Expand mobile version menu
  Skip to main content


Program Description

Just the Facts

Medicine. A program that prepares individuals for the independent professional practice of medicine, involving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of illnesses, injuries, and other disorders of the human body. Includes instruction in the basic medical sciences, clinical medicine, examination and diagnosis, patient communications, medical ethics and law, professional standards, and rotations in specialties such as internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, neurology, ophthalmology, radiology, clinical pathology, anesthesiology, family medicine, and psychiatry.

This program is available in these options:

  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this career cluster:

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Additional Information

Trying to get into medical school is kind of like trying to get good seats for a high-profile show or sporting event. It's difficult and it may cost you a lot. But it's not totally impossible.

In the U.S., you can choose from over 120 accredited medical schools, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Most medical students spend their first two years studying the science of medicine through lectures and laboratory work. Courses cover subjects like anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, pathology and pharmacology.

Third- and fourth-year students rotate through the main medical subfields -- internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry and others -- in a series of clinical clerkships.

After they finish medical school, students begin a hospital residency. They learn and study their specialties. A residency could last up to seven years, depending on the specialty.

But it takes a lot of work to get that far. One of the biggest hurdles is getting into medical school first.

Most, but not all, schools want you to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). It tests your knowledge of the basic sciences, your reading and writing skills and your problem-solving skills. Your odds of being accepted rise if you do well on the MCAT.

But your MCAT score is only one of many variables medical schools consider. Your undergraduate courses, marks, extracurricular activities and personal characteristics also matter.

You should take university courses in biology, mathematics, chemistry, physics and English. But don't focus entirely on the natural sciences. Round out your education with courses in the humanities and the social sciences.

"Students need to have demonstrated, during college, that they can master a subject area and...apply their knowledge to new situations," says Ann Diggins. She is the director of recruitment at the University of Nevada's medical school.

Join clubs and volunteer -- preferably in some kind of medical environment. Note, though, that a lot of medical school applicants volunteer at hospitals. You may want to do something that makes you stand out in a crowd.

Some medical schools allow you to apply after only two years of undergraduate studies. But many students apply only after they are done with their undergraduate degrees.

High school students cannot, of course, directly apply to medical school. But they can prepare themselves.

"In high school, students should take four years of math, science courses and English courses to give them the best preparation for college," says Diggins.

Going to medical school is a significant financial investment. Be sure that medicine is the right field for you.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For information related to this field of study, see: Physicians and Surgeons

Applying to Medical Schools
Explains the process

How Becoming a Doctor Works
A detailed explanation of becoming a doctor


  • Email Support

  • 1-800-GO-TO-XAP (1-800-468-6927)
    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900


Powered by XAP

OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.