Jun 22, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Catalog 
2023-2024 Academic Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Pre-Health Professional Guidelines

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View information for the Department of Biological Sciences , including Learning Objectives for the department and its programs.

Mark A. Grobner (Biological Sciences), Ph.D., Adviser

Office: Naraghi Hall of Science 259
Phone: (209) 667-3628

Students interested in health careers such as dentistry, medicine, clinical laboratory science, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, podiatry, or veterinary medicine are usually not required to complete a prescribed undergraduate major, although most do. Each professional school has specific prerequisite coursework. The University offers the appropriate pre-professional coursework for these programs and the Department of Biological Sciences has fliers that outline the undergraduate courses recommended for each of these career paths. In general, students interested in a health profession choose in biological sciences or chemistry as a major.

Course Requirements

The minimum requirement for admission to most health professional schools is completion of at least 90 semester units; however, a bachelor’s degree is recommended. In addition, specific course requirements may differ from one school to another. Therefore, it is highly recommended that students, while preparing for admission, examine the requirements of their prospective professional schools and, with the assistance of their major adviser, design a program of study.


It is critical for students to have special health-related experience in addition to their coursework. The experience should have direct patient contact or other interpersonal involvement. The professional schools want to know if the applicants have first-hand knowledge of the realities of a career in a health profession. An undergraduate internship in an appropriate health profession setting is a recommended way to achieve this “real world” experience.

In some situations, experience plays a significant role in the admission selection process. Academic credit may be received for such experiences. Research experience may be useful to some students, but it is not a major requirement for admission to some of the health professions. Consult your major adviser and a member of the Pre-health Professions Committee.

Recommended Pre-Professional General Education, Core Curriculum, and Elective Courses

General Education

Commonly required courses include:

  • Communication — One semester of Public Speaking
    (for pharmacy schools)
  • English – One year of English composition and Literature.
    (Note: ESL classes do not fulfill the English requirement.)
  • Psychology – General Psychology
  • Social Sciences, Humanities, or Foreign Language
    (Minimum of 11 semester units)

Core Curriculum

All students who plan to attend a medically-related professional school, regardless of major, should take the following core courses:


Additional Electives

(to bring the total number of units to at least 90 semester units)

Most professional schools recommend the following courses. Some of these courses may have prerequisites. These courses will also help prepare for professional admissions tests:

Professional Admission Tests

It is to the student’s advantage to complete the core curriculum and additional electives before taking the professional admissions test, such as MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), DAT (Dental Admission Test), PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test), OAT (Optometry Admission Test), or GRE (Graduate Record Exam for Veterinary School Admission). Application forms, packets, and information are available through the Pre-health Professions Committee. Most professional schools require that all the prerequisite courses be completed by June of the year of intended enrollment.

Pre-health Professions Committee

A Pre-health Professions Committee provides academic advising and assistance to students who are preparing and applying to health professional schools. Questions regarding pre-health profession preparation and application may be directed to the committee via the Department of Biological Sciences at (209) 667-3476.

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