Premed and Bioengineering
Berkeley offers excellent undergraduate preparation for medical and other health related professional schools. Like most universities, Berkeley does not offer a specific “pre-med” major. Few colleges in the United States do, because there is no specific major required for admission to medical school or other health related schools. Berkeley’s acceptance rate to medical school is significantly higher than the national average.
Since there is no pre-med major, you can prepare by completing a major in Bioengineering. Toward that end, we have designed a Pre-Med Concentration within the Bioengineering major. While any major at the undergraduate level is acceptable, you must fulfill the following premedical requirements to prepare for medical school:
- 2 years of chemistry (general and organic) (Cal sequence: Chem 1A, 3A, 3B, MCB C100A)
- 1 year of physics (Cal Sequence: Phy 7A & 7B)
- 1 year of introductory biology with lab (Cal sequence: Bio 1A & 1B)
- 1 year Math (Math 1A & 1B)
- 1 Semester or 1 year of College Level English
The most important thing for you to do is to complete the required prep courses listed above and to maintain a high GPA. Medical Schools also look for students with additional experience, skills and/or training which may enhance their potential as a medical practitioner. Many Berkeley students who are admitted to medical school have done research during their academic years at Cal.
Detailed requirements for the BioE Pre-med concentration
Biology Requirements –
Most schools require one year of biology or zoology; a few require more. Biology 1A and 1B frequently are taken in the sophomore year. Most medical schools expect that a year of general biology designed for biology majors with lab will be completed, no matter the applicants major or AP credit.
Traditionally, medical schools have required two years of chemistry, a year of general chemistry and a year of organic chemistry. At Berkeley, several alternatives are available to satisfy the chemistry requirement.
- Most pre-meds take Chemistry 1A, 3A, 3B and then MCB 102, MCB C100A or Chemistry 5.
- Another sequence which requires prior faculty advisor approval is Chemistry 1A-1B, or 4A-4B, and then Chemistry 112A and 112B.
- Most pre-meds begin general chemistry early in their Berkeley careers-often first semester. Students are advised to finish their chemistry sequence if they start it here.
- If a student has AP credit in chemistry, they should plan to begin Chemistry 1A unless you plan on taking upper-division chemistry courses.
One full year of physics with lab is the normal requirement. Physics 7A-7B is acceptable at all medical schools.
Normally one year is required. However some schools do not specifically require coursework in this field. Any sequence that satisfies the College Reading and Composition requirement should be satisfactory. The schools want to see that you have strong verbal reasoning and good writing skills. It would be in your best interest to take the English/humanities courses for a letter grade. Some schools are vague about what they want to fulfill their pre-medical requirements. So a letter grade will serve you well i.e. A to B+ grades.
The Mathematics requirements differ from school to school. Some require a year of calculus, others require some calculus and may accept statistics or computer science as partial satisfaction. At Berkeley, calculus is required for physics. Math 1A-1B is acceptable for medical school and the Physics 7 series. AP credit probably will be accepted for at least part of the math requirement at some schools. One of the only medical schools that requires statistics is UCLA and any statistics course is acceptable.
Pre-med prerequisites can be taken at the community college (many students do this). It is strongly recommend that the Science prerequisites be taken at UCB for a grade of B- or better. If a student starts the Chemistry sequence it is best if you complete it here. If a majority of the prerequisites are taken at Berkeley, it fine to take a couple of courses at a community college.
Medical Schools’ policies on AP credit differ, even among UC schools. Some schools will accept AP towards satisfaction of some or all of their requirements; others will not. Generally, those who wish to offer AP credits in satisfaction of pre-med requirements should take additional work in that field to substantiate the credits and to prepare for the MCAT and medical school. For example, a student with an AP score which satisfies the reading and composition requirement usually will be well advised to take an upper division course with substantial reading and writing, e.g., an upper division English Literature class. Again, school policies differ and all-inclusive answers are difficult. Coursework at Berkeley likely will be more rigorous than AP courses.
Does it make a difference where I complete my academic preparation for medical or other health-related schools?
The quality and reputation of the college or university from which you graduate can definitely play a role in your acceptance to medical school. The high quality of Berkeley students and the campus worldwide academic reputation are major factors in the success rate of Cal’s applicants to medical school.
What do medical schools look for in applicants?
Medical schools look at a number of factors when selecting their students:
- College GPA
- Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
- Personal Statement
- Letters of Recommendation
What is the timeline for Pre-Meds?
Here is a Pre-Med recommended timeline from UC Berkeley’s Career Center
Freshman Year Sophomore Year Junior Year Senior Year
Start course prerequisites
Develop good academic habits
Spend summer wisely
Finish course prerequisites
Prepare for MCAT
Research Medical Schools
Get ready to apply (personal statements, letter of rec., save $$)
Apply (AMCAS medical school application) & secondary schools
Graduate from Cal
If you want more information or help in preparing and applying for Medical school and other health programs, visit the Career Center’s Medical School or Health Careers webpages or make an appointment to speak to a Career Center Counselor.
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