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Pre-Health Emails: Weekly emails from the HMP3 office with a section on opportunities for pre-Med students.

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Explore the Profession

Exploring Health Professions? What to Consider Before Choosing a Pathpdf


1. What are the pre-reqs for medical school?

  • 1 year of Biology + lab
  • 1 year of General Chemistry + lab
  • 1 year of Organic Chemistry + lab
  • 1 quarter of Biochemistry
  • 1 year of Physics + lab
  • 1-2 quarters of Calculus
  • 1 quarter of Statistics
  • 1 year of English


  • Sociology (medical or health care related)
  • General Psychology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology

2. I have a lot of AP credit. Since some professional health schools do not accept AP credit, do I still need to take additional course work to satisfy the pre-requisites for health professional schools?

Generally, if you’ve received AP credit, we strongly recommend you take additional courses in that content area. Medical schools need to know you can handle college-level science course work. Some schools may not accept ANY AP credit (UCLA). Most schools will accept some AP credit. Here is some more info on schools and their AP credit policies.

3. What is a competitive GPA and MCAT score for medical school applicants?

MD: Cumulative GPA: 3.70; Science GPA: 3.64

DO: Cumulative GPA: 3.4

4. How do I determine if a post-bacc would be beneficial for me? If so, which one should I choose?

The national average for acceptance into USMD schools is an overall 3.70 GPA. The national average for science GPA is 3.65. If your overall GPA is below a 3.4 and your science GPA is below a 3.3 consider post-baccalaureate course work to demonstrate your competence in college-level science course work. Learn more about post-baccs.

Search for post-baccs on AAMC.

There are multiple types of post-baccs:

  Post-Bacc                                 For Whom?                 Length of study

Special Master’s Programs (SMP’s)

Many of these are structured for students on the cusp of being competitive or applied to medical school, but did not get in; serves as a direct bridge to medical school; generally MOST competitive post-bacc

(SMP in Physiology at Georgetown)

1 year

Academic Record Enhancers

Students with < 3.4 GPA

1-2 years


Students who need to take most of the pre-reqs required for med school

2 years

Underrepresented minority

Minority underrepresented in medicine or health professions

1-2 years

Educationally and economically disadvantaged

First-generation, low-income students

1-2 years

5. My classes are HUGE! How do I get to know my professors so they can write me a letter of recommendation for a medical school?

  • Start by identifying mentors vs."letter writers." Approach professors with sincerity and curiosity. This will lay the foundation for an authentic professional relationship.
  • Try Coffee/Dine with a Prof! Every college gives each student 3 opportunities to invite a professor to coffee and/or a meal each quarter. 
  • Attend office hours and ask questions
  • Participate in class or ask questions after class
  • Become a Undergraduate Instructional Apprentices (UGIA's) for a course you did well in
  • Take multiple classes from the same professor
  • Ask in-person after you’ve spent some time with this professor. Bring your resume, transcripts, and personal statement (if written), and ask if they would be willing to write you a strong letter of support
  • Ask them to write you a letter after the class so they remember who you are
  • If they write their letter months or even year prior to your application, have them submit to
  • For more information, check out the AAMC Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluationpdf

6. How do I go about gaining clinical experience, and how many hours do I need?

Most hospitals and clinics have established and structured volunteer programs that will provide you with shadowing and clinical experience. List of clinical experience.

Many internships (such as the Pathmaker Internship in Palomar) require 200+hours within a certain timeframe. This will give you enough experience where you can write about it in your personal statement as well as speak about it in your interview. It will also confirm if medicine is the right profession for you.

7.  Is research a requirement to being the most competitive candidate when applying to health professional schools?

Research is NOT required, however depending on the field and the institution, some schools may prefer applicants to have some research background. A large percentage of students have research experience before going into medical school.

Visit Medical School Admissions Requirements for more information on the typical applicant profile for each school

8. What do I write about in my personal statement?

Most health professional schools are interested in what your motivation is for pursuing medicine or other health specialty.

Questions to consider:

  • What experiences have you had that are motivating you to pursue medicine?
  • Why one particular health specialty over another?
  • What sets YOU apart as an applicant?
  • What is your narrative? Explain your story, what happened that compelled you to pursue this profession?

Write your Personal Statementpdf For help with writing, schedule an appointment with the Writing and Critical Expression Hub

 9. How do I prepare for the MCAT and when do I take it?

We recommend taking the MCAT when you are ready­ – this usually means after all of the pre-requisites (biology, chemistry, o-chem, physics, statistics) are taken as well as biochemistry and sociology 70 and general psychology.

If you want to apply to medical school at the end of your junior year, aim to take the MCAT January of your junior year (or earlier if you feel ready), so you can know your score and target schools based on that score and your GPA.

There are many ways to prepare for the MCAT. Some prefer self-study – students may study a few hours a day for 3-4 months. Other students prefer to take a prep course such as Kaplan or Princeton Review.

