From Math to Medicine ? Does Your Undergraduate Major Matter?

August 24, 2016


It’s not at all uncommon for college students to have a change of heart or mind mid-degree and switch academic majors and even career goals. In fact, statistics show that 50 percent to 70 percent of students change their majors at least once, and most change majors at least three times before they graduate.

So, when it comes to medical school in particular, does your undergraduate course of study really matter? Well, of course it does – But perhaps not in the way you may think.

The assumption is that in order to succeed in, or even be admitted to medical school, one must earn an undergraduate degree in one of the biological sciences. But according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, nearly half – 48.3 percent - of the 20,631 students who entered medical school in 2015-2016 year majored in something other than biological sciences. These major included physical sciences (23.3 percent), social sciences (22.9 percent), specialized health sciences (5 percent) and even humanities (10.8 percent) and math and statistics (1.9 percent).

Furthermore, a look at MCAT scores shows that those majoring in biological sciences don’t necessarily score better on the exam than those with different majors. In fact, among 2015-2016 matriculants, those majoring in math and statistics, physical sciences, social sciences and humanities scored higher than biological sciences majors. 

Of course, landing a spot in medical school does mandate certain specific study requirements. Prerequisites for most medical schools include at least two years of biology, physics, inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry, all with laboratory studies, as well as math (including at least one calculus course) and English or writing.

So how do you choose your pre-med major? Choose a course of study that truly interests you, will allow for incorporation of all medical school prerequisites, and that will effectively translate to or complement a medical career. Also, consider enrolling in WOLFPACC’s Pre Med Head Start, USMLE or COMLEX preparatory courses. Call 904-209-3140 to find out how we can help boost your chances of success in the study and practice of medicine.