Pre-Professional Programs

Preparing for Health Care Professions

The College of Science provides academic programs and other resources to students preparing for a professional career in health care. Our site includes information and resources to help students explore pre-medicine (pre-med), pre-pharmacy (pre-pharm), and other health care-related undergraduate programs. Upper-level students will also find helpful information for applying to a professional program.

Snapshot of a Pre-Professional Health Care Student

Rules dictating who will be admitted to professional schools vary according to the field, school, and competitiveness. While there is not a certain combination of classes and scores that will guarantee admission, there are a number of traits that improve a student’s chances of getting into a health care program.

health care professionalsWhile in high school, a prospective pre-professional 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 – high school honors is just the start

As an undergraduate student, a pre-professional 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 – GRE, MCAT, PCAT, DAT, OAT, etc.
  • Develop practical in-field experience through shadowing, volunteering or research opportunities

Looking for more information about getting into a professional program? Our FAQ includes additional details as well as answers to common questions about going into health care.

Common Pre-Professional Programs

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

Profession Field
Chiropractic Chiropractic is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine.
Dentistry The main chiropractic 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.
Medicine Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness.
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.
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.
Physical Therapy Physical therapy improves patients’ physical functions through physical examination, diagnosis, prognosis, physical intervention, rehabilitation, and patient education.
Physician Assistant Physician assistants are health care practitioners who practice medicine in collaboration with physicians; their scope of practice varies by jurisdiction and healthcare setting.
Podiatry Podiatry is concerned with the study, diagnosis, and medical and surgical treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle, and lower extremity.
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.

Pre-Professional Majors and Courses

Most professional schools accept students with science as well as non-science majors. Science majors already include many of the courses required for professional school, allowing students to graduate within four academic years. Students in non-science majors must add the required science courses to their graduation requirements, thus possibly prolonging graduation.

A pre-professional student will take a variety of courses that may include the following:

  • Principles of Biology I and II
  • Principles of Chemistry I and II and labs
  • General Physics I and II and labs
  • English Composition I and II
  • Cooperative Vertebrate Anatomy or Human Anatomy
  • Animal Physiology or Human Physiology
  • Organic Chemistry I and II and lab
  • General Psychology
  • Introductory Sociology
  • Introductory Biochemistry
  • Principles of Microbiology and lab
  • Principles of Cell Biology
  • Statistics

Professional schools will have varying prerequisites and may have specific requirements or recommendations for admission. It is the responsibility of the student to discover these requirements and take the necessary courses.

Professional School Admission Exams

Professional exams are difficult and are not “just another science test.” Exams are designed to measure how much you have learned and retained, and how well you can apply knowledge in new situations. Successful applicants possess both an understanding of the fundamentals of science and the ability to apply knowledge to real or theoretical experimental settings and case studies.

Profession Typically-Required Exam
Chiropractic No admission exam required
Dentistry DAT (Dental Admission Test)
Medicine MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)
Optometry OAT (Optometry Admission Test)
Pharmacy PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) or
no admission exam required
Physical Therapy GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
Physician Assistant GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
Podiatry MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) or
GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
Veterinary Medicine MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), or
GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and GRE Advanced Biology Section

Check with the professional school of your choice for specific admission test requirements. Application packets for these exams are available online at the national exam’s website.

Four-Year Planner

Admission to professional schools – including medical, pharmacy, physician assistants, optometry, veterinary, and dental schools – is very competitive. Our four-year planner is meant to be a reference to help you coordinate your efforts to be prepared to apply to a professional school in your junior year. The College of Science attempts to help students with a range of abilities become accepted to a professional school. Students are advised about multiple career pathways, and if the grades are not high enough for medical school, there are other health care areas that will accept students with GPA of approximately 2.70 – 3.00.

You must achieve and maintain a high level of dedication and determination to gain entry. It is your responsibility to work hard and persevere.

View the Pre-Professional Four-Year Planner

Frequently Asked Questions

Our Pre-Professional Advisors answer many questions from students seeking a profession in health care; some of those questions come up frequently. 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

Seeking Pre-Professional Advice

Seeking admission to a professional program can be a difficult process with lots of variables. The Associate Dean of the College of Science serves as Marshall University’s Pre-Professional Officer and can assist you with your preparation and choices. You may speak to the Associate Dean of the College of Science 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.

Sara Simpson Sara Simpson
Academic Advisor,
Office of Student Services

Office: S 214
Phone: 304-696-3475
Brian Morgan Brian Morgan
Associate Dean
Office: S 270
Phone: 304-696-6469

Additional Resources