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Information for Prospective Students

Are you considering becoming a nurse, physician, pharmacist, dentist or medical lab technician? What about an occupational therapist, public health educator or health administrator? Or becoming the person who discovers a new treatment for asthma or heart disease or discovers what makes a normal cell become a cancer cell?

The innovative and modern curriculum at UC Merced provides excellent academic preparation for health professional schools. Research experiences and opportunities for leadership in the first American research university of the 21st century provide competitive advantages for all students interested in careers as health professionals.

There is rarely a "pre-med," "pre-dental" or "pre-pharmacy" major at any college. When a student is "pre-med," that usually means he or she is taking the classes required for admission to medical school, but also has a major in a specific subject matter.

In selecting your undergraduate institution, you are most likely wondering how many of our applicants get into medical school. If you’re interested in medicine, dentistry, or another health profession, this is probably very much on your mind.

The answer to just this one question may not, however, tell you the most important things you need to know. We suggest that you ask these questions of each college you’re considering: 

How does this university advise and support students who are considering careers in medicine?

UC Merced’s Pre-Health Advising holds regular meetings for students considering health professions, starting with the ASCEND New Student Conference. We help you decide whether this is the best career for you and show you how to meet academic and other requirements for medical school.

In collaboration with other campus services, we offer practice interviews and guide you through the application process. There is a mailing list and website dedicated to pre-health advising issues. Alumni in health professions visit campus and meet with students. Students attend health career fairs in the region, and professional-school admissions reps visit the campus.

Does the university write a letter for every student who applies?

UC Merced, along with the other UC campuses, does not offer a committee letter service. Please be aware that most colleges and universities do not offer such committee letters, so applicants need not feel disadvantaged by this. Medical schools also understand that not all universities offer this opportunity. For those institutions that do offer this service, some have an internal selection process and will write letters, give practice interviews, etc., for only the highest-achieving students. Be aware that an extremely high published acceptance rate could be because of this kind of internal selection, so always ask about this.

What will I need to do in order to get into a health-related professional school?

  • Take the required courses and do well in them;
  • Prepare for the standardized exams (MCAT, DAT, PCAT, GRE)  and do well on them;
  • Have a consistent record of good work in human service internships or volunteer experiences;
  • Get some exposure to healthcare work while in college;
  • Apply in a timely manner to a reasonable mix of schools matching your interests and accomplishments;
  • Develop the kinds of relationships with your professors and others that will enable you to get good recommendations;
  • Practice your interviewing skills until you can interview well;
  • Have a clear understanding of your motivations for choosing a healthcare profession and the ability to articulate this in writing and in interviews

OK, I understand all that—but I still want to know how well your students do in medical/dental/pharmacy/vet school admissions…?

UC Merced applicants do much better than the national average! We estimate that 75 percent to 80 percent of the applicants (current students and recent alums) in recent years who took our advice, met deadlines and prepared competitive applications were admitted. 

Check out the Pre-health Advising brochure here!

Adapted from Pomona College Health Sciences Program