Medical School FAQs

Which major should I choose?

While science majors are certainly most common, medical schools stress their interest in well-rounded students. Regardless of your major, your undergraduate transcript is a vital part of the medical school admissions decision.

However, majoring in the sciences does help you complete the required classes and prepare for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). At SUNY Cortland, the most common majors for our pre-medical students include:

What classes are prerequisites for medical school admissions?

Most medical schools require the following courses:

  • Biological Sciences I and II with labs (BIO 110, BIO 111 and BIO 113 OR BIO 201 and BIO 202)
  • General Chemistry I and II with labs (CHE 227, CHE 277, CHE 228 and CHE 278)
  • Organic Chemistry I and II with labs (CHE 300, CHE 303, CHE 301, and CHE 304)
  • Biochemistry (CHE 451)
  • Physics I and II with labs (PHY 105 and PHY 106)
  • Psychology (PSY 101) and Sociology (SOC 150)
  • Mathematics – one semester of Calculus (MAT 121) and one semester of Statistics (MAT 201)
  • Most require that you take a year of English (CPN 100 and CPN 101)

Some also require the courses below, while others simply suggest them as beneficial:

  • Cellular Biology (BIO 210)
  • Genetics (BIO 312)
  • Microbiology (BIO 304)
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology (BIO 301 and BIO 302; biology majors should take BIO 324 and BIO 514)
  • Foreign Language

* Check individual medical school websites for specific required and recommended courses.

What are other requirements for medical school admissions?

  • Grade point average of 3.4 or higher to be considered a competitive applicant
  • Shadowing experience with a doctor
  • Score of 500 or higher on the MCAT

What are some other tips?

  • Outstanding grades and an excellent MCAT score are essential, but it is also important that you are a well-rounded student with other interests and activities on your application, both medically related and otherwise.

  • Taking on leadership roles and participating in activities outside of the classroom demonstrates that you can effectively interact with people, which is necessary for success in medicine.
  • Professional schools value applicants with demonstrated cultural and social competency — namely a recognition of and training in understanding cultural differences, biases and inequities in the profession.
  • Some leadership roles that exist at SUNY Cortland: participation in a student organization such as the Pre-Med Club or SUNY Cortland Emergency Medical Services; tutor or teaching assistant; supplemental instructor; resident assistant; student justice; or participation on a sports team.

Is there a timeline to make sure I stay on track for medical school?

First year and sophomore year

  • Work with your pre-medical advisor to plan courses and experiences that will help your medical school application.

  • Begin to complete biology, chemistry and physics requirements. Early academic success is a must.

  • Attend health-related events on campus. These are hosted by groups such as Alumni Engagement, Career Services, various student clubs and academic departments.

  • Get involved on campus and off of it through undergraduate research, volunteer work, clinical experience or other areas that excite you.

Junior year

  • Complete medical school prerequisite requirements by the end of spring semester.

  • Prepare extensively and then take the MCAT.

  • Gather letters of evaluation from faculty members and others.

  • Prepare your personal statement and admissions essay. Be sure to have it proofread by another source including faculty members and Career Services.

  • Apply for admission at least a year in advance.

  • Review medical school websites that may help you decide where to apply.
  • Continue activities inside and outside of the classroom.

Senior year

  • Practice mock interviews with the College’s Pre-Med Advisory Committee before medical school admission interviews.

  • Complete forms for financial aid.

  • Send thank-you notes to evaluators and mentors.


Christian Nelson
Pre-Medical/Dental Advisor
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Bowers Hall, Room 1314

Advisory Committee

Jacqueline Augustine, Kinesiology
Christa ChatfieldBiological Sciences
Theresa Curtis, Biological Sciences

Katherine Hicks, Chemistry

Christian NelsonBiological Sciences
Frank Rossi, Chemistry
Jacob Wright, Career Services

Contact us

Admissions Office
Phone: 607-753-4711

Biological Sciences Department
Phone: 607-753-2715

Chemistry Department
Phone: 607-753-4323

Psychology Department
Phone: 607-753-4218