top of page

The Best Undergraduate Major for Medical School Admission for Aspiring Physicians

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Are you interested in becoming a physician but need help deciding what you should select for your undergraduate degree to gain an advantage over other medical school applicants? If you want to know the answer, you are at the right place. Continue reading this article until the end to find out the best career choice that will put you on a successful track for admission into a medical school.

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and medical schools have always been secretive about the right formula to apply for medical school admission. Often AAMC and medical schools release data that allows you to investigate averages such as GPA and MCAT scores for the admitted class. In those averages, you will often find students with higher standards left out to ponder what they may have done differently to be in the program. You may also find AAMC releasing statistics on the percentage of medical school matriculants having a particular category of field of study, such as biological sciences. You may see these types of numbers from AAMC (based on 2020 figures):

· Biological sciences—12,845 total matriculants.

· Physical sciences—2,240.

· Social sciences—1,991.

· Humanities—832.

· Specialized health sciences—784.

· Math and statistics—156.

· Others – 3391

Based on the above information, you can decipher that in the matriculant class of 2020, about 60% of students had a biological sciences major. Based on this figure, you will have a better chance of getting into medical school if your undergraduate major is one of the biological sciences. However, these figures must indicate what biological sciences major you should select for your undergraduate.

Since we cannot rely too much on AAMC statistics, this brings us to what else we know that a medical school applicant must have to qualify for medical school admission.

Undergraduate / Graduate Degree: All you need is an undergraduate degree to apply for medical school. However, rejected applicants go on to receive a master's degree to improve their chances before applying for medical school. Does getting a master's degree help your chances of successfully getting into medical school? Yes - perhaps. But again, there is no data to back up this claim. Some students go on to receive a master's degree in the hope of being successful next time but then get denied medical school admission again. Earning a graduate degree may not solve the riddle of getting into medical school.

Classes/Courses Requirements: We all know medical school requires courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. While this is not a complete list, medical schools may prefer other courses/classes not listed here.

Biology: Almost all medicine requires a basic understanding of biology, making it essential for medical school admission. Knowing about genetics, cells, and the framework for life are the building blocks of medical science and are crucial for success in the field.

Chemistry: Chemistry — especially organic chemistry — provides a solid basis for understanding body acid-base imbalances and how different medications work. Chemistry is also the foundation for understanding biochemistry.

Physics: Physics also introduces critical medical concepts, such as laws of pressure and volume, which are incredibly important for cardiology and understanding the forces operating within the body.

Mathematics: Some schools will require calculus, while others require statistics. Regardless, most schools require at least a semester of math. A surprising amount of basic math and statistics is vital for daily life as a physician or health professional—from determining proper dosage to reading lab results.

Grade Point Average (GPA): The higher your undergraduate and science courses GPA, the better your chance is getting into medical school. All applicants applying for medical school know this fact. When everyone applying to medical school has a significantly high GPA, this factor becomes less relevant in determining medical school admission. More importantly, medical schools do not post a GPA requirement for admission.

MCAT Score: Again, just like GPA, the higher this score, the better your chances of getting into medical school. The average MCAT score is around 502 for all the test takers. At the same time, the average MCAT score of all the medical school-admitted applicants is 512. Your goal should be to be above average. The prestigious or Ivy League schools may prefer students with higher MCAT scores than other medical schools.

Recommendation Letters: Most medical schools require you to submit some form of letter of recommendation from your former professors, professionals in the fields, or people who may know you. People writing these recommendations must know you and your goals and have access to your resume. Nothing is worse than receiving a general recommendation letter that does not make you stand out.

Extracurricular Activities and Volunteer Work: While not all admissions committees consider them in the application process, medical schools value the nature and depth of your extracurricular activities and volunteer work as significant factors in your admission to medical school. Being involved in these activities demonstrates how you lived your life before the medical school application. It also provides insight into the applicant’s intelligence, maturity, integrity, and dedication to serving your community and society.

Clinical Experience: Of all the activities you could be involved in, direct-patient-care clinical experience is considered the most essential by the medical school admission committee. Gaining this experience further validates your interest in medicine and gives you a small glimpse into the reality of working as a physician. This experience will help you articulate in your personal statement and interviews why you want to pursue a medical career.

These are medical school admission facts and listed requirements you must meet to apply for admission to medical schools. Many undergraduate majors come up short in giving you the experience and skills you need to enter medical school. Only one undergraduate major will prepare you and give you the best chance of qualifying for medical school. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the major that puts you on one of the most straightforward, direct, and successful medical school paths. My assessment and reasoning for selecting BSN as the best undergraduate major for medical school admission for aspiring physicians is here:

  • The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) will allow you to take needed courses/classes that the medical school requires. Even though BSN may not require you to take organic or inorganic chemistry, you can still take them as part of your elective courses since you know your goal is to get into medical school.

  • As I stated above, many medical school applicants go on to receive graduate or additional degrees/licenses because they feel they need to have other qualifications to make them more appealing. It is going to be different obtaining BSN. Once you have a BSN, you do not need additional degrees. A BSN degree makes you eligible to sit in the Registered Nurse (RN) licensing exam. Once you have an RN license, you can work in a clinical/hospital or other health facilities to gain valuable direct patient-care clinical experience. Direct patient-care clinical experience is one of the most critical criteria for determining your medical school admission. A hospital or clinic will only allow you to touch their patient with a proper license or degree. You can volunteer all you want, but it differs from being involved in patient-care decisions. Since many majors do not make you eligible for direct patient-care experience, it is one of the reasons why students in non-BSN majors run into issues. Students waste valuable time trying to get another master's degree or trying to obtain a license that will allow them to work with patients.

  • A BSN degree is very versatile. It allows you to work in a clinical, hospital, elderly care, or nursing home facility. More importantly, there is no restriction on working with infants, children, women, or the geriatric population. You can seek a job working with any population that excites you. Once you have the necessary direct clinical patient-care experience and all the requirements for medical school admission, you are most welcome to apply to medical schools. Imagine the medical school committee having your application in their hand with all the patient-care experience; it is not easy for them to deny your medical school’s application.

  • A BSN degree and RN license come with some other added benefits. Finding a high-paying job with just a BSN degree and RN license is effortless. While you are gaining valuable clinical experience working as an RN and trying to complete all the other medical school requirements, you can save some money that would be useful when you start your medical school. RN jobs are flexible; you can pick your schedule: full-time, part-time (per diem), day or night. This flexibility is unavailable in many positions.

  • Many people do not know that once you have a BSN, you can pursue your master's in nursing (clinical) degree (ARNP), which allows you to work as a nurse practitioner. The ARPN is an excellent fallback option if you decide against attending medical school. You can still work as a health care provider as a nurse practitioner. There are many specialty options, such as Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP), Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP), Neonates Nurse Practitioner (NNP), Psychiatric-Mental Health Care Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), and more.

All these factors make the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) the best undergraduate major for medical school admission for aspiring physicians. I will write separate posts to give you a deeper look into BSN and ARPN degrees. If you agree with my assessment, please share the link and this post with your loved ones.

1 Comment

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
The Librarian
The Librarian
Jul 22, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Excellent article. I did not know this. my cousin has been trying to get into medical school unsuccessfully for past two years. He was told to get more patient care experience. He is now trying to get paramedic course to satisfy the need. Hopefully, he will get in his third try. I will suggest my niece to consider this option as she wants to pursue medical career as well.

bottom of page