Medical schools can accept any baccalaureate degree, but chemistry is one of the five most common degrees sought by University of Iowa students planning to attend the Carver School of Medicine or other medical schools. There is no pre-med degree, so students choose a first major in a discipline such as chemistry, biochemistry, biology, biomedical engineering, or human physiology. As a second major, students indicate their intent to prepare for medical school. Chemistry majors can choose either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. The B.A. degree has a great deal of flexibility and is intended for students interested in pursuing a professional graduate degree. The ACS certified B.S. degree encompasses all of the coursework required by most medical schools and includes undergraduate research experience as an elective.
The chemistry major includes five core courses required for medical school entrance:
- CHEM:1110 Principles of Chemistry I (4:011)
- CHEM:1120 Principles of Chemistry II (4:012)
- CHEM:2210 Organic Chemistry I (4:121)
- CHEM:2220 Organic Chemistry II (4:122)
- CHEM:2410 Organic Chemistry Lab (4:141)
Additional medical school entrance requirements included in the chemistry major are two semesters of physics and mathematics through Calculus.
Courses in biology are also required for pre-med students:
- BIOL:1411 Foundations of Biology; (Prior to Fall 2012, Principles of Biology I)
- BIOL:1412 Diversity of Form and Function; (Prior to Fall 2012, Principles of Biology II)
One additional advanced biology course is required; students often choose a course in microbiology or biochemistry. Note that biochemistry is mandatory for entrance to the Carver College of Medince. The changes in the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) starting in 2015 will require students to take biochemistry. For students whose schedules allow for additional courses, human anatomy and/or physiology are good choices.
Other requirements for pre-med students include two courses in composition and literature. Rhetoric is already a general education requirement for the chemistry major, so students will need to select an additional course. A typical choice is ENGL:1200, The Interpretation of Literature, which also satisfies the General Education literature interpretation requirement. Finally, four courses in the humanities and/or social and behavioral sciences are required. With the new MCAT, two of those four should be psychology and sociology.
Students seeking admission to medical school typically take the MCAT in the spring or summer of their junior year. Excellent grades certainly indicate learning sufficient to score well on the MCAT; according to the UI Academic Advising Center, the average cumulative GPA was 3.76 for students admitted to the UI medical school in 2011. Grades and MCAT scores are critical in the admissions decision, but so are many other elements, including volunteer and experiential work, evidence of leadership and service, undergraduate research, letters of recommendation, and interviews. Criminal background checks are often conducted.
Chemistry majors are supported by advising in the department throughout their academic experience at the university. Students who have indicated that their second “major” is pre-med also work with a pre-med advisor in the Academic Advising Center. For more information about the pre-med curriculum, the medical school admissions process, and other pre-health programs, visit the AAC website.