Can I Go To Medical School With a Degree in Biology?
Health Pre-Professional students (often referred to as “pre-professional students”) are students who are preparing to enter into a health professional program after graduating from UCF. There are a variety of professional health programs that these students plan to attend, and to matriculate from, so as to succeed in their dreams of serving in the professional health field. These programs include: Allopathic Medicine, Chiropractic Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Optometry, Osteopathic Medicine, Pharmacy, Physician Assistant, and Podiatric Medicine.
There are many pathways that a pre-professional student may take to succeed at UCF. Regardless of what some believe, there is no one major that ensures a student’s success at this endeavor. In fact, any major with the appropriate courses may allow a student to achieve his/her goal. However, due to academic strength, science majors tend to prepare pre-professional students more effectively. Health professional programs tend to prefer students who have shown that they have the potential to handle the rigorous demands of their programs by having been exposed to a science-based curriculum. At UCF we have a number of undergraduate programs that can serve to prepare a pre-professional student for the next step in his/her education. These programs include: Biology, Chemistry, Biomedical Sciences, Psychology, and Interdisciplinary Studies.
The Department of Biology has a Biology-Preprofessional concentration that is well designed to assist a student in gaining admission to and succeeding in a professional health program. The program has a number of core courses that will prepare a student for the required standardized entrance examinations and will give the student a firm foundation for the scientific requirements of the health professional program. These core courses include: Biology 1 (BSC 2010), Biology 2 (BSC 2011), Chemistry 1 (CHM 2045), Chemistry 2 (CHM 2046), Organic Chemistry 1 (CHM 2210), Organic Chemistry 2 (CHM 2211), Genetics (PCB 3063), Physics 1 (PHY 2048 or PHY 2053), Physics 2 (PHY 2049 or PHY 2054), and Molecular Cell Biology (PCB 3023). In addition, the Biology-Preprofessional concentration allows for studying in a number of upper division restricted electives that are extremely beneficial to the serious prehealth professional student. Upper division restricted electives such as: Biochemistry (BCH 4053), Genetics 2 (PCB 4514), Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy (ZOO 3713c), Embryology (ZOO 4603c), and General Microbiology (MCB 3020c); give the student an extensive knowledge base to get him/her off to a very good start in any health professional program.
In addition, the graduation requirements of the Biology-Preprofessional concentration give the student a degree of academic flexibility. UCF requires a minimum of 48 credit hours of 3,000 and above level courses for graduation. The basic requirements of the Biology major require a minimum of 35 hours of 3,000 and above level courses. That leaves a 13 credit hour discrepancy that a student can use in any way that he/she feels will best prepare him/her to succeed in a health professional program. It typically is most beneficial if the student works closely with his/her academic advisor to choose these courses.
The Department of Biology has a number of faculty serving as academic advisors who are well versed in the requirements of a health professional program and the requirements for acceptance into such programs. These advisors have many years of experience advising pre-professional students and assisting them in reaching their goals.
The Department of Biology has a number of other resources that will also assist the pre-professional student to prepare for a professional health program and to separate himself/herself from other applicants. These resources include: internships, independent studies, and research opportunities. All of these resources demonstrate scholarly interest and academic initiative of the nature favored by professional health program admittance committees.
The Biology- Preprofessional concentration possesses many resources and opportunities that will benefit the pre-professional student. The concentration in particular, and the degree program in general, will serve the serious student well in achieving his/her goal of entering into, and succeeding in, a professional health program.
Preparing for the New MCAT
In 2015, a new section was added to the MCAT exam: Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. The Office of Pre-Health and Pre-Law Advising (PHPL), the College of Sciences, and Biology and other university faculty have collaborated to review the changes to the MCAT and determine which courses will help to prepare you for the new section. More information on the MCAT can be found on the Association of American Medical Colleges’ website, at https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/whats-mcat-exam/.
One advantage that Biology majors have in this is UCF’s 48 Hour Rule. The 48 Hour Rule requires that undergraduates take at least 48 hours of upper level course work (i.e.; 3,000 and 4,000 level classes). Some majors require that you do all 48 hours with them and others do not. The Biology undergraduate requirements necessitate a minimum of 35 hours of upper level course work. That gives you 13 hours of upper level classes that you can choose at your discretion. Certainly these could be science courses but they can also be courses that would help to prepare you for the MCAT.
Not all of the courses that will prepare you for the new MCAT are upper level courses. Some are courses that you could select while fulfilling your GEP requirements. By being aware of UCF’s undergraduate degree requirements and the courses that will help to prepare you for the MCAT you can strive to be ready when you choose to take this important exam.
The following courses have been evaluated to be useful courses for the new MCAT:
- PSY 2012 – General Psychology
- SYG 2000 – General Sociology
- SOP 3004 – Social Psychology
- SYO 4401 – Social Determinants of Health
- ZOO 4513 – Animal Behavior
Obviously the traditional prehealth professional courses such as CHM 2045, CHM 2046, BCH 4053, CHM 2210, CHM 2211, PHY 2053/4048, and PHY 2054/2049 will still be an important part of your curriculum. They will prepare you for a health professional program and also for a degree in Biology. The point of this article is to inform you of courses that will aid you with the new MCAT that students may not have considered when preparing for previous versions of the MCAT.
1) Pre-Professional Advisement
Office of Pre-Health and Pre-Law Advising (PHPL): The website can be found at https://www.phpladvising.ucf.edu/. They will be adding information to the website on a regular basis throughout the year so please check it often. They are located in:
Ferrell Commons, Building 7G, Room 203
They will meet with students by appointment or walk-in basis. Please call the office to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are done on a first-come, first-served basis, and can be found on their calendar of events at https://events.ucf.edu/calendar/2224/pre-health-and-pre-law-advising-events-calendar/upcoming/. This site also lists their upcoming workshops, etc.
They are also available through Facebook at:
2) Prehealth Professional Organizations
There are a number of prehealth professional organizations on campus. These are student clubs that are dedicated to helping student to prepare for, and to apply into, a career in the health professions. They are a great way to learn what challenges await you and to prepare for them. Club events include visits to health professional programs, visits with faculty and students at professional schools, shadowing opportunities, and charity events. Some of the clubs are:
(a) Premedical-AMSA for students interested in medical school: http://www.premedamsa.com/
(b) Prevet Society at UCF for students interested in veterinary medicine: http://prevetsociety.org
(c) Pre-SOMA for student interested in Osteopathic School of Medicine: https://sites.google.com/site/presomaatucf/
American Public Health Association: http://www.apha.org/what-is-public-health
Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health: http://www.aspph.org/discover/