Guide for New Students

This is a guide for all first-year UMW students who identify themselves as pre-health.  Pre-health covers premedical, pre-dental, pre-veterinary medicine, pre-physician assistant, pre-physical therapy, pre-occupational therapy, pre-pharmacy, pre-optometry, and others as needed.

Quick Facts . . .

  • . . . About the Pre-Health Advisor:  The UMW Pre-Health Advisor is Stephen Gallik, Ph. D., Professor of Biology (sgallik@umw.edu).  The Pre-Health Advisor’s Job is to inform any and all UMW students about the UMW Pre-Health Program and advise and guide pre-health students as they progress through the program.  All other academic advising questions and issues should be brought to the attention of a student’s first year advisor.
  • . . . About Majors:  Pre-health tracks are NOT majors, rather they are pre-professional career programs.  When students identify themselves as pre-health, they are not committing themselves to any particular major.  Pre-health students will eventually need to declare a major, and that can be any major they choose – they do not need to major in a natural science to be in a pre-health track.  You should talk to your Pre-Health Advisor for guidance on choosing a major.
  • . . . About AP Courses:  Professional programs vary in their treatment of AP courses.  Many professional programs accept AP credits, provided UMW accepts them as satisfying UMW general education or major course requirements.  However, some schools do not accept advanced placement courses for prerequisite credit.  For these schools, prerequisite courses must have an earned letter grade.  Therefore, it is in your best interest to check with the schools to which you plan on applying to see what they say about AP credits.

Course Selection: Required Introductory Courses for First-year Pre-Med, Pre-Dent, Pre-Vet, Pre-PT, Pre-Pharmacy, and Pre-Optometry Students.

The following courses are required pre-health courses suitable for first-year students.  While a student cannot take all of these courses in their first year, some should be taken in a student’s first year, while others can wait.

  • General Biology with Lab.  Two semesters of introductory general biology with lab are required by the above mentioned  pre-health career tracks.  At UMW, two different series of biology courses can fulfill this requirement: BIOL 121 (Biological Concepts) & BIOL 132 (Organisms Function & Diversity) – or – BIOL 125 & BIOL 126 (Phage Hunters I, II).  Since these courses also serve as prerequisites for upper-level pre-health biology courses, in most cases, these courses should be taken in a student’s first year.  If the courses are not taken in the first year, students will not be able to immediately move on to upper-level biology courses.  This could delay their application to the professional school of their choice.
  • General Chemistry with lab. Two semesters of introductory general biology with lab are required by the above mentioned  pre-health career tracks.  At UMW, only CHEM 111 & CHEM 112 (General Chemistry I, II) fulfill this requirement.  Students must take the UMW Chemistry Placement Exam to qualify for CHEM 111 registration.  These introductory chemistry courses are not only required by the above-stated pre-health career tracks, but also serve as prerequisites for upper-level pre-health chemistry courses. Therefore, in most cases, these courses should be taken in a student’s first year.  If the courses are not taken in the first year, students will not be able to immediately move on to upper-level courses.  This could delay their application to the professional school of their choice.
  • College-level Math.  Two semesters (6 credits) of college-level math are required by the above mentioned  pre-health career tracks.  While these courses are suitable for first-year students, they can be taken in future years as well without delaying a student’s application to the professional school of their choice.
    • One semester (3 credits) of statistics is generally required to partially fulfill this requirement. Three UMW courses apply: STAT 180, BIOL 260 and PSYC 261.
    • One semester (3 credits) of any other college-level math course can be taken to fulfill the math requirement. While some students take calculus, calculus is generally NOT required for professional health programs.
  • English Composition.  Two semesters (6 credits) of English composition or writing intensive courses are required by the above mentioned  pre-health career tracks.  While these courses are suitable for first-year students, they can be taken in future years as well without delaying a student’s application to the professional school of their choice.
    • At UMW, we recommend students take at least one ENGL writing course, such as ENGL 202, ENGL 306, ENGL 307, to partially fulfill this requirement.
    • To complete the requirement, a second ENGL writing course may be taken. In some cases, a writing intensive course in any discipline may be taken to complete the requirement. Students should contact medical school admissions offices to check on their acceptance of writing intensive courses.
  • Introductory Psychology.  At least one semester (3 credits) of introductory psychology is required by the above mentioned  pre-health career tracks (some tracks might require more than one course).  PSYC 100 is recommended.  While this course is suitable for first-year students, it can be taken in future years as well without delaying a student’s application to the professional school of their choice.
  • Introductory sociology.  At least one semester (3 credits) of introductory sociology is required by Premed and Pre-Vet. At UMW, SOCG 105 and SOCG 155 are recommended.  While these courses are suitable for first-year students, they can be taken in future years as well without delaying a student’s application to the professional school of their choice.

