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Physics and Astronomy Department launches new Pre-Medical Concentration

Posted in: Opportunities, Physics

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The department of Physics and Astronomy is now offering a BS Physics degree with a Pre-Medical concentration. The purpose of this new degree option is to prepare those students with a passion for Physics who are also interested in medical careers. Specifically, the program is designed to prepare students for the MCAT exam and the medical school admissions process. In addition, they also get the exceptionally strong analytic, problem-solving, and math skills that come with a physics degree—preparing them for a wide range of options outside of medicine—like graduate school or careers in a variety of industries.

Average MCAT Scores by Selected Majors, 2012

Major Physical
Number of
Economics 10.8 0.8 9.9 633
Physics  11.1 10.4 9.8 228
Biomedical Engineering 11.1 10.6 9.6 1147
Mathematics 10.6 10.4 9.3 340
Electrical Engineering 10.9 10.1 9.4 135
Neuroscience 10.1 10.6 9.5 1615
English 9.6 10.1 10.2 380
Biochemistry 10.1 10.4 9 2864
Chemistry 9.5 10 9 2113
Microbiology 9.2 10.1 8.8 759
Psychology 9.1 9.6 9.1 2,327
Biology 9 9.7 8.7 13605
Premedical 8.3 8.9 8.1 587
All Majors 9.5 9.9 9 44464

Based on test takers who applied to Medical School. Applicants are allowed to take the MCAT exam more than once; these averages are computed using each applicant’s most recent MCAT exam scores.

Source: Compiled by the Statistical Research Center based on data collected by the Association of American Medical Colleges

Traditionally, students enter medical school with preparation as Biology majors. However, some students are quite interested in Physics but don’t see it as a pathway to a career in Medicine. In fact, Physics students have among the highest scores on the MCAT exam, as well as some of the highest acceptance rates to medical school. In large part, this is due to the overwhelming number of Biology majors who apply and don’t get in. This new Physics + Pre-Med concentration will help distinguish strong medical school applicants from the larger pool, by providing a very focused and rigorous preparation.

Besides the standard suite of physics courses common to all of our degree programs, students in the pre-medical concentration also take the following courses designed to prepare them for medical careers:

  • PHYS 451 – Radiation & Medical Physics: students will learn how physics is applied in medical imaging, diagnostic, and treatment technologies, such as x-rays, MRIs, PETs, ultrasound, and radiation therapy.
  • PHYS 452 – Medical Physics Seminar: this in-field seminar at Mountainside Hospital involves shadowing doctors and medical personnel to learn about physics applications in a hospital setting.
  • CHEM 120/121 – General Chemistry 1 & 2
  • CHEM 231, 231, 232 – Organic Chemistry 1 & 2, Experimental Organic Chemistry 1
  • CHEM 370 – Biochemistry 1
  • BIOL 112/113 – Principles of Biology 1 & 2
  • PSYC 101 – Introduction to Psychology

In addition to Physics, the above courses are chosen to make sure students are prepared for the topics covered on the MCAT exam and also have the undergraduate coursework expected by most medical schools.

Besides the above, our students will complete the newly revised and strengthened “physics core” consisting of:

  • PHYS 191/192 – University Physics 1 & 2
  • PHYS 198 – Introductory Physics Seminar
  • PHYS 210 – Intermediate Mechanics
  • PHYS 220 – Oscillations, Waves, & Optics
  • PHYS 230 – Intermediate Physics Lab
  • PHYS 320 – Statistical & Thermal Physics
  • PHYS 330 – Advanced Physics Lab
  • PHYS 340 – Electricity & Magnetism
  • PHYS 360 – Modern Physics

Students are further exposed to Mathematics and Computer Science via:

  • MATH 122/221/222 – Calculus 1, 2, & 3
  • CSIT 104 – Computational Concepts (a Python-based programming course)

Overall, this program of study provides an exceptionally broad training in many areas of science. Besides medical school, students will have the relevant background to pursue all areas open to other physics majors, including:

  • Graduate study in physics, medical physics, chemistry, and selected engineering fields
  • Science teaching (following alternate-route certification; students in this program exceed the state subject area requirements for certification in physics or physical science)
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Computer Programming/Software Design
  • Finance & Management Consulting
  • Defense & Aerospace Industry
  • Law & Government (physics majors have among the highest LSAT scores too!)
  • Journalism/Science Writing
  • Physics/Astronomy Research

Our department provides a friendly community with small classes, where students receive individual attention and mentoring. All of our faculty are committed to helping our students succeed. Physics is a difficult major, and good grades are needed to get into most medical schools. But if you have a passion for medicine and understanding how the world works at a fundamental level, this concentration may be a good option for you.