Health Professions

This page details to basic requirements for typical health professional schools: Allopathic, osteopathic, dental, optometry, chiropractic, podiatric and veterinary medicine.

As detailed below, the requirements of majors offered by the Department of Biological Sciences also serve to prepare students for health professional schools.

Required Courses

Biology: One year of Biological Science with laboratories (BIOSC 0150, 0160, 005X, and 006X)

Chemistry: Two years: one year of General Chemistry (CHEM 0110 and 0120) and one year of Organic Chemistry and Organic lab (CHEM 0310, 0320, and 0345).

Physics: One year of Physics with a laboratory component:
EITHER... PHYS 0110, 0111, and 0212 (algebra based sequence) OR... Physics 0174, 0175, and 0219 (calculus based sequence).
Either Physics sequence is acceptable, but most students take the algebra based.

Mathematics: The number of terms of calculus varies between programs and schools. At least one term of Calculus (Math 0220) is required by most programs. Consult individual catalogues to see which schools require a second term of Calculus (Math 0230) and or Statistics (STAT 1000).

English: A full two terms is the minimum requirement for all graduate programs.

The Biology, Chemistry and Physics requirements need to be completed prior to taking the professional school admission test -- MCAT, DAT, or OAT.

Additional Requirements

There will be individual differences between programs and schools and so you need to examine each particular school's requirements. Usually, your School of Arts and Sciences General Education Requirements in the social and behavioral sciences and in writing should meet the needs of most schools.

Advanced Biological Sciences. Some programs in Veterinary Medicine and Optometry require a course in Microbiology. Even if a particular program does not require more Biological Sciences beyond the introductory level, most students find that additional courses in genetics, cell biology, molecular biology and biochemistry are helpful preparation for the material on the admission test.

Major. It is not necessary to major in the sciences, as long as the required science and math courses are taken and grades are in the A - B range.

Admissions Tests. All professional schools require an admission test, usually taken in the spring of the third year. MCAT (allopathic medicine, osteopathic medicine, podiatry), DAT (dental medicine), OAT (optometry), GRE or VCAT (veterinary medicine).

Grade Options. You should be aware that some professional schools may convert your S grade to a C or D to calculate your QPA. Therefore, DO NOT take courses "credit/no entry" (S/N) just to keep a B or C off your transcript, particularly for required courses. Also note that the American Association of Medical Colleges Application Service (AAMCAS) requires that all grades, original and repeated, be reported on the electronic application and your GPA is determined using all of the grades that you have earned. Thus, the GPA reported to the medical schools could be lower than the GPA reported on your Pitt transcript if you have repeated courses.

QPA. A number of factors besides grades are considered: admission test scores, extra-curricular activities that include experience within the field (volunteer or paid), in research and community outreach, hours of paid work during college, leadership qualities, faculty evaluations, motivation, etc. Therefore, the QPA's of students who are accepted cover a relatively wide range. The "average" QPA of those accepted into medical school is 3.6, the majority of those accepted have QPA's above 3.4. But mitigating factors do allow for lower QPA's. Figures for Osteopathic medicine are similar, possibly a little lower. The "average" QPA of those accepted to Dental School is also about 3.6, the majority of those accepted have had QPA's above 3.4. Optometry figures run in the range of dental medicine, possibly a little lower, perhaps more emphasis on physics and math. Veterinary medicine acceptance is extremely difficult to achieve. The few Pitt students who have been accepted have had records as good as medical students and fairly extensive veterinary experience. Podiatric medicine accepts students in the high C, low B range..

Schedules. Suggested ways to organize your course schedules are given in Hints to the Pre-Med and the Pre-Dent Handbook (37th Floor Cathedral of Learning). Consult these sources before you plan your course schedule each term. When in doubt about how best to plan, consult with a Biological Sciences Advisor in A258 Langley Hall, or the Health Careers Advisor on the 37th Floor Cathedral of Learning. Note: A Conceptual Foundations of Medicine certificate program (certificate granted concurrently with your undergraduate BS degree) is offered by the History & Philosophy of Science Department. For information, contact HPS at 1017 Cathedral of Learning, 624-5896

Faculty Evaluations. Students should begin an evaluation file early in their junior year that contains a resume, a personal statement, a calculation of your GPA for the courses required for medical school admission and your responses to the Application Questions-all of these forms are available on line from the Career Center. You should have 3-5 recommendation letters, at least 3 of these from science faculty members who have taught you in class or supervised your research. Ideally, these will be faculty from different departments. You are also welcome to provide letters from people who have supervised volunteer activities or employment. In all cases, the authors of these letters should know you well and be able to provide insight into your personality and character.