Pre-Med Majors - What to Major in to Become a Doctor

Best College Undergraduate Majors to Become a Doctor

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be a pre-med major to get into medical school. Just 51 percent of students who enrolled in medical school in 2012 graduated with degrees in biology, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges data.

In other words, if you're wondering how to become a doctor, it's more about challenging yourself as an undergrad, making sure you take all of your prerequisites for medical school, and scoring high on your MCAT. In fact, if you're a high school student and aren't quite sure if medicine is the right path for you, that's okay. You do have flexibility when it comes to choosing your major.

As long as you complete the requirements for medical school — which typically include chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, physics, English, calculus and/or statistics - you'll generally be set. Be sure to work with your course adviser to help you map out a plan. That said, here are six college undergraduate majors to consider that can prepare you for success as a future medical student and doctor.

Pre-med

This one is a no-brainer, but there's a reason why it's a popular choice. Choosing a pre-med track means that all of the guesswork as to which classes are best to prep for medical school and the MCAT is done. Expect a heavy dose of life science and math courses.

Science

Since you have to take a number of science-related courses to qualify for medical school anyway, if you love spending time in the chem lab or discussing dark matter, you can focus your undergraduate career on the field you like best. All the while, you'll be flexing your analytical and problem-solving muscles in majors such as biology, chemistry and physics.

Math

If you're a numbers whiz, then majoring in math is a great pathway into medical school. It should definitely help you on the MCAT. If advanced calculus makes you cringe, however, just take the minimum amount of math courses required.

Liberal arts

You might not equate Shakespeare with brain surgery, but there is a strong correlation between the critical thinking skills developed in liberal arts tracks and that of a physician. Writing research papers and honing your communication skills will help power you through medical school paper-writing.

Psychology

Getting inside people's heads (minus the scalpel), is a great skill to have in a career in which you'll have to talk with patients and their families to solve medical mysteries. Especially if you plan to be a family doctor, developing relationships with patients will be a key to success.

Business

You might not think a future doctor needs to understand accounting, marketing, and management, but if you end up running a medical facility or your own practice someday, you'll be glad you have those business fundamentals.

General tips:

  1. Choose an undergraduate program that you enjoy and that you will excel in. Medical schools expect a very high GPA, so toughing it out in majors that are beyond your abilities won't help you.
  2. Leave room for medical school requirements. If you choose to major in history, that's fine, just as long as you save up your elective credits to complete those prerequisite science and math courses.
  3. If you hit bumps along the way, don't panic. Just do your best to regroup, and seek the help necessary to improve your academic performance before too much GPA damage is done.