In the U.S., postsecondary schools don't offer a specific pre-med major. Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in almost any area can participate in a pre-med track. As long as a major includes a sufficient amount of science and math coursework, medical schools don't require students to have an undergraduate degree in a specific major. Many students decide to pursue a bachelor's degree in studies they find interesting, such as liberal arts, chemistry or biology. A high school diploma or equivalent is necessary to enroll in a bachelor's degree program. After medical school, successful graduates can specialize in fields like pediatrics or surgery.
Bachelor's Degrees for Aspiring Medical Students
While there is no prerequisite for participating in a pre-med track, having an understanding of math and science is useful. Pre-med coursework is heavily science-based but it's common to find math classes included in the curriculum. Medical school prerequisites vary so it's important to work with a pre-med advisor during an undergraduate degree program. Listed are the most common courses found within a pre-med track:
- Biology with lab
- Physics with lab
- Organic chemistry
- Inorganic chemistry
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), job growth for physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 14% from 2014-2024. Salaries for medical doctors can vary; in May 2015, the median annual salary for family and general practitioners was $184,390. In the same year, a surgeon's median annual salary was equal to or greater than $187,200.
Upon completing an undergraduate degree with a pre-med focus, potential medical students must then apply to a school of medicine. Applicants to medical school must have a bachelor's degree that demonstrates an excellence in academic work. Additionally, MCAT scores are required as a part of the application process. A Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree program takes four years to complete and an additional 3-8 years of internships and residencies. Students commonly choose a specialization, such as pediatrics or surgery, and this lends to the additional years of training.
For students aspiring to become a physician or surgeon and eventually earn an M.D., a place to start is a bachelor's degree program in a scientific field like chemistry or biology. While most medical schools require a bachelor's degree with significant focus in math and science, they don't require students to have a degree in any particular field.