Pre-Professional Pathways are not offered as majors at Western, nor are they at most other universities, but they can be incorporated into or taken alongside any degree-granting major offered at Western.
At any given time Western has an estimated 450 students on a pre-medicine track. Medical schools emphasize the importance of a liberal arts education and do not recruit students from one specific major or discipline. Thus, you have flexibility in planning your Pre-Med educational program.
Use your undergraduate years to explore many academic fields, to develop basic skills and knowledge, to demonstrate expertise, and to experience a field of study (major) of your choice. Pick one in which you excel and enjoy. Popular majors for Pre-Med students are Biology and Chemistry, but students have majored in a diverse range of academic disciplines including Anthropology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Communications, Psychology, History, Philosophy, Languages (i.e. Spanish), and Fairhaven self-designed programs. Some pursue combined majors such as Anthropology/Biology, Biochemistry, and Cellular & Molecular Biology.
Beyond the Classroom
Western's Pre-Healthcare Professions Advising Office provides mentoring and advising to students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare professions. The office works with students to enhance their chances of gaining successful admission to the professional school of their choice. Services range from individual academic advisement to preparing students for the final application process.
Western's Associated Students is home to 200+ clubs, including those for students pursuing healthcare professions.
Careers and Graduate Studies
There is no formula for getting into medical school. Applicants are evaluated in multiple areas by medical school selection committees. All are important: MCAT, grade point average (both cumulative and science), letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and interview, as well as legal and social records.
Health Professions Advising Events
Typical programming events offered include (but are not limited to):
Orientation Session: Getting you from WWU to professional school (MEDIC)
Health Professional & Grad School Info Fair, October 18, 2018 in MAC gym
Winter Registration Walk-in Advising: Nov 14 and Nov 15, 12-2 in BI 415
Kaplan-sponsored practice MCAT
Spring Registration Walk-in Advising: Feb 27 and 28, 12-2 in BI 415
The Healthcare Professional School Application: A session overviewing the process
Fall Registration Walk-in Advising: May 15 and 16, 12-2 in BI 415
What does it mean to be Pre-Medicine at Western?
At any given time, Western has more than 400 students on a pre-medicine pathway. Pre-Med students are those who identify themselves as such, formally or informally. Western does not offer a "Pre-Med" major, and there is no formula for getting into medical school. Selection committees evaluate applicants across multiple areas through a holistic review process. Important components include MCAT score, GPA (both cumulative and science/math), letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, community service, diversity awareness, and an interview, as well as background checks (including legal, conduct, and social records).
Medical schools emphasize the importance of a liberal arts education and do not recruit students from one specific major or discipline. This gives you flexibility in planning your Pre-Med educational program. Use your undergraduate years to explore many academic fields, to develop basic skills and knowledge, to demonstrate expertise and to experience a field of study (major) of your choice. Align with a major in which you both excel and enjoy. While Biology and Chemistry are popular choices, Pre-Med students have majored in a diverse range of disciplines including Anthropology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Business, Kinesiology, Languages (i.e. Spanish, French), Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, and Fairhaven self-designed programs. Some pursue combined majors such as Anthropology/Biology, Biochemistry, and Cellular & Molecular Biology.
Regardless of your major, certain prerequisite courses expected by most schools include:
(a sequence of eight courses)
NOTE: It is imperative that students begin general chemistry as early in their program as possible
- General Chemistry series (includes labs): CHEM 161, 162, 163 [or Honors equivalent]
- Organic Chemistry lecture series: CHEM 351, 352, 353;
- with two accompanying labs: 354 and either 355 or 356 (depending upon major)
- Biochemistry: CHEM 471, 472
- General Biology series (includes labs): BIOL 204, 205, 206
- additional courses under advisement
- Physics series (includes labs): PHYS 114, 115, 116 [or PHYS 161, 162, 163 series
- Calculus: MATH 124, 125
- Statistics: MATH 240 [or major equivalent; i.e. BIOL 340 for Biology majors]
- One or more introductory Social Science GUR course: [i.e. PSY 101]
- One year of English is highly recommended or required by some schools
This document is for preliminary advising purposes only.
We encourage you to meet with a Health Professions Advisor on a regular basis to determine a plan that is best for you.
- WWU students may join the Advisor’s Pre-med Listserv. To join, go to www.wwu.edu/careers, click on Health Professions Advising (on the lefthand side of the page), and click Join Listserv.
- Pre-Med Club: Join this and other WWU Associated Students clubs at www.as.wwu.edu/clubs/.
Check with targeted schools whether they recognize AP as college-earned credit. Not all do. It is better to view any earned credits as qualifying to enroll in upper-division courses rather than as “testing out” of prerequisites.
Declaring a Major
Departments vary in how to declare majors. Behavioral Neuroscience, Biology, Chemistry, and others allow students to declare as a “pre-major” while addressing their specified prerequisites. Some majors require a specific GPA across foundational courses. Declare early, even as a “pre-major”, to help shorten your time to degree. While working on any pre-major content, explore many disciplines to keep your options open.
Access to Classes
High volume student demand exists for upper-division courses, especially in the sciences. Many departments grant enrollment priority to students declared in specific majors over those seeking enrollment for professional school purposes. Registration access procedures for impacted courses can change, and departments commonly provide procedural updates through websites, seminars, and email notifications.
Regardless of Western’s policies, which are provided in the university catalog, these actions are not generally viewed favorably by professional schools. Whereas Western
will replace the repeated course grade when calculating your GPA, most professional schools will not and all grades from college/university coursework will be taken into consideration in the application. While an isolated case may be acceptable, it will likely require an explanation on your application. Discuss your options first with a Pre-Healthcare Advisor. Be mindful that both dropping and repeating courses can have an impact on eligibility for financial aid, scholarships, and athletic participation as well. Consult advisors in each area that applies to you when making your decision.
Students should gain at least 40 hours shadowing experience with an MD physician (or with a DO physician for application to osteopathic medical schools). Discuss your shadowing options with Pre-healthcare advisors.
The Medical College Admission Test is offered January-September. Applicants must take the exam no later than August of the year preceding anticipated admission. MCAT information is available at www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat.