Health Professions Advising


Please see the health professions website for additional detail regarding health professions advising.

All of the pre-requisite courses (biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English) necessary for admission to medical, dental, optometry, veterinary and other Health Professions schools are regularly offered here. There is no “pre-medical” or “pre-dental” major, and it is not necessary to major in a science in order to improve one’s preparation or chances for acceptance. Medical school applications are very competitive, so students should choose their courses and major carefully, paying attention to their interests and strengths. Students tend to do best in courses that match their passions, and the wise student selects courses with career alternatives in mind.


The health professions advisors in the College Center for Advising Services provide students with specialized academic and career information related to health professions schools. Health professions advisers may be reached in 312 Lattimore Hall via email and phone (585) 275-2354. In addition to individual appointments, regular advising workshops on required courses, career exploration, and the health professions applications process are offered. See also the Health Professions Web page at


Membership in the Charles Drew Pre-Health Professions Society is open to all students interested in the health professions. A large and active organization, the Drew Society hosts events throughout the year.


For students who are interested in research, both the River Campus and the Medical Center offer a wealth of opportunities, and many students have been able to engage in research for academic credit or as paid employees hired through our Student Employment Office in the Financial Aid Office. Stipends are also available from a variety of University and outside sources.

Clinical Opportunities

It is essential that students interested in the health professions acquire hands-on experience before making a firm commitment. Our Strong Memorial Hospital and other area hospitals are always in need of volunteers, as are many local service organizations. The volunteer ambulance companies in the neighboring suburbs, for example, welcome volunteers and are excellent sources of experience. For students interested in mental health, the Compeer program pairs volunteers with troubled individuals who need companionship and emotional support. The nearby Al Sigl Center houses several organizations that serve the physically challenged. There are many, many ways in which students may explore health-related careers while helping others.


A. Prerequisites:

Schools of medicine, dentistry, osteopathy, optometry, podiatry, and veterinary medicine have similar foundational prerequisites for admission. Because individual programs may vary, however, students should consult the reference materials in the Goldberg Career Library and talk with a health professions advisor in the Center for Advising Services. More information is also available at the Health Professions Advising Web page at

Note: A revised Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) will begin in 2015. Students are advised to review changing course recommendations. Information in this handbook is current at the time of publication. The Rochester Curriculum—requiring students to explore all three academic divisions: the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities—will serve applicants well in preparation for the revised exam.

Students can meet most preprofessional requirements by taking any one of the sequences shown in the table for each subject. Nonetheless, students should consult a departmental advisor or an academic advisor in order to choose the appropriate sequence for their ability and intended major.

Preprofessional RequirementsMinimum # of Credits at U of RCourses Available U of R
Two semesters of chemistrywith lab 10 CHM 131 and 132
(or more advanced courses)
Two semesters of organic chemistrywith lab 10 CHM 203 and 204 or CHM 171 and 172
You must also complete two Organic Lab courses, commonly CHM 207 & CHM 208 or CHM 173 & CHM 210
Two semesters of physics with lab* 8 PHY 113 and 114 or
PHY 121 and 122
Biology with lab Variable See section C below.
Two semesters of mathematics* 8 MTH 141 and 142 or
MTH 161 and 162 or
MTH 171 and 172
Two semesters of English 8-12 The College writing program often satisfies this requirement, but see below.

* MTH 143 is a pre-requisite for PHY 114.

B. Biology Requirement:

Students who plan to pursue a B.A. degree in biology or a B.S. degree in biological sciences will complete more than enough biology courses to fulfill preprofessional requirements. Those who choose to major in a discipline unrelated to biology should consult with a health professions advisor. Regardless of major, all health professions students should consult the Program in Biology and Medicine’s Curriculum Handbook, available in 488 Hutchison, for the latest information on biology course offerings. Please note that in order to fulfill the preprofessional requirement of “two semesters of biology with lab” and to adequately prepare for standardized admission tests, more than two semesters of biology coursework is required.

C. English Requirement:

The College writing requirement generally satisfies the preprofessional English requirement, but additional training in writing and reading is recommended to better prepare for standardized exams, applications, and professional schools. The University of Rochester offers a wealth of courses in all divisions with substantial practice in these areas. Consult with your pre-major advisor, Departmental and Program advisors, or a health professions advisor for specific course suggestions.

D. General Program Planning Guidelines:

It is important that students intending to apply to health professions schools make an early start on science courses. There is no “one size fits all” schedule (especially since so many entering freshmen have AP and/or transfer credit), but here are some key points to keep in mind.

  1. Students should consider from the beginning that they may be better, more mature, more competitive applicants if they wait until their senior year or later to apply. There is no preferred time-table to prepare for medical, dental or other health professions schools, and spreading your pre-requisite coursework over four years of study allows for greater flexibility in your course selection. The average age of first-year medical school students in 2010 was 24.5.
  2. Any student considering a biology or biological sciences major should take biology in the freshman year. Students majoring in a social science (e.g., Public Health, Psychology) or humanities (English, etc.) may be better suited to consider an alternate course sequence. The biology department strongly recommends that a student enrolling in BIO 110 or BIO 112 also enroll in CHM 131. If there is concern about a student’s ability to handle more than two science/technical courses in a semester, consider one of these alternatives:
    1. Take biology and chemistry in the freshman year and calculus in the summer or in the sophomore year.
    2. Take calculus with chemistry in the freshman year and biology in the summer.
  3. Students need only two semesters of mathematics for most health professions schools.
  4. Many Rochester students who apply to health professions schools complete general chemistry in the freshman year, organic chemistry in the sophomore year, and physics in the junior year. This “timetable” may be altered to fit individual needs. What is most important to remember is that admission tests for health professions schools must be taken no later than a year before expected matriculation, and all required science courses must be completed prior to taking tests.
  5. Most health professions schools do not treat repeated courses as the College does. Both grades are included in the cumulative average, so even an “A” in a second attempt does not raise the average that much.
  6. Health professions schools are not troubled by a few grades of “W” in an otherwise strong record, and they will certainly “forgive” course withdrawals resulting from circumstances beyond a student’s control (e.g., illness, family emergency). Students should keep in mind that a grade of “W” indicates that an effort was made to complete a course. When a course is dropped (deleted) from a 16-credit program, the student appears to have carried an “underload” for the entire semester. This is usually more detrimental than a grade of “W.”
  7. Students should investigate how health professions schools treat AP credit, as most will expect additional coursework in a subject if a student uses AP credit to satisfy a preprofessional requirement. Some schools will not accept AP credit at all.

Post-baccalaureate Pre-medical Program

The Post-baccalaureate Pre-medical Program is designed for people who have completed a bachelor’s degree, who recently discovered an interest in medicine, dentistry or veterinary science, and who lack the science classes required for medical school admission. This program is not intended for students who have already completed the necessary pre-requisites for medical school and who wish to improve their academic record.

Students with further questions about the Post-baccalaureate Program should be referred to the Post-baccalaureate Adviser. For additional details on the program, please visit

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