Photo of students in health classroom

Considering a medical or other health career?

WSU Vancouver offers a comprehensive pre-health program and advising to those interested in a health professions career. We help you get the experience you need to become a strong candidate for a health professional school.

  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Pharmacy
  • Veterinary
  • Other health school

Choosing a major

Most pre-medical or pre-health professional students major in biology or neuroscience. However, a student can choose any major as long as specific science courses are completed (see below).

Courses required by professional health schools

In addition to fulfilling the General Education Requirements and those of your major department, you must complete the following basic science prerequisites to be eligible for admission to most professional schools:

  • Biol 106 and 107 (General Biology)
  • Chem 105 and 106 (General Chemistry)
  • Chem 345* (Organic Chemistry)
  • MBios 303 (Biochemistry)
  • Phys 101 and 102 or 201 and 202 (Physics)
  • Math 140 or 171 (Calculus)

*Some professional school may require the second semester of Organic Chemistry: Chem 347 & 348

A few professional schools have different or additional requirements; students are encouraged to seek up-to-date admissions information at each professional school's website.

These courses can be completed in the first two years if you start with Biol 106 and Chem 105 in your first semester.

Highly recommended electives

The following science electives are especially recommended:

  • Biol 301 (Introductory Genetics)
  • Biol 321: Animal Development
  • Biol 350: Comparative Physiology
  • Biol 353: Mammalian Physiology
  • Biol 354: Human Anatomy for Health Occupations
  • MBioS 306: Microbiology Laboratory
  • MBioS 360: Cell & Molecular Laboratory
  • MBioS 401 (Cell Biology)
  • MBioS 440: Immunology
  • MBioS 305: Microbiology

Photo of doctor's office room

Personal growth and development goals

In addition to completing degree requirements and the basic science prerequisites, you must attain several important goals of personal growth and development to become an effective health care professional. Evidence of failure to set or to achieve these goals will decrease your chances of admission to professional schools.

Become a good communicator

Your first goal is to become very effective at assimilating and analyzing verbal information and at written and spoken communication. English 101 is but a step toward this goal. An additional english composition course is strongly suggested. You will continue to acquire and refine these communication skills as you prepare assignments and class presentations in the courses in your major area.

Appreciate other cultures

Your second goal is to understand your own history and culture and also those of the other major ethnic groups that make up the U.S. society. People with different social and cultural backgrounds will ultimately be your patients, and you must be ready to treat them with tolerance and understanding. A “knowledge of and exposure to the needs of individuals and society” is one of the specific admissions criteria at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The General Education Requirement courses are first steps to this goal, but you should also consider comparative ethnic studies and women’s studies courses. Study abroad can give you a broader cultural perspective. We strongly encourage students to study overseas for a semester or full academic year. Information about study-abroad opportunities can be obtained from Student Services or by calling 360-546-9567.

Recognize the challenges of a health career

Your third goal is to understand and accept the demands and sacrifices, as well as the rewards, of a career in medicine or dentistry. For example, “awareness of health care delivery systems” is another stated admission criterion at the University of Washington Medical School. Talking to your own doctor or dentist is the first step. WSU Vancouver students are fortunate to have multiple opportunities for shadowing, volunteering, and internships at local hospitals and clinics in the Vancouver/Portland Metro area.

Listen and empathize

Your last goal is to become the kind of person whom patients can readily and safely trust and confide in. You must have a sympathetic grasp of the feelings of people younger and older than yourself, or those of the opposite sex and of those less capable than you. You can work toward this goal through elective courses in psychology, sociology, and women’s studies, and through any work, volunteer service or activity that involves people skills. Personal integrity and a well-developed ethical perspective are essential.

Photo of professor talking to studentsAdmissions tests

Most professional programs require entrance examinations for application. Good scores on these tests will be a critical element of your success at application time. You should see each basic science course as part of your preparation for the test.

The application process

Application to professional schools begins with the filing of a standardized application form in the summer of the year before matriculation (entering professional school). The first cut of applicants is made at this stage. Those who pass this cut receive supplemental applications from the institutions at which they are successful. In the second cut, applicants are screened to determine which ones will receive invitations to be interviewed. In the last cut, interviewed applicants are screened for admission.

We help you prepare

WSU Vancouver faculty provide academic advising, information about the requirements and characteristics of professional schools and other support (such as mock interviews). If you are serious about preparing for one of these professions, we will provide objective support at every step of the process.


Please contact our Science Academic Coordinator at 360-546-9620 or