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Pre-Health Advising

Vassar College

What all health professions schools have in common is that they require a certain amount of biology, chemistry and social science. After those basic requirements things get a little more specific for each type of school, and sometimes for any particular schools. To learn about the most often reported pre-requisite work for medical, dental, podiatry, veterinary, PA, optometry, nursing, PT, and OT schools, please scroll through the page.

Important note: While general requirements are listed below, applicants need to visit the websites of the schools they are interested in - some schools do have different requirements than the general ones included here.

Medical, Dental, Podiatry, and Veterinary School

THE GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR MEDICAL, DENTAL, PODIATRY, AND VETERINARY SCHOOLS OFTEN INCLUDE:
  • Two years of chemistry - CHEM 125, 244, 245, and 272
    • CHEM 121 does not have a lab and if elected needs to be followed by the full sequence all 4 of those listed above
    • If at all possible, a student should take CHEM 272, not BIOL 272 (it just makes explaining that it is a chemistry course easier)
    • Some schools technically require 5 semesters of chemistry because they are used to General Chemistry being a full year, if necessary, please contact the pre-health advisor for help reaching out to programs and explaining the Vassar chemistry curriculum
  • One year of physics with lab - PHYS 111 & 112 OR PHYS 113 & 114
  • One year of biology with lab - BIOL 107, 108, and a 200 or higher level that includes a lab 
  • Some schools highly recommend math (a few may require it) - either statistics and/or calculus
  • Many schools also highly recommend or require English or writing courses
Note about some medical schools -- as the "new MCAT" has been rolled out, a variety of medical schools no longer have specific course requirements, even though they do require a bachelors degree. A message like this is on a variety of schools' websites: "While there are no absolute course requirements, it is recommended that students complete coursework in Biology, Chemistry (both general and organic), Biochemistry, Physics, Psychology and Sociology. In addition, students should have a broad humanities education and strong writing skills."
IN ADDITION TO THE ACADEMIC PRE-REQUISITES, IT IS EXPECTED BY MOST SCHOOLS THAT APPLICANTS WILL:
  • show a record of volunteer service (not necessarily health care related)
  • shadow multiple professionals in their field of interest; having patient care experience helps with having a competitive application but is not typically required
  • possibly have some research experience - while this is only required for applicants seeking MD/PhD degrees, it is always beneficial for applicants for each of the above programs to have some research experience if possible

Physician Assistant, Optometry, Nursing School

THE GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR PA, OPTOMETRY, AND NURSING SCHOOLS OFTEN INCLUDE:
  • Two years of chemistry - CHEM 125, 244, 245, and 272
    • CHEM 121 does not have a lab and if elected needs to be followed by the full sequence all 4 of those listed above
    • Often PA schools are looking for a year of General Chemistry, please contact the pre-health advisor if you are planning to apply to PA school for help reaching out to programs and explaining the Vassar chemistry curriculum
  • One year of biology with lab - BIOL 107, 108 and a 200 or higher level that includes a lab
  • One semester each of microbiology, physiology and possibly genetics - BIOL 205, 217, & 238
  • One semester of anatomy - we do not offer this at Vassar, please contact the pre-health advisor for assistance
  • One Semester of psychology
    • Most nursing schools require Developmental Psychology - PSYC 231
  • Many schools highly recommend or require statistics
  • Some schools highly recommend or require English or writing courses
IN ADDITION TO THE ACADEMIC PRE-REQUISITES, IT IS EXPECTED BY MOST SCHOOLS THAT APPLICANTS WILL:
  • show a record of volunteer service (not necessarily health care related) and some healthcare related experience
  • shadow a professional if planning to apply to nursing or optometry school; having patient care experience helps with the having a competitive application
  • have experience providing direct patient care in addition to shadowing if planning to apply to PA school; most often applicants have worked as EMTs, nursing or medical assistants in doctor's offices, and/or patient care techs in hospitals

Physical Therapy School

THE GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR PT SCHOOL OFTEN INCLUDE:
  • One year of chemistry - CHEM 125
    • Please contact the pre-health advisor for help reaching out to programs and explaining the Vassar chemistry curriculum - you may need to take at least a semester of organic to get a second chemistry course with a lab
  • One year of physics with lab - PHYS 111 & 112 or PHYS 113 & 114
  • One year of biology with lab - BIOL 107, 108, and a 200 level course that includes a lab 
  • One semester of physiology - BIOL 217
  • One semester of anatomy - we do not offer this at Vassar, please contact the pre-health advisor for assistance
  • At least one semester, and for some schools, a full year of psychology
  • Many schools highly require statistics
  • Some schools highly recommend or require English or writing courses
IN ADDITION TO THE ACADEMIC PRE-REQUISITES, IT IS EXPECTED BY MOST SCHOOLS THAT APPLICANTS WILL:
  • show a record of volunteer service (not necessarily health care related) and some healthcare related experience
  • shadow multiple professionals in different settings

Occupational Therapy School

THE GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR OT SCHOOL OFTEN INCLUDE:
  • One semester or year of biology with lab - BIOL 107
  • One semester of physiology - BIOL 217
  • One semester of anatomy - we do not offer this at Vassar, please contact the pre-health advisor for assistance
  • One course each of Introductory, Abnormal, and Developmental Psychology - PSYC 105, 231, & 262
  • One semester of sociology or anthropology
  • One course of statistics
  • Some schools require one semester of chemistry with lab - CHEM 125
IN ADDITION TO THE ACADEMIC PRE-REQUISITES, IT IS EXPECTED BY MOST SCHOOLS THAT APPLICANTS WILL:
  • show a record of volunteer service (not necessarily health care related) and some healthcare related experience
  • shadow multiple professionals in different settings

Updated February 2024