Choosing a major is an important decision for any student, but it’s especially critical for those planning to attend medical school. After all, less than half of medical school applicants end up enrolling in medical school because of its rigorous requirements.
The most suitable pre-medical majors depend on your abilities and interests, but can include subjects in the physical sciences, social sciences, or even humanities.
Best Pre-Medical Majors
Any degree program can be pre-medical; the term “pre-med” simply refers to the student’s intention to enroll in medical school after earning a bachelor’s degree. But the major you choose can have a significant impact on your chances of getting into medical school.
When narrowing down your options, it can be helpful to look at which majors have the most medical school enrollment. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has published data on 55,188 people who applied to medical schools in the 2022-2023 academic year and we’ve analyzed the data so you don’t have to. According to the AAMC, here are the top pre-medical majors based on the percentage of applicants who enrolled, or were accepted and then enrolled, in medical school:
- Number of candidates: 1,775 (3% of total applicants)
- Number of registered students: 897
- Registration (or enrollment) rate: 51%
It may surprise you to see the humanities at the forefront. But while the humanities might seem like a non-traditional choice for pre-medical majors, it had the highest enrollment rate of any major. And studies have shown that pre-med students who majored in the humanities may have better communication skills and empathy – essential qualities in future doctors. However, humanities majors may have to take additional courses — like biology and chemistry classes — to meet medical school requirements.
Humanities majors focus on human societies and culture. Majors can include anthropology, languages, communication, and the arts.
2. Physical sciences
- Number of candidates: 4,636 (8% of total applicants)
- Number of registered students: 2,151
- Registration rate: 46%
The physical sciences have an enrollment rate of about 46%. This major encompasses the branches of science that study the inorganic natural world. Common physical science majors include physics or chemistry.
Medical schools require students to take courses in inorganic chemistry and physics, so a physical science major is a natural choice.
3. Mathematics and statistics
- Number of candidates: 381 (<1% of total applicants)
- Number of registered students: 172
- Registration rate: 45%
Mathematics and Statistics are the least popular majors, with only 381 applicants with these majors. However, 45% of math and statistics majors enroll in medical school, so those with an aptitude for math may find these majors to be good options.
4. Biological Sciences
- Number of candidates: 31,540 (57% of total applicants)
- Number of registered students: 12,865
- Registration rate: 41%
Biological sciences are the most popular majors for pre-med students and medical school applicants. This category includes the science of living systems, including biochemistry and microbiology. With these majors, you’ll get a solid grounding in how organisms, like plants, animals, and humans, work.
The biological sciences can help prepare students for MCATs and the rigors of medical school. Pre-medical majors in the biological sciences will also likely fulfill many, if not all, of the medical school requirements during their undergraduate coursework.
5. Social sciences
- Number of candidates: 5,100 (9% of total applicants)
- Number of registered students: 2,058
- Registration rate: 40%
These majors have a 40% enrollment rate in medical school. Social sciences, such as history, psychology, and sociology, study people, their interactions, and their motivations. A solid understanding of human behavior is beneficial for pre-med students as it will help them understand how to interact with and care for their future patients.
- Number of candidates: 9,334 (17% of total applicants)
- Number of registered students: 3,639
- Registration rate: 39%
Other majors, like business or public and social services, have an enrollment rate of 39%. Depending on your interests and career goals, these majors may be beneficial later on; for example, students who want to go to medical school and open their own practice may find a business degree particularly helpful.
7. Specialized Health Sciences
- Number of candidates: 2,442 (4% of total applicants)
- Number of registered students: 930
- Registration rate: 38%
Although this pre-medical major has the lowest enrollment rate, it is still an attractive option for many students. It provides an understanding of the fundamentals of several branches of health sciences, including public health, nutrition, physiotherapy, and optometry.
What Do Medical Schools Care More About – MCAT or GPA Scores?
Medical school is notoriously hard to get into. Of the 55,188 students who applied in 2022-23, only 22,712 – about 41% – enrolled in medical school. So what factors do medical schools look for when reviewing applications and what can you do to stand out?
To get into medical school, you must meet basic science requirements, have outstanding grades, and high marks on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). How good do your grades and test scores have to be? According to the AAMC, the average GPA of applicants and enrollees for 2022-2023 was 3.62, and the average total MCAT score was 506.5.
Each school reviews applicant information differently, and some weigh MCATs against GPAs (and vice versa). In general, a higher MCAT score can compensate for a lower GPA because it shows you can handle the intense classes of medical school.
Improving your GPA and test scores — whatever your pre-medical major is or was — can improve your chances of getting into medical school. Because the MCAT tests your knowledge and understanding of chemical, biological, and psychological concepts, having a a science background can help you perform better on the MCAT. However, there are MCAT prep books, courses, and other materials to help you study before taking the exam.
Selecting the Best Pre-Medical Major for You
Although medical schools do not require you to specialize in certain subjects, they do require top-notch grades and standardized test scores. And while humanities or business majors can certainly be accepted into medical school and thrive once enrolled, be sure to complete typical science course requirements in order to be prepared to pass the MCAT and graduate. enter medical school.
Now that you’ve researched the best pre-med majors, you should know more about the average medical school cost to prepare for tuition and other expenses throughout your school career.