While each individual program may have specific requirements that you should discuss with your advisor, there are some commonalities across professional programs nationwide. The sections below will help you identify the courses you may need for particular careers within health professions, and provide more information about qualifying exams and other preparation for these programs.

  1. Allopathic Medicine (M.D.) and Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
  2. Veterinary Medicine
  3. Dentistry
  4. Physician’s Assistant programs
  5. Physical Therapy programs

1. Allopathic Medicine (M.D.) and Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)

Prerequisite Courses Required by Most Medical Schools:

  • Biology with lab (1 academic year)
  • Chemistry with lab (1 year of each): General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Physics with lab (1 academic year)
  • Mathematics (one mathematics course, not including statistics). NOTE: statistics is highly recommended for many schools; check potential schools for specific math requirements and recommendations in advance of application.
  • Humanities, Social Studies and English (2 academic years and/or social sciences to include one course in English composition or equivalent writing emphasis).
  • AP and IB credit will be accepted to fulfill the above prerequisites. AP and IB credits must appear on your college or university transcript with the course name and number of credits awarded.
  • An eligible MCAT is required, meaning one that is taken from one to three years prior to the year in which the applicant seeks matriculation to medical school. Many schools will base their decisions on the applicants most recent eligible MCAT.
  • Citizenship status
  • Other qualifiers: schools will require a cumulative total GPA, as reported by AMCAS, the minimum requirements vary and a cumulative MCAT score of the most recent MCAT, minimum requirements also vary with schools. NOTE: minimum qualifiers are subject to change from one admission cycle to the next. Some medical schools recommend courses in addition to the prerequisite courses listed here, so applicants should check potential schools for any additional recommended coursework as far in advance of application deadlines as possible.
  • Additional requirements: BS or BA prior to matriculating in medical school, however, no particular major is required. NOTE: May not be required for D.O. but it is dependent on the school.

Application Process:

Students apply to medical school by completing and submitting a primary application through a central application service (AMCAS or AACOMAS). This service standardizes the information from the application and forwards it to the medical schools indicated by the applicant. The next step of the application process is the secondary application. In secondary applications, medical schools request additional information from students, such as letters of evaluation and responses to essay questions. Some medical schools automatically invite all applicants to complete secondary applications, while others only invite applicants who meet minimum GPA and MCAT score criteria to complete them. Interviews normally take place between September and February for acceptance the following fall (although some schools continue to interview into the spring). Most admissions offers are made during fall and winter terms but some schools, including OHSU, continue to make offers through spring term (and even later in some cases for applicants who are admitted from wait lists).

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These sites include a wealth of information about all aspects of training and testing:

2. Veterinary Medicine

Prerequisite Course Requirements:

  • Biology – General biology, Genetics
  • Chemistry – Inorganic, Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry (2 semesters)
  • Physics
  • Statistics
  • English – Writing focused
  • Social Science and humanities

***Courses differ depending on the school: Check the requirements for specific schools with this chart.

Highly Recommended Courses:

  • Anatomy & physiology
  • Zoology
  • Microbiology
  • Animal science/animal production
  • Nutrition
  • Histology courses

Suggested general preparation:

  • Take a pre-vet or comparable curriculum, that is, one that includes math and several science courses such as biology and chemistry.
  • Maintain a high GPA
  • Gain as much broad exposure to veterinary medicine as possible. Consider job shadowing with veterinarians, scientists, working on a farm or volunteering at an animal shelter.
  • Schools have different requirements for standardized test scores. For a list of requirements by school go to: Apply to Vet School.
  • Pre-Vet applicants must go through the Veterinary Medical college Application Service (VMCAS)
  • Join a Pre-Vet club. Most colleges and University have a chapter.

General Veterinary Information and test resources:

3. Dentistry

Prerequisite course requirements:

  • Biology with lab (2 semesters)
  • Chemistry with lab (2 semesters)
  • Organic Chemistry with lab (2 semesters, 1 of lab)
  • Physics (2 semesters)
  • Calculus (2 semesters)
  • The Dental Aptitude Test (DAT) which is administered by computer at Prometric Testing Centers and students can register for these through the American Dental Associations (ADA) website. The test is generally taken in the Spring of Junior year and covers 4 areas of study: 1) a survey of natural sciences (biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry), 2) reading comprehension, 3) quantitative ability and 4) perceptual ability.

