Is Premed a Major? Your Premed Questions Answered


Is premed a major? Not exactly. Premed isn’t a major in itself but the path you will take on your journey toward medical school. Any major you pursue on your way to applying to medical school is considered a premed major.

Let’s unravel that a bit further. This article will also cover a number of common premed questions, including what’s the best premed major, what’s the most popular premed major, and how do you decide which major is the best fit for you?


Is Premed a Major?

Before going to medical school, you’ll need to pursue a college degree. “Premed” itself is not a major you can choose from when entering college.

You will choose a major that you believe will best help you get into medical school. This will then become your premed major. You might choose to major in biological sciences, which is the most popular major by far for students who want to apply to medical school. Other students may choose a less traditional major, such as economics, chemistry, nursing, or a subject in the humanities, depending on their interests and passions.

The term premed is also used to describe a student who is applying to or plans to apply to medical school. You might say, “I’m a premed who is currently majoring in molecular biology.” In this case, your premed major would be molecular biology, or more broadly, biological sciences.

Looking for an alternative route? Some medical schools now offer early admission pathways through combined bachelor and medicine degree programs, called a BS/MD. We break down the pros and cons of these types of programs: Are BS/MD Programs Worth It? Pros and Cons.


Premed Major FAQ

What’s the Best Premed Major?

What’s the best premed major? That’s a question we’ve been asked hundreds of times by students and their parents. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear-cut answer because it depends on your unique circumstances and passions.

When trying to decide which major is right for you, consider three important factors.

  1. Find a straightforward and streamlined path that will get you into medical school.
  2. Prioritize studying what you’re interested in.
  3. Ensure your path prepares you for the rigors of medical school.

Pursuing a major in biological sciences, particularly one that is of interest to you, creates a straightforward path for many students because the requirements for your major overlap well with your medical school prerequisite courses. Biological sciences is by far the most popular premed major, with well over 50% of applicants coming from this major.

For many students, this may make the most sense, especially if you find an aspect of biological sciences interesting, and there’s a good chance you do since you want to become a doctor.

That said, with so many students choosing this path, it becomes more difficult to stand out. If you have a strong passion for another type of science or something outside of the sciences, you may choose to pursue that instead. A unique path can help you stand out in applications, but know that it will be more of an uphill battle for you. You’ll need to fulfill your coursework for your major in addition to finding time to complete all of your medical school prerequisites.

Lastly, consider how you will prepare yourself for the rigors of medical school. How will the premed major you choose prepare you for what’s ahead? Challenging yourself academically while still being able to effectively maintain your own physical and mental health will prepare you for the grueling application process as well as your intense journey through medical school.

How to Choose a Premed Major

What Prerequisites Do I Need for Medical School?

The prerequisites you’re required to complete depend on the specific medical schools you’re applying to. If you already have specific schools in mind, be sure to look into the prerequisites you need to fulfill in order to apply.

The shared core requirements you can expect include:

  • 1 year of Biology with lab
  • 1 year of General Chemistry with lab
  • 1 year of Organic Chemistry with lab
  • 1 year of Physics with lab
  • 1 year of English

Many schools require a few additional courses, so we also recommend you take the following:

  • Mathematics
  • Biochemistry
  • Psychology and Sociology

Considering your prerequisites well in advance can help you create a streamlined path toward medical school.

Premed Requirements graphic


What is the Most Popular Premed Major?

Due to the overlap of prerequisite courses, many students—over 50%—choose to major in biological sciences. It is by far the most popular premed major.

Based on the most recent data from AAMC, the rest of the premed majors breakdown as follows:

  • 58% studied biological sciences, such as molecular biology, cell biology, and neuroscience.
  • 16% studied other majors (not falling into any of the noted categories.)
  • 9% majored in social sciences, such as economics or government.
  • 8% majored in physical sciences, such as physics and chemistry.
  • 4% majored in specialized health sciences, such as nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and public health.
  • 3% majored in humanities, such as history, English, and literature.
  • 0.5% majored in math and statistics.

While there’s a clear leader, there’s still plenty of room for a variety of applicants based on personal preferences and passions.

For example, a degree in economics or business may not overlap as much with your prerequisites, but it will prepare you for starting your own business or managing your own practice if that’s what you hope to do one day.

Learn more in our article that breaks down the data and provides actionable advice to optimize your chances of a medical school acceptance: The Best Premed Major | Backed By Med School Acceptance Data.

Is There Value in Choosing a Less Popular Premed Major?

If there’s so much overlap between biological sciences and your prerequisites, you might be wondering why anyone decides to pursue a more difficult path.

Passion and interest may—and should—play a role in choosing your premed major. If you have always dreamed of studying something beyond biological sciences and you believe you can keep up with your medical school prerequisites, go for it! There are advantages to taking a unique path. For one thing, you will automatically have something a little more interesting in your application. After sifting through dozens of bio majors, your history or fine arts degree is bound to catch the attention of admissions committee members.

That said, don’t force a unique path just to stand out if you are truly most interested in a biological sciences major. A unique path will be more difficult, and if the passion isn’t there, it will show in how you speak about your major throughout your application and in interviews, and it will likely be demonstrated in your grades as well.

Adding a minor to your degree in a field outside of the sciences is another option to help you stand out, but only do this for a subject you are interested in or one you could see having value to your future career. And only take on this additional weight if you can keep up with the extra workload while still maintaining your grades.

Help—I Can’t Decide! How Do I Choose the Premed Major That’s Best for Me?

As you continue on your journey to becoming a doctor, you’re going to be faced with many important life decisions, from choosing which medical school to attend to choosing a specialty to choosing which residency programs to apply to. These big life decisions begin with choosing a premed major.

If you’re someone who struggles to decide what to get on a pizza or whether you should wear a blue or red shirt on any given day, the thought of making a big life decision like choosing a major can be debilitating. It’s a lot of pressure, but you can mitigate that pressure with advanced planning, research, and other decision making techniques.

Whenever a premed or medical student is struggling to make a decision, we always recommend beginning with plenty of research. Gaining a deep understanding of your options is the first step to effective decision making. And we don’t just mean a few Google searches—dig deep to get the information you need to make a confident decision. Read up on the experiences of past premeds, gain an understanding of the types of courses you would take while pursuing different majors, and reach out to students who have already been in your shoes to gain further clarification and insight.

If you are considering a nontraditional path, ensure you fully understand all that it entails. What extra courses will you need to take, and will you be able to keep up with the extra workload? Are your passions in another subject merely a hobby, or are they something you can’t imagine not pursuing academically?

For more advice on making effective decisions, read our guide: How to Make Tough Decisions — 7 Strategies for Better Decision Making.

We also go into more detail in our article: How to Choose a Premed Major in 5 Steps. The guide discusses different paths you might take, the benefits of an unconventional premed major, and additional factors that may help you make your final decision.


Get Offers From Your Top Choice Schools

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While completing your premed degree, you’ll also need to manage preparing for and crafting a stand out medical school application that will land you acceptances at your top choice schools.

From application planning to storytelling to editing to getting a successful MCAT score to mock interviews, Med School Insiders can help you wherever you need to improve most. We offer one-on-one advising that pairs you with the physician advisor who best fits your specific needs because it’s our goal to help you create a future that aligns with your vision.

We encourage you to continue following the Med School Insiders blog for the latest strategies and medical school news. Our content library is filled with guides to help you prepare for medical school and beyond. We add new content multiple times a week to ensure you get the most accurate and up-to-date information.

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