Course Preparation for Admission to Medical School

Please note that one term at Carleton is recognized by medical schools as equivalent to a semester course.

Admission to medical school requires course work aimed at preparation for the MCAT and at fulfilling the requirements for admission to U.S. medical schools.

  1. The courses that are highly recommended for preparation for the Medical College Admissions Test (the MCAT) are:
    • Biology: 2 terms: 125, 126; Also recommended for the MCAT but not necessarily required by medical schools: an upper level course such as Human Physiology, BIOL 332 or Genetics, BIOL 240
    • Chemistry: 4 terms: 123 or 128, 224, 233 and 234
    • Physics: 2 terms to include PHYS 145 (or 143 or 144 or the two-part sequence consisting of 131 (first five weeks) plus either 151, 152 or 153 [second five weeks]) AND PHYS 165
    • Biochemistry; BIOC301; required by some schools, recommended by many
  2. The requirements for admission for the majority of U.S. medical schools can be met with the courses listed above plus:
    • English or expository writing, 2 terms — this requirement can usually be fulfilled by taking writing-rich courses. I recommend trying to take at least one English course but most schools do accept the writing-rich courses as fulfilling the requirement.
    • Math: two terms: calculus 1: MATH 101 or 111 and statistics : STAT 120 or PSYC 200 (required for psychology majors)
  3. Recommended courses for competency on the MCAT:
    • Psychology: Psych 110
    • Sociology: Soan 111

Take all prerequisite courses for a grade; the grade must be a C or better. You do not have to take all prerequisite courses at Carleton. Non-Carleton courses, however, must be taken at an accredited institution for a grade and you will later need to provide a transcript when you apply. These courses do not need to be transferred to Carleton. Any work taken elsewhere should be done either on a semester system or its equivalent; a quarter system can lead to difficulty.

Note: The courses listed above satisfy most of the admissions requirements at U.S. Medical Schools.  However, each school may not require all of these and schools may require additional courses (such as Genetics). Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the applicant to know the exact requirements and deadlines for each school to which they apply.

When should you take the required courses?

The MCAT is based on the biology, chemistry, physics, psychology and sociology courses listed above. Consequently, you will probably be best prepared for the MCAT shortly after you have completed the course work.

The MCAT is computer-based and is administered approximately 20 times per year. Results of the MCAT are not available until approximately 30 days after it is taken. One schedule is to plan to take the MCAT during the spring term of the junior year, planning to enter medical school in the fall following graduation.

However, it is perfectly acceptable, as far as the medical schools are concerned, to apply for admission for later years and therefore take the MCAT spring term of the senior year or later. This may permit you to arrange your courses in a more logical manner if you are not a science major, to take advantage of off-campus programs, or to take part in other uniquely undergraduate opportunities.  A small number of schools do not require the MCAT.

When you apply to medical schools, your GPA in the science and mathematics courses will be computed separately from your overall GPA. It is therefore important to produce excellent work in each course taken.

For further information consult the Medical School Admission Requirements database (commonly referred to as “The MSAR”) available on the AAMC website.