Non-Science Majors and Medical School Admissions: Standing Out Among The Applicant Pool

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Gap Medics students and staff on Gangilonga Rock, TanzaniaIn a sea of medical school applications—which number over 40,000 per year—differentiating yours from the crowd of other hopeful applicants is crucial.  One way to stand out is to select an undergraduate major that will challenge you, inspire you, and allow you to reach your intellectual potential.  Even if your sights are set on medical school, this doesn’t mean that your undergraduate major must be science-related.  In fact, your love of philosophy, literature, psychology, and even art will work to your advantage as an undergraduate major applying to medical school.  The traditional path to acceptance has changed.  Consider these facts when choosing your undergraduate major:

1. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) tracks data on the majors of undergraduates accepted to medical school.  Interestingly, science (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.) and non-science majors (English, psychology, philosophy, etc.) are equally represented among accepted candidates.  However, because there are fewer non-science majors applying to medical school, more of them get accepted.  In fact, philosophy majors boast a higher rate of acceptance to medical school than biology majors.

2. Choosing a non-science major that ignites your curiosity and pushes you to think creatively and analytically is going to yield a higher GPA through your deep commitment to your undergraduate studies.  Paired with the appropriate series of pre-medical courses, including biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, and physics, you’ll stand out as a well-rounded applicant who will add diversity to any school’s incoming class.  Your passion for the humanities, when paired with superb academic performance in the foundational pre-medical courses required for medical school admission, demonstrates that you are a multi-talented, multi-faceted student.

Doctors outpatient consulting room in Jodhpur, India3. Your non-science major is more likely to help you get a higher MCAT score.  Surprisingly, students who major in the humanities, especially philosophy and English, earn higher MCAT scores than those students who pursue a traditional science major—up to a whole point higher!  In a competitive admissions pool, that one additional point on your MCAT score may be the deciding factor in your acceptance.

4. If you’ve reached your senior year of your undergraduate studies and decided that medical school is your next step, there are post-baccalaureate programs that specifically cater to your pursuits.  Entering college at 18, you’ll likely change your major several times before you find your niche, and even then, many people are late bloomers.  Their talents and potential may not reveal themselves until late in the undergraduate game.  Post-baccalaureate programs allow non-science majors to “try out” medical school before making the full-time commitment to pursing a medical degree through an intensive, year-long focus on the core sciences that medical schools require for admission.

Gone are the days when biology and chemistry majors dominate first-year medical school classes.  You’re just as likely to find yourself working side-by-side with a psychology or English major as you are a biochemistry or physics major.  Combining a high GPA and strong MCAT score with a compelling personal statement and stellar letters of recommendation…these are your keys to medical school admission.  So ponder some philosophy and drink in some poetry—your medical school application will thank you for it! — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.

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