Frequently Asked Questions (Prospective Students)

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the prehealth advisors at Duke?

All Duke students are assigned a prehealth advisor upon arrival to campus in the fall of the first year.  These advisors are assigned based on where the students live on East Campus during their freshman year.  Prehealth advisors for first- and second-year students are Deans Kostyu, Perz-Edwards, and Roy.  Juniors, seniors, and alumni receive prehealth advising from Dean Scheirer and Ms. Wahl in the Allen Building on West Campus.  Engineering students receive prehealth advice from Dean Simmons as well as from Trinity prehealth advisors.

 How will I learn about prehealth opportunities when I’m at Duke?

All prehealth students are invited to sign up for the prehealth listserv.  Regular announcements are sent out about meetings, lectures, visitors to campus, volunteer opportunities, and more.  The Office of Health Professions Advising website also has a calendar that regularly posts prehealth events and deadlines.

How can I explore if a career in health care is right for me?

The best way to find out if a career in health care is a good fit is to spend time in health care settings with patients, families, and health care professionals.  Students interested in volunteering at Duke University Hospital should look at some of the suggestions provided on the HPA website First Year Information page, search the Student Activities website, and visit the DUH website to learn about an array of volunteer opportunities, including the DUH Prehealth Volunteer Program (PHVP).   Students interested in observing healthcare professionals both at Duke and elsewhere should contact Heather Stanford (; 919.684.1761) at Duke’s Office of Health Professions Advising Center to learn about arranging for a preceptorship, or shadowing experience, both on-  and off-campus.

What are the admission requirements for health professions schools?

Admission requirements vary among health professions schools. In particular, each school may have different rules concerning AP/IB/Pre-Matriculation credit, laboratory, math, biochemistry, and biology requirements.  Some schools may have additional humanities and behavioral science requirements.  However, most schools do have a general core of recommended courses:

Common Prehealth Course Requirements

English 1 year WRITING 101 [20] and one ENGLISH or LIT course
Calculus 1 year MATH 105L[25L]/106L[26L], 111L[31L]/112L[32L], 122L[41L], or higher level +/-  statistics
Inorganic Chemistry 1 year with lab CHEM 101DL[31L] or CHEM 110DL[43L] and either BIOCHEM 301[227] or CHEM 210DL[32L]
Organic Chemistry 1 year with lab CHEM 201DL[151L]/202DL[152L]
Biology 1 year with lab 2 BIOLOGY courses with lab (Bio 201L[101L] and 202L[102L] recommended)
Physics 1 year with lab PHYSICS 141L[53L]/142l[54L], PHYSICS 151L[61L]/152L[62L]/153L[63L], or PHYSICS 161L[41L]/162L[42L]

Duke prehealth advisors help students plan course schedules that suit their individual academic needs.

 Can I study abroad if I am planning on applying to health professions schools?

Many prehealth students choose to study abroad.  However, prehealth requirements should be taken at Duke (or at least in the US).  The prehealth advisor will help with scheduling questions once the student is on campus.

Is there a prehealth major at Duke?

There is not a premedical or prehealth major offered at Duke.  Duke undergraduates prepare for the health professions by integrating the science and math courses required for admission to professional schools into a strong curriculum that includes writing, social science, and humanities courses.  Students should major in what they most enjoy studying.  Their major does not have to be in a science.  However, students planning on applying to joint programs that involve a Ph.D. in a science field should major in a science.

Can I do research while I’m at Duke?

Research opportunities abound!  Students are not limited to biomedical research opportunities. Resources include the Undergraduate Research Support Office, the Academic Advising Center, which manages the Dannenberg Grant, as well as individual departmental web sites.  Students may do research as paid workers, as volunteers, or for academic credit, during semesters as well as summers.

How can I learn about the Cardea Fellows Program?

The Cardea Fellows Program is for high achieving students who are committed to preparing for a profession in health care by mastering core knowledge in math and science.  Every undergraduate admitted to Duke has demonstrated academic excellence, yet some students may not have had the opportunity to develop a foundation in science and math that will accelerate them toward their professional goals. The Cardea Fellows Program is designed to enhance the competitive success of high performing students by forming a learning community to help establish a critical foundation in the natural sciences for each fellow.

Are Duke undergraduates successful in their applications to health professions schools?

Based on data supplied by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the rate of acceptance of Duke students who apply to medical school is well above the national average each year.  Duke graduates also enjoy high acceptance rates at dental, veterinary, optometry, physical therapy, physician assistant, and other health professions schools.

I’m an international student.  What should I know about regarding attending US health professions schools?

In the health professions application process, non-U.S. citizens holding permanent residency in the U.S. (i.e., green card holders) are generally treated in the same way as U.S. citizens.  Opportunities for medical education in the U.S. are not as available for international applicants, that is, non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents.  While some medical schools do allow applications from international students, the numbers admitted yearly are quite small.  Most acceptances are offered by private health professions schools.  Many American students finance their medical education, at least in part, through government loans.  U.S. government loans are not available to international students who are not permanent residents.  Therefore, many medical schools will require international students to document their ability to independently pay for a medical education.  In some cases, students may be required to demonstrate adequate funds in an escrow account prior to enrollment. If you are interested in pursuing a career in health care, you should research the admissions requirements for health professions schools in your home country before deciding whether to pursue a baccalaureate degree in the US.  More information for international students can be found on the prehealth advising website, Click Here

The Office of Health Professions Advising looks forward to helping you with your prehealth needs should you choose to make Duke your undergraduate home.