Medical Professions Pathways

Medical Professions Pathways

Preparing for a Career in Professional Health Care

Marshall University’s College of Science provides academic programs and other resources to students preparing for a professional career in healthcare.  This site will help students explore and prepare for pre-medicine (pre-med or premed), pre-pharmacy (pre-pharm), pre-veterinary (pre-vet) and other healthcare-related undergraduate programs.

Snapshot of a Professional Health Care Student

Admissions requirements for professional school vary by field, school, and competitiveness.  While there isn’t a specific combination of classes and scores that guarantees admission, several factors can improve your chances of getting into a healthcare program.

While in high school, a prospective professional health care student should

Achieve ACT Composite and Mathematics scores of 21 or higher (SAT 500 or higher)

Complete a strong high school course of study in the sciences

Possesses a strong sense of commitment and work ethic

As an undergraduate student, a professional health care student should

Complete a science-based college curriculum with a 3.4 or above GPA, preferably 3.8 or above

Prepare for and take the relevant professional exam –MCAT, DAT, PCAT, CCAT, OAT, GRE, etc.

Develop practical in-field experience through shadowing, volunteering or research opportunities

Looking for more information about getting into a professional program? Check out our FAQ page.

Pre-Professional Health Care Studies Minor

The minor in Pre-Professional Health Care Studies is designed to provide courses building competencies essential for a competitive application to professional health care programs (medicine-M.D. and D.O., chiropractic, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician’s assistant, podiatry, veterinary medicine, etc.). This minor provides a structured pathway to help a student complete courses required for admission to graduate or professional school. Students should regard the courses listed as examples only.  This is not a comprehensive statement of what actually is required by every professional school.

Because each professional school determines its own requirements, students should work with their Medical Professions Pathways advisor to develop a customized academic plan that aligns with their goals and interests.

Explore the Curriculum

Selecting a Professional Health Care Field

Marshall University’s College of Science can help prepare students for many healthcare and related professions. Below are some of the more common disciplines for which a student can select a preparatory academic program.

Many professional schools require applicants to take a standardized professional exam. These tests are challenging and not “just another science test.” They are designed to assess how much you have learned and retained, as well as how well you can apply knowledge in new situations. Successful applicants have a solid understanding of scientific fundamentals and the ability to apply their knowledge to real or theoretical experimental settings and case studies.

Check with the professional school of your choice for specific admission test requirements. Visit the national exam’s website to find out more about how to sign up to take the exam.

Field Description Typically-Required Exam
Chiropractic Chiropractic is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine. The main treatment technique involves manual therapy, especially manipulation of the spine, other joints, and soft tissues, but may also include exercises and health and lifestyle counseling. No admission exam required
Dentistry Dentistry is concerned with diseases, disorders, and conditions of the oral cavity, commonly in the dentition but also the adjacent and related structures and tissues in the jaw and facial area. Treatments are carried out by a dental team, which often consists of a dentist and dental auxiliaries. DAT (Dental Admission Test)
Medicine Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of healthcare practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)
Optometry Optometry is concerned with the eyes and applicable visual systems for defects or abnormalities as well as the correction of refractive error with glasses or contact lenses and treatment of eye diseases. OAT (Optometry Admission Test)
Pharmacy Pharmacy links medical science with chemistry, and it is charged with the discovery, production, control, disposal, and safe and effective use of drugs; it requires excellent knowledge of drugs, their mechanism of action, side effects, interactions, mobility, and toxicity as well as treatment and understanding of the pathological process. PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) or no admission exam required
Physical Therapy Physical therapy improves patients’ physical functions through physical examination, diagnosis, prognosis, physical intervention, rehabilitation, and patient education. GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
Physician Assistant Physician assistants are healthcare practitioners who practice medicine in collaboration with physicians; their scope of practice varies by jurisdiction and healthcare setting. GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
Podiatry Podiatry is concerned with the study, diagnosis, and medical and surgical treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle, and lower extremity. MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) or GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
Veterinary Medicine Veterinary medicine is the branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment of disease, disorder and injury in animals and along with this, it also deals with animal rearing, husbandry, breeding, research on nutrition and product development. MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), or GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and GRE Advanced Biology Section

Four-Year Curricular Activities

Choosing a major and minor

No specific major or minor is required.  You will need to complete certain courses.  Biology, Chemistry, or Biochemistry majors include most or all of the required courses.  More rigorous majors have higher admission rates into professional health care schools and are crucial for excelling on entrance exams for professional programs.  The Pre-Professional Health Care Studied minor is designed to provide courses building competencies essential for a competitive application to professional health care programs.

Every semester

Meet with your academic advisor.  Your advisor will help you develop a customized academic plan that aligns with your goals and interests.  Your advisor will ensure you are aware of required courses and prerequisites, helping you stay on track for graduation.

Meet with your Medical Professions Pathways advisor.  Your advisor will provide guidance on navigating the complex application process, including timelines, personal statements, and recommendation letters.

Your academic advisor will be int he college of your major.  Your medical professions pathways advisor will be in the College of Science, these advisors will be the same.


Although not every professional school or entrance exam will require every course listed below, the following is a reasonable summary of what you might expect to take.  These courses may be part of or in addition to your major requirements.

Two semesters 

  • Biology with labs
  • English composition
  • General chemistry with labs
  • Organic chemistry with labs
  • Physics with labs


One semester 

  • Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Calculus
  • Cell biology
  • Medical terminology
  • Microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Statistics

Four-Year Co-Curricular Activities

Admission to professional schools – including medical (M.D. and D.O.), chiropractic, dental, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, podiatry, and veterinary medicine – is very competitive. Our four-year guide for co-curricular activities is a reference to help you build a competitive application to a professional heath care program.

You must work hard and persevere to gain entry to a professional health care program.  You must achieve and maintain a high level of dedication and determination.  Admissions committees are seeking students who push themselves sand excel both in and out of the classroom!

View the Pre-Professional Four-Year Planner

Frequently Asked Questions

Our Medical Professions Pathways Advisors can answer many questions from students seeking a profession in healthcare. While you’re always welcome to contact our advisors, you may find the answer to some of your questions here.

View the Pre-Professional FAQ

Ready To Get Started?

Seeking admission to a professional program is a complex process. The Medical Professions Pathways advisors in the College of Science can assist you with your preparation and choices. You may speak to the advisors at any time if you need help or have specific questions.

The College of Science Office of Student Services will assist you with class selection based on your ACT/SAT scores, Advance Placement classes, and goals.