Pre-med in the US: Best Programs, Universities, Cost, and Admissions for International Students
Students planning to study medicine in the US often come across the term ‘pre-med.’ The term is usually used to only indicate one’s future career path, i.e., becoming a doctor. In fact, there isn’t any specific degree or major titled ‘pre-med’ in the US. Pre-med can include any science-related major consisting of the coursework necessary for medical school.
Getting into a medical university requires preparation. Most students decide to choose their coursework consistent with a medical school. There are a certain bare minimum of courses or subjects needed to study medicine. Choosing these subjects for your undergraduate degree ensures you are eligible to study medicine later on.
This article focuses on the popular degree programs or subjects students choose for their pre-med and the best universities offering them. Also, read on to know more about the cost and eligibility criteria for international students.
Pre-med in the US: Overview
|Programs Offered||BSc, BA|
|Program Duration||4 years|
|Average Annual Tuition Cost||USD 38,700|
|Eligibility Criteria||At least 50% in high school with relevant subjects|
|Entrance Exams||SAT; ACT|
|English Proficiency Tests||IELTS 6.0-6.5 or equivalent|
Best pre-med programs in the US
Similar to Canadian premed courses, American pre-med programs, too, are usually bachelor’s degrees in science or allied disciplines. Some universities offer ‘preparation programs’ or ‘foundation years,’ which may last up to 12 months. These programs may not be as impressive to medical schools.
Choosing the right major that helps in completing pre-med requirements is a crucial decision. The below-mentioned programs are considered to be a close match.
Not all med school aspirants are science majors. In fact, according to a study by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), many MCAT-takers are from backgrounds other than science. Humanities, arts, social science majors, and other science majors (engineering, information science, etc.) also apply to med schools.
Regardless of which major one takes, it is essential to ensure that the undergraduate degree includes the following classes:
- At least one year of biology, chemistry, and physics with lab practice
- Math subjects (Statistics, Calculus, or both)
Best universities for pre-med programs in the US
The following list shows the top 10 universities in the US per the national ranking published by US News Ranking. These universities are considered the best in Biological and Biomedical Sciences subjects.
|US News Ranking 2022||University||Bachelor’s Programs||Master’s Programs|
|1||Princeton University||Click here||Click here|
|2||Columbia University||Click here||Click here|
|2||Harvard University||Click here||Click here|
|2||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Click here||Click here|
|5||Yale University||Click here||Click here|
|6||Stanford University||Click here||Click here|
|6||University of Chicago||Click here||Click here|
|8||University of Pennsylvania||Click here||Click here|
|9||California Institute of Technology||Click here||Click here|
|9||Duke University||Click here||Click here|
It is common knowledge that tier 1 universities are the most competitive. These universities often place high admissions criteria. Students may have better chances of acceptance in mid-tier universities that rank considerably well and provide the same level of education as any top-ranking university. Below is a list of such universities in the United States.
|US News Ranking 2022||University||Bachelor’s Programs||Master’s Programs|
|49||Northeastern University||Click here||Click here|
|79||Gonzaga University||Click here||Click here|
|83||University of California, Riverside||Click here||Click here|
|117||Arizona State University||Click here||Click here|
|213||Kent State University||Click here||Click here|
|239=||University of Missouri St. Louis||Click here||Click here|
|239=||University of South Dakota||Click here||Click here|
|263||University of Findlay||Click here||Click here|
|277||University of North Texas||Click here||Click here|
Note: = represents tie in rankings
Admission requirements for international students
Admissions to undergraduate programs in the US require submission of SAT or ACT scores. The college or university a student receives admission to depends on the scores. Higher scores and a rich student application mean higher chances of being placed in top universities.
Most universities lay the following admission requirements for international students. Any additional criteria may depend on the individual university. Students should check their target university websites for a comprehensive admission criteria list.
- Higher secondary school certificate with at least 50%
- Subject prerequisites: Maths and Laboratory Science
- English proficiency of at least 6.0 in IELTS or equivalent
- Official academic transcripts
- ACT/SAT scores
- Recommendation letters (required by some universities only)
- Statement of Purpose (required by some universities only)
Pre-med courses application process for international students
Application to undergraduate programs at most universities is submitted through ‘Common Applications.’ Please note that not all universities accept through ‘Common Application’ like it is for the UK through UCAS. Some American universities may need students to apply via the university website.
Documents required to apply through ‘Common Application’ include, but may not be limited to
- Copy of high school transcript
- SAT/ACT scores
- List of academic achievements and work experience
- Essay (650 words)
Students can choose up to 20 colleges only. Application fees vary. About 448 universities do not have application fees, while some may offer fee waivers based on the applicant’s financial situation.
Application deadline, too, varies with each university.
Cost of pre-med courses for international students
The cost list for universities below is based on an estimation of annual tuition fees for international students. These amounts do not include insurance, college-specific fees, books and supplies, accommodation fees, and other living expenses. The actual cost of studying in the US is higher.
|University||Estimated Annual Tuition in USD|
|Northeastern University||$ 56,500|
|Gonzaga University||$ 49,800|
|University of California, Riverside||$ 45,264|
|Arizona State University||$ 34,610|
|Kent State University||$ 20,800|
|University of Missouri St. Louis||$ 32,100|
|University of South Dakota||$ 24,900|
|University of Findlay||$ 36,200|
|University of North Texas||$ 48,200|
Future prospects with pre-med programs in the US
After earning an undergraduate degree, students can choose to pursue medical studies or continue their studies in their preferred major through a master’s program.
Studying medicine in the US
Applying to medical universities in the US requires candidates to take the MCAT test. Higher MCAT scores and impressive academics can help secure a seat in any of the top-ranking universities. Medical universities also expect applicants to show good work experience—clinical or volunteer.
Studying medicine in the US takes four years. Residency under the supervision of a licensed doctor takes three to seven years more. To practice as a registered doctor in the US, students must pass the US Medical License Exam (USMLE).
What if you don’t get admission into a medical university?
Most universities recommend re-applying up to two times. It is best to consider having your application assessed by professionals before applying again. External feedback can help you get an unbiased opinion on your application. With Gyanberry, students can be assured of professional guidance and application assistance.
It is pretty challenging to get into med school. With a national acceptance rate of just 43% (data by AAMC), many students will find it convenient to have a “Plan B.”
There are many careers in medicine other than being a doctor. For example, one can practice as a registered nurse or a physician’s assistant if one wishes to be a care provider. Alternatively, one can involve in more scientific professions, such as biomedical research.
Options other than studying MD/DO in the US
- Pursue a master’s degree in your area of interest
- Starting a career related to your college major