Study Pre-Med in the US

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)
  • English

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.

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.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

An SAT score of 1050 is considered average. Scores in the range of 1250-1400 are above average, while a score of 1500+ is excellent. Your target SAT score depends on the average SAT scores accepted by the university of your choice.

Yes. International students can take the SAT to study pre-med in the US. Requirements for taking the SAT vary for each nationality. These requirements are mentioned on the College Board Website.

The average annual tuition cost of pre-medical programs in the US is USD 38,700. Costs will be higher after including college-specific fees and other living expenses for accommodation, food, insurance, etc.

Pre-med courses are most helpful when they cover the requirements for studying medicine in the US. Pre-med courses should include biology, chemistry, physics, and math. BSc degrees in Biology, Biochemistry, Neuroscience, and Physiology are all good pre-med courses. Majors in Biological Sciences are the most preferred by students.