Course Requirements for Medical School

The courses listed below will satisfy the basic requirements at most medical schools.  Please note that requirements and policies differ from school to school – check for additional information about requirements at the medical schools you are considering.  You can find information about individual schools' requirements in the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) and each school's own admissions web site.

In planning your coursework, we strongly recommend that you consult with your academic advisor and pre-health advisor for help.  A few important considerations:

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

Regardless of the timing of your application, we recommend that you not take several science courses in your freshman year to "get them out of the way." For example, starting out with introductory biology and 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.

Please speak with your advisors about your courseload -- everyone is different and what works for some pre-med students does not necessarily work for others.

Take pre-med 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, a pre-health advisor can discuss your plans with you.

AP Credit:
  Some medical schools do not accept AP credit, and those that do 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 that most interests you.  If you pick a non-science major, it is advisable to take at least one advanced science course, above and beyond the basic requirements.

Engineering majors: 
Please consult Advice for Engineering Students.

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



BIOL 101 + BIOL 102
or BIOL 121 + BIOL 123 (lab) and a 200-level Biology lecture + BIOL 124 (lab)

Some upper-division lab courses, including BIOL 399 (Independent Study Research), may fulfill the lab requirement..


BIOL 204 (or BIOL 402) or CHEM 251

General Chemistry

CHEM 101 + CHEM 53 (lab) and CHEM 102 + CHEM 54 (lab)

Organic Chemistry

CHEM 241 + CHEM 242 and CHEM 245 (lab)
or CHEM 241 + CHEM 243 and CHEM 245 (lab)


PHYS 101 + PHYS 102
or PHYS 150 + PHYS 151


MATH 104 + STAT 111
or MATH 104 + BIOL 446

If you want to take MATH 114 or 115, please visit the Math Department's Advice for New Students.

MATH 103 is an introductory course and does not count toward the Calculus requirement for medical school.


Writing seminar + one English/Comparative Literature course

Register for your English or Comparative Literature course as ENGL or COML, if it is cross-listed with another department.