Pre-Med & Pre-Health
Pre-Professional Advising at Denison
Denison University, like many other colleges, does not offer a single pre-med or pre-health professions major, as there are many possible paths to embarking on careers in these areas. For many students, majors in Biology; Biochemistry; Chemistry; or Health, Exercise, and Sport Studies provide the background needed for medical, dental, veterinary, optometry and other professional schools.
Other students pursue alternative majors being careful to complete the prerequisite science courses required by the professional schools they would like to attend. However, requirements for such schools differ greatly, and for this reason the University offers students access to faculty members who assist students to prepare for success in these fields. Additionally, the University’s The Knowlton Center for Career Exploration staff provides individual career advising so that students have the necessary support and resources as they plan their pre-med and pre-health occupation paths.
Schools of the health professions are seeking students who have solid undergraduate backgrounds in the sciences as well as the communication skills and well-rounded experiences in the humanities and social sciences that are hallmarks of a liberal arts education. This is why Denison University graduates have been so successful in establishing careers as physicians, dentists, veterinarians, optometrists, physician assistants, and other medical professionals. Our graduates have attended medical school in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and many other schools throughout the nation.
Pre-Med/Pre Health Guides
- Accelerated Nursing
- Occupational Therapist
- Physical Therapist
- Physician Assistant
The information that follows provides guidance to some of the questions and issues many undergraduates have when seeking careers in the health professions.
Schools of the health professions do not specify a preference for any particular undergraduate major. We always advise students to major in a discipline that they find intellectually stimulating and which will prepare them for a desirable alternative career in the event that they decide not to become a health professional. Most of our pre-professional students major in biology; biochemistry; chemistry; or health, exercise, and sport studies. However, other majors are acceptable as long as the student has completed the necessary undergraduate course requirements.
Health professions schools do have specific undergraduate course requirements. These vary considerably for different professions, and to a lesser degree between different schools for the same profession. It is essential that you learn this information early in your college career to ensure that you take all of the courses you need. Nearly all medical schools require the course listed below. (Denison University courses are indicated.)
- Introductory Chemistry (CHEM 131) - 4 semester hours
- Organic Chemistry (CHEM 132-251) - 8 semester hours
- Biochemistry (CHEM 258) - 4 semester hours
- Introduction to Biology (BIOL 150) – 4 semester hours
- Cell and Molecular Biology (BIOL 201) – 4 semester hours
- General Physics I & II (PHYS 121, 122) – 8 semester hours
- Mathematics: two semesters including some calculus (not required of some schools)Calculus (Math 121, 123, or 124) or Statistics (Math 102) 8 semester hours
- English (two semesters including First Year Seminar (FYS 102) or English 201 or higher and a literature course English 200 or higher) – 8 semester hours
You are strongly advised to complete these courses by the end of your junior year before you take the health professions admissions tests. This means that the General Chemistry and Biology courses should be taken during the freshman and sophomore years, and that the Organic Chemistry and Physics courses should be completed during the sophomore and junior years.
Some dental schools require additional course work in biology (e.g., microbiology, anatomy) and in disciplines that enhance the development of manual dexterity (e.g., musical instruments, sculpture, ceramics). Many dental schools do not have a mathematics requirement.
Most veterinary schools require additional courses in biology.
Your performance on the admission test is a critical factor that will determine your chances of a successful application. Even if you have an excellent GPA, do not assume that you will know the material well enough to achieve adequate test scores without a comprehensive study program. Our students have taken various study approaches.
These include the following:
- Detailed review of the material covered in the required biology, chemistry, and physics courses
- Study materials such as manuals, study guides, and practice tests
- Commercial preparation courses
Through the generous donations of Denison University alumni, limited scholarship funds are available for students to take commercial preparation courses. If you are interested, contact the office of Student Development, 740-587-6208. Graduate school is becoming increasingly competitive.
It is to your advantage to take the appropriate standardized tests early, even a year in advance. Remember, test registration deadlines are well in advance of the actual test dates, and most are given only a few times a year. Links are provided with each admissions exam for registration.
- MCAT -- The Medical College Admission Test is a requirement for admission to medical school. Interested student must also complete the American Medical College Applications Service, AMCAS.
- DAT -- The Dental Admission Test is a requirement for admission to dental school.
- PCAT -- The Pharmacy College Admission Test is a requirement for admission to pharmacy school.
- OAT -- The OAT is sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) for applicants seeking admission to an optometry program.
