Pre-med, pre-law, and other pre-professional programs.
You’ve planned ahead and decided to follow a pre-professional major.
It takes some people two years to figure out their major, so deciding this early is a big achievement.
Pre-professional majors are tracks in undergraduate programs that prepare you for a professional degree after your bachelor’s.
Remember that just because you choose a pre-professional major and completed your plan, does not guarantee you admission to a professional program.
Types of Pre-Professional Programs
There are many pre-professional programs, but the most common include:
Other programs, mostly in health care, also have pre-professional programs. Pre-pharmacy, pre-dentistry, pre-physical therapy, pre-chiropractic, pre-podiatry, pre-veterinary medicine and pre-business are rare but specialized programs at some colleges and universities.
A pre-professional major is not a major in the traditional sense, it’s more of a track to follow. A faculty adviser will help you pick out the best courses and extracurricular activities to increase your chances of being admitted to your professional program of choice.
Remember that just because you choose a pre-professional major and completed your plan, does not guarantee you admission to a professional program. Competition in admissions to professional programs are stiff, so be sure you are willing to dedicate the next several years of your life to making yourself stand out among your peers.
Pre-Professional Programs at Community Colleges
Pre-professional majors are not limited to four-year colleges and universities. In community colleges, a pre-professional major leads to an associate’s degree in your chosen field and is equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree program.
You can find pre-professional program at community colleges like Jackson State Community College in Tennessee, which offers pre-med, pre-nursing and pre-engineering. Or at Northeast Community College in Nebraska, which offers a pre-physical therapy major.
Law schools look for academically well-rounded candidates. There isn’t one particular major that leads to acceptance to law school, but admissions committees prefer to accept students who excelled in their studies and took at least a few classes related to law.
Pre-professional law programs groom students to be critical thinkers and excellent communicators as these are two of the most important assets of an effective lawyer. Since there’s not one specific track, colleges that offer a pre-law majors usually provide students services that help their chances of getting into law school.
Central Michigan University offers a one-of-a-kind law center that offers:
- Pre-law advising
- Help preparing law school applications
- Law School Admission Test (LSAT) prep workshops
- Practice with LSATs
- Law school bulletins
The rules for getting into medical school are a bit stricter, requiring students to decide on a pre-med track by their freshman year (or stay in school longer if they decide after freshman year). Pre-med students can choose any major, but the American Association of Medical Colleges’ Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) suggests they complete the following courses:
- One year of biology
- One year of physics
- One year of inorganic chemistry
- One year of organic chemistry
The MSAR also urges students to take courses in mathematics and expository writing.
Boston University’s pre-med program allows students to major in anything from theater arts to biology as long as they complete the required courses needed to pass the MCAT.
In addition to completing the required med school courses, Merrimack College assists students in determining which volunteer work, clubs, jobs and activities will increase their chances of getting into medical school.
If you’re in high school and thinking about the pre-med track, the Princeton Review suggests a heavy dose of sciences; chemistry, biology and physics can give you a head start on what you will learn in pre-med.