Skip to main content

Application Timeline and Components

Jennifer Qin, AB'16

Jennifer Q.

"Careers in Healthcare advisers helped me navigate a path to becoming a physician that allowed me to explore my passion for policy and community development."

Understanding how to prepare for and develop high-quality application materials to your program of choice is critical in differentiating yourself as a strong candidate. This process begins as early as your first year on campus so it is important to build your knowledge about the application timelines and core components so you can be purposeful as you navigate your undergraduate career.

Applicants begin the application cycle approximately two years before matriculating. Please review each section below for the pre-requisite courses needed and the recommended timeline for completing the academic and co-curricular application components.

Pre-Requisite Courses and Academic Questions

UChicago Coursework Guidelines

Schools of the health professions require applicants to take a certain combination of coursework prior to entering their program. These courses most typically include one year each of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physics (all with lab), as well as one year of English and of Math. Additionally, most schools also require one quarter of Biochemistry with lab. Please click here for a list of UChicago course combinations that will satisfy these requirements.

Pre-Health Course FAQs

Should I double major? Does it look better? What about a BA vs. a BS degree?

Your choice of major (or to double-major) is entirely up to you. Medical schools don’t give an “extra bonus” for those who choose to pursue an additional major, a major and a minor, or a BS vs a BA degree. Admissions Committees are interested in why you chose what you chose, what you are passionate about, and how you have challenged yourself academically.

If I start the Pre-Med Sequence for Non-Bio Majors and then decide to be a bio major, do I just switch over to the Fundamentals?

Students are not permitted to cross between the biology sequences. If you start in the Pre-Med Bio Sequence for Non-Bio majors and then want to do a bio major, you have to restart in the Fundamentals sequence. We advise any student who may possibly consider a biology major to just jump into Fundamentals from the start. It’s not that non-bio majors CAN’T take the sequence—it is that biology majors MUST.

I am a neuro major, so wouldn’t those courses meet my biology requirement for medical school?

Technically the schools require 3 quarters of a biology course plus 3 quarters of lab. Many of the neuro courses do not offer a lab, so that's one factor to consider. But more importantly, remember that the MCAT tests knowledge of genetics, cellular and molecular biology, physiology, etc. Taking only neuro classes would not adequately prepare you for the MCAT.

How do I work out Study Abroad?

The main challenge with studying abroad is disrupting a sequence with a quarter away (typically physics). If you plan to apply at the end of your third year in order to matriculate directly to professional school after graduating, you will likely need to do all of physics the summer between your second and third years, so that you can take the MCAT before going abroad third year.  Due to the medical school admissions interviews, you would not want to be out of the country during Autumn or Winter Quarters your fourth year, and most students don’t want to be abroad their final quarter of college. If you are planning to apply after your fourth year and take a gap year, you can either push physics to 4th year or do study abroad then.

Which English classes count for the requirement? Or do I have to do 3 quarters of Humanities?

Any combo of HUMA and ENGL courses are fine (3 total). Creative Writing and writing-intensive courses do not count.

I'm planning to take a course not listed in the recommended pre-health curriculum. How can I find out if medical schools will count it towards the requirements?

The Careers in Healthcare team is able to advise on which UChicago courses have traditionally met the requirements but cannot speak for how any individual school will view an atypical course. You are welcome to check individual school websites and/or reach out to the medical school directly to ask this type of question.

How do I change the department of a cross-listed course so it counts (or doesn’t) toward my science GPA?

It's not possible to change the department for a cross-listed course. Whatever course number you registered for is what will be on your transcript. For example, if a course is cross-listed between BIOS and PSYCH, and you enroll with the PSYCH course number, it will count as a non-science grade. If you enroll with the BIOS course number, it will count as a science grade. You can petition AMCAS to consider the course as being in the other department, but this slows down the application so we typically don’t recommend this.

What is the Accelerated Medical Scholars Program and how do I prepare for it?

This is a program in collaboration with the Pritzker School of Medicine where a student applies during their 3rd year and, if accepted, starts medical school in what would have been their fourth year of college. For the most part you would  follow the “normal” pathway—the main difference is that you have to take your MCAT by January of 3rd year, so you may not have all of physics complete. The minimum overall GPA for eligibility to this program is a 3.7. We host an information session each November with Pritzker, so you’ll want to be sure to attend that session if interested in this program.