- GRE -- The Graduate Record Examination is required for many pre-health graduate programs such as Physician Assistant, Public Health, Physical Therapist, and Occupational Therapist
Preparation manuals have been published for most of the major examination programs and are available at bookstores. These manuals typically contain several practice tests, as well as “refresher” sections designed to assist in updating your skills in recall, judgment, and mathematics. There is a selection of books available in the The Knowlton Center for Career Exploration library.
Private, “short,” courses exist to help you prepare for examinations such as the MCAT. Before investing money into one of these services, it is advisable to thoroughly research them. There are several preparatory resources available online.
Your application to schools of the health professions will be strengthened by the experiences you have had in health care. (In fact, most veterinary schools specify the number of hours you must have logged in animal care clinics.) Schools want to be certain that you understand your career choice and that you are highly motivated to complete the rigorous educational requirements you will face in medical, dental or veterinary school.
We strongly encourage our students to find part-time positions or volunteer their time in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. This can be done during summer breaks in your home town or worked into your class schedule during the school year.
It takes a lot of research to identify the program that best meets your needs. Establish your own criteria with which to compare graduate schools.
- What are the requirements?
- Do you meet the program requirements?
- What type of students does the program attract?
- What specializations are available?
- Is the program focused on theory and original research, or the practical application of knowledge and skills?
- Do the research facilities suit your needs?
- How long does it take to complete the program?
National Graduate School Rankings
Take a look at which institutions offer the “best” programs of study. Pay attention to the criteria used to rank the school to find out if those criteria coincide with your personal criteria. Rankings are available online from U.S. News & World Report.
- Political and social temper
- Setting (Urban or Rural)
- How large is the institution and the department?
- How many students are enrolled?
- What is the student to faculty ratio?
- Who are they?
- Are there specific people doing the type of research in which you are interested?
- What have they published?
- In-state preference of applicants?
- Issues related to state licensure, boards, etc.?
- Are there opportunities for teaching or research assistantships?
- Will you receive assistance in your job search?
- What companies express interest in graduates from your department?
- How helpful are the departmental faculty in your search?
Any application may receive larger awards at some institutions depending on university budgets. Graduate aid is based largely on merit, not need.
You may get more information by talking to faculty in your chosen field. Discuss your interests and which institutions would be most appropriate for meeting your goals. Admission officials and faculty members can help you with this information. Do not hesitate to contact them by phone, letter, email, or even a personal visit.
- Peterson’s Education Center Guide
- Graduate School Guide Online
- Association of American Medical Colleges
- HealthProfessions.com - Medical careers, their roles and responsibilities, average salaries, educational requirements, and associated affiliations with your career option
- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
- AMA finance - resources to help pay for medical school
- ProfessionalDevelopmentPath.com - Overview for anyone considering med school
- Pre-Health Recommended Reading List
- Letters of Recommendation: Advice for Students
- Letters of Recommendation: A Guide for Faculty
Statistics from top U.S. medical schools show that schools are demanding higher MCAT scores and undergrad GPAs. In 2016, there were a total of 53,042 applicants to allopthic medical programs (MD), with a 40% national acceptance rate (AAMC). In osteopathic programs (DO) in 2016, there were 20,720 applicants with an acceptance rate of 32% (AACOM). For MD programs, the average GPA for accepted students in 2016 was a 3.70 cumulative GPA. For DO programs, the average GPA for accepted students was an average of 3.54 cumulative GPA. Denison students in 2016, for MD and DO programs combined, experienced a 54.8% acceptance rate among 31 applicants.
- Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine at New Mexico State University
- Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
- Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine of Midwestern University
- Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
- Dartmouth College Geisel School of Medicine
- Drexel University College of Medicine
- Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
- Georgetown University School of Medicine
- Indiana University School of Medicine
- Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
- LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans
- Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
- Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine
- Medical University of South Carolina
- Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
- Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
- Rush Medical College
- SUNY at Buffalo Medical School
- Saint Louis University School of Medicine
- The Ohio State University College of Medicine
- The School of Medicine at Wayne State University
- The University of Miami School of Medicine
- The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
- The University of Oklahoma
- The University of Toledo College of Medicine
- Tufts University School of Medicine
- Tulane University School of Medicine
- Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
- University of California, Irvine School of Medicine
- University of California San Diego
- University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
- University of Colorado School of Medicine
- University of Illinois at Chicago-College of Medicine
- University of Kansas
- University of Kentucky College of Medicine
- University of Louisville School of Medicine
- University of Michigan Medical School
- University of North Carolina School of Medicine
- University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
- University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
- University of Texas Medical School at Houston
- Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
- Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
- Weill Medical College of Cornell University
- West Virginia University School of Medicine
- Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine
- Yale University School of Medicine