Course Requirements for Medical School

The courses listed below will satisfy the basic core requirements at most, if not all, medical schools.

Note: Requirements and policies can differ from school to school
, so review individual schools' requirements in the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) and on each school's admissions web site. However, for planning your coursework, we strongly recommend that you consult with your academic and pre-health advisor since everyone's path to medical school will be different.



BIOL 101 + BIOL 102
or BIOL 121 + BIOL 123
200-Level Biology Lecture + BIOL124


BIOL 204 or BIOL 402
or CHEM 251

General Chemistry

CHEM 101 + CHEM 53
CHEM 102 + CHEM 54

Organic Chemistry

CHEM 241 + CHEM 242/243 + CHEM 245


PHYS 101 + PHYS 102
or PHYS 150 + PHYS 151


1 ENGL/COML Course + Writing Seminar


MATH 104 + STAT 111
or MATH 104 + BIOL 446


Psychology and Sociology

Because some foundational psychology and sociology concepts are covered on the MCAT, you may want to take a course or two at Penn if your schedule allows.

Possible psychology courses include PSYC 001 (Introduction to Experimental Psychology) or PSYC 170 (Social Psychology); possible sociology courses include SOCI 001 (Introduction to Sociology) or SOCI 275 (Medical Sociology). There may be other courses at Penn that cover the introductory sociology material that is on the MCAT.

For detailed information regarding the foundational psychology and sociology concepts on the MCAT, please see the AAMC's website.*


: The majority of Penn applicants to medical school take time between graduation and matriculation at medical school.  If you take that time, you can complete your required coursework at a more reasonable pace.

Regardless of the timing of your application, we do not recommend taking several science courses in your freshman year to "get them out of the way." Starting out with introductory biology, chemistry or math courses in your first semester keeps you on track, while giving you the opportunity to settle into your schedule and become familiar with the rigor of science courses at Penn. In our experience, taking too many science courses concurrently can result in a stressful and academically disappointing term.

Complete requirements before you apply: Usually medical schools expect you to take your required courses before you apply.  If you intend to start medical school in the fall after graduation, you should aim to complete your required courses by the end of your junior year.  If you intend to take one gap year, you should aim to complete your required courses by graduation.

Summer courses: In general, it is advisable to take required pre-med courses at Penn during the academic year. Medical schools prefer to review your performance in the required courses while you are maintaining a full courseload. Also, the pace of summer courses is often accelerated and sometimes too fast-paced for optimal performance. However, if your schedule is very full and you feel a summer course is necessary, discuss your plans with a pre-health advisor.

AP Credit:
Some medical schools do not accept AP credit. Even those that do accept AP credit usually prefer to see you take additional advanced course work in that academic area. The goal of using your AP credit is to help you move beyond the introductory course and to make sure that you do formal undergraduate coursework in each science sequence. If you have specific questions about AP credit for coursework, please contact the appropriate academic department.

You should take all required courses for a letter grade, and you must earn at least a "C" in the course in order to fulfill the requirement. A "C-" or lower will not satisfy the pre-med requirement according to medical schools.

Non-science majors:
You can successfully apply to medical school with any major and should choose the subject(s) that most interests you. If you declare a non-science major, it is advisable to take at least one advanced science course, above and beyond the basic medical school requirements.

Biology Chemistry Physics Math (BCPM) Courses: When you apply, the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) calculates your overall GPA as well as your BCPM GPA, which means any Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Math/Statistics courses. For guidelines as to what courses are included in your BCPM GPA, see the AMCAS course classification guide.