January 04, 2013

Pre-Health: Courses | Department

Students interested in preparing for medical school or another health profession may select any major offered at Grinnell College while completing the required pre-health courses. Grinnell College does not offer a specific pre-health or pre-med major.

Faculty assist in providing guidance to students interested in medical school (or one of the other health professions) through the Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC).

First-year students interested in attending a health professions graduate school immediately after graduating from Grinnell should take both Chemistry 129 and Biology 150 during their first year - take one of these two courses in the fall semester and the other in the spring semester.

A major in science is not required for admission to medical school. The minimum requirements to take the MCAT and apply to medical school are:

  • 1 year Biology (Biology 251, 252) (Note: BIO150 is a prerequisite for BIO 251)
  • 2 years Chemistry (Chemistry 129, 210, 221, 222)
  • 1 year English (Tutorial counts as one semester; second semester should stress literature)
  • 1 year Physics (Physics 131-132)
  • Calculus I (Calculus is not required for admission to most medical schools; however, Calculus I is required for physics at Grinnell, and Calculus II is recommended.)

There is currently an initiative of medical schools to change the pre-medical preparation of students to emphasize both quantitative literacy and understanding of behavioral and social science foundations.  What is known at this point is that a new MCAT will be used starting in 2015, and that some medical schools may change their course work preparation requirements.  Additional information is available at the HPAC Resources page.

When these courses are completed depends on the student's professional objectives. For admission to medical school in the Fall following college graduation, the medical college admissions test (MCAT) should be taken in the Spring of the junior year. All of the material covered in required courses is subject to examination on the MCAT. Therefore, all of the requirements listed above must be completed by the end of the junior year. It is important to note that for incoming students without any advanced placement, this averages two courses in the science division per semester.

Each year about half of the Grinnell applicants to medical school have graduated, and most of them took the MCAT exam as a senior. These students spread the required coursework over 8 semesters allowing them to take full advantage of Grinnell's many opportunities including internships, interdisciplinary concentrations, and off-campus study.

A meeting for students interested in pre-health occurs early in the fall semester. Please visit the HPAC website for more information.  

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