Can I get into med school with a psychology degree?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question ‘’Can I get into med school with a psychology degree?” and point out what exactly you need to get into med school. 

Can I get into med school with a psychology degree?

Yes, you can get into med school with a psychology degree. In fact, psychology is one of the most prevalent degrees in medical aspirants (after biology). In order for you to enter medical school, the psychology degree curriculum must include the required pre-med courses, such as biology, anatomy, chemistry, etc.

Have you already discovered your vocation to be a physician?

Most of those who choose Medicine will consider becoming a physician within their primary path. That is why it is important to recognize what it is like to be a doctor.

A competent doctor will be scientifically educated and a good person. Being a doctor can be very stressful. It often requires long hours of work and sometimes overnight. There will be times when you will not be able to help patients and will have to deliver terrible and painful news to others.

As with any course, there are qualities that you will develop while studying medicine. Although it definitely helps if you have the following characteristics:

  • Strong academically, especially in science.
  • Commitment and perseverance.
  • Organization skills
  • Skills with people
  • Communication skills
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Stress management
  • Enthusiasm to be a learner and teacher

Medicine is a beautiful and well regarded career. In the United States, medical studies are very different from those in the United Kingdom, for example.

What do I need to get into med school?

Step 1: Study an Undergraduate in Applied Science

To complete the academic preparation of a physician in the United States, first of all you must study an undergraduate in some applied science. These undergraduate programs must be within the areas of Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics.

These programs can be taken in universities that don’t have Medical Schools, since most of the students look for another University more specialized in this area to study the specialty or the postgraduate degree. A great example is the Kings Education undergraduate program at Canisius University.

Another example is Harvard Medical University, where medical students are required to complete one year of Biology and two years of Chemistry with laboratory experience, one year of Physics, one year of Calculus, and one year of Expository Writing.

These basic requirements are common in most medical schools in the United States, but you should check with each university about their conditions and additional courses that you must take.

Step 2: Medical School Admission Test

Upon completion of pre-grade, you must pass the Medical School Admission Test, an exam that is designed to measure the student’s knowledge and skills in four critical areas: writing, verbal assessment, biological sciences, and physical sciences.

Once you have passed this test, you can really start studying medicine in the United States. You will be able to enter Universities with medical schools for approximately 4 more years.

The most recent version of the exam was presented in April 2015 and lasts about 7.5 hours. The test is scored in a range of 472 to 528.

The current MCAT consists of four distinct sections that are scored individually. Each section is allocated between 90 and 95 minutes and evaluates between 50 and 60 questions.

Step 3: Take 4 years of Medicine

During those four years, students must take pre-clinical and clinical studies. Pre-clinical studies are generally completed in the first two years and consist of related courses in Biology, Anatomy, Chemistry, and Research. For the next two years, students begin clinical studies, which consist of more practice and research.

Step 4: the Residence

You are already a doctor … or almost! To complement the program in medical school, a minimum 3 years of residency is required as a requirement, but can be extended up to 7 years. Physicians can apply for residency programs at most hospitals and medical facilities in the United States.

Some residencies are longer because they require more time to learn certain medical specialties. For example, a doctor who specializes in family medicine will complete their residency in three years, but one who specializes in reconstructive surgery may take an additional five years to complete the residency.

Step 5: You are already a physician!

Once you complete medical school with residency included, you will earn an MD. But you will not be able to practice this profession until you are endorsed by the State Medical Board in the place where you want to practice.

Average or Grade Point Average (GPA)

Getting into medical school is a difficult step. It requires strong test scores, an impressive academic record, and persistence. The College Grade Point Average (GPA) and the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) are the biggest factors in medical school admission.

Although usually medical schools require a minimum GPA of 2.70 (this varies by school) your chances of entering with this average is extremely low.

So what is the average you need for medical school? Multiple authors agree that a competitive academic index for most medical schools is 3.50 and up.

According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (for its acronym in English), only 40% of students with an academic index between 3.40 to 3.60 who apply are accepted in medicine. For those students who apply with a 3.60 to 3.80 GPA, their probability of entering medical school increases by 55%.

Finally, those students who apply with an academic index of 3.80 or more have a 72% probability of entering medical school.

Clearly it is difficult to enter medical school, and your academic index plays an important role in your chances of entering. The higher your average, the better your chances. However, it is important to clarify that even so, an academic index of 4.00 does not guarantee entry to medical school.

