Pre-Professional Four-Year Planner

Pre-Professional Four-Year Planner

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

Admission to professional schools including medical, pharmacy, physician assistants, optometry, veterinary, and dental schools is very competitive. The following guidelines act as a reference to help you coordinate your efforts in order to be prepared to apply to a professional school in your junior year. The College of Science at Marshall University 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.

Due to differences in healthcare fields and well as between individual programs, there is not an academic plan or listing of courses for pre-professional healthcare students. Each student is responsible for finding all requirements and deadlines for professional schools to which they wish to apply.

Since many of Marshall University students apply to Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall, JCESOM dates and requirements are used as specific examples.

Pre-Professional Planner

  • Make up your mind that you have a goal in life and personalize your goal. Let every step you take be toward your goal.
  • Go to every class and take notes.
  • Study every subject every day.
  • Form study groups.
  • Turn in assignments on time.
  • Your GPA starts the first day of the first semester. You cannot allow yourself to settle for C or lower. Strive for A’s.
  • Avoid withdrawing/dropping classes. Too many W’s on your transcript make you appear not to be a finisher.
  • Choose your major and identify the science block courses. Attempt to complete all of them by the end of the sophomore year or no later than fall of the junior year.
  • Get involved on campus.
    • Perform service through a Marshall club or organization or volunteer off campus.
    • Join Academic Clubs or organizations including the American Chemical Society, Biology Club, Physics Club, AED (Pre-Professional), Pre-AMSA (Pre-Med), and Marshall Ambassadors. Play a role in the organization and run for office.
  • Stay informed. Read your Marshall e-mail!
    • Read fliers outside the Dean’s office or the Office of Student Services, or
    • Checkout the College of Science’s Facebook page.
  • If you have any questions, feel lost, or just do not know where to find answers go directly to the College of Science Office of Student Services in Science 213/214.
  • Get to know your COS professors. You may want to ask a professor to write you a letter of reference in a year or two.
  • If you finish the freshman year with 3.50 or higher you are doing well.
    • If you have 3.00 – 3.49 you need to work harder.
    • If you have 2.50 – 2.99 doors are closing but some professionals schools including chiropractic and podiatry do accept students with lower than approximately 2.70.
    • If the GPA is 2.50 or lower things are not looking good for a health care career
  • Be certain to take the last remaining science block courses because it is the content of these courses that is the basis for admission exams.
    • Stay on track to finish all the science block courses by no later than the first semester of the junior year.
  • Keep studying every subject every day and the study groups.
  • Meet with the Pre-Professional Advisors at least once as a sophomore, preferably in the fall.
  • Open your “green file” with the Dean’s office. This file contains a résumé, letters of recommendation, and information that will be forwarded by the College of Science to the institutions where you apply.
  • Stay involved on campus.
    • Service as an officer in a Marshall club or organization, or
    • Continue to volunteer off campus.
  • Stay informed. Read your Marshall e-mail!
    • Read your Marshall e-mail,
    • Read fliers outside the Dean’s office or the Office of Student Services, or
    • Checkout the College of Science’s Facebook page.
  • Begin or continue to work either paid or as a volunteer in a medical office, hospital or other location.
  • Keep in touch with your COS professors.

Over the summer

  • Begin reviewing for MCAT, DAT, OAT, PCAT, or other professional admission exam.

