Leaders in medical education encourage students planning to enter this profession to obtain a broad background in the liberal arts, with a study of not only sciences, but the humanities and social sciences as well. The prospective student should check with the intended school of medicine for specific requirements.
Getting into medical school requires the completion of a bachelor’s degree in any field, plus the necessary pre-requisites.
Biological science, general chemistry, organic chemistry, English, mathematics and physics are required for admission to the VCU School of Medicine. General physiology, genetics and behavioral sciences, though not required, are strongly recommended for the pre-medical student.
Programs of study
Admission to and completion of a pre-medical program offered by the College of Humanities and Sciences does not constitute admission to the VCU School of Medicine. The student must apply separately to the medical school of his or her choice at the appropriate time.
A student entering the university with an interest in preparing for medical school should declare an academic major while also indicating a pre-medical advising track. The pre-medical classification exists to identify the student’s career interests, but the student does not earn a pre-medical degree.
A student who is “undeclared” about an academic major initially, but who has indicated a pre-medical advising track, will clarify his or her academic interests through regular conversations with his advisors. The student will declare a major in one of the degree programs offered within the university. At the same time, the student will complete the necessary pre-requisites for application for admission to the medical school of his or her choice.
Pre-medical students are encouraged to major in fields of greatest interest to them. Students need not major in a science area. In fact, many non-science majors achieve high acceptance rates into medical schools.
Preparation for medical school generally takes four years of undergraduate study. Beyond acceptance into medical school, the medical education is a four-year program leading to a medical doctorate or doctorate in osteopathic medicine. Many students will choose to follow medical school by attending a residency program, which typically takes an additional four years.
- Introduction to Medicine Course
- Prerequisite course work
- Prerequisites for medical school
- Elective courses
- Standardized tests (MCAT)
- Application information
- Extracurricular information
- The Pre-health Advisory Committee
- Establishing a Letter of Evaluation file
- Checklist of activities to prepare to apply to medical school
- Pre-medicine listserv
- The PreMed Society
- Helpful Web sites for pre-medicine
- Application Checklist
Our School of Medicine and the University College are pleased to offer a 1 credit course entitled “Introduction to Medicine” Content of the course includes advice on preparing for careers in medicine, application strategies, and information on different sub-specialties in medicine. Course is only offered in the spring semester on the MCV campus. Look for additional information posted to the pre-medical list serve.
The pre-requisites for medical school should be completed before or at the time the MCAT is taken. Typically, pre-requisites are complete and the MCAT is taken at the conclusion of the spring semester that takes place 15 months before a student plans to enter medical school.
It is strongly recommended that students complete all requirements for a bachelor’s degree in an academic discipline in addition to the required prerequisites before entering medical school.
Biology – two semesters with lab
Inorganic chemistry – two semesters with lab
Organic chemistry – two semesters with lab
Physics – two semesters of general or university physics with lab
English – two semesters including grammar and composition
Mathematics – two semesters
It should be noted that some medical schools require additional pre-requisite course work. The best reference for specific requirements for specific medical schools is individual medical school Web sites and/or the most current edition of The Medical School Admissions Requirements.
Most medical schools prefer candidates with broad educational backgrounds. In addition to a strong science background, professional school requires a solid foundation in basic verbal and quantitative skills.
Nearly one-half of the MCAT focuses on writing skills and reading comprehension of nonscientific material. It is also advisable for students with a concentration in pre-medicine to have more than the minimum number of science courses required for admission. Science majors will automatically meet this recommendation. They should choose electives from within the liberal arts. Non-science majors should select from upper level science courses, such as genetics, anatomy, physiology, etc.
Medical School: The Medical College Admission Test is required. It is given in April, May, June, July, August, September and January of each year. It is highly recommended that students take the test in the earlier part of the application process (between April and early July). A later administration is provided should the test need to be retaken. However, do not use the first test as a practice! If not prepared for the first test, wait until later, and study hard over the summer. If taking the test later on, remember that a second chance to take it for this application cycle will not be provided. Also, the medical schools will not receive your scores until later in the process. However, students may (and should) still apply to AMCAS in June even if they are not taking the MCAT until later. Registration for the MCAT is available online.
Proposed changes to MCAT exam starting 2015
The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) is proposing a new version of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). If approved, the recommendations will be introduced with the 2015 MCAT examination.
Proposed courses for the new MCAT exam
Pre-Calculus; Calculus; Statistics and Research methods/statistics
General biology; Cell Biology; Molecular Biology with labs
General Physics or University Physics, with labs
General Chemistry with labs; Organic Chemistry with labs; Biochemistry
Social and Behavioral Sciences
General Psychology; General Sociology.
