student takes only the one term (8), it will count as a distributive, but not towards any pre-requisites. It is also aimed at giving students more time to learn the Chemistry 5 material.
  • Organic Chemistry: Two terms of organic chemistry: Chemistry 51-52 or Chemistry 57-58
    • Note: If a student chooses to delay general chemistry until sophomore year and plans to enter medical school in the fall after graduation (applying at the end of junior year), they could be locked into scheduling six consecutive enrolled terms without an off-term. If delaying general chemistry until sophomore year is the best option, a student can shift his/her timeline and plan to apply at the end of senior year.
  • Physics: Two terms of Physics: Physics 3-4; Physics 13-14; or Physics 15-16.
    • Note: Physics 3-4 is the terminal physics track. Physics 13-14 is general introductory physics. Physics 15-16 is the honors version of 13-14.
  • Biochemistry: Currently, ~25 medical schools (and counting) REQUIRE a course in biochemistry, and an additional 90 schools recommend it.  Biology 40 (no lab) or Chemistry 41 (with lab) would meet this requirement. Material from either of these courses will be covered on the MCAT exam in 2015. Taking one of these two courses is strongly recommended.
  • Psychology and Sociology: 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, enrollment in Psychology 1 and either Sociology 1 or Sociology 2 is recommended.
    • Note: 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.

Inform advisees about:

  • The Health Professions Program Offices & Resource Center: Located in the Student Advising Center in Baker/Berry (Carson 132/133), this is where HPP Advisor Sarah Berger offers walk-in hours 2 days a week and schedule appointments at other times.  The Resource Center contains a collection of print material relevant to many health careers and the application processes. Annette Hamilton, HPP administrative coordinator, manages the credentials aspect of applying to health professions schools.  Additionally, HPP advisor, Dr. Lee Witters offers walk-in hours 2 days a week and schedule appointments at other times.  These are held in his office in the Life Sciences Center (Rooms 122/123) where there is also a Resource Center with print materials.
  • The Nathan Smith Premedical Society: An enormously important resource, coordinated by Professor  Witters.  All first-year students interested in pre-health should join NSS, which can be done through the web site, in order to be kept abreast of developments in the pre-health experience at Dartmouth. Give advisees who express an interest in medical school the assignment of reading through the Nathan Smith Society/Health Professions Program web site.
  • Career Services: Along with HPP, Career Services can help with off-term internship & job opportunities and is the source for general support in contemplating careers, looking at strengths and interests, resume writing etc.
  • Academic Skills Center: Given the rigorous nature of the science classes at Dartmouth, consider helping students form an early alliance with the Academic Skills center, especially if they are struggling at all. Any student committed to pre-health who want to improve their study skills whether or not they are struggling with some of the courses should be directed to the Academic Skills Center (  Struggling does not necessarily mean that a student should abandon the goal of going into a health profession, but it may mean that they need to acquire new study strategies and discipline required to excel in some of the large science classes.
  • RWiT: Students should be encouraged to use the Student Center for Research, Writing, and Information Technology (RWiT) to develop their writing and verbal skills. Both the MCAT exam and the centralized medical school application (AMCAS) evaluate these skills as part of the application process.

Last Updated: 9/4/13