Preparing to apply to professional schools
Premedical, predental, and preveterinary preparation
Admissions committees at professional schools generally base their decisions primarily on grades, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and personal experiences of the applicant, particularly experiences that display or explain a passion for the field to which the student aspires and those that demonstrate maturity, collegiality, and leadership. To increase your chances of admission, you should ensure that your application is as strong as possible in these areas.
Which degree should I get?
Either a BA degree or a BS degree can provide the background needed to achieve good scores on the standardized tests typically required of professional schools and to succeed in getting admitted to the school of your choice. However, you should be certain that within your program you take all the prerequisites for admission into the schools in which you are interested, as all of these prerequisites are not necessarily required for your undergraduate degree.
Is there a pre-med major?
No. The degrees in Biology are general degrees that will qualify you for admission into professional school, given that you perform well and take the appropriate courses. They will also qualify you to pursue other kinds of work in the biological sciences, should you ultimately change your mind about applying to medical school, and they will give you the broad foundation that you need for more specialized work in a professional school.
Planning for standardized tests
You should plan to take any required standardized test (e.g. MCAT, DAT) by the spring semester of your junior year. Accordingly, you should complete the courses most likely to help you do well on these tests before then. These courses include the core courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, and physics; many students have also found Animal Physiology useful for improving their scores on the MCAT. Courses such as Histology and Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy are helpful for students intending to go to professional school because they provide experience with material, techniques, and vocabulary that will be applicable to medical, dental, and veterinary medicine classes; however, these classes can be taken after the standardized test.
Building your application to professional school
You should also try to become acquainted with your professors. You will typically need three letters of recommendation for your application to professional school, and letters are much more likely to be positive and distinctive if your professors know you relatively well. One of the best ways to improve your recommendations is to do an independent study or undergraduate research in a professor’s lab. Involvement in research will allow a student to become better known to the professor and provide evidence of ability and initiative that can improve chances of admission. Students often enhance their qualifications by working or volunteering with a professional in the field they hope to pursue, and such work can provide both experience and improved recommendations. Relevant work experience is highly advantageous for all students applying to professional school and essential for students hoping to become veterinarians.
Not all well-prepared students are admitted to their preferred program on the first application. For students considering how to build a strong second application, a master's degree can be valuable. The department offers an accelerated master's program in which undergraduate courses can be included in the graduate program. Participation in this program requires application during the junior year, as described in the schedule planning pages.
Prerequisites at professional schools
Below we provide links to the professional schools to which our students most commonly apply. You can use these links to determine which classes you need as an undergraduate in order to be successful in applying to these schools.