What’s the easiest premed major? Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer. If you’re looking for the most straightforward path, biological sciences, including majors like molecular biology, cell biology, and neuroscience, feature several courses that overlap with your medical school prerequisites. That’s why nearly 60% of all applicants choose this major.
But the easiest premed major for one student will be different from another. Choosing the easiest premed major depends on your individual interests and how competitive you hope to be as an applicant.
In a previous article, we examined the annual AAMC data on medical school applicants and matriculants to better understand what makes for the best premed major. We interpreted the data and debunked some common myths about which majors lead to a better likelihood of acceptance. In this post, we’ll break down the most popular premed majors to help you choose the easiest, most straightforward premed path for you.
Understanding How Premed Majors Work
Before entering medical school, you need to earn a college degree, which means you need to pick a major. You already know you want to follow whatever path leads you to medical school, but first, let’s clear up what “premed major” actually means.
Unfortunately, premed is not a major in itself. The term ‘premed’ is used to describe a student who plans to apply to medical school. If you’re reading this, it likely means you’re a premed, or pre-medical student.
As a premed, you will have to pursue another major in college while still ensuring you obtain each of the necessary prerequisites to apply to medical school. The major you choose is the one you believe will give you the best chance of acceptance to medical school, and this will then become your premed major. For example, depending on your major, you might say, “I am a premed majoring in physical therapy,” or more broadly, specialized health sciences.
Your prerequisites depend on which medical schools you’re applying to, so they vary from school to school. If you already know which schools you want to apply to, check their list of prerequisites to determine which you absolutely need to fulfill.
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
Several schools require additional courses, so we also recommend you take the following:
- Psychology and Sociology
With that in mind, what are the benefits of different common premed paths? Let’s break down what makes some premed majors easier than others.
What’s the Easiest Premed Major?
There is no easy path to medical school. No matter the premed major you choose, your journey will be a long and difficult one. In addition to completing your college major, you also need to ensure you have all of the prerequisites necessary for applying to each of the medical schools you choose.
Next, you’ll begin the long and tedious task of applying to medical school and, ideally, finding acceptance at one of your preferred schools. Don’t let that simplified explanation fool you.
The medical school application process includes a number of moving parts that you must juggle all at the same time. The initial application includes a personal statement, letters of recommendation, work and activities section, as well as other essays. Next, you complete secondary applications for (hopefully) all of the schools you applied to you. The final stretch is interview season, where you will travel to and interview at the schools that are interested in you.
So, with all of that ahead of you, you’re probably wondering what the easiest premed major is to get you there. Again, it’s not as simple as what is easiest.
The premed major you choose may be easier for you because it aligns with your interests. On the other hand, a more challenging premed major may result in an easier and more straightforward path since you will acquire more specific medical knowledge. This could better prepare you for the rigors of medical school and give you a better chance of standing out. A premed major in humanities may have an easier course load, but you will be left scrambling to try and meet all of the necessary prerequisites for medical school.
Let’s break this down a little further.
The Benefits of Biological Sciences
Biological sciences is the most popular premed major by far, with over 50% of applicants choosing this as their major. A major in the biological sciences, such as a major in molecular biology or neuroscience, makes sense for many students because if you want to become a doctor, there’s an extremely good chance you find an aspect of the biological sciences interesting. And the more interested you are in the subject matter, the better your grades are likely to fare.
Pursuing a major in biological sciences, especially one that you’re very interested in, creates an exciting and straightforward path to medical school, as many of the requirements for your major overlap with and complement your medical school prerequisite courses. It will still be a lot of work, but not quite as much work as someone who is trying to fulfill their medical school prerequisites while also majoring in film studies.
That said, 58% of medical school applicants majored in biological sciences last year, so choosing this as your major won’t exactly help you stand out from the pack. The majority of the applicants you will be up against will share many of your same skills and qualifications. It’s important to also consider how you will meaningfully differentiate yourself from your competition.
The Benefits of an Obscure Major (Humanities, Math, etc.)
