Pre-Professional Programs

Pre-Medical and Other Health Related Sciences

Students interested in pre-medical or other health-related fields requiring the MCAT, DAT, VCAT, OAT, PCAT or similar exams in the spring of the junior year or the fall of the senior year usually need to take at least 2 biology, 4 chemistry, 2 physics, and 2 mathematics courses in the first three years. Some schools require 3 or more biology courses. Thus, they need 10 science courses in six semesters, many of which have laboratories and need to be sequenced properly, regardless of the student’s major. These 10 courses are typically the following: Cell Biology and Genetics (we strongly recommend Animal Physiology as well), Chemistry I and II, and Organic Chemistry I and II, Physics I and II (algebra or calculus-based), and one or two mathematics courses. While some professional schools state a mathematics requirement of “two courses,” others state “Calculus I” or “Calculus II” as a requirement. Some have no specified math requirement and others require statistics. Proper course sequencing throughout the first three years of the four-year curriculum is crucial. One should consult course requirements for any specific major in the Catalog. Once a major has been decided upon, the student should consult with a faculty member in that department for further information on optimum course sequencing.

In 2015, the MCAT will change dramatically. In the Natural Science sections of the test, Biochemistry and statistics will also be tested. Other sections of the test will require students to be familiar with fundamental concepts of psychology, sociology and ethics, so at least one course in these three areas is strongly recommended. There are numerous courses that will provide students with the concepts they need in these latter sections. In Psychology, appropriate courses would include Introduction to Psychology, Childhood and Adolescence, Adult Development and Aging, Social Psychology and Comparative Animal Behavior. In Sociology, appropriate courses include Introduction to Sociology, Gender and Family, Racial and Ethnic Minorities, Medicine and Culture, and Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. The Philosophy Department offers several 200-level ethics courses, both as recurrent courses and as occasional topics courses; any of these would be appropriate. The new MCAT will emphasize critical reading skills, so students should have at least one and preferably two English courses prior to taking the MCAT.

As long as the minimum science requirements are met, one’s major is not a criterion of professional school admission, but overall grade point average, science grade point average, and the standardized exam scores (which have science sections covering courses listed above) are critical. Students with equivalent credentials (e.g., MCAT, GPA, and grades in science courses) who major outside of the sciences will be a little unique when their applications are considered, and this may even be an advantage.

Generally, first-year students need to start at least two science sequences and to take at least four science/math courses in the first year regardless of their projected major. An absolute maximum is six science courses (three per term), but this is not often recommended. Taking fewer than three science courses will make it difficult for students to be prepared for the professional school standardized exams in three years. It is recommended that in the first year, pre-professional school students take Cell Biology and Chemistry I and II. Other science courses which are often taken by first-year students include selections from this list: Zoology (Biology majors), Functions and Models, Calculus I and Calculus II. Physics may be an appropriate choice for Physics or BCMB majors. Outside the Natural Sciences, Should consider coursework in psychology, sociology, ethics or speech communication. While the courses listed above are the most frequently specified prerequisites by professional schools, students should check for additional prerequisites when they have chosen the particular school to which they want to apply. All students are encouraged to visit the web site of the professional organization that they wish to enter, as well as the websites of any specific schools they might consider applying to, for further information. You can find links to all U.S. medical schools at

Hendrix College provides a full array of services to support students planning a career in medicine. In addition to offering all the required courses, we have a Pre-professional Advising Committee to help students fulfill the extra-curricular requirements and prepare their medical school applications. There is an active Pre-Health club and an associated chapter of AED, the national pre-medical honorary society. This group hosts monthly meetings with medical professionals and provides service opportunities within the community. We offer an MCAT preparation program to help students prepare for this important medical school entrance exam. Hendrix students have an excellent history of success in being accepted to medical school and doing very well both in school and in their professional careers. For those interested in public health, there is a combined BA/MPH program with the UAMS College of Public Health where students have joint enrolment with both schools. For further information, contact Dr. Mark Sutherland, Chair of the Pre-professional Advising Committee.