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Choice of Major

At most undergraduate colleges, including UMBC, deciding to go “PreMedical or PreDental or PreOptometry or PreVeterinary” is an informal decision. There is no official interest-area declaration action nor paperwork trail for these pre-health career interest areas; it simply means that students have medical or dental or optometry or veterinary school as an eventual goal and are making sure they add the pre-health professional school prerequisites to their declared major courses. Calling oneself a “PreMed”, “PreDental”, “PreOptometry”, or “PreVet” student is completely self-regulated by the student; not by UMBC, given there is no formal way to track a student’s pre-health interests. Students can decide to go a pre-health pathway at any point in their career at UMBC, which might alleviate some decision-making pressure during the freshman year. Although, preparing to become competitive for professional school does take many years and is not a quick-process.  In fact, many students wait to apply to professional school until after they graduate.  Last year, 71% of the UMBC matriculants to medical school had already graduated from UMBC before they applied to medical school.

UMBC pre-health students declare various majors. Most of these students naturally are attracted to the sciences and decide to major accordingly, although majoring in the sciences is not required for medical, dental, optometry, or veterinary school. Any major is acceptable for the pre-health areas that fall under The PreMedical and PreDental Advising Office (pre-medical, dental, optometry, podiatry, veterinary). Students should follow their individual passions while aligning their choices with their academic strengths and abilities.  About 75% of pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-optometry, and pre-veterinary students are biology majors, followed by 20% biochemistry majors, while the rest typically fall under bioinformatics, chemical engineering, interdisciplinary studies, math, philosophy, psychology and other myriad choices. Maintaining an excellent academic record is crucial, given our accepted students are averaging 3.7 overall GPA’s and 3.7 science GPA’s.

For students who are considering a biological science degree, there are two degree options–the B.A. and the B.S. The B.A. was designed specifically with pre-health students in mind. The B.S. track is more appropriate for students who intend to pursue a research-intensive career after graduation.

The UMBC Career Center offers counseling and resources on the ‘choice of major’ issue. Be sure to check out their, “What Can I Do with My Major” sheets and other resources which help students to explore their options.  Follow the career decision making process and seek out valuable resources along your major-choice and career-decision journey.

Try to align your choice of major with the economic forecasts of future workforce opportunities by using tools such as the career-related research conducted by on the best college majors for jobs of the future.

Besides the choice of major, another issue which is often on the minds of prospective undergraduates/high school students is acceptance rates.  The national acceptance rate for medical school is typically between 42-44%.  Last year, UMBC’s medical school acceptance rate was 54%.