Choosing a more obscure premed major creates a unique path and automatically makes your application more compelling. After sorting through dozens upon dozens of biology majors, your English or fine arts degree is guaranteed to catch the attention of admissions committee members.
Plus, in terms of acceptance rates, in 2021, only 36% of biological sciences majors were accepted to medical school versus 44.1% of humanities majors. So don’t think that choosing an obscure major makes your acceptance to medical school any less likely.
Passion and interest are vital aspects of selecting your premed major. If you’ve always wanted to study something beyond biological sciences, now is certainly your chance to do so. The larger challenge comes in figuring out how to also accommodate your prerequisites.
If you want to major in English, for example, you’re facing an uphill battle, as you not only need to complete your full course requirements in English, but you also need to fulfill two years of medical school prerequisites. So if you’re going to choose an obscure path, you have to really want it.
But take the statistics with a grain of salt; they’re only counting the successful fraction of students who gave it their absolute all. If you think that’s you, then go for it! If you succeed in achieving great marks, your application will certainly stand out from the rest.
Do not, however, choose a unique major if you’re only trying to stand out from the pack. If you really are most interested in biological sciences, don’t force a fine art major. If the passion isn’t there, it will definitely show in your grades, as well as how enthusiastically you speak about your major in your application and during interviews.
The Benefits of a Tough Major
Look—if you’re looking for an “easy” path to medical school, you’re not going to find one. It’s an incredibly difficult path, and getting into medical school is only the first of many steps in your journey to becoming a practicing doctor, which includes four grueling years of medical studying, testing, and rotations, followed by applying to and then completing residency.
Majors that will prepare you in both subject matter and rigor may be difficult at the time, but getting over that learning curve early on will help you succeed as your life as a medical student continues to intensify.
For example, Kevil Jubbal, MD, the founder of Med School Insiders, chose a neuroscience major for premed at UCLA. He was very interested in the complex human organ known as the brain, and as a biological science major, there was plenty of prerequisite overlap. But the real benefit was how tough the program was. At the time, neuroscience and bioengineering were considered the two most challenging premed majors.
By choosing a difficult path, you are forced to hone your work ethic and learn a great deal more than you might on a presumed easier path. You prepare yourself by diving deep into the subject matter—sometimes in even greater depth than you’ll cover in medical school. And in doing so, you begin to build the strong work ethic and study habits you will absolutely need in order to succeed once you enter medical school.
What may seem like a more difficult path now will make your life easier down the road. You’ll be well on your way to building the solid study habits, routines, and life skills that will serve you throughout medical school, residency, and beyond.
The Benefits of a Major That Aligns With Your Interests
There are clear benefits to choosing a premed major that aligns with your interests. If you are pursuing medical school, there’s a high likelihood you enjoy science. If you don’t, you should probably reconsider your path and whether or not becoming a doctor is for you.
But many, many premeds have interests beyond biological sciences. Whatever your interests may be, pursuing a major you’re truly passionate about has its advantages. You’ll be enthusiastic about and engaged with the subject matter, so while it will be challenging, it will also feel immensely rewarding, and that passion will help you get through the tough times.
As a hopeful premed, you have the rest of your academic life and career to study the human body. If you’re passionate about medicine but also wildly passionate about literature, art, political science, economics, or what have you, go for it! While it will be more of an uphill battle, it’s by no means an impossible one. Many schools prefer applicants with a unique, diverse background, and you’ll have plenty of distinctive experiences to speak about in your personal statement and during interviews.
Succeed as a Premed and Beyond
Choosing your premed major is a big decision, and like all big life decisions, they come with a lot of pressure.
Med School Insiders offers one-on-one advising that pairs you with a physician advisor who best fits your specific needs. We’re here to answer all of your questions and help you choose the path that best aligns with your interests and desired outcomes. It’s our goal to help you create a future that aligns with your vision.
We can provide advice on choosing the premed major that’s the best fit for you, help you craft an ideal medical school list, and assist in crafting a stand out medical school application that will ultimately result in acceptances at your top choice schools.
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 strive to bring you the most accurate and up-to-date information on the medical school application process, as well as how to succeed as a medical student and through residency.
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