cadeceus image

Pre-medicine is not a degree-granting major, but a track for students who plan to attend medical school after earning a bachelor’s degree.  Pre-medical students must complete prerequisite courses that prepare them for medical school, which is a four-year professional program.  Pre-medical students can major in any field as long as they complete prerequisite courses for medical school and have completed the Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT.  Pre-medical advisors help with course sequencing and academic preparation for medical school.

UI undergraduates must have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA by the end of their third semester to maintain their pre-medical designation.

AAMC Competencies

Professional Competencies

Commitment to Learning and Growth

Practices continuous personal and professional growth for improvement, including setting and communicating goals for learning and development; reflects on successes, challenges, and mistakes; pursues opportunities to improve knowledge and understanding; and asks for and incorporates feedback to learn and grow.

Cultural Awareness

Appreciates how historical, sociocultural, political, and economic factors affect others’ interactions, behaviors, and well-being; values diversity; and demonstrates a desire to learn about different cultures, beliefs, and values.

Cultural Humility

Appreciates how historical, sociocultural, political, and economic factors affect others’ interactions, behaviors, and well-being; values diversity; and demonstrates a desire to learn about different cultures, beliefs, and values.

Empathy and Compassion

Recognizes, understands, and acknowledges others’ experiences, feelings, perspectives, and reactions to situations; is sensitive to others’ needs and feelings; and demonstrates a desire to help others and alleviate others’ distress.

Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others

Behaves with honesty and integrity; considers multiple and/or conflicting principles and values to inform decisions; adheres to ethical principles when carrying out professional obligations; resists pressure to engage in unethical behavior; and encourages others to behave honestly and ethically.

Interpersonal Skills

Demonstrates an awareness of how social and behavioral cues affect people’s interactions and behaviors; adjusts behaviors appropriately in response to these cues; recognizes and manages one’s emotions and understands how emotions impact others or a situation; and treats others with dignity, courtesy, and respect.

Oral Communication

Effectively conveys information to others using spoken words and sentences; actively listens to understand the meaning and intent behind what others say; and recognizes potential communication barriers and adjusts approach or clarifies information as needed.

Reliability and Dependability

Demonstrates accountability for performance and responsibilities to self and others; prioritizes and fulfills obligations in a timely and satisfactory manner; and understands consequences of not fulfilling one’s responsibilities to self and others.

Resilience and Adaptability

Perseveres in challenging, stressful, or ambiguous environments or situations by adjusting behavior or approach in response to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles, and recognizes and seeks help and support when needed; recovers from and reflects on setbacks; and balances personal well-being with responsibilities.

Service Orientation

Shows a commitment to something larger than oneself; demonstrates dedication to service and a commitment to making meaningful contributions that meet the needs of communities.

Science Competencies

Human Behavior

Applies knowledge of the self, others, and social systems to solve problems related to the psychological, sociocultural, and biological factors that influence health and well-being.

Living Systems

Applies knowledge and skill in the natural sciences to solve problems related to molecular and macro systems, including biomolecules, molecules, cells, and organs.

Thinking and Reasoning Competencies

Critical Thinking

Uses logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

Quantitative Reasoning

Applies quantitative reasoning and appropriate mathematics to describe or explain phenomena in the natural world.

Scientific Inquiry

Applies knowledge of the scientific process to integrate and synthesize information, solve problems, and formulate research questions and hypotheses; is facile in the language of the sciences and uses it to participate in the discourse of science and explain how scientific knowledge is discovered and validated.

Written Communication

Effectively conveys information to others by using written words and sentences.

Required courses for admission to the UI College of Medicine (Adapted from UI CCOM website):

  • Chemistry: Two years of chemistry to include general and organic both with lab
  • Biological Sciences:  Two semesters of biology with the appropriate laboratories
  • Biochemistry: at least one semester
  • English:  Two courses (to include composition and literature)
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences, Humanities: four courses
  • Physics: A complete introductory sequence of 1 year, including lab and instruction
  • Mathematics: An advanced college mathematics course or a statistics course    

 Recommended courses:

  • Starting with the 2022 application cycle, applicants to Carver College of Medicine are strongly encouraged to complete a course on race/racism in the United States. Other recommended courses include behavioral psychology, sociology, foreign language, and other non-science, writing-intensive courses.

Other medical schools may have different requirements. Consult the MSAR available from The Association of American Medical Colleges.

  • All prerequisite courses must be completed by time of matriculation.  The application deadline for the UI College of Medicine is November 1st and accepted students begin in August the following year.  All applications for the UI College of Medicine are completed through AMCAS, the online application portal.
  • All applicants must take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).  Information on registering for the MCAT and reporting scores to schools can be found here:
  • Applicants must provide at least three letters of reference submitted through AMCAS.
  • Competitive applicants will be invited for a personal interview.
  • All applicants must submit consent for a criminal background check.
  • Read How to Apply to Medical School
  • Read How to Apply to Osteopathic Medical School

  • The admissions profile for matriculated students to the UI College of Medicine in 2022:

    152 enrolled from 74 different colleges (Iowa-39; ISU-10; UNI-2)
    70% of the MD class is made up of residents of the State of Iowa.
    Age Range: 20-37

    Mean GPA:   Cumulative 3.79, Science 3.74
    Mean MCAT Scores:
    • CARS 127
    • PSBB 129
    • CPBS 129
    • BBFL 129


  • The UI College of Medicine takes a holistic approach when evaluating candidates.  The competitive candidate will have:
    • Medical shadowing, ideally with multiple physicians in multiple settings
    • Demonstrated success in academics, particularly in science
    • Multiple semesters of rigorous coursework with multiple science courses
    • Strong letters of reference from a science faculty, research mentors, or volunteer coordinator.  Reference requirements vary at other medical schools.
    • Commitment to serving others.  Students can demonstrate this in many ways such as volunteering with human service organizations, medical facilities and student organizations.
    • Leadership experience
    • Remember, it’s not about what “looks good” but rather, doing what sparks an interest in medicine.  Medical schools seek engaged, intellectually well-rounded students who are naturally curious, adept at science, invested in helping others, and open to working with diverse groups of people.
  • Some things to consider when considering medical school:
    • Am I committed to serving others?
    • Do I have a strong interest in science?
    • Do I enjoy working with people?
    • Do I enjoy working with others in a team-setting and problem-solving?
    • Have I shadowed a doctor?  Am I interested in the work that doctors do?
    • Am I committed to the time, money and effort involved in a medical education?
    • Do I have empathy?  Can I see myself working with people who may be in pain or afraid?
    • Do I have a parallel plan outside of medical school?
  • How to get started
    1. Meet with your pre-medical advisor
    2. Shadow physicians in multiple specialties.  Ask questions and document what you learn.
    3. Research volunteer opportunities.
    4. Check out AAMC’s student pre-medical website:
  • Thinking about a post baccalaureate program?