Skip to main content

Cornell University

Pre-Health Academic Preparation

As a Cornell undergraduate, you may enroll in the courses that fulfill the requirements of medical schools, regardless of college. Your choice of a major reflects your personal interests and professional orientation. Base your decision on what you want to learn, not how others will view you. The strength of the academic credentials, rather than the major, is the best predictor of who gains admission to health professional schools. You are more likely to succeed at—and benefit from—subjects that interest and stimulate you. Health career graduate schools do not require, recommend, or favor any particular undergraduate major course of study, and Cornell does not have a pre-health career major. In majors offered throughout the university, you can complete the pre-professional requirements while at the same time exploring your own interests. There is no significant difference in admissions rates between different majors to medical and health professional schools.

To gain entrance to most health professional schools, prerequisite coursework must be fulfilled regardless of major. Each health profession, and often each health professional school, has different prerequisite requirements. We will provide an overview of the prerequisites common to medical/dental schools and veterinary medical schools below, and it is important to check with a Health Careers Advisor and your target schools for more specificity. There are also prerequisite databases available, including:

  • Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR)
  • Dental Explorer (ADEA)
  • Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirements (VMSAR)

Cornell Courses that Satisfy Most Medical and Dental School Requirements


Biology

Offered fall, spring, and summer

BIOMG 1350 Introductory Biology: Cell and Developmental Biology
AND BIOG 1440 or1445*# Introductory Biology: Comparative Physiology 
AND BIOG 1500 Investigative Biology Laboratory
 
*BIOG 1445 is an individualized instruction format course
#BME 2010 may also be taken as a physiology lecture course to fulfill medical school requirements for one semester of general biology (for Biomedical Engineering students)

 Biochemistry

Any of the following:

  • BIOMG 3310 Principles of Biochemistry: Proteins and Metabolism (offered fall)
    AND BIOMG 3320 Principles of Biochemistry: Molecular Biology (offered spring)
  • BIOMG 3300 Biochemistry, Individualized Instruction (offered fall, spring)
  • BIOMG 3350 Principles of Biochemistry: Proteins, Metabolism, and Molecular Biology (offered spring)
  • NS 3200 Introduction to Human Biochemistry (offered fall)
  • BIOMG 3330 Principles of Biochemistry: Proteins, Metabolism, and Molecular Biology (offered summer)

Upper-Level Biology

Although not required, students find that taking courses in the following areas useful in understanding advanced concepts and providing greater depth of preparation for MCAT exams:

  • BIOMG 2800 Genetics Lecture (offered fall, spring, summer)
    • BIOMG 2801 Genetics Lab (offered fall, spring, summer)
  • BIOMI 2900 General Microbiology Lectures (offered fall, spring, summer)
  • NS 3410 Human Anatomy and Physiology (offered spring)
    • NS 3420 Human Anatomy and Physiology Laboratory (offered spring)

Other courses in the areas of cell biology, evolutionary biology, genetics, microbiology, neurobiology, behavior, nutrition, and physiology may be useful. Students are encouraged to consult with a health careers advisor or academic advisor to select courses.

General Chemistry

The General Chemistry course website lists a number of options. Some options include:

Option 1

CHEM 2070 General Chemistry I (offered fall, summer)
AND CHEM 2080 General Chemistry II (offered spring, summer)
Option 2

CHEM 2150 Honors General and Inorganic Chemistry (offered fall)
  o  Accelerated one-semester course leading directly to organic chemistry
  o An AP score of 5 on Chemistry or instructor permission is required
  o  Most medical schools require a full year of general chemistry
Option 3
For Engineering Students Only

CHEM 2090 Engineering General Chemistry (offered fall, spring)
AND CHEM 2080 General Chemistry II (offered spring, summer)
OR CHEM 2150 Honors General and Inorganic Chemistry (offered fall)

Organic Chemistry

Option 1

CHEM 3570 Organic Chemistry for the Life Sciences (offered fall, summer)
AND CHEM 3580 Organic Chemistry for the Life Sciences (offered spring, summer)
AND CHEM 2510 Introduction to Experimental Organic Chemistry (offered fall, spring, summer)
Option 2

CHEM 3590 Honors Organic Chemistry I (offered spring)
AND CHEM 3600 Honors Organic Chemistry II (offered fall)
AND CHEM 2510 Introduction to Experimental Organic Chemistry (offered fall, spring, summer)
Option 3

