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Pre-Professional Advising

Advising to Meet Medical School Requirements

PREPARE TO make a difference with a career in medicine.

There are no “Pre-Med” or "Pre-Medicine" majors at colleges and universities. In fact, most medical schools do not particularly care what you major in, as long as you complete the prerequisite coursework. Because much of the required coursework is in the sciences, most Pre-Med students select Biology, Biochemistry, or Chemistry as their majors.

You should let your academic advisor know as soon as possible that admission to medical school is your post-graduation goal. Your advisor will work with you to ensure that you take the required prerequisite coursework, complete the required hours of clinical experience if necessary,  and mentor you towards research experiences that will broaden your training and make your application stand out. 

The major you select should be the one that you find most interesting and intellectually stimulating. Catawba College students have been admitted into medical schools with diverse Bachelor degrees including English, Psychology, Sociology, Business Management, Religion, and majors within Catawba's Department of Sport and Health Sciences.

setting goals for admission to medical school

Admission to medical school is highly competitive. It usually takes four years to earn the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. A new M.D. will then complete residencies that last 3-5 years depending on specialty. Becoming a medical doctor is a long term commitment to education and learning!

The average GPA of the admitted class at most medical schools is 3.6 to 3.7 (with a 3.3-4.0 range) and the average score on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is 29-34. We highly recommend that Catawba students planning to attend medical school call the admissions offices at the institutions at which they wish to apply and ask for the average GPA and MCAT scores for their most recent admitted class. Those GPA and MCAT scores should be the goal!


While it is important to have good GPA and MCAT scores, medical schools want to know that they are admitting well-rounded individuals that are committed to learning, service, and the field of medicine. There are many experiences that you can have while at Catawba College to demonstrate your commitment:

Catawba College Student Getting Clinical Experience
Clinical Experience.

Get clinical experience in a medical setting by shadowing a physician or volunteering at a clinic. You might also consider working as a CNA or EMT during your time at Catawba College. We recommend that you get clinical experience as early and as often as you can and keep a journal of your experiences, with locations, hours worked, and a summary of your activities.

Catawba College Student Conducting Research
Research and Internships.

While research related to health and medicine is great, conducting research in any scientific area will demonstrate a commitment to learning and scholarship. Catawba students have the opportunity to do an Independent Study with a faculty member, or there are a number of opportunities for summer research away from campus. Look into REU’s through the National Science Foundation (NSF), undergraduate internships through the National Institute of Health, and internships at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.

Student at Catawba looking through a microscope
Summer Enrichment Programs.

Catawba College students are encouraged to apply for a Pre-Health summer enrichment program. Many medical schools provide opportunities for prospective students to do coursework, shadow physicians, do research, and study for the MCAT on their campus. Most medical schools even provide you housing and pay a stipend. More importantly, it looks great on your medical school application.

Catawba College Students Volunteering at Rowan Helping Ministries
Volunteer Opportunities.

Catawba students have many opportunities to serve the campus and local community through various service and volunteer organizations. Our on-campus organization Volunteer Catawba coordinates many ongoing opportunities throughout the year. Or volunteer as part of a team or club, helping others through fundraising, donation drives, local food pantry work and animal shelter drives - just to name a few.

RESOURCES FOR health professions


The Preparation You Need.



Most medical schools use the following as selection criteria for admission:

    • Completion of the Prerequisite Coursework
    • Completion of a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science Degree (BS)
    • Overall GPA and Science GPA
    • Score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
    • Experience (in a Clinical Setting and in Research)
    • Community Service and Leadership
    • Letters of Recommendation
    • Application through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS)
    • Interview




Catawba College students planning to attend medical school should take the MCAT after you complete the prerequisite courses. Ideally, you should take the MCAT in the spring semester of your junior year. However, you can take it in the fall (August or September) of your senior year.

When you are taking the prerequisite courses, strive to truly learn and understand the material, not just to make a good grade on the next test!
Many practice tests are available online and at bookstores.
Take an MCAT preparation course, such as those offered by Kaplan. They are expensive, but they tend to result in higher scores.
This might sound obvious, but the most important step is ... STUDY!


"The people I met at Catawba were so welcoming and the professors were incredibly personable that I did not feel as if I had left home. I so enjoyed the honors classes I was a part of. While each one was so different, I was able to expand my mind in a fun and often unexpected way. "

Katelyn DeZego '17
Biology Graduate; Employed as an EMT; Bound for Medical School



Get connected with the Pre-Health Club at Catawba College. In this organization, you’ll have the opportunity to meet alumni that have walked your same path towards a health career, as well meet other students with similar goals.

Pre-Health Advisory Committee 

The Pre-Health Advisory Committee at Catawba College provides advisement on preparing for admission to medical school. These faculty advisors also write "Committee Letters" of recommendation and offer students mock interviews to help practice for the real thing. We are here to help you!


Prerequisite Courses for Admission to Medical School
Prerequisite Courses for Admission to Medical School
  • Two semesters of English (including composition)
  • Two semester of Biology
  • Two semesters of General Chemistry
  • Two semesters of Organic Chemistry
  • Two semesters of Physics
  • Two semesters of Math (including Calculus)
  • 1-2 semesters of PSYCH

You should also take 1 or more upper-level BIOL (or CHEM) course(s), such as Cell Biology, Genetics, and Animal Physiology.  Biochemistry is highly recommended. In addition to your GPA, medical schools will consider the “rigor” of your coursework.  You should take classes that demonstrate you can handle the challenging coursework in medical school.