This is because medical schools take several factors into consideration when evaluating your application. These factors include shadowing, community, leadership positions, previous experience in scientific research, letters of reference, personal essay and the MCAT.

The Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology as Preparation for Medical School

The study of psychology is an important factor for the integral formation of the medical professional, since they generally base their diagnosis on the anatomical, physical and chemical areas, leaving aside psycho-socio-cultural factors, which have great importance since these aspects directly influence the integral state of the individual.

Now, let’s face it, is a degree in psychology a good idea to get into medical school?

Objectively, yes. That is, to enter medical school you can enter with any major (including one in English), BUT you need to complete certain courses such as biology, chemistry, physics, etc.

If in your psychology undergraduate degree program you complete the required pre med courses, you will not have any problems. In fact, most of them are the same or similar to what you need to enter any health science school.

But for this you must check your undergraduate degree program and validate if it meets the requirements. What happens if my undergraduate degree does not complete the premed courses? No panic.

That means that in addition to having your major in psychology, you must complete these courses externally.

In fact, in addition to needing those courses themselves, you need them to prepare for the MCAT.

Of course, if you decide to choose psychology as your undergraduate degree, you must justify why you took it. What is it related to medicine? What does psychology contribute? And ensure that the research you have done is related to the medical (mental health, child development, etc.)

We know that the most common undergraduate degrees to enter medical school are Biology and Chemistry. But, sometimes universities don’t want to see that you have taken the “easy way”. Ideally, you should have good grades (a good GPA), and a good score on the admission test.

If you want to take psychology as the undergraduate degree, we recommend that you take courses that have a strong component in neuroscience and cognitive psychology. Since they have strong biological bases.

But the important thing is that your undergraduate degree contributes to your medical career and is intellectually stimulating. If you’d like to study psychology to prepare for med school, take it. We just tell you: work hard.

In short, requirements to get into medical school.

  1. Bachelor’s Degree in Biology or Natural Sciences with an emphasis in Pre-Medicine.
  2. Sending letters of recommendation from the Dean of the Faculty and professors.
  3.  Sending a credit transcript.
  4. Essay where you explain why you want to study medicine.
  5. Pass Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

The best universities to study medicine

According to Times Higher Education, the following colleges are best for conducting clinical and health science studies with respect to a medical degree.

  • University of Oxford – United Kingdom
  • Cambridge University – United Kingdom
  • Harvard University – United States
  • Imperial College London – United Kingdom
  • Stanford University – United States
  • Johns Hopkins University – United States
  • University of California, Berkeley – United States
  • Columbia University – United States
  • University of Melbourne – Australia
  • University of Pennsylvania – United States

As you might expect, the UK and the US dominate the top 20, although the rest of North America, Europe, and Asia are well represented in the top 100.

For a complete list of medical schools, visit the World Directory of Medical Schools, an excellent resource that lists each institution and its details.

FAQS: Can I get into med school with a psychology degree?

Is Psychology a good major for pre med?

Yes, psychology is a good major for pre-med. You have the same chances of getting into medical school as a major in biology or chemistry.

What should I major in if I want to go to medical school?

If you don’t know what major take to get into medical school, you should consider:
Biology.
Physiology.
Biochemistry.
Psychology.
English.

Can you get into medical school with a BA?

Yes, you can get into medical school with a BA. As long as you complete the required courses for pre-med and have good grades.

Is BA or BS better for med school?

A BS student will take more classes in applied science. The benefit of having a B.S is that you will have more courses that complete the requirements to apply to medical school.

How difficult is pre med?

Pre-med can be difficult, but manageable. What is more difficult is balancing all the activities that the subjects have, such as research, tutorials, laboratory, etc.

In this brief guide we answered the question ‘’Can I get into med school with a psychology degree?” and pointed out what exactly you need to get into med school. 

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.

References

Mensh, I. N. (1953). Psychology in medical education. American Psychologist, 8(2), 83.

Miller, R. H., & Bissell, D. (2006). Med school confidential: A complete guide to the medical school experience: By students, for students. Macmillan.

Psychology and the Health Professions:    Department of Psychology – Northwestern University. (2017). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from Northwestern.edu website: https://psychology.northwestern.edu/undergraduate/career-planning/psychology-health-professions.html

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