CHEM 3530 Principles of Organic Chemistry (offered fall)
AND CHEM 2510 Introduction to Experimental Organic Chemistry (offered fall, spring, summer) 
 o A single-semester organic chemistry course
 o Some medical schools require a full-year of organic chemistry
 o Schools that do not require a full-year organic chemistry sequence usually require a one-semester
    biochemistry  course and may also require biochemistry lab

Students should explore requirements of specific veterinary schools before choosing this option

English

Most medical schools will accept First-Year Writing Seminars (FWS) in fulfillment of their writing requirement; however, writing-intensive courses from other disciplines may also be acceptable. Students are encouraged to check the requirements of specific medical schools as the English requirement varies.

Math

Calculus

• MATH 1106 Calculus for the Life and Social Sciences (offered spring)
• MATH 1110 Calculus I (offered fall, spring, summer)
• MATH 1910 Calculus for Engineers (offered fall, spring, summer)
Statistics

• STSCI 2150 Introductory Statistics for Biology (offered fall, spring)
• BTRY 3010 Biological Statistics I (offered fall)
• MATH 1710 Statistical Theory and Application in the Real World (offered fall, spring)
• AEM 2100 Introductory Statistics (offered fall)
• ILRST 2100 Introductory Statistics (offered fall, winter, spring, summer)
• PSYCH 2500 Statistics and Research Design (offered fall, summer)
• ECON 3130 Statistics and Probability (offered fall)
• SOC 3010 Evaluating Statistical Evidence (offered fall)
• ENGRD 2700 Basic Engineering Probability and Statistics (offered fall, spring, summer)
• CEE 3040 Uncertainty Analysis in Engineering (offered fall)
• PAM 2100 Introduction to Statistics (offered spring)

General Physics

Crossovers between 1101/2208 and 2207/1102 are acceptable.

Option 1
Individualized instruction, not calculus-based

PHYS 1101 General Physics I (offered fall, summer)
AND PHYS1102 General Physics II (offered spring, summer)
Option 2
Calculus-based

PHYS 2207 Fundamentals of Physics I (offered fall)
AND PHYS 2208 Fundamentals of Physics II (offered spring)
Option 3

PHYS 1112 Physics I: Mechanics & Heat (offered fall, spring, summer)
AND PHYS 2208 Fundamentals of Physics II (offered spring)

Option 4
For Engineering Students

PHYS 1112 Physics I: Mechanics & Heat (offered fall, spring, summer)
AND PHYS 1110 (laboratory, co-requisite for PHYS 1112 starting Fall 2021)
AND PHYS 2213 Physics II: Electromagnetism (offered fall, spring, summer)
AND PHYS 2214 Physics III: Oscillations, Waves, and Quantum Physics (offered fall, spring, summer)

Social Science

The “Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior” section of the MCAT covers topics taught in social science courses. A student can prepare for this section by taking courses in Sociology, Psychology, Human Development, and Development Sociology. Students are encouraged to consult with a health careers advisor to select courses.

Cornell Courses that Satisfy Veterinary School Requirements


Biology

Offered fall, spring and summer

BIOMG 1350 Introductory Biology: Cell and Developmental Biology
AND BIOG 1440 or1445* Introductory Biology: Comparative Physiology
    *BIOG 1445 is an individualized instruction format course.
AND BIOG 1500 Investigative Biology Laboratory

English/Composition

The English/composition requirements of schools vary. Some schools require one semester while others require two semesters, some with a focus on English composition. Students are encouraged to check the requirements of specific veterinary schools. Most veterinary schools will accept First-Year Writing Seminars (FWS) in fulfillment of their writing requirement; however, writing-intensive courses from other disciplines may also be acceptable.
Some veterinary schools also require a course in oral communication.

• COMM 210 Oral Communication (offered fall, spring, summer) 

Biochemistry

Any of the following:

• BIOMG 3310 Principles of Biochemistry: Proteins and Metabolism (offered fall)
   AND BIOMG 3320 Principles of Biochemistry: Molecular Biology (offered spring)
• BIOMG 3300 Biochemistry, Individualized Instruction (offered fall,spring)
• BIOMG 3350 Principles of Biochemistry: Proteins, Metabolism, and Molecular Biology (offered spring)
• NS 3200 Introduction to Human Biochemistry (offered fall)
• BIOMG 3330 Principles of Biochemistry: Proteins,Metabolism, and Molecular Biology (offered summer)

Advanced Life Sciences

Requirements of veterinary schools vary. The following are common upper-level courses that may be required by some schools. Students are encouraged to check the requirements of schools to which they plan to apply.