The Application Process

Primary Applications

The application process begins the summer of the year before the year of entry. Most schools belong to the Dental Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) and those applying to such school can do so on the AADSAS School’s website. Many schools have a rolling admission policy, meaning that they review applications on an ongoing basis, so applicants who submit their materials before the deadline may receive earlier interviews. It is advised to submit your primary application by July 4th.

Secondary Applications

This is sent out if a school is interested in you and, after reviewing your primary application, send you a secondary applications that is specific to that school. Secondary applications generally include additional essays and an application fee but are not generally due until winter. However, it is safe to plan to submit your secondary application as soon as possible in order to secure an interview.

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Suggested general preparation:

Dental schools are looking for well-rounded individuals who understand the dental profession and who have demonstrated dedication to the field. It is valuable to develop a mentor relationship with a dental professional, and important to establish consistent volunteer or service work to dental health programs. It is also important to demonstrate engagement with your community.

4. Physician’s Assistant programs

General prerequisites:

  • Biology with lab - This requirement can be fulfilled through a combination of the following courses: general bio, cell biology, molecular biology, genetics. The courses can be non-sequential, as long as the minimum credit hours are met. Labs are highly recommended, but not required. Will accept AP or IB credit towards this requirement (AP or IB credit must show on transcript).
  • Chemistry with lab - The chemistry requirement can be fulfilled through a combination of the following courses: general chem, inorganic chem, organic chem, biochem., etc. The courses can be non-sequential as long as the minimum credits are met. Labs are highly recommended, but not required. Will accept AP or IB credit towards this requirement (AP or IB credit must show on college transcript).
  • Physics with lab
  • Human anatomy and physiology with lab (2 semesters or 1 semester anatomy, 1 semester physiology) - Must be completed within 7 years of planned PA program matriculation. If the last anatomy/physiology with lab was taken over 7 years ago as of planned matriculation, then a refresher of at least 1 semester or 1 quarter course of A&P with a lab is required (refreshing the full A&P with lab sequence is preferred). Labs are required. Prefer in-person lecture and lab. Online A&P w/lab is not accepted. However, a hybrid course with online A&P lecture and an in-person lab will be acceptable. If applicant attended a WA state school, the program will accept the 2 quarters of 5 credits to meet the minimum
  • Microbiology with lab (1 course) - The lab is required. Will NOT accept Bacteriology to meet requirement.
  • General or Developmental Psychology - General Psychology, Human Development, Introduction to Psychology. Will accept AP or IB credit towards this requirement (must show on college transcript) 
  • Biostatistics or Statistics (one course) - Will accept courses offered through math, stats, bio, psych, or soc departments; business statistics will not be accepted. Will accept AP or IB credit towards this requirement (must show on college transcript).

Highly Recommended Courses

  • 300-400 level (upper division) Biology and Chemistry courses
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Immunology
  • Other courses which may be beneficial to a future health care provider (e.g., epidemiology, medical terminology, etc.)
  • Spanish language course(s)

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5. Physical Therapy programs

Pre-requisite course requirements:

Required courses:
  • Biology (3 semesters with lab: general, anatomy and physiology)
  • General Chemistry (usually 2 semesters with lab)
  • Physics (usually 2 semesters with lab)
  • Statistics (biostatistics recommended)
  • Psychology (2 semesters: general and one more, developmental recommended)
  • English and Writing (satisfied by Willamette’s writing requirements)
Recommended Courses (a selection: see individual PT programs for specific suggestions) 3 semesters:
  • Organic chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Public health
  • Cell biology
  • Microbiology
  • Exercise physiology
  • Spanish

Note: expectations for applicants vary somewhat from school to school. For a useful comparison of program pre-requisites see Physical Therapist Centralized Application Services Comparison of Course Prerequisites by Program

 The GRE (Graduate Record Examination): offered by the Education Testing Service multiple times a year; for more information see the Education Testing Service website.


Willamette University

Health Professions

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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