Academics (Preparing to Apply to Health Profession Schools)

This resource covers academic considerations as you prepare to apply for health professions schools, including:


Which Courses Should I Take?

Each health profession school establishes their own admissions requirements. Most require the completion of prerequisite courses, though some have moved to competency-based academic requirements. Course requirements differ by profession; it is your responsibility to research requirements for your field and schools. 

Common courses include:

  • Two semesters Biology with Lab
  • Two semesters General Chemistry with Lab
  • Two semesters Organic Chemistry with Lab
  • Two semesters Physics with Lab
  • One semester Biochemistry
  • Two semesters Math including Calculus and Statistics
  • Two semesters English 
  • Social Sciences including Psychology and Sociology

Pre-Dental students, review the ADEA Dental Explorer for individual schools requirements.

Pre-Veterinary students, review the AAVMC Prerequisite Chart for individual school requirements.

Your Major: Choose your major based on your academic interests; there is no "pre-med" major at Wellesley. If you do not major in a science, consider taking additional upper-level science courses such as genetics, microbiology, cell biology, and/or physiology. International students should talk with staff at Slater International Center about the ramifications of their choice of major on visas, etc.

Double Majors/Minors: Health professions schools value students who have taken courses that have expanded their knowledge of the world. Choose to double major or minor to pursue your academic curiosity; completing a double major or a minor will not make an applicant more competitive.

Pass/No Pass and Credit/No Credit Grades: We recommend taking your courses for a grade rather than Credit/No Credit, as health professions schools will consider the rigor of your academics. The exception to this rule is your first semester courses which are shadow graded. When you apply, health professions schools will be given information about our shadow grade policy. Our Registrar’s Office and Health Professions Advising will not reveal your shadow grades to health professions schools, and admissions programs to date have accepted the first semester pass/fail grades in required courses. Please note: DO NOT take required prerequisite courses Credit/No Credit. 

Cross-Listed Courses: Many courses that meet the requirements for health professions schools are cross-listed in two departments at Wellesley. For example, BIOC 227 is the equivalent course to CHEM 227. When you register for a prerequisite course, choose the course registration number that best reflects the pre-health requirement you need to satisfy. Do make sure to check with your Major Advisor and Class Dean to ensure you will fulfill graduation requirements when registering. If you need to change your cross-listing on your transcript, you must do this prior to graduation through the Registrar’s Office.

New Student Course Planning: Students new to Wellesley should visit this site for course planning.

AP/IB Credits: Some schools will accept AP/IB credit for required pre-health coursework. Others will accept credit in some areas but not in others. Many schools expect to see advanced course work if AP/IB credit is used for basic required courses. Your AP credit for a course required must be posted on your Wellesley transcript. The Wellesley Registrar’s Office will post a maximum of four AP/IB credits on your transcript, so be strategic about what is listed if you have more than four. Check with your health professions advisor if you are thinking of using AP/IB credit for courses required for admission. More information on Wellesley AP credit.

As you think about your planning for pre-health courses, ask yourself a few questions.

  • Do I want to take a gap year or more prior to going to health professions school? If you do this, you usually will have more time to complete your pre-health coursework while you are at Wellesley.
  • Do I want to study abroad? Remember that you can study abroad during a semester, in the summer, and during wintersession.
  • How can I balance my pre-health science courses with my other requirements? Taking more than two science courses with labs can be challenging in any given semester. You must balance your major and graduation requirements, as well as your academic interests with your need to master the material in these courses and perform well. Early planning is key in organizing your coursework.

Table: Commonly Required Courses for Health Professions Schools

This important table of Commonly Required Courses for Health Professions School represents a few health professions and their general admissions requirements. Remember that each profession and institution sets its own requirements. Due to space limitations all professions are not represented. Many programs do not accept online courses.

View Commonly Required Courses for Health Professions School Table.

Study Abroad

While study abroad will enhance your application, do not plan on taking required pre-heath courses abroad. Early planning is key in scheduling academic classes; many students who participate in study abroad do wind up taking a gap year. Check with the Wellesley Office of International Study to learn about study abroad programs tailored for students with an interest in health-related careers. Here is a list of programs they have indicated might be particularly interesting to pre-health students.

What if my grades aren’t strong?

Different health professional schools have different academic standards for admission. It is important for you to research the expectations of the fields in which you are interested. Visit the Learn about Careers in the Health Professions Career portion of this website and look up individual school websites to find this information.

Realize that Admissions Committees respect the academic rigor of Wellesley's programs. Wellesley Women are admitted to health professions schools with GPA's that are lower than national averages. It's not necessary to have a 4.0 to get accepted. 

For students who do have GPA's that are below the requirements, completing a Post-Baccalaureate Program may be the best way to support your transition to professional school. 

There are a variety of ways to get help and support so that you can reach your academic potential, including:

  1. Ask your professors for help. They are here at Wellesley to help you learn. Look for posted office hours, and discuss your situation openly.
  2. Find out about class resources. Are their tutors or study groups available?
  3. Visit the Pforzheimer Learning and Teaching Center (PLTC). The PLTC is located at Clapp Library, and can help you in a variety of ways.
  4. Talk with your academic dean. Your dean can provide you with options and resources for dealing with challenging and stressful life events.
  5. Visit the Stone Center Counseling Service. They can provide you with confidential counseling.
  6. Make an appointment at the Wellesley College Health Service if you are concerned about your health.
  7. Join a student-run pre-health organization. Chances are your peers have gone through similar struggles and can give you advice and perspective.
  8. Meet with a Health Professions Advisor to discuss your strategy for planning out your pre-health coursework and whether it would be a good idea to repeat a course. There are many ways to approach your pre-health planning, such as:
  • Consider spreading out your pre-health courses over eight semesters and plan a break between completing your undergraduate studies and entering health professions school
  • Consider taking courses that fit your background and interests better 
  • Consider choosing a major that you enjoy that allows you to balance your semester schedule more comfortably
  • Remember, you only need one major to graduate. Take courses that appeal to you, but don’t feel that you MUST have a second major or a minor completed by graduation to be competitive 
  • Consider health professions that are appealing but that have less demanding requirements
  • Consider alternative careers

The bottom line is, everyone needs help and support. As a future health professional, you will always need to rely on the assistance of others. Don’t be reluctant to find the resources you need to do your best.