Arts and Letters Pre-Health

Why prepare for medical school through Arts and Letters?

The process of getting into medical school—and the type of student medical schools are looking to recruit—has evolved rapidly. The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) has increased its focus on social sciences, such as psychology and sociology. Medical schools are now increasingly seeking applicants with a broad, liberal arts education who have developed the interpersonal skills necessary for a successful career in medicine.

Pre Health Outcomes

As an Arts and Letters pre-health supplementary major, you can pursue any other major in the College while acquiring the education, skills, and experience you need to get into—and succeed in—graduate school for medicine and other health professions.

Regardless of major, 84% of Notre Dame pre-med graduates are admitted to medical school—that’s twice the national average.

Center for Career Development reports show that Arts and Letters pre-health students from majors as diverse as anthropology, classics, English, French, history, psychology, sociology, Spanish, studio art, and theology went on to medical school at Brown University, Emory University, George Washington University, Loyola University, Michigan State University, the University of Illinois, the University of Iowa, the University of Texas, and many others, as well as optometry, dental, physical therapy, nursing, and public health programs.

Learn more about our Arts and Letters pre-health students and alumni—including a 2016 Rhodes Scholar or check out the latest edition of the major's annual e-newsletter.


How will it prepare you?

The Arts and Letters pre-health program combines at least 49 hours of science in conjunction with more than 70 hours of classes in humanities, social sciences, and the arts. These courses will help prepare you for the new MCAT , which includes sections on behavioral and social sciences and critical analysis and reasoning.

Core science coursework, also necessary preparation for the MCAT, comprises 40 hours of the supplementary major; the other 9 hours are made of upper-level science electives. Students can select electives to meet the requirements for any of the health professions graduate schools, such as medical, dental, veterinary, physical therapy, physician assistant, nursing, or optometry school.

In no way does a background in the humanities mean you can’t be successful in the medical field. In fact, I think the analytical, critical thinking, and communications skills I picked up as an English major really enhanced my ability to work across disciplines.

-Jeff Miller ’89, M.D. and professor at Penn State University’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center


Arts and Letters Pre-Health Science Requirements (49 hours):

  • Calculus A & B (8 credits): MATH 10350 & 10360
  • Biology I & II (8 credits):  BIOS 10171 & Lab; BIOS 10172 & Lab. NB There is also a "Big Questions" module, BIOS 10170, taken concurrently with BIOS 10171
  • Chemistry (8 credits): CHEM 10171 (includes lab and tutorial); CHEM 10172 (includes lab and tutorial)
  • Chemistry (8 credits): CHEM 20273 & Lab; CHEM 20274 & Lab
  • Physics I & II (8 credits): PHYS 20210 & Lab; PHYS 20220 & Lab
  • 3 Relevant Upper-Level Natural Science Electives at the 30000 or 40000 level (unless otherwise approved). No labs required (9 hours)

Generally, first-year students start with a general chemistry class (Intro to Chemical Principles) and Calculus A in the fall, then move to the first semester of Organic Chemistry (Organic Structure and Reactivity) and Calculus B in the spring. Sophomores on this track pick up the second semester of Organic Chemistry (Organic Reactions and Applications) and General Biology A in the fall, and then a second general chemistry class (Chemistry across the Periodic Table) and General Biology B in the spring. Physics I and II are usually taken in the junior year. Some classes are offered in the summer. With careful planning it can be possible to start the sequence late and/or study abroad.

The following science electives are recommended if students are applying to medical or dental school: Vertebrate Physiology (BIOS 30344), Biochemistry (CHEM 40420), Cell Biology (BIOS 30341), Embryology (BIOS 30301), Microbiology (BIOS 30401). Biochemistry and Vertebrate Physiology are strongly recommended. It is the responsibility of the student to research the prerequisites for the graduate school of his/her choice.

If you have further questions or wish to declare an Arts and Letters pre-health major, please contact:

Maureen Dawson, Assistant Dean and Preprofessional Advisor
College of Arts and Letters
104 O’Shaughnessy Hall
University of Notre Dame
Phone: 574.631.7098