General Requirements. Because health professions schools place a priority on well rounded achievement, the prehealth course requirements are generally straightforward. For most professional schools, you will need a baccalaureate degree from a four-year college. You should focus on meeting the requirements for your major with demonstrated excellence and with rigor. Beyond the courses for your major, minimally, you will need courses from three of the sciences:
- 2 semesters of biology with lab
- 4 semesters of chemistry (generally, this means 2 semesters of general chemistry and 2 of organic chemistry, including lab, but see AP Chemistry for more information
- 2 semester of general physics with lab
Mathematical Preparation. Math prehealth requirements are quite varied. Some schools require no mathematics. Some schools require one semester, others two. Some schools specifically require calculus. Others will allow computer science and/or statistics courses to count toward the math requirements. More schools are now moving to requiring a college-level statistics course. It is important for you to look at the math requirements of the individual schools to which you may apply to determine what math courses you will need to take. Regardless of health professions school requirements, you will have to have a background in calculus if you plan to take physics courses at Duke, because our physics courses are calculus-based. For more information, please click on AP Math.
Humanities Courses. If you are a science major, taking electives in the humanities can demonstrate broader cross-disciplinary skills. Most schools require that you take at least two semesters of English or literature coursework. Some schools will allow courses that are considered “writing intensive” to satisfy this requirement. Again, this is school specific.
Biochemistry. There are health professions schools that require that students take an undergraduate course in biochemistry prior to matriculation. Other schools do not mandate this, but strongly recommend it.
Academic Performance. Go beyond the basics. Engage rigorously. Make sure your GPA in the premed requirements is equal to or higher than your overall GPA, which needs to be at least a high “B” to meet general admissions requirements, depending on specific health professions schools’ thresholds. Grades of C or higher are required by most, if not all schools, for prerequisite courses.
Many health professions schools have individual requirements that go beyond this initial set of course requirements. This is true for some dental schools, schools of veterinary medicine and physical therapy programs. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO BE AWARE OF INDIVIDUAL SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS so that you will have completed the appropriate coursework by the time you plan to apply. The best way to accomplish this is to regularly check individual school websites so that you can be up to date on any particular requirements for each institution.
With a full offering of exciting majors to choose from and a wide range of experiential opportunities through which to explore medicine, Duke provides excellent preparation for successful careers in the health professions.