Selecting a Major
You are encouraged to pursue a broad and rigorous undergraduate curriculum. It is neither expected nor required that you major in a science field. You may choose any major you wish, as long as you successfully complete the required prerequisite courses. Consider these points when selecting a major:
- Where do your interests lie?
You will probably gain the most from a course of study consistent with your own interests.
- Consider your university in handling scientific information.
Some students choose science fields of study to help them with the pace of medical school. Others recognize they will have ample opportunity to focus on sciences in medical school and take advantage of the opportunity to pursue other areas of study.
- Do I have alternative career options?
In the event that you are not immediately accepted into medical school, will your chosen major provide you with employment opportunities or prepare you for graduate study?
According to the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, a major goal of undergraduate study should be intellectual development through the in-depth pursuit of some area of knowledge: humanities, social sciences or natural sciences. No specific course of study is required; however, completion of the following courses or their equivalent constitute the minimal requirements for admission:
- Two semesters of biology with laboratories
- Two semesters of general chemistry with laboratories
- Two semesters of organic chemistry with laboratories
- Two semesters of physics which include laboratory work
- Two semesters of English with emphasis on communication skills
Biochemistry may be used as a substitute for a second organic lab. Prerequisite course work must be taken for grade options not pass-fail. Courses in mathematics, psychology and the humanities also provide excellent preparation for medical study. In consideration of changes in the 2015 MCAT, we strongly recommend that prospective applicants complete a course in cell biology, biochemistry, statistics, psychology, and sociology. Non-science majors should try to include several upper-level courses in biology, chemistry or related disciplines. If you have questions about whether a particular course meets the prerequisite requirement you should consult with your advisor.
The courses listed above are specific to the University of Kentucky College of Medicine but other medical schools may have other requirements. It is important to reference the Official Guide to Medical School Admission Requirements and the specific medical school for their requirements.
Hear what some current students have to say about the program.
For undergraduates on the path to becoming doctors, UK’s B.S./M.D. program accelerates the student’s educational path allowing them to earn a medical degree in only seven years. One dimension of this track, is a degree in biology from the College of Arts and Sciences. By combining a student's undergraduate and graduate degree into one program, the University of Kentucky is better able to serve those students who already have their collegiate goals mapped out.
One of those students is A&S Ambassador Pooja Patil. She found the accelerated program a perfect fit for her aspirations but in our interview Patil also places an emphasis on the non-medical aspect of her education. As a piano performance minor, Patil has found this musical outlet an important part of her education and the requisite practice breaks a welcome relief from all of the science. Her advice for students on a similar path as her own was also drawn from this experience. Patil suggests that while it's important to take all of the science course you can, it's also important that students take advantage of A&S's broad offerings to further their education in other areas such as music or writing.
Some students know early that a career in medicine is in their future and their level of commitment to this goal sets them apart. For selected students, the B.S./M.D. provides the opportunity to complete a B.S. or B.A. degree in Biology and an M.D. degree in only seven years.
Ariel Blythe Reske is a Biology major and a member of the A&S Student Ambassador program; for her, the desire to become a doctor is one of the primary motivating forces in her education. As an undergraduate in the college of A&S studying Biology, Reske found both classes and professors that challenged, inspired, and changed the way she thought about the world. On top of that, she is better prepared for whatever the future may throw her way.
The University of Kentucky recognizes examinations of the College Board Advanced Placement Program offered by high schools throughout the nation. The Admissions Committee has adopted the following policy regarding use of Advanced Placement (AP) credit for required prerequisite courses for medical school:
- Accepted: AP biology with a score of 4 or 5
- Recommended: Additional upper division biology with labs
- Accepted: AP chemistry with a score of 4 or 5
- Required: Take general chemistry labs and organic chemistry and labs
- NOT Accepted: AP physics
- Required: Take physics with lab
- NOT Accepted: AP English
- Required: Take at least two semesters of writing intensive courses
The educational rabbit-hole of entering the medical world can be a time consuming one. Often students feels that they don’t have time to squeeze in an elective of their choice — much less a semester abroad. Jennifer Hamilton however, was able to study abroad twice while earning her undergraduate degree in biology. Hamilton attributes this achievement to her College of Arts and Sciences advisor who guided her through the study abroad process, helped with scholarships, while also keeping her on track academically.
After applying and being accepted to numerous public and private medical schools, she decided to remain at the University of Kentucky and is now in her first year. Hamilton says herself that she feels “A&S and UK's Biology department more than prepared me to be a competitive applicant to public and private medical schools as well as in-state and out-of-state ones and it showed in the schools I was accepted into.”
The guiding hand of an A&S advisor paired with a biology major allowed Hamilton not only to prepare herself for medical school through the courses she took but also through lived experience, both here and abroad.