Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC)                                                                                                                     
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Allopathic (Medical School—MD) and Osteopathic (DO) Medicine Course Requirements and Competencies

What courses are required prerequisites for medical school? Answering that question is a bit more complex than you might expect.

First, while there are a set of core courses that most medical schools typically require (two semesters of biology, four semesters of chemistry, two semesters of physics, and two semesters of English), there is also some variability across different programs regarding their required and recommended courses.

Second, starting in February 2015, the Medical College Aptitude Test (MCAT) began testing a broader set of specific “competencies,” numbering approximately 300 and covering disciplines ranging from biology, chemistry, and physics to the social sciences and humanities. Some of these competencies are not covered in the more typical required core courses. Thus, even though certain courses may not be required as prerequisites for some medical schools, these courses are helpful in developing your competencies in specific areas that the MCAT covers. For a more detailed description of these competencies, please visit the following link on the AAMC website and to see a guide for the new MCAT, please see the AAMC website.

Third, because students have different majors, minors, electives, and general knowledge, as well as different curricular and extracurricular experiences (e.g., laboratory research, internships, test preparation courses), gaps in competencies differ across students. Thus, students need to be strategic about including additional relevant courses from across the college, including biology, chemistry, neuroscience, health and exercise science, psychology, sociology and social work, philosophy, and courses on statistical methods, that will help them acquire the competencies they lack.

Taking into consideration each of these points, Skidmore’s Health Professions Advisory Committee makes the following recommendations regarding course preparation for medical school. Because this is only a guide, you should be sure to consult with your HPAC advisor regarding your selection of courses, and you should always check the specific course requirements for each school to which you are going to apply.

Always check for specific course requirements for each school you are going to apply to—this is only a guide!

Content Area Semesters Skidmore Course (s) Notes
General Biology two semesters with lab typically required BI 107
BI 108
BI 107 and BI 108 replace BI 105 and BI 106. Not all the biology content tested on the MCAT is covered in BI 107 and BI 108.
Advanced Biology one semester with lab recommended, required for certain programs BI 242, BI 245, BI 246, BI 247, or NS 201 A majority of medical schools require or recommend an additional biology course beyond the introductory level.
Chemistry four semesters with lab typically required, including General & Organic Chemistry, and, increasingly, Biochemistry CH 125
CH 221
CH 222
CH 341
Must take placement diagnostic. Schools that require two semesters of General Chemistry will typically count CH 341 as the second semester (CH 115 does not fulfill the requirement). A rare number of schools require four semesters of chemistry and a semester of biochemistry. For the additional chemistry course, CH 232, CH 314, ro CH 342 are good options.
Metabolism one course or additional studying BI 246, CH 342, EX 361A, or EX 361I Metabolism is tested on the MCAT exam beyond the level taught in introductory biology.
General Physics two semesters with lab typically required PY 207
PY 208
Must take Calculus I and II (or place out of them) to take physics at Skidmore; algebra-based physics would be sufficient.
Calculus variable, up to two semesters MA 111
MA 113
Only a few schools require calculus, but it is recommended because MA 111 and MA 113 (or place out of them) are required for PY 207 and PY 208.
Statistics one semester recommended, required for certain programs BI 235, CH 232, EC 237, EX 355, MS 104, PS 203, or SO 226 A few programs require statistics, while others recommend it, specifically recommending Biostatistics in many cases. Statistical reasoning is tested on the MCAT. The expectations are that the required science courses will cover the depth needed for the MCAT, but additional coursework is beneficial.
English/Writing Intensive (WI) two semesters typically required EN 105, EN 105H or EN 110, plus an additional WI course EN 110 is for those intending to be English majors or minors. Courses that fulfill the additional WI requirement include 200 or 300- level English courses, as well as WI designated courses in other Departments.
Behavioral Science one semester or additional studying recommended PS 101 or NS 101 Not required at many schools, but competencies are on the MCAT exam.
Social Science one semester or additional studying recommended SO 101, AN 101, or SW 212 Not required at many schools, but competencies are on the MCAT exam.

Competencies and Skidmore College

Here is a list of courses at Skidmore that overlap with a significant number of specific MCAT competencies not covered in the typical required core courses. (Click on the link for each course to see a course description.)

General Competency Topics Courses at Skidmore College
Genetics BI 245
Metabolism BI 246, CH 342, EX 361A, EX 361I
Physiology BI 244, BI 306, EX 126/127, EX 311
Eukaryotic Gene Expression BI 242, BI 245, BI 341, BI 360, BI 363, NS 201
Prokaryotes BI 246, BI 309, BI 362
Viruses BI 246, BI 361 BI 245 to a lesser extent
Cell Biology BI 242, BI 247, NS 201
Nervous System NS 101, NS 201, NS 315, BI 341, EX 126/127, EX 311
Behavioral Science NS 101, PS 101, advanced courses in PS and NS
Statistics BI 235, CH 232, EC 237, EX 355, MS 104, PS 203, SO 226
Social Science SO 101, AN 101, SW 212 advanced courses in SO, AN, SW
Critical Reasoning To further refine beyond core courses, philosophy and ethics courses

The list is not exhaustive. Please talk with your HPAC advisor. Courses may not cover all the specific competencies in a topic area. Preparing for those particular MCAT competencies may require additional studying on your own beyond typical MCAT preparation.


The Medical College Aptitude Test (MCAT) is a computer-based admission exam required for prospective medical students that assesses: “problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine”. The test is administered throughout the year; in 2017, the exam was offered 25 times (multiple times each month with the exception of February, October, and December, when it was not offered at all). If you plan to seek immediate entry to a medical school upon graduation, consider taking the MCAT during the spring of your junior year as you will be submitting your application that June or July. There is a fee assistance program for those who qualify. Please note: You must apply for fee assistance well in advance of taking the MCAT.