Prerequisites For Health Professions Schools
While there is no required major for entrance into a health professions school, there are many skills, abilities, and values you can develop during your undergraduate years to help you succeed. Among them are:
- Mastery of basic scientific principles
- Demonstration of a broad exposure to the humanities and social sciences
- Mastery of life-long learning skills
- An understanding of the physician-patient relationship
- Demonstration of desired personal traits such as maturity, integrity, compassion, empathy, and leadership
- Establishment of relationships with faculty members
- Demonstration of caring for fellow human beings
- Demonstration of an understanding of the health care profession of choice
- Demonstration of a commitment to public service
Johns Hopkins University does not have one standard set of classes that will help you fulfill course requirements for medical/health professions school. We recommend students consider the following general guidelines for completing pre-medical/pre-health course requirements.
Please consult with Pre-Professional Advising and your academic advisor if you have questions about specific courses.
We strongly recommend that Johns Hopkins students complete the following coursework (or the equivalent):
- 2 courses in general (inorganic) chemistry with associated labs
- 2 courses in organic chemistry with associated lab (JHU offers one 3-credit organic chemistry lab)
- 2 courses in biology with associated labs
- 1 course in biochemistry (taking the lab varies with each student, depending on AP credit and major)
- 2 courses in general physics with associated labs (Calculus I and II are co-requisites for General Physics I & II at JHU)
- 2 courses in mathematics and one course in statistics
- 2 courses that emphasize English and/or writing
- 2 courses that emphasize social and behavioral sciences principles; Introduction to Psychology and Introduction to Sociology are recommended for MCAT preparation, but they are not specifically required for medical school admissions
- Policies regarding AP and IB credit are inconsistent across medical schools, so most students must complete additional coursework even if they have AP or IB credit on their transcript. If you have AP or IB credit for an introductory science sequence for medical school, you are advised to take at least one additional course in that area. However, if you have AP/IB biology credit, you will need two biology classes with labs.
- Courses in the areas of ethics, philosophy, cross-cultural studies, and population health are recommended, regardless of the discipline. Not only will the pursuit of such academic areas impact performance on the MCAT, but it will also provide a broad and relevant foundation for medical/health professions school.
- Pre-med/pre-health prerequisites vary across schools and professions, so students should research the requirements of the schools where they plan to apply to ensure they have completed all course requirements.
- Medical programs expect applicants to have earned a letter grade for each of the pre-health prerequisites. Therefore, all pre-health students must take all pre-health science courses for a letter grade. Please note that you are expected to earn a minimum grade of “C” in each pre-health prerequisite. If you are in danger of earning a “C” or lower in a prerequisite course, please consult with your academic advisor as well as a pre-professional advisor immediately to discuss your options.
The English/Writing Requirement
Ultimately, it is at the discretion of a medical or dental school to determine whether a particular course meets their English or writing intensive requirement, and it is your responsibility to be familiar with the requirement for each medical/dental school to which you will apply. However, we recommend the following guidelines for choosing classes to fulfill the requirement:
Complete two (2) writing-intensive courses.
- One writing-intensive course should preferably be taken in the English Department, Writing Seminars Department, or University Writing Program.
- A second writing-intensive course can be taken in the English Department, Writing Seminars Department, or University Writing Program, OR from other humanities or social sciences departments such as Philosophy, History, Anthropology, etc.
For more information about the JHU writing-intensive requirement, please visit http://sites.jhu.edu/ewp/writing-requirement.html.
IMPORTANT: Each health professional school may use its discretion about whether to accept specific coursework to fulfill pre-health course requirements. It is the responsibility of each applicant to research the curricular requirements of each health professional school to where they plan to apply..
Summer Science Courses
Generally speaking, taking pre-health science requirements in the summer is discouraged. Health professions schools look for applicants who have demonstrated success in rigorous science courses. Taking science courses within a full course load during the academic year best reflects your ability to manage the science coursework you will encounter in health professions school. That said, many JHU students do choose to complete a prerequisite course over the summer. We encourage you to discuss your specific situation with a pre-professional advisor so that we can review your portfolio holistically and provide individualized advice. If you do choose to take classes over the summer, be sure to get pre-approval through Krieger or Whiting Academic Advising if you would like to transfer your coursework back to JHU, and also check with the Office of Pre-Professional Programs to make sure that the course you’ve selected is appropriate to fulfill pre-health prerequisites.
Other Important Caveats
- Discuss your plan with both your academic advisor and a pre-professional advisor BEFORE registering for the summer course. You will need Academic Advising to officially approve the course(s) if you plan to transfer the credits to your Hopkins transcript.
- While spending one summer taking pre-health coursework may be acceptable, please keep in mind that the expectation is for you to complete your pre-health prerequisites during the academic year. Therefore, please plan on only one summer of classes—medical schools do not want to see multiple summers of coursework.
- While we do prefer students take all of their science coursework at JHU, some students take summer courses at other institutions for reasons of convenience or financial considerations. If you choose to take summer classes at another institution, please note that coursework should only be taken at a four-year institution (we advise against taking coursework from community colleges) in a live classroom (online coursework is discouraged).
- When taking summer courses, please consider it a full-time job. Do not also plan to engage in research, paid employment, etc. Classes move at a fast pace, and students who take on too many responsibilities tend to struggle in class. This is especially true for science classes such as Organic Chemistry and Physics.
- Retain the syllabus for the course, and also plan to secure an official transcript from the institution when you are ready to apply to medical/dental school.