Fall Semester

  • If you have completed the science block courses enroll in science electives that will help you on the admission test.
    • Most schools recommend biochemistry and cell biology. Also consider microbiology, histology, animal physiology, comparative vertebrate anatomy, and embryology.
  • Continue reviewing for MCAT, DAT, OAT, PCAT, or other health-care admission exam.
    • Plan on spending at least three months and at least two hours a day studying for the exam, including weekends.
    • Do not “try” the exam once to see how well you do. It costs money and although you can take the exam multiple times (only three attempts per calendar year), Admissions Committees do notice how many times you have taken the exam.
  • Check into study aids, Princeton Review and Kaplan prep course, that prepares you but they are expensive.
  • Take a free online practice exams to get a baseline of your projected performance.
    • If you score well you still need to prepare.
    • If you find you make a low score in one part, you need to really work on it.
    • Complete your Junior Evaluation with your academic advisor to be certain you are on schedule to graduate.
  • Begin writing your resume and thinking about your personal statement that you will submit to the professional schools.
  • Think about which COS professors you plan to ask to write recommendation letters.
    • You will need at least three. Try to think in terms of who will write an effective letter on your behalf, who know you and your desire and commitment to becoming a physician.
    • You will need to have these letters completed and sent to the Dean’s Office by spring of the junior year to be placed in your green file.
  • Apply for the spring professional exam or other appropriate admission test.
    • Apply early in order that you may have time to take it a second time for consideration of your application.
    • Plan ahead with the thought in mind that you may need to take the exam over.

Spring Semester

  • Update your “green file” in the COS Dean’s Office. Submit your resume and personal statement.
  • Ask professors to write letters of recommendation.
    • Give them the form you receive when you open the green file.
    • They will submit them directly to the Dean’s Office. This is an absolute must before you leave at the end of the semester.
    • Check at the front desk to be certain they are in place. Professors are forgetful.
    • Check the professional school’s website for deadlines and admission requirements.
    • Set up an appointment with the Pre-Professional advisors to discuss your application.
      • Discuss an admission strategy based on your goals and grades. This may need to be modified when you receive your admission test scores.


  • Ask the Dean’s office if your letters are being submitted.
  • Make final decisions on where to apply.
    • Go to the web pages of the schools to which you intend to apply and double check all specific requirements for each school.


  • Take the professional exam required for your chosen field.


  • Submit your applications.
    • It is imperative that you apply as early as possible because most medical schools place the applications in a queue and consider them according to date of their receipt.
  • Review and critique MCAT results and GPA status with the Pre-Professional Advisors.
  • Make sure recommendation letters are coming in to the Dean’s Office.


  • Finalize your essay.
  • Ask the Dean’s Office to submit your “green file” recommendation letters to the professional school(s).
  • If you did not do well on the MCAT, retake the exam in the summer.
    • If you made below 8 on any section of the MCAT, retake the exam.
    • If you did not feel confident with your first attempt, plan immediately to take the exam again.
  • Check with the admissions office of the professional schools to which you wish to apply to seek advice on anything that may not be clear to you.
    • Do not delay; your position in the queue is critically important.


  • Enroll in classes.
  • Complete your Senior Evaluation to be certain you are on schedule to graduate.
    • If you wish to take advantage of the Combined College and Professional Degrees program you must be certain that in both your junior and senior evaluation you inform the advisor who checks the completion of your requirements.
  • Although by the time the fall semester begins it will be very late in the application process, you can still apply to a professional school. However, the later you apply, the less likely you are to receive a position in the class.
  • Contact Marshall University’s Career Services to set up mock interviews.


  • Be patient.
  • Begin to think of alternatives (just in case).
  • Interviews usually begin in early October. Schedule your interviews as soon as you are invited.
  • Send thank you letters to interviewers and letter writers.

November – December

  • Double check with medical school admissions if there is any chance that all your credentials are not yet in place.
  • Schedule interviews for which you are invited.


  • Apply for graduation in the College of Science Dean’s Office, Room 270.



  • If you are wait-listed, send letter expressing continued interest.


  • Acceptance letters may still be sent out, so stay calm.


  • Graduate from Marshall University with a bachelor’s degree.


  • Make sure the professional schools can reach you by telephone at all times.
    • Sometimes a call may be received as late as early August.
  • If you have not heard anything positive you might want to
    • take some more undergraduate courses,
    • enter graduate school,
    • apply to other schools or professions and/or,
    • retake the professional and reapply.

Fall after Graduation from Marshall University

  • Begin your professional studies.
  • Don’t forget you are now an alumnus of the College of Science and Marshall University. Please stay in touch with us.
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