The Pre-Med Track: Med School…Or Not

by | Nov 1, 2021

This educational path is incredibly versatile and can open doors to careers in science, healthcare, technology, research, and more. If you’re asking, “What can you do with a pre-med degree?” and are having trouble imagining beyond medical school, read along to explore a world of possibilities.

What do you learn in an undergraduate pre-med program?

A pre-med program is designed to cover all the science and laboratory requirements needed for continued education in medicine or healthcare. Pre-med is not a major itself but rather a program that ensures students take all the required classes needed to apply for medical school.

Choosing a pre-med program shows medical schools you’ve acquired the knowledge needed to become a medical student and also helps prepare you to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

Required courses vary by medical school, but most pre-med tracks include:

  • Principles of Biology (with lab)
  • Cell Biology (with lab)
  • Genetics (with lab)
  • Vertebrate Physiology (with lab)
  • Biochemistry (with lab)
  • College Chemistry (with lab)
  • Organic Chemistry (with lab)
  • College Physics (with lab)
  • Elementary Statistics
  • Ethics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

What skills are developed in a pre-med program?

In addition to expanding knowledge and expertise in science, pre-med students also develop essential skills that will serve them well in healthcare careers. There are 15 competencies that the ideal candidate should possess before applying to med school, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC):

  • Service orientation
  • Social skills
  • Cultural competence
  • Teamwork
  • Oral communication
  • Ethical responsibility to self and others
  • Reliability and dependability
  • Resilience and adaptability
  • Capacity for improvement
  • Critical thinking
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Scientific inquiry
  • Written communication
  • Living systems
  • Human behavior
Applying to medical school with a degree in pre-med

Gaining acceptance to medical school is highly competitive. According to the AAMC, in 2019–2020, there were 53,370 applicants to allopathic medical schools and 21,869 matriculants, making the overall acceptance rate 41 percent. Aspiring doctors can choose between an allopathic medicine (MD) and osteopathic medicine (DO) degree. Familiarizing yourself with the differences will help you decide which path you should pursue.

Medical school admissions committees tend to favor students who are motivated, hardworking, and committed to achieving their professional objectives early in their college studies.

Typically, students applying to medical school earn a bachelor’s degree in Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, or Molecular Biology. It is important to note, however, that medical schools do not require applicants to major in science or STEM at all. It is possible to get accepted with an unrelated bachelor’s degree.

What else can you do with a pre-med degree?

The beauty of a pre-med program is that its comprehensive coverage of scientific knowledge and lab work prepares students for a multitude of careers in healthcare. Pre-med majors can also choose to pursue other professional schools, such as:

  • Dentistry (DDS or DMD)
  • Optometry (OD)
  • Pharmacy (PharmD)
  • Veterinary (DVM)
  • Nurse practitioner (DNP/MSN)
  • Podiatry (DPM)

Each of the above areas of medicine has specific entrance requirements and preferences. Most will include the following elements:

  • Prerequisite course work and GPA standards
  • Pre-admission exam
  • Experiences and familiarity with the career (e.g., job shadowing, volunteer work, or employment)
  • Letters of evaluation and recommendation
  • Involvement and leadership in extracurricular activities
  • Evidence of a commitment to community service
  • Independent research
What careers can you pursue with a pre-med degree?

While many undergraduate pre-med students are preparing to apply for medical and professional schools, those aren’t the only options. Career opportunities for pre-med majors are abundant, especially for those willing to complete additional certifications or training.

“Most employers will look at a candidate with a pre-med degree or a B.A. in the sciences very favorably,” says a pre-med advisor. “It’s an indicator that the person has well-developed critical thinking skills and a passion for science.”

So what can you do with a pre-med degree? Here is a sampling of other career options:

  • Pharmaceutical representative
  • Medical device liaison
  • Research scientist
  • Chemist
  • Wildlife biologist
  • Zoologist
  • Geoscientist
  • Forensic science technician
  • Environmental specialist
  • K-12 STEM teacher*
  • Respiratory therapist*
  • Radiation technologist*
  • Occupational therapist*

*This career will require a graduate degree. 

Choose your direction with a pre-med degree

Now that you have a better understanding of what you can do with a pre-med degree, you might be ready to start looking for a program that suits your needs. If you’re passionate about science and are looking for a challenging and rewarding career, a pre-med program can prepare you for whatever career you choose to pursue.

Questions? Let’s chat!

Bettina Weil

Weil College Advising, LLC


Weil College Advising

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