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Pre-Doctoral Track Requirements

The goal of the Premedical Program’s pre-doctoral track is to prepare each student academically for medical (MD or DO), dental (DDS or DMD), or veterinary (DVM) school through an individualized course of study. Your coursework will reflect what we believe will be required to make you, given your unique background, the most competitive applicant you can be. 

You will have an individualized credit requirement based on the type of medicine you plan to pursue and your unique background.

Getting Started

Interested in applying to the pre-doctoral track at Harvard Extension School? We accept applications each year between January 10 and April 10.

Pre-Doctoral Track Curriculum 

On-Campus Study

This is an in-person, on-campus program. If you are applying to medical (allopathic/osteopathic), dental, or veterinary schools, you must take all required program courses on campus at Harvard University. Most medical schools either do not accept online equivalents or have a strong preference for in-person instruction.

Typical Medical, Veterinary, and Dental School Requirements

Most medical, dental, and veterinary schools require that you have completed a core of prerequisite courses that build the foundation for medical science. This generally includes:

  • One year (including labs) of Biology, General Chemistry, and Physics
  • One or two semesters (including lab) of Organic Chemistry
  • One semester of Biochemistry 

In addition, many schools require or recommend additional coursework in math (calculus and/or statistics), psychology, English/writing, and humanities.

During your preparations, you are strongly encouraged to check the requirements of the specific schools to which you plan to apply to be sure you will meet their prerequisites when you submit your application.

If you have completed the required premedical courses with grades of B- or higher within the past three to five years, you are not expected to repeat them. Instead, you should take additional upper-level courses from the Premedical Program offerings. 

Your Individualized Credit Requirement

Accepted students are assigned a credit requirement ranging from 20 to 32 credit hours (5 to 8 courses). These must be completed with grades of B or higher to count toward the program’s completion. 

This assignment reflects your past academic history, including courses taken and grades received, and will be shared with you when you receive your offer of admission to the program. You will work with our advisors to select your courses, which must be chosen from the Premedical Program course listing in Course Search & Registration. Students matriculating into the program are agreeing to complete that credit assignment in order to complete the program.

Most students take two years to complete the pre-doctoral track. We encourage you to take two courses per term during the fall and spring terms. You may also choose to take a course during the summer term.

If you have no previous science background and need to complete all core medical science courses, we recommend the following path:

Sample Course Path for a pre-doctoral track student

Year one:

  • Fall semester* – General Chemistry 1a and Physics 1a
  • Spring semester – General Chemistry 1b and Physics 1b

Year two:

  • Fall semester – Biology 1a**, Organic Chemistry I (both with lab)
  • Spring semester – Biology 1b (with lab) and Biochemistry.

*Advising note: If you have not taken a science or math course recently, then we recommend taking some time during the summer to review algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Both chemistry and physics rely heavily on a strong working understanding of mathematics.

**Advising note: It is critical that you complete general chemistry prior to biology. Students who attempt to complete biology first (or at the same time as general chemistry) have a lower academic performance than those students who have already completed general chemistry.

If you have already completed some or all of the core prerequisite courses before admission, you may not need to repeat them. Instead, you will take higher-level electives. You may be able to complete the program in one year and a summer term.

You will meet regularly (at least once per semester) with one of the Premedical Program advisors to select courses and stay on track.

Most students take the MCAT or DAT in the spring of year two and apply to the schools of their choice in the summer of year two.

Students applying to medical school often do so during either the summer right after the completion of the PMP credit assignment or during the subsequent summer. Students who take a glide year to apply can still be eligible for continued PMP support and advising as long as enrollment and academic standing conditions are met.

Enrolling in Courses

Once you’ve been accepted to the program, you will:

  • Meet with your Premedical Program advisor: You’ll work together to review your academic background and your professional goal to help you select your first course or courses.
  • Enroll in summer or fall classes: You must start your course of study in the summer or fall after acceptance to the program. A spring start is not allowed due to the sequential nature of many science courses.

Enrollment & Academic Standing

Be sure to review the Premedical Program Enrollment Policies and Academic Standing.

How to Apply 

The online application to the Premedical Program is the same for all students, whether you intend to apply to medical school, physician assistant school, veterinary school, or dental school. Choose the track you plan to follow on the online application.

Applications are accepted from January 10 to April 10. All application materials must be received by the admissions office no later than April 10. Late or incomplete applications are not accepted.

Acceptances are announced on a rolling basis. Accepted students must accept their offer of admission no later than May 20.

Completed application materials include:

  • Online application
  • Essay
  • Resume or CV
  • Transcripts


As a premedical or predental candidate in our program, you have the opportunity to secure a composite letter of recommendation for your professional school application through sponsorship. The composite letter of recommendation is a narrative highlighting your overall academic and personal strengths and includes excerpts from the individual letters of recommendation you receive. Sponsorship is not required to apply to medical or dental schools, but composite letters often improve your competitiveness as an applicant. Students who do not meet sponsorship criteria can still be eligible for program support during the application process.

Note: Veterinary schools do not require such a letter.

Additional Information for Medical School

For information on the prerequisite courses and application procedure for allopathic medical schools, visit the Association for American Medical College’s website.

For information on the prerequisite courses and application procedure for osteopathic medical schools, visit the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

Additional Information for Dental School

For information on the prerequisite courses and application procedure for dental school, visit the American Dental Education Association.

Additional Information for Veterinary School

For more information on the prerequisite courses and application procedure for veterinary school, visit the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges.