What Are the Different Types of Medical School Required Courses?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2020
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Medical school required courses include both prerequisite courses, which are taken by students who hope to be admitted to medical school, as well as the courses required to complete a medical school program. At the prerequisite level, medical school required courses typically include coursework in the so-called “hard sciences” and mathematics. While in medical school, students will typically take coursework in every body system, as well as practical courses on the legal, ethical and social aspects of being a doctor.

In many areas, students who apply to medical school are typically expected to complete some foundational coursework during their secondary or postsecondary education. This coursework will vary according to educational policies within the country where they live as well as the admissions policies of individual schools. In the United States, students may complete a course of study known as a “pre-medical” or “pre-med” program during their undergraduate degrees. These programs are essentially a curriculum of prerequisite medical school required courses such as chemistry, biology, and physics. Many schools mandate the completion of several different types of biology courses, such as cell biology and genetics.


Other prerequisite medical school required courses often include mathematics, including calculus and statistics, as well as social science courses, such as psychology. Coursework in writing and communications may also be helpful to many students, particularly if they anticipate embarking on a research career after medical school. It should also be noted that some medical schools may be more flexible than others about the completion of coursework prior to enrollment. Schools in other countries may have different ways of assessing preparation for medical school: in the United Kingdom, for example, students typically take what are called A-Level exams that determine their proficiency in standard premedical subjects. It should be noted, however, that alternative qualifications to enter a British medical school also exist.

School curriculums vary, so medical school required courses aren’t the same at each school. Still, standards for the practice of medicine are often established at a national level, so required coursework at schools in a particular country may be quite similar. In the United States, the first two years of medical school typically includes numerous courses on body systems and particular areas of medical practice, such as dermatology, psychiatry and immunology. The last two years of medical school typically involve clinical rotations in various areas of medicine. Students in medical school may also be required to take courses in health insurance issues, malpractice law and patient privacy regulations.


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