Academic Preparation

Students studying for finals

Stay organized, plan ahead, and choose your classes and activities carefully to ensure that you meet all academic requirements for Occidental as well as your intended healthcare graduate programs.

Basic Pre-Health Prerequisites

Subject Duration Example Classes at Oxy
Biology 1 Year or more* Bio 115 (or 110), 130, 221, 224, 226, 322
Chemistry 2 Years Chem 120 (or 130) & 220, 221, 240
Physics 1 Year Phys 115 & 125
English 0.5-1 Year Cultural Studies Program (CSP)

*This list is based on typical admission requirements for medical school; specifics will vary by health profession and school. Additional requirements may also include college math, calculus, statistics, upper-division biology, biochemistry, and behavioral and social science courses. Occidental’s first-year CSP courses will satisfy most schools’ English requirement.

Do I need to major in science?
Your major does not affect your chance of admission; therefore, it is important to choose a major that truly interests you. Those who choose to double major or minor in another subject area do not necessarily have an advantage. Do well in your chosen major and take additional classes that you enjoy.

Can I study abroad as a pre-health student?
Yes, studying abroad enhances your cross-cultural competency and we encourage such endeavours. We also recommend that you visit the International Programs Office early as these experiences take careful planning. Note that U.S. medical schools do not accept prerequisites that are taken overseas.

What should I do during my four years at Oxy?
All incoming pre-health students must take a Math & Chemistry Placement Exam unless they present satisfactory AP/IB exam scores. To launch your pre-health journey, review our four-year guide, subscribe to the Pre-health Digest and make an appointment with us as needed.

How do I find academic support, personal support, community and professional development opportunities?
Fundamental to Occidental’s mission is seeing each of our students thrive, excel and succeed. Whether you are trying to identify your intellectual and personal goals, looking to find where you belong, or encountering roadblocks in your pursuit of personal or intellectual growth, we have a wide range of resources to support you. Visit the Student Success page for a complete guide.

Which prerequisite courses are offered at Oxy?
Oxy students who are interested in entering graduate programs in the health sciences are strongly encouraged to take the courses outlined below. Specific requirements may vary among medical and health science specialties; check official admissions requirements for each school to which you plan to apply. Please plan ahead and schedule your courses strategically to make sure that you meet Oxy's core and major requirements while also fulfilling professional or graduate school requirements.

Relevant Campus Offices & Programs

Academic Mastery Program
A student-led workshop program that promotes excellence in biology, chemistry, math and physics. Support courses: BIO 130; CHEM 120, 130, 220, 221, 240; PHYS 110,115, 125, 230.

Center for Community Based Learning
CCBL’s civic engagement approach, based on community organizing practices, aims to enrich students' learning and commitment to social responsibility.

Disability Services
Supporting a full and engaging experience for Oxy students—both in and out of the classroom.

Hameetman Career Center
Supporting students and alumni as they connect their interests and skills with a variety of career development opportunities in Los Angeles and beyond.

Public Health Practicum
A community health internship course designed to provide students with real-world experience as they develop new skills and insights into myriad community health issues, concerns and solutions.

Scientific Scholars Achievement Program
A student-led academic support program that offers tutoring and community-building opportunities between students and faculty.

Undergraduate Research Center
The Summer Research Program provides a full-time, ten-week, campus-based mentored research experience. Applications open in early Spring. 

Writing Center
Students from all disciplines have access to drop-in and appointment-based support for their writing assignments.