College Courses to Take Before Medical School

Depending on whether you are a college senior or a graduate taking a gap year, as a premed you may want to spend some time taking coursework that will help you in your transition to medical school.

Different from the typical med school prerequisites, this coursework is meant to get you oriented to the material and level of difficulty that you will encounter during your first year of med school. Here are some courses that may prove to be helpful.

Anatomy and Physiology

One of the most significant courses during your first year of medical school is anatomy. This is where you will spend time dissecting human cadavers and understanding human anatomy in exquisite detail.

This course is quite an honor to be able to take and, in a sense, a rite of passage for med students. However, anatomy is notoriously difficult, so taking an anatomy and/or physiology course in your premed years can give you a leg up.

[Read: How to Make Sure You Fulfill Medical School Requirements for Admission.]

Although dissections and other lab experiences may not be as in-depth in undergraduate school, you can still gain a foundation on basic anatomy and physiology. The two subjects often can be combined in one course to provide an understanding of how anatomy works to influence the physiology of humans.

However, if these courses are offered separately, taking one or both can be particularly useful to prepare for med school.


Although you likely had some lab work in college and spent some time looking at cells and using a microscope, histology really takes this to the next level.

In histology, you will learn about various bacteria and viruses, and extensive use of microscopes for examination and diagnosis. Since most students have not explored this topic in depth prior to starting med school, taking an introduction to histology course can be helpful to gain a foundation of knowledge and experience in the field.


More med schools are making biochemistry either a required or recommended prerequisite, and for good reason.

[Read: Top Undergrad Majors at the Best Medical Schools.]

The first -year medical school curriculum usually includes biochemistry, and the subject can be quite tough if you have never taken it before. This class in undergrad is notoriously hard, but if you haven’t taken it yet, consider doing so to help you more easily transition to the med school curriculum.

Microbiology and Immunology

Chances are you have had some exposure to this subject matter as an undergrad, but in medical school you will go much more in-depth. Again, having a foundation in microbiology and/or immunology will make your extension of knowledge much more seamless once you’re in med school.

Whatever Courses Interest You

Although the courses above will help you academically in med school, your years as a med student will be centered around one thing: medicine.

[Read: How to Select the Right Minor as a Premed Student.]

If you have finished your prerequisites and required courses for graduating, now is the time to think about taking some courses to pursue some self-interests, as well.

Interested in art? Great! Always wanted to learn about classical literature? Sure! Take courses in whichever area will allow you to explore your interest and expand your perspective.

Take some time for yourself and cultivate your curiosity, and you likely will gain some extra skills to help you in med school along the way.

More from U.S. News

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