Choosing a Major

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Selecting a Major

It often surprises prospective students to learn that pre-medical is not a major. Neither is pre-dental, pre-physical therapy or any of the pre-health professional designations. Students bound for the health professions must select a major in which to earn their bachelor's degree.

The good news is that health professional schools don't have a preference for any particular major; they care about student performance in the pre-requisite coursework that they have indicated. Students can earn a bachelor's degree in a major of their choosing and still be considered for health professional programs as long as they also complete the specified pre-requisite coursework. The pre-requisite curriculum for each health profession program is available on each program's webpage.

We want you to be happy and invested in your undergraduate program! Students who are interested in their major usually earn good grades and are motivated.

When choosing a major there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Time to Degree. If the pre-requisite coursework is not part of your undergraduate degree program, you will have to take them over and above your degree requirements. 

Consider two scenarios.

Brian is a freshman pre-medical student and has selected History as his major. The minimum pre-requisites for medical school total 73 hours. Only 27 pre-requisite hours are included as part of the History degree program. That means Brian will have to take 46 hours over and above his degree requirements to be prepared for medical school. In all likelihood, Brian will not be ready to apply to medical school for six years after he began his college coursework.

Courtney is a pre-dental student and has selected Physiology as her major. All 73 hours of pre-requisites are requirements of the physiology major. In addition, 21 hours of coursework that are strongly recommended for dental school and will help prepare her for her Dental Admission Exam (DAT) are also part of her degree program. Courtney will not have to take any additional class work beyond her bachelor's degree and will be prepared for dental school in four years.

Cost & Impact on Financial Aid. In the example above, Brian will have to pay for 46 extra hours of coursework, whereas Courtney will not. Depending on his individual situation, Brian's extra coursework may or may not be eligible for financial aid. We ALWAYS recommend that students have a one-on-one meeting with our Financial Aid Office before selecting a non-traditional major to learn the impact such a decision will have on their financial obligation to the University.

As you can see, choice of major can have a significant impact on the time it takes to prepare for health professional school and the cost of your undergraduate education. Life science major majors, such as Biology, Physiology, and Biochemistry are popular majors for pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-optometry, and pre-physician assistant students. In addition to offering excellent preparation for these careers, these majors also include 100% of the coursework required for these professional schools. For similar reasons, Exercise Science is the top major for pre-physical therapy students. We recommend that you discuss your choice of major with the Health Professions Advisor, particularly if you are considering a non-traditional major.