Free resources: Khan Academy videos and practice tests

10. Is there a check list for becoming the most competitive applicant for MD/DO school?

Not officially, but this could help:

  1. GPA (3.7 national average)
  2. MCAT (83rd percentile average)
  3. Healthcare and clinical experience (e.g. patient contact hours)
  4. Community Service/Volunteer with underserved and disadvantages communities (e.g. medical brigades such as Healing Hearts and Flying Sam’s) or become a Student Health Advocate
  5. Research experience (REAL Portal)
  6. Leadership experience (e.g. sitting on boards or committees of student organizations), Fraternities/Sororities, etc.)
  7. Letters of Recommendation (3-6 letters; 2 science professors, 1 non-science professor)
  8. Personal statement (What experiences have you had that are motivating you to pursue this particular profession?)
  9. Be able to demonstrate (through your interview, personal essay, or LORs) how your experiences, education, and training meet all 15 Core Competencies of Entering Medical Students.

So You Want to Go to Med School? How to be a Competitive Applicantpdf

Academic Preparation

Pre-requisite Comparison Chart of Health Professionspdf

Prepare academically and complete the pre-requisites:

  • Most medical schools have similar pre-rerquisites, including the following:
    • One year of general biology with lab (BILD 1, 2, 3 or upper-division Bio courses + 4 unit Bio lab)
    • One year of general chemistry with lab (Chem 6A, B, C and 7L)
    • One year of organic chemistry with lab (Chem 140A, B, C and 143A)
    • One year of physics, including labs (Physics 1A, 1AL, 1B, 1BL, 1C, 1CL or 2A, 2B, 2BL, 2C, 2CL)
    • One-two quarters of calculus (usually Math 10 or 20 series)
    • One course in statistics (Math 11, Psych 60, BIEB 100, etc.)
    • One course in biochemistry (BIBC 100 or 102 or Chem 114 A or B)
    • One year of English composition or writing 
    • One course in psychology and sociology (Psych 1 and Soc 70) helpful for the MCAT but not a pre-requisite
  • Most medical schools accept some AP, IB and transfer credit for pre-requisites, and some accept online coursework
  • Some medical schools DO NOT ACCEPT AP credit (UCLA). Additional upper division coursework may be needed to meet the pre-requisites for certain schools. Please plan accordingly. If you have concerns, please meet with your pre-med advisor. Here is some more info on schools and their AP credit policies.
  • Investigate the varying school-specific pre-requisites on medical school websites and in Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR Online)
  • Consider classes within the Global Health or Health Care-Social Issues programs
  • Develop communication and leadership skills through the Center for Student Involvement
  • Not feeling academically prepared? Learn about Post-Bac Options and see the various types of Post-Bac Programs, including Osteopathic programs


Confirm your interest in medicine and develop the necessary experience:

Students are encouraged to explore any student organization of interest, not necessarily limited to medically-related groups.  A comprehensive list can be found at the Center for Student Involvement.

Medicine-related student groups include the following:

Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED) Pre-Health Professional Honor Society

American Medical Student Association (AMSA) pre-med chapter

Chicanos/Latinos for Community Medicine

Health and Medical Professions Preparation Program (HMP3)

Pre-Medical APAMSA at UCSD


Students for Integrative Medicine

There are also many service clubs with a health or medicine focus.


You apply to medical school in the summer, one year before you want to start the program. Some steps take more time to complete than others, so plan ahead!

Timeline to Medical School

Paying for School

Events Calendar

Medical School Admissions Data

UC San Diego Allopathic (M.D.) Medical School Admissions History

This chart compares the national and UC San Diego applicants (those who received a bachelor’s or graduate degree from UCSD) admitted to U.S. allopathic (M.D.) medical schools. Data provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). For school-specific admissions numbers, see Medical School Admission Data.pdf




Admission Rate








UCSD% of newly enrolledMDs 









































UC San Diego Osteopathic (D.O.) Medical School Admissions History

This chart compares national and UCSD medical school applicants who matriculated to U.S. osteopathic (D.O.) medical schools. The average GPA and MCAT scores of the UCSD students who matriculated to osteopathic schools are also listed. The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) provided the data.  For school-specific admission numbers, see Medical School Admission Datapdf.




Mat. Rate 








 UCSD % of newly enrolledDOs









































These statistics are offered as a guide and should not be used as a final determination of where you should apply to medical school. Consult resources in the Career Services Center or a graduate school advisor for further information about medical schools and for advice on the medical school application process.


1. Quick Questions?! Email us at:

2. On-the-Spot Advising with Career Peer Educators (CPEP): Monday-Friday 10am-3pm

  • For basic questions regarding pre-requisites and general health exploration information, please meet with a Career Peer Educator (CPEP) during walk-in hours (Monday-Friday 10am-3pm in the Library of the Career Center).
  • Meet our Health Beat CPEP's
    • Stacey
    • Desiree
    • Kayla
    • Anahi
  • Review our online resources at:

3. On-the-Spot Health Beat Advising (Health Beat STAFF Advisors)

4. Advising by Appointment:

We offer strategic one-on-one planning for students interested in applying to any health professional school. 

  • Appointments can only be made three days in advance and get filled quickly. In order to optimize your advising appointment, please COME PREPARED and review the following information prior to meeting with an advisor:
    • Review the pre-reqs for your health professional school of choice
    • Meet with a Career Peer Educator (CPEP) regarding your health profession
    • Review the online resources, FAQs, and timeline for your health professional school of choice
  • Schedule a 1:1 appointment with a pre-health advisor via Port Triton:
    • Adele: All health professions 
    • Jessica: MD/DO, Pharmacy, Physician's Assistant, Nursing, Physical/Occupational Therapy
    • Jered: MD/DO, Dentistry, Optometry, Vet

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