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Academic Preparation

What courses should I take?

The minimum course requirements for students applying to medical school are:

  •  2 semesters of biology with lab (At TCNJ, BIO 201 and BIO 211)
  •  2 semesters of inorganic chemistry with lab
  •  2 semesters of organic chemistry with lab
  •  2 semesters of physics with lab

A TCNJ Biology major will only need to add the 2nd semester of Physics to complete these requirements. Students in other majors will need to take these courses in addition to their major courses.

In addition, most medical schools require:

  • 2 semesters of English or writing-intensive courses (generally fulfilled by TCNJ’s “writing intensive” courses)
  • 2 semesters of Math – 1 semester of Calc, and 1 other – statistics is recommended, as the MCAT will test knowledge of statistics

Please also note:

  • The physics requirement should be completed before taking the MCAT, typically by the end of Junior year.
  • Students intending to apply to medical school should NOT take Human Anatomy and Physiology.
  • Pre-vet students are required by several vet schools to take Biostatistics, or a biometry course.
  • Some medical schools require Biochemistry in addition to the biology and chemistry courses listed above, and many recommend it. The MCAT also tests knowledge of biochemistry. However, much of that content is taught in the Cell Bio and Biochem (BIO 211) course, and the Organic Chemistry classes.
  • For the MCAT, you will also need to be familiar with basic content in Sociology and Psychology.  This can generally be obtained from the “Introductory” courses in Soc and Psych, and/or from material studied outside of TCNJ. The AAMC has a “roadmap” to MCAT content found in commonly used textbooks for Sociology and Psychology, and for Biochemistry.

Medical schools look favorably on the well-rounded student, who is strong in areas besides the life sciences. Take courses that interest you – perhaps the humanities, or social sciences – and enjoy the opportunity to broaden your understanding of the world before you focus your future on a highly specialized pathway. Taking courses that you’re interested in will also help to keep that GPA up high, too.

Independent research is NOT required of pre-med students. The only reason to engage in research is to further your own personal education, and to engage deeply in an area of discovery in which you are interested. That being said, it is true that medical schools tend to look favorably on those students who do further their education, learn and absorb all that they can, and engage in new areas of discovery. BUT it is NOT REQUIRED of pre-medical students, and many students DO go to medical school without having done independent research as an undergraduate

What should my major be?

While the required courses align neatly with the Biology major requirements at TCNJ, it is NOT necessary to be a biology major or even a science major to apply to medical school! Follow your passion, and study what you truly enjoy! The required courses for med school and the MCAT can be in addition to the courses you take for your major. Students from other, non-science majors – economics, finance, English, Spanish, anthropology, math, history and others – have successfully majored in what they enjoy, done exceedingly well, and additionally taken the other courses required and/or needed to do well on the MCAT. Studying something you love makes it easier to do very well in the major! And med schools are welcoming more and more students with varying academic backgrounds and perspectives.

What should my GPA and MCAT scores be?

Gaining acceptance to medical school is exceedingly challenging, in part due to the intense competition. Being entirely ready when you apply, and putting your best self  forth by demonstrating a very competitive GPA (evidence of strong aptitude and academic preparation) is crucial. Nation-wide acceptance data demonstrates that for MD programs, students should have at least a 3.5 GPA, and an MCAT score of 510 or higher (80% percentile or higher). For DO programs, students should have at least a 3.4 GPA, and an MCAT score of 506 or higher.

That being said, we have found that successful TCNJ applicants to MD programs generally have a GPA of 3.65 or higher, and an MCAT score of 511 or higher. Successful TCNJ applicants to DO programs have an average GPA of 3.4, and a 506 MCAT or better.


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