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Frequently Asked Questions about Exploring

Q: What courses do I need to take as a pre-health student?

A: Medical and dental school entrance requirements vary somewhat. Requirements for colleges of pharmacy, veterinary medicine, optometry, physician assistant and physical therapy are even less standardized.

Normally, though, you should plan to take a basic curriculum consisting of two semesters of English, two semesters of math, two semesters of introductory biology and advanced biology, two semesters of introductory chemistry, two semesters of organic chemistry and two semesters of physics.

Biochemistry is strongly recommended; some medical, dental and veterinary schools require it. Pharmacy schools might require microbiology.

Check admission requirements for the schools that interest you. "Medical School Admission Requirements," published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and the "Official Guide to Dental Schools," published by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), provide authorized information on requirements and also contain a wealth of other information.

Guides are also available for other healthcare professional schools, and you will want to check the websites of the schools you would like to attend.

In addition, plan to take courses in the humanities and social sciences. These courses round out your academic background and expose you to critical analyses of text.

Q: Will professional schools accept advanced placement credit earned in high school and applied toward college graduation requirements?

A: In certain subject areas, some, but not all, medical schools will accept AP credits. You should check the admissions requirements for each school to which you intend to apply. The pre-health advisor can help you determine when you want to retain earned credit or rescind credit you have earned and enroll in a class. A quick-reference guide for most professional schools in California is available at

Q: What should I be doing to find out if one of the health professions is right for me?

A: Explore! Read articles, pamphlets and books. Participate in healthcare-related special programs and activities, such as the pre-medical honor society events. Talk with and observe physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists and other health professionals. Volunteer at hospitals or clinics. Apply for summer programs and internships.

Q: What is the pre-health program at UC Merced?

A: The pre-health program consists of advising services and courses. This doesn’t quite tell the entire story, though, because you’ll find extensive support and a wealth of opportunities are available to pre-health students at UC Merced.

For example, the Bright Success Center & STEM Resource Center has experienced tutors in chemistry, biology and mathematics. Faculty members hold help sessions, providing the opportunity for students to ask questions outside regular class lectures. The small class sizes afford students the opportunity to get to know their instructors, which results in stronger letters of reference and the opportunity to conduct research in faculty labs.