Pre-Medicine At Southern Oregon University

Biology Majors seeking admission to medical or other health professional schools should seek out one of the department's pre-medical advisors to discuss their goals and to plan a schedule of courses to meet their needs:

Overview handout on pre-medical studies for biology majors at SOU


Biology pre-medical advisors:

  Office: Phone:  email:
Richard May, Ph.D. Sc 371 541-552-6867
David Oline, Ph.D. Sc 384 541-552-6799

 Requirements For Admission To Medical School

The following is mostly based on information from Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU). It applies to American medical schools offering the M.D. degree, to osteopathic medical schools (D.O. degree) and to podiatric medicine. For requirements of specific medical schools, see Medical School Admission Requirements, US and Canada (R745.A8) in the reference section of the SOU library.

Meeting specific academic and non-academic requirements is essential to admission to medical school:




A degree in any academic major

Health care experience

Completion of required courses

Volunteer work

MCAT test

Extracurricular activities




Choice of Major

No particular major is preferred. Pre-medicine is not a major; rather, it is a collection of courses that fulfill admission requirements to most medical schools. A Bachelor's degree is required and an academic major must be selected.

Biology and chemistry are the most common majors; others include anthropology, education, math, philosophy, psychology. In terms of acceptance, no major has a selective advantage over another.

We recommend that students select a major that they enjoy, can do well in and would want for a career as an alternative to medical school. Selection of a major should be discussed with a pre-medical advisor and chosen by the sophomore year.

Average GPA of entering medical students is 3.62 at OHSU for the class of 2015.

For statistics on the GPA and MCAT scores of medical student applicants and matriculants to medical schools nationwide, click HERE.

For more information: ACADEMICS


Required Pre-Med Courses


Two academic years of chemistry (with lab) to include:

  • General Chemistry (Ch 221-223 + labs)
  • Organic Chemistry (Ch 334-336 + labs)
  • Biochemistry (350 or 451) is not required but very helpful for the MCAT


One academic year of Biology.

  • Principles of Biology (Bi 211-213)
  • Genetics (Bi 341) is advantageous.
  • Cell Biology, microbiology, animal physiology and developmental biology are helpful.
  • Human anatomy/physiology is not required.
  • Check specific requirements of particular medical schools.


  • One academic year of physics (Ph 201-203 or Ph 221-223 and labs Ph 224-226)


  • One college level math course is required for OHSU; other schools may require more.
  • Calculus (Mth 251) is highly recommended at OHSU and may be required for other schools.
  • Statistics (Mth 243) is helpful.

Humanities, Social Sciences, and English

One academic year of each including

  • At least one course in composition
  • Psychology is recommended.
  • A foreign language is valuable.
  • General education goals at SOU meet these requirements.


All required pre-med courses must be taken for a letter grade; pass/no pass options are not acceptable. All required courses must be completed by the time of application to medical school.

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

  • The MCAT is required for admission to all medical schools. It consists of questions related to aptitude and achievement in chemistry, biology, and physics and in quantitative reasoning, reading and writing.
  • The MCAT has recently gone under major revisions which will be implemented in 2015 - find out more information here
  • The test should be taken in April of the year in which you apply to medical school after you have completed the required pre-med courses. A second opportunity to take the MCAT is in August.
  • Study guides are available in the library and bookstore.
  • Average MCAT scores of entering medical students at OHSU are 10s in all areas.
  • Extensive preparation for the MCAT test is a must.
  • SOU students who have taken the MCAT say that Biochemistry (Ch 350 or Ch 451) was very helpful; these courses can count for biology elective credit.
  • For more information: MCAT

    Health Care Experience, Community Service, Extracurricular Activities, Research

  • Non-academic experiences are essential.
  • In addition to scholastic record and test scores, medical schools are looking for characteristics including compassion, commitment, motivation, ability to communicate, problem-solving skills and maturity.
  • Applicants must document their ability to understand and appreciate health care issues and an interest in rural health and primary care.
  • Experiences can be achieved through leadership activities at the college and employment or volunteer work in the community with clinics, hospitals or health care providers.
  • The Association of American Medical Colleges and Howard Hughes Medical Institute have recently defined a series of Core Competencies and Expectations for entering medical students that cover both academic and personal abilities. It is likely that these will guide medical school admissions committees in future years.
  • For more information: NON-ACADEMICS

    Letters of Recommendation

    In the year when you apply to medical schools

    • Complete a Pre-med Interview form obtained from a pre-med advisor.
    • Arrange an interview with the Pre-Medical Committee.
    • Interviews will be conducted in June.
    • The committee, consisting of faculty from biology, chemistry and physics, writes a single letter of recommendation from the university.
    • Arrange for 3-4 other letters that say different things related to your experiences in health care, community service and other activities.

    For more information: LETTERS


    When And How To Apply

    In the year in which you apply (about 15 months before the expected start of medical school), download applications from the American Medical School Application Service (AMCAS) website and from the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) from

    • The earliest you may apply is at the end of your junior year, 9-12 months before graduation.
    • Applications from students who have already graduated are much stronger.
    • Apply between June 15 and October 15. Earlier applications have an advantage.
    • If you are an Oregon resident, apply to OHSU and to 10-15 private schools.
    • Consider also osteopathic schools.

    For more information: APPLICATION


    Curriculum Planning

  • Consult with an advisor early in your program to monitor requirements, watch for timelines in course sequences and obtain application information.
  • To major in biology, consult with Drs. May, Oline, or Schroeder.
  • To major in chemistry, consult with Dr. Miller.
  • To major in physics, consult with Dr. Wu.
  • Other majors should see an advisor within their own department as well as one of these specific pre-medical advisors.
  • A typical schedule outline for a Biology major who is preparing to apply to medical school:

    Year One

    Principles of Biology (Bi 211-213) 15 credits

    General Chemistry (Ch 221-223 + labs) 15 credits

    USEM 101, 102, 103 12 credits

    Math 111, 112, 243 or 251 4-12 credits

    University Studies courses

    Year Two

    Genetics (Bi 341) 4 credits
    Cell Biology (Bi 342) 5 credits

    Organic Chemistry (Ch 334-336 + labs) 16 credits

    Psychology (Psy 201) 3 credits

    University Studies courses

    Year Three

    Ecology (Bi 340) 4 credits

    Animal Physiology (Bi 314) 5 credits

    Evolution (Bi 348) 4 credits

    Biology Electives (e.g. Microbiology) 12 credits

    Biology Junior Seminar (Bi 488) 1 credit

    Physics (Ph 201-203, or Ph 224-226) 12 credits

    University Studies courses

    Year Four:

    Biology Electives (including at least on capstone research course) 8 credits  

    Biochemistry (Ch 350 or Ch 451-453) 4-9 credits

    Biology Senior Seminar (Bi489) 1 credit

    University Studies courses

    Additional Recommended Electives (Spanish Language, Humanities, Psychology)