Are you thinking about entering into a health profession after graduation? If you are interested in providing leadership in the diagnosis and treatment of disease as well as promotion of health, you may want to pursue medicine. Luther College provides a strong curricular foundation for students wishing to pursue careers in allopathic (MD) osteopathic (DO) medicine, and is well recognized for the strength of its program. For students considering this occupation, it is important to plan their undergraduate curriculum carefully so that they meet the admission requirements of medical program, while also being prepared to take the required medical admission exam after their junior year.

Medical School Curriculum Requirements

Pre-medicine students typically pursue a biology or chemistry major, although students may major in any other discipline provided the take the courses necessary for admission into a medical school. To this end, it is strongly recommended that students consult a premedical advisor as they plan their undergraduate experience.

The prerequisite courses necessary for medical school vary by program, so students are encouraged to look at individual program requirements as they plan their schedules. However, most programs require the following:

  • one year of general biology (Biology 151-152)
  • one year of general chemistry (Chemistry 151-152)
  • one year of organic chemistry (Chemistry 241-242)
  • one semester of biochemistry (Chemistry 301)
  • one year of general physics (Physics 151-152)
  • one year of English composition (one additional writing-based course beyond Paideia 111 and 112)
  • one semester of advanced college mathematics or statistics

Many programs require or recommend additional courses in the sciences, including genetics, human physiology, anatomy, and microbiology. Finally, most programs require students to take courses in the humanities and behavioral sciences, which are fulfilled at Luther College through the general education requirements.

Medical School Application Requirements

Medical schools require pre-med students to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), which is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess a student’s ability to problem solve, critical thinking skills, and their knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts. The MCAT is usually taken during the summer after the junior year of college.

The MCAT is comprised of four sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Students receive a score for each of these sections (from a low of 118 to a high of 132 for each section), along with a composite total score (472 to 528) and an associated percentile based on national averages. While the medical school curriculum requirements listed above provide the much of the background material needed for the exam, students should complete introductory courses in psychology and sociology for the psycho/social section of the exam. Additionally, completion of genetics and human physiology are strongly recommended for the biological science components.

Most pre-medical students apply for admission to medical school during the summer between their junior and senior years. Application is done by computer to AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) for MD programs or to AACOMAS (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine) for DO programs. Pre-medical faculty advisors are available to assist students in the application process. Health Sciences Club also provides pertinent information for students planning a medical career.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internship experience is an important part of preparing for medical school, and medical schools expect applicants to have some clinical experience such as shadowing clinicians, work in a health care setting, and/or a clinically-based internship. Luther grants academic credit for health-career internships (Biology 380), most of which are arranged during January Term.

Although not required, many medical students have had research experience. Luther offers students the opportunity to do research with faculty members. and students may receive credit for directed research (Biology 389). Current research opportunities at Luther include cardiovascular physiology, pulmonary physiology, biofilm bacteriology, genomics, evolution of genome size and developmental mutations. Directed research can be done during the semester for academic credit, or during the summer at Luther College or at other institutions.

Sample Pre-Medicine Curriculum: Biology Major Plan

First Year

Fall Semester
Paideia 111 (English and History)
Chemical Principles I (Chem 151)
Foreign language
Personal Fitness and Wellness

Spring Semester
Paideia 112
Chemical Principles II (Chem 152)
Principles of Biology: Molecules and Cells (Bio 152)
Physical education skills

Sophomore Year

Fall Semester
Principles of Biology: Ecology, Evolution and Diversity (Bio 151)
Organic Chemistry I (Chem 241)
General Psychology (Psyc 130)
Elective or General Education course

Spring Semester
Organic Chemistry II (Chem 242)
Genetics (Bio 201)
Introduction to Sociology (Soc 101)
Elective or General Education course

Junior Year

Fall Semester
General Physics I (Phys 151)
Human Physiology (Bio 255)
Elective or General Education course

Spring Semester
General Physics II (Phys 152)
Biochemistry (Chem 301)
Upper level biology
Human expression course such as English composition
Elective or General Education course

Senior Year

Fall Semester
Upper level biology
Upper level biology
Paideia 450
Senior project (Bio 490)

Spring Semester
Upper level biology
Elective or General Education course
Elective or General Education course
Elective or General Education course

Although students can choose any upper level biology courses to fulfill a biology major, courses that are often chosen by pre-medical students at Luther include microbiology, genetics, cell, developmental biology, molecular biology, physiology, biostatistics, histology, immunology, endocrinology, neuroscience, and human dissection and anatomy.

A Path to Medical School

Alumni profile for Nick Andresen '13.

Read about the important skills Nick Andresen '13 acquired during his time at Luther and his path to medical school after graduation.

Find Your Niche

Do you want to study Medicine but are not exactly sure what you want to do? There are so many areas of medicine to study and careers in the medical field.