302-831-3030 CPHPS-FAQ@udel.edu

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the various health care professions?

There are more than 80 health care careers with approximately 8,400 accredited professional education programs in various health care fields, many of which are listed as follows:

Allied Health
Occupational Therapy
Speech Therapy
Physical Therapy
Physician Assistant
Veterinary Medicine
What are Health Professional Schools looking for in applicants?
It is important to note that Health Professional Schools are interested in more than just a great GPA and strong standardized test scores (MCAT, GRE, DAT, etc.). Admissions committees will carefully review letters of recommendation, personal statements, demonstrated professional experience, and responses to interview questions in order to develop a comprehensive picture of who you are and reasons you wish to pursue a professional career in the healthcare field. Overall it can be said that Health Professional Schools are looking for broadly educated, mature, intellectually curious students who possess excellent academic accomplishments, positive leadership/interpersonal skills, clearly demonstrated motivation for pursuing a healthcare profession, and strong compassion and concern for helping others.
What makes the University of Delaware unique in addressing requirements for the various healthcare professions?
The University of Delaware enjoys an excellent reputation for its success in preparing students for medical/healthcare professions. Exceptional interdisciplinary laboratory facilities, outstanding faculty, significant undergraduate student translational research opportunities, and strong academic and professional program advising are provided across all colleges. This has led to a rapidly growing number of alumni practicing medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, etc., all over the country. Over the past several decades our students have been accepted at almost every major medical/health profession school in the United States, with alumni achieving significant national and international recognition across the entire medical field. In addition to providing students a strong foundation in the sciences, the university can be noted for its emphasis upon the medical humanities and social sciences side of medical education. Through significant co-curricular opportunities provided students, emphasis has been placed upon the humanistic and ethical dimensions of premedical/prehealth profession education.
What is meant by the term Pre-Health?

The term Pre-Health is a broad based term representing the various professions in the health care field that students may pursue. It is not a major/minor but rather a highly flexible track or pathway of certain courses that a student takes in preparation to address admission requirements for health profession schools. “Pre-Health” simply identifies those students who wish to attend a healthcare professional school following the completion of their undergraduate baccalaureate program of study. To achieve this goal a student must complete appropriate academic and co-curricular requirements prior to application to professional schools.

Can students at the University of Delaware major in Premedical/Health Profession Studies?
Students should be aware that “Premedical/Health Profession Studies” are not majors. Students are advised to follow appropriate pre-med/health pathways or tracks that do not represent formal academic majors or disciplines. By doing so, this allows significant freedom for students to select almost any major at the University of Delaware that interests them and is passionate about studying. With careful planning and advisement, medical school and other health professional program requirements can be completed while addressing requirements of a given major. While a large percentage of medical school/health profession program applicants come from majors in the biological/physical sciences, medical schools and other health profession programs are looking for students who have completed specific course work and who have performed at a high academic level regardless of the major. It is important to note that a growing number of applicants to the various health professional schools come from highly diverse academic disciplines.
What is the best major for Premedical/Health Professional School applicants?
Quite a few students who pursue healthcare professions major in the life/health sciences where much of their academic interest lies. However, we advise students to select whatever major they wish. They are encouraged to major in something they truly enjoy and are passionate about because that is more likely to lead to academic success than pursuing a field for which you have little enthusiasm. Be aware that students coming from any major can gain acceptance into medical school provided they have completed the “required” pre-med courses – biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, biochemistry, math, etc. Some med schools like to see students from divergent majors because of their perceived well-rounded nature. In addition to the biological sciences, recent Delaware graduates who were successful in gaining medical school admission came from majors that included, Mechanical Engineering, Exercise Science, Psychology, Foreign Languages and Literature, Economics, Sociology, English, Music, and Philosophy among others. It is important to note that your major will not determine success in applying to medical school. Your interests should determine your choice of major. Regardless of the major selected, most students are able to fit the prerequisite requirements into their curriculum. When someone decides late to pursue a healthcare profession, they may elect to take a glide year following graduation to complete the necessary prerequisites while studying for the MCAT.
Should pre-health profession students consider a study abroad experience?
Students are strongly encouraged to consider a study abroad experience. Enrolling in a study abroad program as a pre-medical/health professions study student represents an exciting opportunity to take a break from the rigors and demands of a campus academic program, while addressing prerequisite and/or academic requirements of a given major. The opportunity to get out of the traditional classroom/lab enables students to explore the world while gaining meaningful like experiences that can be shared in medical/health professional school applications. As a pre-health professions study abroad student, you may have the opportunity to examine public health and other healthcare related services first-hand in whatever country chosen to study. Some students may elect to perform a study abroad in an undeveloped country where valuable volunteer experience can be obtained at clinics helping those in need of medical treatment and providing medical education. Perhaps some students would seek valuable shadowing experiences in more sophisticated clinical settings while working in laboratories possessing state-of-the-art technologies. As a pre-medical/pre-health profession student, this represents an opportunity to discover the different lifestyles of health professionals and their day-to-day roles performed in a different culture. For the undergraduate student, the study abroad experience helps create a diverse, challenging and enriching resume that significantly enhances a medical/health professional school application. With clinical or field study experiences, students often gain the opportunity to learn a second language while being exposed to a new and different culture. Without question, the study abroad experience helps create a well-rounded medical/health professional school applicant.
What are the basic pre-requisites/course requirements for admission to Health Professional Schools?
Medical schools seek students who are well-rounded and have clearly demonstrated a passion and understanding of the basic life and physical sciences. The majority of medical schools require students to have taken one year of Biology, Physics, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry. These science based courses must include appropriate laboratory sections. Students must also take two semesters of English and one to two semesters of college-based mathematics. Note that MCAT 2015 will continue to test science based knowledge across all eight semesters of the premedical requirements with the addition of new course prerequisites that include: Biochemistry, Sociology, and Psychology.
Other Health Professional Schools have widely varying academic prerequisites and co-curricular requirements making it imperative for students to seek advisement as possible from the Center for Premedical/Health Profession Studies.
Can AP credit be used to fulfill premedical studies requirements?
It is generally not advisable to claim AP credit for science based prerequisites such as Physics, General Chemistry, Biology, and Organic Chemistry. However, if AP credit is claimed for an introductory science course, students are advised to replace it with an upper level lab based course in that same discipline. Note that most programs will accept AP credit to meet all or part of the Math and English prerequisites. Students who do claim AP credit in Calculus are advised to seriously consider taking a Statistics course in its place since an increasing number of Health Professional Schools are emphasizing the importance of statistics.
What should I do if I perform poorly in a course?
Note that students, in order to be competitive, are typically advised to retake any prerequisite course in which they received a grade below a 2.0. If a student does earn a poor, but passing, final course grade, it is often difficult to determine whether or not it is best to retake the course. In some cases, students who perform poorly in early science prerequisite courses may be advised to take additional higher level science courses to demonstrate subject matter proficiency and to strengthen their overall academic record becoming more competitive applicant. Note that a grade of “C” is not going to prevent a student from being accepted into medical/health professional schools but multiple ones may. The average successful premedical applicant, for instance, has a minimum overall and science GPA of 3.5 or higher. Few medical schools will seriously consider applicants with less than a B+ average without overcoming significant personal disadvantages. Students may be competitive in most of the other healthcare professions with slightly lower GPA’s.
Can Prerequisite courses for Professional schools be taken Pass/Fail?
Pass/Fail grades for prerequisite courses are not permitted. Prerequisite courses for Health Professional Schools must be completed with a letter grade of C or better.
What is a glide or gap year?
A glide or gap year is typically referred to as the year between students applying to medical, dental, veterinary or other professional program and matriculation. During this time, students are often amidst the application and interview process for medical school admissions. Generally, a full year is required for this process. During the glide year, most students have already completed the required prerequisite courses for medical, dental, veterinary, physician assistant, or other health profession programs and are completing various activities. During this period students typically enroll in advanced-level science or elective courses, continue to volunteer in a healthcare related settings, volunteer abroad, complete clinical/laboratory-based research, work as a laboratory assistant, or even pursue employment in a healthcare related field.
What are the Standardized Tests required by the various Health Professional Schools?
The MCAT exam is a standardized test that has been a part of the medical school admissions process for over 80 years. Offered by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the MCAT is a one day, standardized, multiple-choice exam designed to evaluate a medical school applicant’s problem solving, critical thinking, and science based knowledge prerequisite to the study of medicine. Scores are reported in Physical Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, and Biological Sciences. Note that just about all medical schools in the United States and Canada require applicants to submit MCAT examination results. Most of these schools do not accept MCAT examination scores that are over three years old.

