A lot of individuals (ahem, ahem upcoming college students) believe or strongly feel that they have to major in a science, especially a life science, in order to get into medical school or be successful in medical school. Although science majors may have the upper hand when it comes to mandatory prerequisite subjects before entering medical schools, there are other majors that can help strengthen your academic abilities in other ways. These other topics can help you foster your passions and expand your academic repertoire. There is plenty of time for taking “hard sciences” like physics, biology and anatomy during medical school, so don’t feel like you need to have exposure to all content once you’re done with the pre-reqs.
Life Science majors may make the road a little easier, especially when it comes to taking the MCAT, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to get into medical school. It is certainly easier to manage graduating on time if you are a life science or physical science major as these disciplines have a lot of overlap with pre-med pre-reqs. However, there are options to make sure that you stay on track if you come into college with an open-mind. Ideally, by sophomore year of college, you should have a pretty good idea of the major you will pursue, so that you can stay on track with the requirements.
These two charts show the majors of the fall 2019 matriculating medical school classes. There are two broad categorizations to recall: Primary Care-focused and research-focused Medical Schools. Based on your interests, you will need to decide later-on which of the two types of medical schools is more closely aligned with your future goals.
Non-science majors may have (and usually do have) an easier time tackling the Sociology, Psychology, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning (CARS) sections of the MCAT. Humanity majors outperform any other majors in the CARS section, and they outperform biological science majors in the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section. Concepts like reading comprehension are not as emphasized in many STEM courses which leads to the discrepancy. Math and Statistics majors have higher averages across the board and the data shows that they, on average, seem to dominate almost every section of the MCAT over any other major.
The mean average MCAT scores are highest for Math and Statistics majors, followed by Physical Sciences majors, then Humanities majors. However, a lot of the MCAT (apart from necessary content) deals with comprehension and strategy. Since the test is incredibly long, it will also be a big test of endurance more than just competency in the material.
When you are considering what major to declare, keep your options open because you just need to fulfill the pre-med prerequisite courses regardless of major. It will be easier to retain a higher GPA if you major in something that you enjoy and a higher GPA opens many doors in medical school admissions.
All of this information is based on 2019-2020 Medical School Applicants.
How to Choose a College Major If You Plan to Attend Medical School
*Keep in mind that other factors affect scoring and outcomes. These numbers are averages and averages can be skewed by outliers, making that average a bit higher or a bit lower. The lower the number of applicants, the more likely the results will be skewed. (57% of total medical school applicants are Biological Science majors, so the results are more evened out).
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