FAQ’s about “Pre-Med” at Bates
Qualified Bates College applicants are very successful. Depending on the specific pool of applicants each year, roughly 75 – 100% of the qualified students and alumni who apply are accepted to medical school each year. Acceptance rates to other health professions schools, dental, optometry, PA, nursing, veterinary, etc., are even higher.
Bates College provides strong premedical preparation for its pre-health professions students including most of the requisite coursework, internship opportunities, pre-health professions advising and support from the Medical Studies Committee.
Of course, not every Bates applicant is accepted. Why? Acceptance into medical or any health professions school is dependent on the qualifications of the student applying. Students who are accepted to medical school have performed at a high academia level (usually earning a 3.6 GPA or better), have done well on the MCAT (composite score usually above 510), have demonstrated a working knowledge of the health professions (by taking advantage of volunteer positions or shadowing opportunities), and have demonstrated a commitment to service.
There is no single “premed” major. Medical schools are looking for students who have completed specific course work and who have performed at a high academic level in their major and in the sciences.
We recommend that students’ interests dictate their choice of major as long as the prerequisites for medical school admission are also met. Because of their interests, most Bates applicants to medical school have completed the B.S. degree in Biology, Chemistry, Biological Chemistry, or Neuroscience. Others have pursued interests outside of the sciences (in English and Psychology for example).
Medical school admissions personnel state that the specific undergraduate major is not a consideration in the admissions process. They are interested in the courses that applicants have completed and the grades they have earned.
- General Chemistry, two semesters with labs. Chem 107/108. General Chemistry in your first year assures flexibility in choosing a major and completing general education requirements.
- Organic Chemistry, two semesters with labs. Chem 217/218.
- General Physics, two semesters with labs. Physics 107/108.
- Calculus, one or two semesters. Math 105/106 and one semester of Statistics. Statistics is required or highly recommended at all medical schools. If you have already earned AP, IB or A-level credit for calculus, you may not need to retake it. The Math Department has advice on choosing math courses, and a short, anonymous online placement test.
- Biology, two semesters with labs. 100-Level Bio Course and Bio 242.
- English, two courses designated or cross-listed as “Eng” First Year Seminars do not count.
- Biochemistry, is required for most medical schools and vet schools. This course is helpful background for the biochemistry course you will take in your first year of professional school and biochemistry content is now tested on the MCAT.
- Psychology and Sociology. Content of basic psychology and sociology will be necessary preparation for the MCAT.
Any major is fine. AP credit cannot be used to meet most requirements for admission to many health-related graduate or professional programs. For example, a student who has AP credit that allows opting out of Chem 107 would need to take another Chem course at a higher level or biochemistry, in addition to Chem 108, Chem 217 and Chem 218, to meet the admission prerequisites.
Physical Therapy, Veterinary, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, and Physician Assistant programs have similar but often additional prerequisites.
All prerequisites need to be taken for a grade, NOT P/F. Grades lower than a C- (C for some programs) do not meet the prerequisites. See an advisor regarding requirements for specific career fields.
Good grades are important. While many students take Chemistry and Calculus in their first semester, you should be mindful of your own abilities and academic background. It is more important to do well than to overload your schedule. If you need help deciding what courses to take, check with one of the Pre-Health Advisors.
Study abroad courses: Pre-med science course work should be taken in the United States.
Successful applicants to medical schools have a grade point average of 3.6 or better, a composite MCAT score above 510 and strong letters of recommendation.
The best correlation we have seen between MCAT and any other achievement test is between MCAT and the SAT scores. However, we have seen students with modest SAT scores achieve strong MCAT scores. The best predictor of success on the MCAT is diligent preparation and lots of practice.
The process of preparing for and applying to U.S. health professional schools is the same whether or not you are a U.S. citizen—the differences relate to which health professional schools will consider international students, and what finance options are available.
Most federally funded scholarship and loan programs are available only to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. An additional hurdle at some schools is a requirement to deposit one-to-four years of costs (tuition, fees, and living expenses) in escrow before matriculation. In some extremely rare cases a foreign student who shows exceptional promise might be accepted with some scholarship aid at some of the more prominent and well-endowed private medical schools.
The Association of American Medical Colleges provides further information on some of the unique challenges and resources for international pre-health students. In summary, international pre-health students will be more limited than their U.S. peers in where they can apply, and private loans may require co-signers and/or funding in escrow.
Most successful applicants, in addition to strong academic records, have had experience volunteering or working in a healthcare environment. Many have had a variety of shadowing experiences, internships, community service, and post-Bates employment.
Admissions committees often consider employment, additional responsibilities during the school year, extracurricular involvement/leadership, and exposure to patients.
The Bates College Medical Studies Committee provides letters of evaluation for medical and dental school applicants. Other pre-health graduate and professional programs do not require a Committee Letter. The Committee Letter is a packet of materials sent by the Medical Studies Committee in support of our applicants. Letters are written after advising and interviewing applicants, and often include statements from individual references.
Common pathways include:
- Applying as a student with a strong academic record and MCAT score, evidence of shadowing and internship/research experiences, and a commitment to service may apply after Junior or Senior year.
- Applying after a student completes post-baccalaureate study to improve a weak academic profile or to take required courses.
- Applying after a year or more of work experience. Currently, this is the most common pathway for applicants to graduate/professional school.
The average age of matriculation to medical school is approximately 24. This means that most students wait to apply. The pre-health advisors work with both undergraduates and alumni to provide advice and support during the preparation and application process.
Recent graduates often pursue other interests before submitting their graduate/professional school applications. Many gain experience through clinical/lab research at hospitals and biomedical organizations, working as medical assistants, attending graduate school, teaching, and in a variety of service organizations. The possibilities are endless and the experiences are invaluable.
Yes! There are a lot of ways to improve an application to medical school. The pre-health advisers will help you determine what areas of your application needs improvement. For example, an academic record can be improved by taking additional courses and/or attending a post-baccalaureate program.
For more information about post-baccalaureate programs, please visit:
The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) http://services.aamc.org/postbac/