AMCAS begins receiving applications June 1.
Do not send letters of recommendation or other supplementary materials to AMCAS.
If applying for a fee waiver, request it now online. You must have a fee waiver approved before submitting your AMCAS application.
If you plan to take the August MCAT, make sure you indicate this in the appropriate section. It is important for schools to know that they can expect scores in October, even if you have already submitted scores for an earlier test.
If you answer “yes” to the question regarding academic performance or conduct violations, explain fully in the Personal Comments section (but do not make excuses – explain briefly and move on).
Check “yes” to the Advisor Information Service Release — please. You are not required to release your information to your Pre-health professions advisor, however this information is helpful to us in your future advising or the advisement of other students. Also, we like to hear how many of our students have been accepted. All information on individual applicants will remain confidential.
MCAT scores are automatically released to all AMCAS schools. If you are applying to non-AMCAS schools, such as foreign medical schools, you will need to request score reports to be released to those non-AMCAS schools. You may release scores to non-AMCAS schools online.
When listing clubs and organizations, note any offices held or special programs on which you worked. List all volunteer work and employment, not just health-related activities. When listing volunteer work, briefly describe accomplishments. Just listing volunteer experience at a hospital does not tell admissions committees anything about specific experiences. Only 15 post-secondary experiences are allowed, so be selective about what is entered.
Transcripts must be sent to AMCAS directly from the Office of Records and Registration. Do not send them yourself. Request transcripts from all U.S., U.S. Territorial or Canadian post-secondary institutions attended, even if transfer work appears on your VCU transcript. If you are enrolled in school during the summer or fall semester while or after you apply, send updated transcripts to all schools for which you are still in consideration immediately following the semester. Do not send additional transcripts to AMCAS after your initial application. Send these directly to the schools to which you have applied
Academic record: Fill out the academic record carefully, following all instructions exactly. All courses must be marked biology (B), chemistry (C), physics (P), math (M) or other categories. The AMCAS instruction booklet will give you other designations for courses that do not fit into the BCPM. If you are unsure of which category a course is in, ask your professor. For a course to be considered a science course, the course content should be at least 51 percent biology, chemistry, physics or math related. Your GPA will be calculated by AMCAS, and it will be broken down into science (BCPM), non-science (AO) and total (TOT). Each GPA also will be broken down into first year, sophomore, junior, senior, post-baccalaureate, cumulative undergraduate and graduate.
The Office of Pre-Health Sciences Advising offers a committee evaluation letter of evaluation file. If students participate in the committee process, they are required to keep their individual letters of evaluation on file with the Office of pre-Health Sciences Advising. Students are invited to set up a letter of evaluation file without going through the committee.
The pre-health advisory committee is a long-standing tradition at VCU. The committee consists of 27 faculty members from the College of Humanities and Sciences, University College, Honors College, Schools of Education, Allied Health and Engineering, and Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services. Interviews are available only during the first two weeks in May. Application for an interview must be made by the deadline stated in the committee application. Students must submit a $20 fee by the committee application deadline to receive a committee interview. Further details about the fee are available in the pre-health advisory committee application.
The pre-health advisory committee will provide supportive letters of evaluation for those VCU students who present strong credentials to the committee. If students meet the requirements listed below, they are given the opportunity to interview before a subcommittee of our pre-health advisory committee. The two-person committee will write a letter evaluating the student’s credentials for medical school and will present that letter to the entire 27- person committee for approval. Upon approval of the committee letter, the committee letter and the student’s individual letters of evaluation are transmitted to all the medical schools to which a student applies.
Members of the committee interview students in the latter part of the spring semester before they apply to medical school. The committee writes a letter evaluating the applicant’s academic performance, health care experience, individual references, extracurricular activities and personality characteristics. The committee evaluation will be summarized by one of the following statements: that the individual is highly recommended, recommended with confidence, recommended, recommended with reservations or not recommended to medical school.
If the student selects the service of the pre-health advisory committee, the right of access to the committee evaluation must be waived. This waiver of access is included in the student’s evaluation file and is sent to medical schools along with a cover letter and all the individual evaluations that a student solicits.
Participating in the committee process is optional but strongly recommended, as most medical school admission committees are familiar with our committee process and expect students to participate.
Students planning to participate in the pre-health advisory committee should complete all of the following activities:
- Attend one of the mandatory orientation sessions advertised on the pre-health home page.
- Have at least two individuals (preferably two science faculty members) complete and submit the evaluation forms, which are downloadable on this site. These forms will replace any evaluation forms that are provided by medical schools.
- Submit the Pre-health Advisory application and $20 fee by the stated deadline.
