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.


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 210-1,2,3 + labs
  • CHEM 212-1,2,3 + labs (chemistry majors and ISP students only)


Most schools require one year with lab. Labs do not need to be taken concurrently with lectures, but must be taken in order.

Northwestern courses that fill this requirement:
  • 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.


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, click here.


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.

  • UIC: one upper level biology course; three courses in psychology, anthropology, sociology, economics, gender studies (two must be from the same area)
  • UC-Irvine: Five quarters of biology
  • 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?

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