Deciding on the right premed programs and premed courses is an important choice that all students considering applying to medical schools must make. By not planning ahead to make sure that you take all the prerequisite courses for medical school you can significantly decrease your chances of getting accepted.
This post covers these important questions for those looking to apply to medical school: What are the best premedical programs? Does the program you go to increase your chances of getting into medical school? And which university program or courses should you take to prepare for medical school?
What is a Premed Program? What Universities have Premed Programs? What are the Best Premed Programs in Canada? University Premed Courses Highschool Premed Courses
Everything You Need to Know About PreMed Programs
What is a Premed Program?
Depending on who you ask, the definition of premed programs may differ. That being said here is our definition of a premed program.
A Premed program is an undergraduate program whose degree gives students the knowledge and skills required to take the MCAT, the standardized test for entrance to medical school, and excel in a professional school environment. The courses students take in these programs will usually align with the recommended coursework for taking the MCAT as well as the admission requirements for each medical school.
Additionally, premed programs may also teach secondary skills that medical schools find important. This includes skills in communication, collaboration, leadership, advocacy, professionalism, and research. Oftentimes, these programs will give students the time and opportunity to explore fields of their interest to help build these vital skills.
Typically, premed programs are 4-year long undergraduate programs that award a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Health Sciences. That being said, students with either of these degrees often choose careers outside of medicine and are successful in other regards as well. Likewise, students with other degrees often go on to study medicine.
What Universities have Premed Programs?
Most major universities around the world will have an undergraduate program that qualifies as a premed program. A common misconception that students have is they believe that they have to go to a specific program to get into medical school. This is simply not the case.
In Canada, schools do not care about the name associated with your program, its prestige, the degree conferred after graduation, or any other program-related factors when making admission decisions.
As long as you maintain a high GPA, meet the prerequisite course requirements, and prepare yourself for the MCAT, any program will be sufficient.
What are the Best Premed Programs in Canada?
Despite there being a plethora of premed programs in Canada, a few premed programs stick out for their high acceptance rates into medical school. These programs are often the most sought-after and hardest undergraduate programs to get into in Canada. For the aforementioned reasons, two programs stand out as the best premed programs in Canada:
McMaster Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) Honours Program: The BHSc program at McMaster was started in 2000 by McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences. This faculty is the same faculty that administers the nursing program and medical school at McMaster. Since its inception, the program has gained a lot of attention for its unique Inquiry teaching style, admission competitiveness, and the high percentage of alumni who are accepted to medical school. Approximately, 60% of health science graduates went on to medical school, making this an appealing choice to medical school hopefuls.
Queen’s Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) Program: Although a relatively new and up and coming program, the BHSc program at Queen’s University takes some inspiration from the McMaster Health Science program in its teaching philosophy and supplementary application. Though it is too early to tell, as graduate statistics are still unavailable, many students’ expectations are that they will see a lot of graduates go on to professional programs. This excitement has given the Queen’s BHSc program a high competitiveness level with an acceptance rate of around 4%.
PreMed Courses: A Full Breakdown
University Premed Courses
Once you have chosen the premed program that you will attend, it is also important to choose the appropriate coursework. As we alluded to previously, there are three main things, in order of importance, that students should consider when deciding on their premed coursework:
- Do the courses meet the requirements for medical school?
- Can the courses get me a high GPA?
- Will the courses prepare me for the MCAT?
Students should plan their premed courses based on their own needs and interests. Remember to balance the potential GPA hit with the benefits of taking each course. Here is our list of the most important premed courses that students should take.
Mandatory Courses: The following courses meet the prerequisite coursework for most medical schools in North America and lay the foundation for most topics on the MCAT.
- One year of Introductory Biology
- One year of General Chemistry
- One year of Organic Chemistry
- One year of Physics
- One year of Social Sciences
- One year of English
Secondary Courses: These courses are required for some medical schools. They are also covered on the MCAT, however, some students have reported success being able to self-study these topics. For those interested in the topics covered on the MCAT click here.
- One semester of Biochemistry
- One semester of Introductory Psychology
- One semester of Introductory Sociology
Tertiary Courses: These topics will show up on the MCAT in lower quantities and are required for a few medical schools. Taking these courses can be helpful to some students. If the course is not required for your individual university, covers topics you do not enjoy, and has the potential to reduce your GPA we recommend that you do not take it.
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Cellular and Molecular Biology
- Statistics and Epidemiology
- Introductory Neuroscience
- Research Methods
- Brain and Behavior/Physiological Psych
- Advanced Function/Calculus
- Calculus-Based Physics
Highschool Premed Courses
Students often ask what classes they should take in high school to prepare themselves for medical school. The truth is that once you are in university the grades you achieved and the courses you took in high school do not matter. Professional schools will not look at your grades from high school.
That being said, if you are interested in going into medical school it is highly recommended to take courses in the sciences. This includes biology, chemistry, and to some degree physics. Courses in English and statistics may also help.
The important part is that students take the courses required for admission to premed programs and maintain a high average. For example, the prerequisite programs for McMaster Health Sciences are:
- English (ENG 4U_)
- Biology (SBI 4U_)
- Chemistry (SCH 4U_)
- One of the grade 12 math courses:
- Advanced Functions (MHF 4U_)
- Calculus & Vectors (MCV 4U_)
- Mathematics of Data Management (MDM 4U_)
- One non-math, non-science, non-technology 4U/M (Use this link to see if your course meets this requirement)
- One additional U/M grade 12 course of your choice