At Boston College, the Pre-Health Program team operates as a cohesive advising unit that closely collaborates with students and alumni during each year of portfolio development to help create a career narrative. Pre-Health students at Boston College have a number of individuals from whom they can seek advice. The Director and Assistant Directors of the program as well as members of our Pre-Health Committee, which is composed of faculty members from various academic departments, are all available to meet with students on an individual basis.
Group meetings are also held for first-year students, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and alumni. During these meetings, students are updated regarding current admissions trends and appropriate advising packets (e.g., Freshman Packet or Sophomore Packet).
You can take Pre-Health course requirements—except for chemistry and organic chemistry—any year and in any order. Most students spread the coursework over four years and apply to professional or graduate school as seniors or alumni. To continue on to professional or graduate school directly after graduation from BC, you must complete the required courses in three years and take the MCAT. Keep in mind some schools require specific course work beyond these basic requirements. We recommend researching schools of interest to check their prerequisite courses.
|Course #||Course Title|
|BIOL2000||Molecules and Cells (Required)|
|Any course above Biol 2000*||2nd Biology Course Requirement|
|BIOL2040||Investigations in Molecular Cell Bio Lab **
(1 semester/3 credits; fall or spring)
* Any other Biology course above BIOL2000. For example: Intro to Physiology, Ecology and Evolution, Genetics, Cell Biology. Please note that Molecules and Cells is a prerequisite for advanced Biology courses. Additionally, the MCAT and DAT contain a subset of questions on Ecology and Evolution, so you should study the sections on ecology and evolution in the standardized test preparation materials for either the MCAT or the DAT.
** Biology/Biochemistry majors will take the Biology lab sophomore year, all other majors will take the Bio lab junior year.
|Course #||Course Title|
|CHEM1109||General Chemistry I with Lab|
|CHEM1110||General Chemistry II with Lab|
|CHEM2231||Organic Chemistry I with Lab|
|CHEM2232||Organic Chemistry II with Lab OR (1 semester of Biochemistry)|
|Course #||Course Title|
Foundations of Physics I (Alegebra based)
Foundations of Physics II (Algebra based)
Physics I (Calculus based)***
Physics II (Calculus based)
Introduction to Physics Lab I
Introduction to Physics Lab II
***Foundations of Physics (PHYS 1500–1501; algebra based) and lab (PHYS 2050–2051) also fulfill health professions graduate school requirements. Depending on your major requirements, you may have a choice to fulfill the Pre-Health requirement with Algebra-based Physics. Please note that in preparation for the MCAT and Health Professions Graduate Schools, either Physics course sequence is acceptable. Please check with your department regarding your major requirements.
|Course #||Course Title|
|ENGL1010||First-Year Writing Seminar****|
**** Regardless of whether or not you received advanced placement in English, it is strongly recommended that students take two English courses while in college. The First-Year Writing Seminar fulfills the requirement of ONE English course. Many who have APs also choose to take Introduction to Medical Humanities (ENGL2212).
|Course #||Course Title|
|SOCY2200, PSYC1120, or BIO2030||Sociology Statistics, Psychology Statistics, or Biostatistics|
Please note that the majority of Pre-Health students do not take Calculus for Math/Science majors as this is for the Chemistry/Computer Science, Geology/Geophysics, Mathemetics, or Physics majors.
|Course #||Course Title|
|CHEM4461, CHEM4462, or BIOL2030||Biochemistry***** or Biological Chemistry|
*****Some health professions graduate schools require Biochemistry and Statistics.
Note: Biological Chemistry or Biochemistry are both electives that are most often either required or strongly recommended by health professions graduate schools.
|Course #||Course Title|
|PSYC1110 or PSYC1111||Brain, Mind, and Behavior or Self, Mind, and Society|
The recommendation is to take at least one of these Psychology courses before you sit for the MCAT.
|Course #||Course Title|
|SOCY1001 or SOCY1002||Introduction to Sociology or Introduction to Sociology for Healthcare Professions|
The recommendation is to take at least one of these Sociology courses before you take the MCAT.
Most BC applicants elect to distribute the pre-health coursework over four years of undergraduate study to apply to health professions graduate schools, including medical, dental, veterinary and other allied health programs. The average age of a student matriculating into medical school nationally is approximately 25 years old, therefore, many elect to take one or more "growth" years to explore, reflect, and take action to address any weakness to improve the competitiveness of an applicant's candidacy.
