Developing an Academic Plan

General Academic Planning Guidelines

Ensure that your academic advisor is aware of your goals. They can help you develop a four year plan incorporating your major and Discovery requirements. You will then build your health professions (HP) prerequisites in to this plan. Many of your HP courses will fulfill Discovery requirements and others may be able fulfill some major requirements.

  • Most students should try to take one lab science course beginning in their first year.
  • Demonstrating academic rigor is important.
    • Complete your Health Professions prerequisites as part of a full course load (16 credits).
    • Completing these courses in the summer is NOT recommended (unless there are special circumstances).
  • Non-science majors should plan a year (or two) in which they will take two lab sciences at the same time and as part of a full course load.
  • It is not recommended that a two-semester course sequence be divided between different schools. (i.e. first semester chemistry at school "A" and second semester at school "B".)
  • Prerequisite sciences, in general, should be completed at U.S. schools rather than in a study abroad program.

Sequencing Your Courses

The prerequisite courses should be completed (or in the last few weeks of completion) at the time the entrance exams are taken. If an applicant’s goal is to matriculate to a health professions program directly after graduating, the prerequisite courses and exams must be completed by the end of the junior year. The plan outlined below allows a student to complete the HP prerequisites by the end of the junior year. The courses and exams can also be completed senior year allowing the applicant a gap year.   There is no requirement or expectation that an applicant should apply as a junior. It may be useful to review "Ten Good Reasons to Delay".

  • Biology (at UNH) is the only 2-semester sequence that can be taken out of sequence/order. (i.e. BIOL 412 in fall, 411 the following spring). All other courses must be taken in their numerical order. (i.e. CHEM 403 fall, 404 spring)
  • General Chemistry 403/404 Must complete before taking Organic Chemistry 
  • Organic Chemistry Must be completed before taking Biochemistry.
    • There are several Organic Chemistry course options. Science majors will have specific requirements.  
      • Any student planning on medical, dental, pharmacy, or podiatry school can take either of the two-semester organic chemistry courses. CHEM 547-550 (designed for Biochemistry and Chemistry majors)  Or CHEM 651-654 (open for all others)
      • There is a one semester Organic Chemistry course: CHEM 545.
        • Optometry programs only require one semester.
        • Some PA programs** may require Organic Chemistry.  If Organic is required, usually the one semester course is adequate.

**It is the student’s responsibility to check individual program requirements.

  • Biochemistry Any upper level (600 or higher) one semester Biochemistry course with lab.
  • Mathematics Some majors have specific math course requirements, usually requiring a specific statistics and calculus course. If unsure of your major, it is a good idea wait to complete a statistics course. If you completed pre-calc or calculus in high school, consider taking calculus in your first year. Math 424A or B and Math 425 are considered equivalent calculus courses for health professions programs.
  • Physics There are two levels of introductory physics. Both are accepted by health professions programs. PHYS 401-402: Introduction to Physics, is the course completed by most health professions students. PHYS 407-408: General Physics, is a calculus based physics course required by most engineering majors.  

The First Year

All students will take an English composition course during their first year.

Medical/ Dental/ Optometry/ Podiatry/ Pharmacy

  • If a student is a science major they will probably begin their first semester taking two lab sciences such as biology and chemistry*, and a math (pre-calculus or calculus). Engineering majors will take calculus and possibly physics and/or chemistry.
  • Non-science majors should consider taking Biology 411 (or 412) or CHEM 403* in the fall. These courses may be fit in around major requirements. It is possible to incorporate a math course in to this first year.
  • *Students interested in medical school may want to take Chemistry their first year as they will need to complete five semesters of chemistry.

Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant

  • Ideally, begin the prerequisite coursework with BMS 507-508: Anatomy and Physiology.
  • Alternately, you may begin with Biology 411 or 412.

The Second Year

  • The sophomore year of college is a time to complete major requirements, proceed with pre-health requirements, and if undecided, sample courses to finalize your major choice and a possible minor.  There are many, many alternatives, none of which are wrong, but one of which is probably best for you.  You should discuss your choices carefully with your academic advisor. 
  • Many pre-health students consider doubling up on their science prerequisites during the sophomore year, often taking the combination of Biology and Physics, or Organic Chemistry and Physics.    It is important, especially for non-science majors, to demonstrate an ability to handle the rigor of multiple sciences in the same semester.  Sophomore year is often a good time to tackle this.  You may choose to double up during junior year, but this may be more challenging for this is a time when you might also be completing upper level courses in the major or minor, studying away, taking on larger roles in community activities, and beginning preparation for the entrance exams.
  • If you have completed at least one of the year-long science prerequisites, spring semester sophomore year is the time to take INCO 403 - Health Professions Seminar. If your plan includes a gap year then this course will fit in to spring semester of the junior year.
  • PT students should consider taking KIN 620-Physiology of Exercise during their sophomore or junior year. BMS 507/508 is a prerequisite for this course.

The Third Year

  • By the end of your sophomore year you should have chosen your major or concentration. What you take as a junior is determined by that choice and by the sciences you have taken as a sophomore. During this year, you can complete all the premedical sciences. You will continue working on your major, minor, and University requirements. The third year (and/or fourth year) is also a time when non-science majors should try to incorporate an additional upper-level Biology, Physiology, or Cell Bio/Physiology course. Science majors should consider taking courses relevant to health, human behavior, access to care, policy, and other topics.
  • For students planning to apply to go straight to a health professions school after graduating, this year will end with you taking the entrance exam either in the spring or early summer.

The Final Year

  • As a senior (if you are applying to go straight on to school) you will already have completed all of your pre-health requirements. The rest of your courses will be major requirements and electives. Occasionally the non-science major, who would not otherwise be taking any further science requirements as a senior, will take an additional upper level Biology course or two. This may also help to enhance a slightly lower science GPA. The science major should consider adding in courses that are relevant to health, human behavior, access to care, policy, and other topics.