College majors and medical school: which major is best?

July 10, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Students meeting with senior hospital staff in Tanzania. The first hurdle to becoming a doctor is earning your undergraduate degree. When it comes to choosing your focus, you may wonder whether or not there is a major that would be considered best for medical school.  The answer may surprise you. Medical schools don’t require a specific major. The Association of American Medical Colleges reported that in 2012 only about 50 percent of students enrolled in medical school majored in biology or science.

So if medical schools are not looking for a certain major, what are they looking for? Schools look for students who have diverse interests, are high achievers and hard workers. The good news is that students can display all of those traits while studying any major.

Students should keep in mind that, while a specific major may not be required, certain science classes are needed. Most medical schools require classes in anatomy, chemistry, organic chemistry and calculus. Some may also require classes in ethics, statistics and microbiology. That being said, the classes needed for medical school can be worked into any major.

If medical schools aren’t looking for a specific major, how do you choose? Consider majoring in something that compliments a career as a physician, such as one of the majors listed below:


Genetics is the study of how organisms inherit conditions. Genetics as a major is a natural fit and great preparation for medical school, especially for those who think they may want to go into research. Most of the medical school prerequisites are also required for a genetics major. As a genetics major, you will likely be involved in research projects—such experience is also helpful to medical school applicants.

Biomedical engineering

Biomedical engineers develop technology, such as medical lasers, which are used to diagnose and treat medical conditions. Understanding the science behind the technology you use in medicine can be beneficial for a physician. Although biomedical engineering is not an easy major, it provides you with a great background as you continue your career as a doctor.


Medicine is a business, and a degree in economics can be an asset to a physician. Whether you will eventually run your own practice or deal with hospital budget issues, a strong foundation in business can be helpful. In addition, majoring in economics shows your diverse interests, skills and knowledge.

Computer Science

Informational technology and medicine go hand in hand. Hospitals across the country and around the world are transitioning to electronic medical records to make delivering patient care more efficient. For example, electronic medical records make sharing patient data easier and faster, which can improve overall patient care. Physicians with a background in computer science may be able to combine their understanding of medicine with their knowledge of computers to assist in the development of information technology programs.

Before selecting your major, review the requirements and determine how you would incorporate your pre-med class requirements. Meet with an advisor to discuss your career goals. Lastly, avoid selecting a major just because you think it will look good on a medical school application. Choosing something you are passionate about will make for a great undergrad experience.


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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.