In order to matriculate to a health professions graduate school directly upon graduation from BC, the student must complete all course requirements in three years, in addition to successful completion of standardized testing.
There are many paths to a career in the health professions, and your goals at BC should be to explore and develop your academic interests and relevant experiences. Consider a major that aligns with your passions and areas in which you excel to ensure a strong performance.
Pre-Health students considering a program major are encouraged to reflect upon “The Three Key Questions” posed by Fr. Michael Himes, Professor of Theology at Boston College:
Welcome to Boston College. The Pre-Health Staff is dedicated to providing you with guidance and resources towards your pursuit of a career in the health profession. We encourage you to meet with Pre-Health Advisors throughout your undergraduate career.
These items are suggestions so you should adapt to suit your own path.
Arts and culture, politics and socioeconomics, civics, service and social justice. Whatever your interests, BC offers hundreds of student organizations that provide opportunities for you to connect to a wide variety of students, develop leadership skills, and make a difference, on campus and beyond.
Among the primary goals of all Jesuit institutions is the promotion of a faith that does justice. Campus Ministry’s service-immersion and solidarity programming introduces Boston College students, faculty, and staff to those around the world who are voiceless and marginalized. These programs, which offer intentional experiences of encounter, encourage participants to both think and reflect deeply so that they might better discern ways to actively engage with the world.
In the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis—care for the whole person—our comprehensive health, wellness, and safety services can help you with your physical and emotional needs.
Medical, dental and veterinary schools have their own centralized application services that will compute your overall and science GPA based on their calculations. To assist you in evaluating your competitiveness your BC calculated Science GPA can be found on Agora “My Services” then “Course History”.
Approximate National Mean Science GPA for Accepted Applicants:
*You can access the books at O'Neill Library or Ebooks by looking up the course by the ID BIOL1000.01 at Course Reserves
The packet reviews essential information that can ultimately help you file a successful application to the health professions graduate program of your choice.
After completing this self-assessment, we encourage you to make an appointment with a Pre-Health advisor.
To be a viable candidate for health professions graduate school, it is essential that you complete the appropriate academic preparation at a very high level. In addition to academic preparation, you should begin preparing for the application process.
Although many of you will ultimately choose to apply to medical school, you should consider a variety of career options. Use your sophomore year to discover different career options.
For those who are currently entering the application process, all information, steps, advice, and resources can be found on our Preparing for Health Professions Graduate School page.
The Academic Advising Center (AAC) supports students in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences as they make decisions about their academic careers, explore the resources available to them, and maximize their experience at Boston College.
The Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center (BAIC) provides support for the academic, cultural, social, and spiritual development of undergraduate AHANA (African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American) students.
The Career Center provides support for choosing a major, exploring a career, learning about graduate studies, and developing strategies for the job search.
The Connors Family Learning Center provides free tutoring for all students, support services for students with learning disabilities, and instructional support for graduate students and faculty.
The Office of First Year Experience helps students transition into the intellectual, social, and cultural community of Boston College through orientation, retreats, and formation programs.
Learning to Learn provides support for low-income, underrepresented, first gereration college students, and students with disabilities to excel academically and to provide a nurturing environment where students can achieve their full potential.
The Office of International Programs supports students interested in studying abroad during their time at Boston College. OIP manages the study abroad application process and provides advising and in-country support for students.
Office of International Students and Scholars provides advice, programs, and services to international students (undergraduate, graduate, and exchange), faculty, and research scholars from over 90 countries.
Student-Athlete Academic Services provides academic and personal support services for student-athletes at Boston College.
Health professions graduate schools vary in their attitudes toward advanced placement. The following are general guidelines, but students are encouraged to contact individual schools for clarification of policies at specific institutions.
For the student who was granted advanced placement in a science (biology, chemistry, physics), most health professions graduate schools will accept this as long as the student takes an equivalent number of courses (and laboratories) at a more advanced level within that discipline. Please keep in mind that pre-health requirements may or may not coincide with the requirements of a major.
