Every student in the postbaccalaureate Premedical Program at Harvard Extension School has an individualized credit requirement based on the type of medicine you plan to pursue and your unique background.
There are two distinct tracks in the Premedical Program:
- Premedical track: For individuals planning to apply to medical, dental, or veterinary school
- Pre-physician assistant/associate (PA) track: For individuals planning to apply to PA school
- Premedical Track Curriculum
- Pre-Physician Assistant (PA) Track Curriculum
- How to Apply
- Enrolling in Courses
Premedical Track Curriculum
The goal of the Premedical Program is to prepare each student academically for medical, dental, or veterinary 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.
This is an in-person, on-campus program. Students applying to allopathic and/or osteopathic medical school, dental school, and veterinary school must take all required program courses on campus at Harvard University. Medical schools generally do not accept online equivalents.
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 (plus lab) of Biology, General Chemistry, and Physics
- One or two semesters (plus lab) of Organic Chemistry
- One semester of Biochemistry
In addition, many schools require or recommend additional coursework such as math (calculus and/or statistics), English, psychology, and humanities coursework.
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 20-32 credit hours (5-8 courses), which must be completed with grades of B or higher to count toward completion of the program.
This assignment reflects your past academic history, including courses taken and grades received. You will work with our advisors to select your courses, which must be chosen from the Premedical Program course listing in Course Search & Registration.
Sample Course Path for a Premedical Program Student
Most students take two years to complete the postbaccalaureate Premedical Program. 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.
You will meet regularly (at least once per term) with one of the Premedical Program advisors to select courses and stay on track.
If you have no previous science background and need to complete all core medical science courses, we recommend the following path:
- Year one: General Chemistry 1a and 1b, and Physics 1a and 1b (both with lab).
- Year two:
- Fall semester – Biology 1a*, Organic Chemistry I (both with lab)
- Spring semester – Biology 1b (with lab) and Biochemistry.
If you have already completed some of the science coursework before admission, you will take higher-level electives. You may be able to complete the program in one year and a summer term.
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.
*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.
Enrollment & Academic Standing
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.
Note: Most veterinary schools do not require such a letter; however, we will provide the pre-health advisor committee letter required by Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.
Applying to 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.
Applying to Dental School
For information on the prerequisite courses and application procedure for dental schools, visit the American Dental Education Association.
Applying to Veterinary School
For more information on the prerequisite courses and application procedure for veterinary school, visit the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges.
Pre-PA Track Curriculum
The pre-physician assistant/associate (PA) track is designed to prepare students academically for PA school through a rigorous, personalized grounding in science and other prerequisite courses.
Study Online or on Campus
Unlike medical schools, most PA schools accept online coursework. Students on a PA track may take courses either online or on the Harvard campus.
Typical PA School Requirements
Prerequisite coursework for PA school can vary widely by institution but often includes a rigorous grounding in multiple science disciplines. Most PA schools will require that your application demonstrates that you have successfully completed:
- Biology I & II and two Advanced Biology courses with labs (microbiology, cell biology, immunology, or neurobiology, for example)
- General Chemistry I & II
- Anatomy and Physiology I & II
- English (including composition)
- Psychology and/or Sociology and Medical Terminology
In addition, many schools recommend Statistics, Nutrition, Physics, Biochemistry, and Organic Chemistry.
Many PA programs require 1,000+ hours of clinical experience prior to applying to PA school. The Premedical Program does not supply clinical experiences. You will need to arrange for and complete the necessary number of clinical hours for your application either prior to your application to the Premedical Program and/or in parallel with your Premedical Program coursework.
During your preparations, 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.
Your Individualized Credit Requirement
Accepted students are assigned a credit requirement, ranging from 32 to 44 credit hours (8-11 courses), which must be completed with grades of B- or higher. This assignment is based upon past academic history, including courses taken and grades received.
Sample Course Path for the Pre-Physician Assistant Track
The Pre-Physician Assistant track is a three-year program if studying part time. You will take one to two courses per term (fall, spring, and summer).
You will meet regularly—at least once per term—with a Premedical Program advisor to guide course selection. The sequential nature of most science courses will determine when you take specific required courses throughout your program of study.
You will begin the application process during the spring of your third year, including completing the GRE and/or PA-CAT.
Applying to PA School
Enrollment & 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.
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.
- Search and register for courses: Use the DCE Course Search and Registration tool to register for your classes.