• BIOMG 2800 Genetics Lecture (offered fall, spring,summer)
     o BIOMG 2801 Genetics Lab (offered fall, spring,summer)
• BIOMI 2900 General Microbiology Lectures (offered fall, spring,summer)
     o BIOMI 2911 General Microbiology Laboratory (offered fall, spring)
• NS 3410 Human Anatomy and Physiology (offered spring)
     o NS 3420 Human Anatomy and Physiology Laboratory (offered spring)
• ANSC 2120 Animal Nutrition (offered fall)

General Chemistry

 The General Chemistry course website lists a number of options. Some options include:

Option 1

CHEM 2070 General Chemistry I (offered fall, summer)
AND CHEM 2080 General Chemistry II (offered spring, summer)
Option 2

CHEM 2150 Honors General and Inorganic Chemistry (offered fall)
  o  Accelerated one-semester course leading directly to organic chemistry
  o  An AP score of 5 on Chemistry or instructor permission is required
  o  Most medical schools require a full year of general chemistry
Option 3
For Engineering Students Only

CHEM 2090 Engineering General Chemistry (offered fall, spring)
AND CHEM 2080 General Chemistry II (offered spring, summer)
OR CHEM 2150 Honors General and Inorganic Chemistry (offered fall)  

Organic Chemistry

Option 1

CHEM 3570 Organic Chemistry for the Life Sciences (offered fall, summer)
AND CHEM 3580 Organic Chemistry for the Life Sciences (offered spring, summer)
AND CHEM 2510 Introduction to Experimental Organic Chemistry (offered fall, spring, summer)
Option 2

CHEM 3590 Honors Organic Chemistry I (offered spring)
AND CHEM 3600 Honors Organic Chemistry II (offered fall)
AND CHEM 2510 Introduction to Experimental Organic Chemistry (offered fall, spring, summer)
Option 3

CHEM 3530 Principles of Organic Chemistry (offered fall)
AND CHEM 2510 Introduction to Experimental Organic Chemistry (offered fall, spring, summer) 
 o A single-semester organic chemistry course
 o Some veterinary schools require a full-year of organic chemistry

Students should explore requirements of specific veterinary schools before choosing this option.

Math

Some veterinary schools require a semester of calculus and/or statistics. Students are encouraged to check the requirements of schools to which they plan to apply.

Calculus

• MATH 1106 Calculus for the Life and Social Sciences (offered spring)
• MATH 1110 Calculus I (offered fall, spring, summer)
• MATH 1910 Calculus for Engineers (offered fall, spring, summer)
Statistics

• STSCI 2150 Introductory Statistics for Biology (offered fall, spring)
• BTRY 3010 Biological Statistics I (offered fall)
• MATH 1710 Statistical Theory and Application in the Real World (offered fall, spring)
• AEM 2100 Introductory Statistics (offered fall)
• ILRST 2100 Introductory Statistics (offered fall, winter, spring, summer)
• PSYCH 2500 Statistics and Research Design (offered fall, summer)
• ECON 3130 Statistics and Probability (offered fall)
• SOC 3010 Evaluating Statistical Evidence (offered fall)
• ENGRD 2700 Basic Engineering Probability and Statistics (offered fall, spring, summer)
• CEE 3040 Uncertainty Analysis in Engineering

General Physics

Crossovers between 1101/2208 and 2207/1102 are acceptable.

Option 1
Individualized instruction, not calculus-based

PHYS 1101 General Physics I (offered fall, summer)
AND PHYS1102 General Physics II (offered spring, summer)
Option 2
Calculus-based

PHYS 2207 Fundamentals of Physics I (offered fall)
AND PHYS 2208 Fundamentals of Physics II (offered spring)
Option 3

PHYS 1112 Physics I: Mechanics & Heat (offered fall, spring, summer)
AND PHYS 2208 Fundamentals of Physics II (offered spring)
Option 4
For Engineering Students

PHYS 1112 Physics I: Mechanics & Heat (offered fall, spring, summer)
AND PHYS 2213 Physics II: Electromagnetism (offered fall, spring, summer)
AND PHYS 2214 Physics III: Oscillations, Waves, and Quantum Physics (offered fall, spring, summer)