There are pluses and minuses to taking advantage of advanced placement opportunities. On the plus side, it allows the student to get more quickly involved in intellectually challenging upper level courses. On the negative side, one's freshman year is often a significant period of adjustment. This, combined with the highly competitive nature of health professions graduate school admissions, may argue for careful course planning during one's freshman year. Below are some guidelines for the subjects in which advanced placement is commonly awarded.
For students granted advanced placement in biology, deciding whether to enroll in higher lever Biology electives or not can be challenging. The options vary for Biology and Non-Biology majors.
Students who plan to major in biology and choose to skip Foundational Courses (BIOL 2000-2010) and enroll directly in major requirements will have the opportunity to "round out" their biology education by completing a diverse number of electives in their undergraduate careers.
Freshman non-biology majors who have received a 5 in AP Biology have the option of placing out of BIOL 2000 (Molecules and Cells). If you choose to place out of BIOL 2000, we recommend biology courses covering similar material. Options include Genetics (e.g. BIOL 3501, BIOL 3190, etc) and Cell Biology (BIOL 3040). At minimum, electives in Physiology, Biochemistry, and Genetics is recommended.
Non-biology majors pre-health students should also take Physiology (BIOL 3030) or if space is available, Human Physiology with Lab (BIOL 4330F/4340) since the MCAT and DAT cover material including molecular biology, cell biology, physiology, and population biology.
Electives in the following areas are recommended:
Regardless of whether or not you received advanced placement in English, it is strongly recommended that students take two English courses while in college. The Freshman Writing Seminar fulfills the requirement of ONE English course.
For students who received advanced placement in mathematics, most health professions graduate schools will accept this and will either grant one or two semesters credit for mathematics. Depending on the requirements of their major, many students who receive advanced placement for mathematics choose to enroll in MATH 1101 (Calculus II) for the fall semester, and then enroll in BIOL 2300 (Biostatistics) or ECON 1151 (Statistics) for the spring semester.
This option allows students to complete two semesters of mathematics, without having to take a more advanced Calculus course. If a student arrives at Boston College with advanced placement in math, the Mathematics Department may recommend beginning by taking a higher-level math course. Please keep in mind that this is only a recommendation. For students who feel that their background is insufficient, they should feel free to "drop down" to a lower level course (e.g. MT 1100) before the drop/add period ends.
The Pre-Health Committee at Boston College feels that study abroad can be a very positive and enriching experience for selected undergraduates. There are, however, several factors that should be taken into consideration before students make a final decision about whether or not to spend time abroad. The Pre-Health Committee strongly recommends that your cumulative averages (science and overall) be in the competitive range (e.g., 3.5–3.6 for medical school) before you study abroad.
If you are a pre-health student thinking about studying abroad, it is best to start planning early. We recommend you meet with a Pre-Health Advisor during the spring semester of your freshman year or fall semester of your sophomore year.
Those students who plan to study abroad for one year usually delay their applications to health professions graduate schools until at least the summer after they graduate. They begin the BC Committee Process in the Fall of their senior year, and apply in June—soon after graduation.
Many students choose to study abroad for one semester—usually (but not always) during their junior year.
If you plan to apply to medical/dental school the summer after your junior year, study abroad during the fall is preferable, as this would allow you to take the MCAT or DAT and go through the traditional BC Committee process in the spring of your junior year. This plan may necessitate taking one of your core pre-health sciences during the summer.
On occasion, students may receive approval to study abroad in the fall of senior year. This may be most appropriate for students who plan to apply to health professions graduate school after their senior year at BC. If this fits your plans, discuss the possibility with the Office of International Programs, and be sure that you have your Dean's approval.
Studying abroad during the spring of your junior year can be difficult, though not impossible, to plan. Students applying at the end of their junior year usually study for and take the MCATs/DATs in the spring of their junior year. During this time they also become heavily involved in the BC Committee Process.
If you plan to study abroad for pring semester and hope to apply at the end of your junior year, you should plan to complete all of your core pre-health sciences and the MCAT/DAT before you study abroad. This may necessitate taking one of your pre-health core science courses during the summer.
Studying abroad in the summer is a fine option for pre-health students who prefer to spend their traditional (Fall/Spring) academic semesters on campus.
The timeliness of completing your premedical/predental courses depends largely on when you plan to apply to medical/dental school.
If you plan to apply at the end of your senior year, then you can use that final year at BC to complete your remaining premedical/predental courses (e.g., physics).
