What is the best major?

Simply stated, there is no best major.  Choose a major that you will enjoy, keeping in mind that you will need to complete required and/or recommended courses to prepare for admissions tests (MCAT, DAT, OAT, PCAT) and for the rigors of professional school.  These courses can be completed while pursing any major on campus. Some majors may allow for more flexibility while others may be more structured. In 2016, Illinois graduates who were accepted to medical schools represented 26 different primary majors. Admission committees are seeking academically diverse students and consistently express that preference is not given to specific majors.



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What prerequisite courses do I need to take?

Prerequisite guides for most health professions are provided at www.careercenter.illinois.edu in the Health Professions section. These guides are based on common prerequisites as well as content covered on admissions tests. Individual school requirements vary and  may change from year to year. Students are encouraged to check prerequisites at  specific schools of interest regularly.

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What classes do I take next semester?

Students pursuing health professions typically take 1-3 science prerequisites per semester (on average). Your academic advisor will be able to assist you in  choosing courses that align with your academic and professional goals. Be sure to mention which health profession you are pursuing (or considering) you meet with your advisor.  


May I use AP credit for prerequisite coursework?

Many professional programs will accept AP credit for lecture courses,  though some programs will not. We  strongly encourage discussing whether to take 100 level science courses with your academic advisor.  Experience has taught us that Illinois students are more prepared for higher level courses if they have taken 100 level science courses on campus due to the pace, rigor, and volume of content covered.  We want students develop good study skills and earn strong grades in their first year at Illinois. That may mean forgoing AP credit.  



May I take prerequisites at a community college over the summer?

Most health professional programs expect you to take prerequisite courses at your primary institution. Consult with a Health Professions Advisor if you have a compelling reason to take prerequisite courses at a community college.  

What if I get a bad grade in a prerequisite course?

Admissions committees expect to see strong grades , particularly in prerequisite courses. However, health professional programs want students who are resilient and have demonstrated the ability to improve and persevere.   Talk to a Health Professions Advisor about your situation. We’ll assist you in brainstorming options and next steps.


How much out of classroom experience do I need?

While GPA and standardized test scores are important, admissions committees expect you to demonstrate a commitment to the profession and the competencies necessary to become capable healthcare professional. Instead of focusing on a number of hours, consider experiences  that showcase your interests and passions, that allow you both to utilize your skills and develop new ones, and that provide you opportunities to interact with people from a variety of backgrounds. Some examples include part-time jobs, volunteering, leadership in student organizations, undergraduate research,  and shadowing/observation. Competitive applicants  have hundreds (sometimes thousands)  of hours of experience outside the classroom that effectively demonstrate their readiness to begin training for their chosen  health profession. 



When should I apply?     

Applicants should apply when they are most prepared, having demonstrated the competencies and knowledge necessary to be a successful health professional. For some professions, like Medicine (MD or DO) and Physician Assistant (PA), applying after graduation is more common. In fact 65% of our 2016 applicants to medical school applied after graduating from Illinois.


When should I start meeting with a Health Professions Advisor?

You can start meeting with a Health Professions Advisor during your first semester on campus.  You do not need to have specific questions or prepare in advance for your appointment.  We can assist you with exploring health careers, finding experiences and resources on and off-campus, understanding the application process to graduate and professional schools, and even identifying alternative career plans should you decide to pursue a career outside of healthcare. Our goal is to empower you to succeed at Illinois and beyond.  We look forward to meeting you!



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