- Download and distribute the evaluation form to those from whom you are requesting evaluations.
- Have a VCU cumulative GPA of 3.2 (including course repeats) OR a minimum GPA of 3.5 (including course repeats) in the last 60 credits attempted at VCU, and at least 25 VCU undergraduate credits completed by the end of the spring semester before application to medical school is made.
- While the MCAT scores are not used in the committee evaluation process, it is highly recommended that you release your scores to your pre-health advisor upon applying to take the MCAT.
- Establish a VCU e-mail account
Pre-Health Advisory Committee Members
- Sonya Lamb Barnes, Chair – Pre-health Sciences advising
- Ashlyn Anderson, University College Advising
- Elizabeth Bambacus, University College Advising
- Madhumita Basu, Statistics
- Alaina Campbell, Biology
- Elizabeth Canfield, Gender, Women & Sexuality
- Cara Cario, Biology
- Anne Chandler, Honors College
- Michal Coffey, Campus Learning Center
- Tim Coffey, Judicial Affairs
- Carrie G. Connolly, Honors College
- Carolyn Conway, Biology, Retired
- Susan Cramer, University College Advising
- Charlene Crawley, Chemistry
- Erika Dumke, Division of Health Sciences Diversity
- Jane Firer, Housing
- Shannon Federick, Campus Learning Center
- Carlton Goode, University College Advising
- Christin Hardy, University College Advisings
- Martha Harper, Housing
- John Hendershot, Pre-health Sciences Advising
- Jessica Hill, Honors College
- Meghan K Homer, Honors College
- Julie Honnold, Sociology
- Sara Kohout, Career Services
- Prajna Kulkarni, Pre-health Sciences Advising
- Jennifer Lee, Campus Learning Center
- John Mahoney, Sociology
- Amanda McGann, Student Health
- Claire Scottie McMullan, Social Work/ Pre-Law
- Gerald Miller, Biomedical Engineering
- Betty Ann Moriarty, Pre-health Sciences Advising
- Amber Cummings, Pre-health Sciences Advising
- Michelle Mudge-Riley, Physician
- Sarah Pezzat, Pre-Health Sciences Advising
- Jill Reid, Biology
- Art Seidenberg, Biology, Retired
- Haley Sims, Career Services
- William Terrell, Mathematics
- Sandra Thornton, University College Advising
- Katherine Walker, Focused Inquiry
- Mary Waters, University College Advising
- Pamela Wiegardt, BIS
Students can elect to establish a letter of evaluation file with the Office of Pre-Health Sciences Advising without participating in the pre-health advisory committee. If you want to create a letter of evaluation file do the following:
- Submit Forms A & B, and G of Pre-health Advisory Committee Application with $20 fee.
- Download and distribute the evalution form to those from whom you are requesting evaluations.
Upon applying to take the MCAT, it is recommended that you release your scores to your pre-health advisor.
The pre-medicine listserve is owned and maintained by the director of pre-health sciences advising. The purpose of the list is to publicize all activities that are relevant to the academic advising and application processes to medical school. All students who have VCU e-mail addresses and have declared pre-medical concentrations are automatically added to the list each spring semester. From this site, subscribers who are not automatically added can visit the archive list of VCU list-serves, scroll down to PRE-MEDICINE and self subscribe. It is very important that students applying to medical school in a spring semester view the list archives if they are new subscribers.
The PreMed Society is a student-run organization that assists students in the medical school application process by exposing them to a variety of medical school programs in Virginia and beyond. Events include presentations from Deans of Admission and trips to medical schools to tour facilities and meet with faculty and students.
Testing and preparation services
Personal statements and interviewing
- Winning Personal Statements
- Writing Personal Statements for Programs in the Health Professions
- The Student Doctor Network
- American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS)
- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS)
- American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine Application Service (AACPMAS)
Post-baccalaureate pre-medical programs
- Pre-med Certificate Program at VCU
- M.S. Program in Biomedical Sciences at Eastern Virginia Medical School
- Schools Offering Post-baccalaureate Pre-medical Programs
- Post-baccalaureate Programs
Financial aid information for pre-health students
- FINAID – The Smart Guide to Financial Aid
- U.S. Department of Education
- Bureau of Health Professions, Dept. of Health & Human Services
- National Health Service Corps
- National Institutes of Health
- Indian Health Service
- Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance
- American Association of Oriental Medicine
- American Holistic Medicine Association
- Bastyr University
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
- National College of Naturopathic Medicine
Foreign professional schools
- Karol Marcinkowski School of Medical Science
- Ross University School of Medicine/Veterinary Medicine
- American University of the Caribbean