Course Selection: Required Introductory Courses for First-year Pre-Physician Assistant (PA) Students and Pre-Occupational Therapy (pre-OT) Students

Pre-PA:  Course prerequisites for PA programs vary widely among those programs.  Very early in their undergraduate studies, pre-PA students should research the course requirements of the PA programs of interest to them.  Below are general guidelines.

  • Introductory Biology
    • Most PA programs require one semester of introductory biology with lab.
      • At UMW, two biology courses fulfill this requirement: BIOL 121 (Biological Concepts) – or – BIOL 125 (Phage Hunters I).
    • Some PA programs require a second semester of introductory biology with lab.
      • At UMW, two biology courses fulfill this requirement, following the first semester in the series: BIOL 132 (Organisms Function & Diversity) – or – BIOL 126 (Phage Hunters II).
    • Be careful, both introductory biology courses also serve as prerequisites for upper-level biology courses, like anatomy and physiology. Therefore, in most cases, both introductory courses should be taken in a student’s first year.  If the courses are not taken in the first year, students will not be able to immediately move on to upper-level biology courses.  This could delay their application to the professional school of their choice.
  • Introductory Chemistry
    • Nearly all PA programs require one semester of introductory chemistry courses with lab.
      • At UMW, only CHEM 111 (General Chemistry I) fulfills this requirement.
      • Students must take the UMW Chemistry Placement Exam to qualify for CHEM 111 registration.
    • Some PA programs require a second semester of introductory chemistry with lab.
      • At UMW, only CHEM 112 (General Chemistry II) fulfills this requirement.
    • Be careful, both introductory chemistry courses also serve as prerequisites for upper-level chemistry courses, like biochemistry. Therefore, in most cases, both introductory courses should be taken in a student’s first year.  If the courses are not taken in the first year, students will not be able to immediately move on to upper-level chemistry courses.  This could delay their application to the professional school of their choice.
  • Other introductory courses generally required by Pre-PA programs. These courses may be taken in the first year, but may also be taken during a student’s second or third year without delaying a student’s application to the professional school of their choice.
    • One semester (3 credits) of college-level statistics.
      • Three UMW courses apply: STAT 180, BIOL 260 and PSYC 261.
    • One semester (3 credits) psychology
      • At UMW, PSYC 100 is recommended.

Pre-OT:  Course prerequisites for OT programs also vary widely among those programs.  Very early in their undergraduate studies, pre-OT students should research the course requirements of the PA programs of interest to them.  Below are general guidelines.

  • Introductory Psychology
    • Most OT programs require several psychology courses. First-year students should consider taking PSYCH 100.
  • Introductory Sociology
    • Most OT programs require at least one sociology course. First-year students should consider taking SOCG 105 or 155.
  • Statistics
    • Most OT programs require introductory statistics. First-year students can take STAT 180.

Sample First-Semester Course Schedule for a Pre-Health Student (14 credits)

  • BIOL 121 or BIOL 125
    • Should be taken in the first semester. If the course is not taken in the first semester, the student will not be able to immediately move on to upper-level science courses.  This could delay their application to the professional school of their choice.
  • CHEM 111
    • Should be taken in the first semester. If the course is not taken in the first semester, the student will not be able to immediately move on to upper-level science courses.  This could delay their application to the professional school of their choice.
  • PSYC 100 or SOCG 105 or SOCG 155
    • May be taken in the first year, but may also be taken during a student’s second or third year without delaying a student’s application to the professional school of their choice.
  • FSEM
    • FSEM is First Year Seminar.  One course designated first-year seminar is required for all first-year UMW students.

What First Year Pre-Health Students Should Do before classes begin in the fall:

  1. Sign up with the UMW Pre-Health Program Portal on Canvas.  The Pre-Haelth Program Canvas page is the one location where UMW pre-health students can find detailed descriptions of specific pre-health career requirements, campus meetings and events, open houses, etc.  To register with the UMW Pre-Health Program, go to https://canvas.umw.edu/enroll/XGDA4J and follow the instructions.  Once done, you will see the UMW Pre-Health Program listed on your Canvas dashboard.  Go to the page and explore.  Registering with the program is open to all UMW students.
  1. Add you name to the Pre-Health Program Census.  The census helps us identify those students who fall into each of the many pre-health career tracks this program serves.  To add your name to the census, see instructions on the Pre-Health Program Portal home page or click on this link to a google spreadsheet and enter your name into the column that best fits your primary health career track.  The document is automatically saved for you.  The document is for UMW Pre-Health Program use only.
  1. Join the Pre-Health Club.  Currently known as the Premed / Predent / Pre-PA Society, this student run club acts in the interest of all pre-health students, no matter what the specific pre-health track.  All pre-health students should join.  See the link on the front page of the Pre-Health Program portal in Canvas.

 The Pre-Health Program Kick-Off Meeting

All incoming UMW freshmen and transfer students who are on a pre-health career track MUST attend the program orientation session scheduled sometime during the first two weeks of classes.  Check the Pre-Health Program Canvas Site for details.