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Required Courses

Most medical schools require the following undergraduate courses before being considered for admittance. Be sure to check with schools for specific requirements as their policies are subject to change.

You can review our FAQ section for more information. We also encourage you to book an appointment with an advisor to discuss your personal coursework plan.

For tutoring or other academic support services, check out the Undergraduate Academic Resource Portal on the Searle Center for Learning and Teaching website.

Pre-med Required Courses

General Chemistry

Most schools require one year with lab.

Northwestern course sequences that satisfy this requirement:
  • CHEM 110,  CHEM 131 + lab (141), and CHEM 132 + lab (142)
  • CHEM 151 + lab (161) and CHEM 152 + lab (162)
  • CHEM 171 + lab (181) and CHEM 172 + lab (182)

NOTE: Placement in general chemistry is dependent upon departmental approval, placement exams, and/or AP credit. Please refer to Department of Chemistry guidelines for details.

Organic Chemistry

Most schools require one year with lab.

Northwestern classes that fill this requirement:

  • CHEM 215-1,2,3 + labs (235-1,2,3)
  • CHEM 212-1,2,3 + labs (chemistry majors and ISP students only)

NOTE: The third quarter of the CHEM 215 sequence may be optional. Some medical schools may require this quarter for admission. Talk with your health professions advisor for more information.


Most schools require one year with lab. *Changes in bio sequence begin in Spring 2021. 

First year students entering Northwestern in Fall 2020 or later should plan to use only the following sequence:

  • BIOL SCI 201 (Molecular Biology; offered spring quarter)
  • BIOL SCI 202 (Cell Biology; offered fall quarter) + BIOL SCI 232 (Molecular & Cellular Processes Lab)
  • BIOL SCI 203 (Genetics & Evolution; offered winter quarter) + BIOL SCI 233 (Genetics & Molecular Processes Lab)
  • BIOL SCI 301 (Biochemistry; offered spring quarter)
  • BIOL SCI 234 (Investigative Lab; offered spring quarter)

Students typically begin the sequence with BIOL SCI 201 during spring quarter of first year. BIOL SCI 201, 202, and 203 must be taken in order. BIOL SCI 232, 233, and 234 also must be taken in order. BIOL SCI 202 & 203 must be taken concurrently with the respective labs (232 & 233). CHEM 212-1 or CHEM 215-1 is a prerequisite for enrollement for BIOL SCI 301.

Students who matriculated to Northwestern prior to Fall 2020 may use the sequence above, or a combination which can include the following:

  • BIOL SCI 215 (Genetics & Molecular Biology; offered spring quarter)
  • BIOL SCI 217 (Physiology; offered fall quarter)
  • BIOL SCI 219 (Cell Biology; offered winter quarter)
  • BIOL SCI 301 (Biochemistry; offered spring quarter)

Northwestern labs that fill this requirement:

  • BIOL SCI 220 (Genetic & Molecular Processes Lab; offered fall quarter)
  • BIOL SCI 221 (Cellular Processes Lab; offered winter quarter)
  • BIOL SCI 222 (Investigative Lab; offered spring quarter)

ISP Students should take Bio 240 and 241 with labs 220, 221, and 222.

Some biological sciences courses have required prerequisites; please note any course prerequisites listed in the Undergraduate Catalog.


Most schools require one year with lab.

Northwestern classes that fulfill this requirement:

  • PHYSICS130-1,2,3 + labs (Algebra-based)
  • PHYSICS135-1,2,3 + labs (Calculus-based; engineering majors can skip 135-1 as it is covered in Engineering Analysis sequence)

NOTE: Some majors require the PHYSICS135 sequence; please consult your major requirements to ensure you choose the correct course. ISP students are required to take the Physics 125 sequence. Engineering students are exempt from the first quarter (135-1); the material is covered in the Engineering Analysis (EA) sequence.


Mathematics requirements vary among medical schools. We recommend one year of mathematics and/or statistics coursework, typically two quarters of calculus and one quarter of statistics. We strongly recommended a statistics course in preparation for the MCAT.

Northwestern courses that typically fulfill these requirements:

  • MATH 218-1,2,3 (Department permission required)
  • MATH 220-1,2 
  • MATH 226-0
  • MATH 228-1,2 or MATH 230-1,2 (formerly MATH 230-0 and MATH 234-0)
  • MATH 290-1,2,3 or MATH 291-1,2,3
  • Any statistics course

For the contact information to the Department of Mathematics


Schools typically required one year of English/writing intensive courses.

Northwestern classes that fulfill this requirement:

  • 2 WCAS freshman seminars + 1 course in English or Comparative Literature
  • 3 courses in English or Comparative Literature
  • Engineering students: ENGLISH 106-1 & 106-2, plus 2 courses in English or Comparative Literature

Behavioral and Social Sciences

Introductory courses in psychology and sociology are recommended for MCAT preparation. Some medical schools may also require courses in the behavioral and social sciences and/or the humanities.

Common Additional Requirements

The following schools require these additional courses. See their websites for more information.

  • University of Illinois: one upper level biology course; three courses in the social/behavioral science areas (two must be from the same area)
  • UC-Irvine: Five quarters of biology, including at least one upper-level course (does not include biochemistry)
  • Texas Schools: Two years of biology
  • Hopkins: Nine courses in humanities, social and/or behavioral sciences

AP Credits

There is no uniform acceptance policy for AP credit for all medical schools. Most medical schools will accept AP credit but some may require or prefer that an applicant take upper level science coursework, in some cases from the same area of study, to replace the AP credit.

Exceptions: A small number of schools have stricter requirements and do not accept AP or IB credits. Always check a medical school's admissions website to be certain of the most current policies.

Science GPA

Medical schools use the science GPA along with the MCAT score to evaluate whether you can be academically successful in their programs.

What goes into the science GPA?

  • MD programs include all courses in biology, chemistry, physics and math (BCPM)
  • DO programs consider all courses in biology, chemistry and physics  

See our GPA calculator to determine your science grade point average.