If you plan to apply at the end of your junior year, you may need to consider doubling up on your science courses (e.g., physics and organic chemistry) during your sophomore year, or you could complete a required premed/predent science course during the summer.
Some students have completed a required core premedical/predental course while abroad. Although this is certainly an option, we strongly recommend you consider all of your options before undertaking this step. Some of the concerns we have regarding required core premedical/predental courses taken abroad include:
Unfortunately, sometimes the answers to these questions/concerns do not become apparent until after a student has completed the MCAT/DAT and/or applies to medical/dental school. If you are considering completing a required core premedical/predental course abroad, we strongly recommend you talk with a Pre-Health Advisor before making your final decision.
Your scores on the MCAT are an extremely important aspect of the admissions process. You should not take the exam unless you have had ample time to study, as a poor test score can severely impair your chances of acceptance—even if you are an outstanding student.
Therefore, even though the MCAT is administered in several foreign countries, we generally do not recommend you take the exam while abroad. Only if you are an excellent standardized test taker, have outstanding grades, and have sufficient time to study, should you even consider taking the MCAT while abroad.
There are some actions items for you to complete prior to leaving to study abroad.
When you apply for graduate school, the organization's systems will calculate your science, non-science, and overall cumulative averages. At this time, AMCAS foreign coursework is verified and included only in your cumulative averages if a US university (e.g., Boston College) offers a grade credit and calculates it into the university's GPA.
Otherwise, grades from courses taken abroad become pass/fail on the AMCAS application. AADSAS requires a transcript for the "non-convertible courses" and, in some instances, will still not list the courses on your application. Rules do change, so we encourage you to contact the appropriate application services.
Contact the American Medical College Applicant Service (AMCAS) at email@example.com or 202-828-0400.
Contact the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-968-4100.
Contact the American Association of Dental Schools Applicant Services (AADSAS) at email@example.com or 800-353-2237.
Though most health professions graduate schools accept science courses taken during summer school, the majority strongly prefer that most of your sciences be taken at your home institution during the academic year. Summer science courses should be kept to a minimum (e.g., not more than one two-semester core science course during your undergraduate career).
Health professions graduate school admissions committees generally expect a summer science course to be taken at a four-year institution, preferably at a college or university of the same selectivity as Boston College. Some institutions will not accept courses taken at community colleges.
Taking a science course during the summer enables a student to better plan one’s schedule (e.g., research, study abroad), as well as potentially help raise one’s GPA.
Yet there are other factors that one should consider before making a final decision. The concerns stemming from taking summer school courses during your undergraduate career are twofold:
Other things to consider:
Most health professions graduate schools (e.g., MD programs) use a centralized application service through which the student submits one application, which is then distributed to the schools to which the student is applying.
These applications require students to record all college-level courses taken and to provide a transcript from every college/university attended. Most application services include all grades received from accredited colleges/universities when computing an applicant’s overall and science GPA. It is the GPAs that are computed by the application services that the admissions committees schools utilize—not the GPAs listed on the student’s undergraduate transcript.
As long as the course name, credits, and grade are recorded on a college/university transcript, the course will be accepted by the application services (and health professions graduate schools) regardless of whether or not the student’s undergraduate school counted the course/credits towards graduation.
If you plan to take a core required premedical course in summer school, we recommend that you complete both semesters during summer session.
We do not recommend taking one semester of a year-long science course during summer school at another institution and then completing the remaining sequence during the academic year at BC.
Doing so may result in incomplete coverage of the topics normally covered in a traditional year-long sequence. Your future performance on entrance exams (e.g., MCATs) may suffer.
If a required premedical science course is taken, we strongly suggest the student focus closely on this material when preparing for entrance exams (MCAT, DAT). Additionally, completing an appropriate elective covering similar material (e.g., biochemistry if you took organic chemistry in summer school) can potentially remove any doubts about your candidacy and ensure that you have a solid grasp of the material.
Some students complete their core required premedical courses during the academic year, then choose to take selected science electives (e.g., genetics or biochemistry) in summer school, thus broadening their backgrounds and (potentially) raising their GPAs.
From a health professions admissions perspective, this is acceptable, but science majors should contact their respective departments for permission. Non-science majors should consult with a Pre-Health Advisor.