Dental schools have their own standardized exam called the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). The DAT is conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA). The DAT is administered year round at test centers operated by Prometric Inc., and is designed to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability. All dental schools require applicants to participate in the DAT program.

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is a standardized examination designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information. The OAT is sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) for all applicants in the United States and Canada seeking admission to an optometry pr. All schools and colleges of optometry in the United States, and the University of Waterloo, Canada require the OAT.

Constructed specifically for colleges of pharmacy, the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is a specialized test that helps to identify qualified applicants. It serves to evaluate academic ability and scientific knowledge essential for the pursuit of pharmaceutical education.

Veterinary schools and most Physician Assistant/Physical Therapy programs require applicants to have taken the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). GRE’s are taken by individuals applying to graduate programs in natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, business, humanities and art, education and other fields. GRE scores are used by admission boards to evaluate an applicant’s qualifications for professional graduate studies.

How important are extracurricular activities?
Extracurricular activities pursued by students are very important. They help to identify and demonstrate a student’s interest in non-academic pursuits. Admission boards like to see students who have been active in campus affairs and who have a range of interests outside their academic programs of study. Activities of this nature are perceived as helping students develop important qualities such as communication, leadership, and organizational skills. Interviewers often seek information about how an applicant spends their free time. It is important to demonstrate solid commitment to a few activities without sacrificing good grades for a long list of extracurricular functions. Quality is more important than quantity.
What is a post baccalaureate program?
A post baccalaureate program represents a plan of study performed at the undergraduate/graduate level by individuals who have already completed a baccalaureate degree. A number of institutions nationally offer post baccalaureate programs designed to assist student preparation for the pursuit of a medical/health profession careers. Note that the purposes of these programs vary. The majority of such programs are designed for talented students who have already completed their baccalaureate degrees but lack many or all of the core prerequisite requirements for allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. This may also apply to other health profession programs such as dentistry, veterinary medicine, podiatric medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy. Other programs are designed to enhance an existing academic record for those individuals who have already taken the requisite courses but need to improve their science GPA. These latter programs usually involve advanced higher level coursework providing students with the opportunity to increase the competitiveness of their medical/health profession school applications. Still other programs are specifically assist persons from groups currently underrepresented in medicine or from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds.


Send your question to, chps-advising@udel.edu