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Psychology and the Pre-Med Student

Looking for a career in healthcare?

Psychology majors feature flexible requirements, interesting courses, internships and research, study abroad opportunities, and more! Our majors are the perfect complement to pre-health preparation. Many of our Lower Division course requirements overlap with health professional school requirements, such as:

  • Natural Science (Chem 6A-C and BILD 1-3 accepted)
  • Formal Skills (Math 10/20A and 10/20B accepted)
  • Statistics (PSYC 60, COGS 14A, and MATH 11 accepted)

And don’t forget the Behavioral Sciences section of the MCAT, which focuses largely on Psychological topics!

“Soft skills” are in demand.

Psychology majors gain more than just classroom knowledge; highly-desirable “soft skills” such as critical thinking, problem solving, empathy, communication, and resilience are essential to careers in healthcare. Our majors teach you the building blocks to improve bedside manner and understand patients and the public. Learn about human motivation and behavior to help provide the best care in your future career.

Be competitive.

Psychology majors have a nationwide medical school acceptance rate on par with biology and chemistry majors. In other words, by choosing Psychology as a major, you’re not limiting your
ability to achieve your career goals.

Stand apart from the crowd.

Psychology majors are even preferred by many medical schools, as they have a unique skill set.

There’s a lot more to medicine than science; a Psychology major can help give you that edge.

Diverse, relevant course offerings, including:

Clinical Assessment and Treatment, Clinical Neuropsychology, Practicum in Community Mental Healthcare, Hormones and Behavior, Circadian Rhythms, Eating Disorders, Evolution and Human Nature, Gender, Cognitive Neuroscience of Vision, Social Psychology and Medicine, Psychological Disorders of Childhood, Human Sexuality, Drugs, Addiction, and Mental Disorders, Drugs and Behavior, Psychology of Sleep, and more.

Majors for pre-health students:

Our majors are an excellent fit for all pre-health students, including those intending careers in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical or occupational therapy, and more.

Most recommended:

  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology with Specialization in Human Health
    Our degree created with healthcare in mind, this major has a triple focus in clinical, developmental, and social psychology. Designed to give you insight into your patients, this is the major we most often recommend for students considering healthcare careers of all kinds.

Also recommended:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
    Most flexible Psychology major with no research requirement
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
    General research-focused major that allows you to build the degree that most suits you
  • BS in Psychology with Specialization in Clinical Psychology
    Degree focused on mental health, especially relevant for students considering psychiatry
  • BS in Psychology with Specialization in Developmental Psychology
    Major with a focus on developmental research, perfect for those planning to work with children
  • BS in Psychology with Specialization in Sensation and Perception
    Students hoping to become opthalmologists or audiologists may benefit from this degree
  • Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Bachelor of Science
    If you’re planning on going into neuroscience research, neurosurgery, or related fields, this is the
    major for you

For more guidance about pre-med and pre-health careers, visit HealthBeat Advising, through the UC San Diego Career Center.


Plan ahead!

New Transfer students who have not completed all pre-med prerequisites should consider carefully their plans; if you’re considering going to medical school, or want to keep the option available to yourself, the best way to prepare is to complete prerequisites before you transfer. It is not possible to complete all medical school prerequisite coursework on campus at UC San Diego after transfer, no matter your intended degree.

Although our transfer preparation only requires three courses, we encourage you to complete a maximum number of prerequisite courses before your first Fall quarter on campus. This will only help you in the long run, as it will allow you to focus on your major requirements, internships, research projects, volunteer positions, clinical experience, and the MCAT.

As a reminder, transfer students will not be approved to stay at UC San Diego beyond 6 quarters, even to complete pre-med requirements.

Good preparation:

The equivalents to the following courses should, at a minimum, be completed before you begin classes on campus at UC San Diego in order to be minimally prepared for pre-med prerequisites by graduation from UC San Diego:

  • 1 Statistics course (PSYC 60, COGS 14B, or MATH 11)
  • 1 Research Methods class (PSYC 70 or COGS 14A)
  • 1 year of General Chemistry (CHEM 6A-C, CHEM 7)
  • 1 year of General Biology (BILD 1-4)
  • 2 quarters of Calculus (MATH 10A-B or MATH 20A-B)

Better preparation:

We recommend you consider also completing:

  • 1 year of Organic Chemistry (CHEM 40A-C, CHEM 43A)
  • 1 Computer Programming class (see major requirements for details)

Best preparation:

The best preparation for your major and career includes all of the above, plus:

  • 1 year of General Physics (PHYS 1A/1AL-1C/1CL or PHYS 2A/AL-2C/CL)
  • 1 course in Anatomy, with lab
  • 1 course in Physiology, with lab