Basic Science Prerequisites

Prerequisite Science Courses for MDCM Applicants

Note: For science requirements for the Medicine-Preparatory program, see www.mcgill.ca/medadmissions/applying/requirements-edu/med-p-requirements 

The assessment of basic science performance is based on a candidate's academic results in the relevant science prerequisite courses as undertaken either in college, university, or acceptable pre-university alternatives described here.

How are prerequisite science courses taken into consideration in the MDCM selection process?

See the details of the selection process here: www.mcgill.ca/medadmissions/applying/selection-process

For all programs other than the Non-Traditional Pathway, completion of all prerequisites science courses is required to maintain eligibility. Any of these courses taken as part of your Basis of Admission degree will contribute to your overall GPA for the academic assessment. The final offer of admission for MDCM applicants is based on a combination of the interview score (80%) and the combined GPA of these prerequisite science courses (20%).  Non-Traditional Pathway applicants who are interviewed are selected based on the interview score (100%).  

What are the prerequisite courses?

For admissions purposes, two options are available to fulfill the science prerequisite requirements: 

OPTION 1: Introductory Basic Sciences
Candidates are required to have completed 7 introductory basic science courses (minimum of 21 semester-hours/ credits) with labs: 

  • 2 introductory Biology courses with labs (at least 6 cr.);
  • 2 introductory Chemistry courses with labs (at least 6 cr.);
  • 1 introductory Organic Chemistry course with lab (at least 3 cr.);
  • 2 introductory Physics courses with labs (at least 6 cr.).

OPTION 2: Recommended University-level sciences
IF you have previously completed all courses in OPTION 1, and wish to either improve your science GPA, or if some of your courses in OPTION 1 have expired (older than eight years), you may choose to use OPTION 2 and complete the 4 recommended university-level science courses.  Note that all 4 of the recommended courses must be valid (completed within the last 8 years).  The 4 recommended courses are:

  • Mammalian physiology (3 cr.)
  • Organic chemistry* (3 cr.)
  • Molecular biology (3 cr.)
  • Cell biology & metabolism (3 cr)

*For applicants using CEGEP courses to fulfil OPTION 1 Basic Sciences:  A university level Introductory Organic Chemistry is required for OPTION 2 Recommended Sciences. If you used a university level Introductory Organic Chemistry for OPTION 1, exceptionally, you can reuse this same course in OPTION 2. 

If you have completed both OPTION 1 and OPTION 2, you will be evaluated using whichever set of courses is the most favorable to you.

If you are required to submit an MCAT grade, note that it will be counted as 50% of your science prerequisite GPA.

Conditions for validity of prerequisite science courses

Date of completion / Number of courses

  • All courses must have been taken within the past 8 years to be considered valid; expired courses are not acceptable.
Courses completed before August 31, 2009 are expired for the current admission cycle (application opening September 1, 2017 for Fall 2018 program start).
  • At least 5 of 7 OPTION 1 science prerequisite courses, including labs, must be complete (with official grades submitted) by the Nov. 1 application deadline. If applicable, the grades for a maximum of 2 in-progress science prerequisite courses may be submitted by January 15 prior to admission.
  • One course cannot fulfill more than one requirement.
  • Students with incomplete or expired science prerequisite courses are ineligible and are invited to take or retake those courses and apply in a future year, unless they are eligible for an exemption from having to renew their expired courses. Note that Quebec residents with incomplete or expired prerequisites may still be eligible for the Non-Traditional Pathway applicant cohort. 

Labs

  • Labs or practical work are required. Note that some universities include this within the course code and some have a separate course that must be taken.

Grading

  • Grades of "Pass/Fail" , "Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory" or similar schema are not acceptable in coursework; numerical or letter-class grades are required. Academic performance within these courses will be considered.

Institution Type & Term

  • University-level or CEGEP/college-level courses are acceptable, as well as: Advanced Levels (UK System), IBO Courses (Higher Level), French Baccalaureate année Terminale, Série S courses, AP results (CollegeBoard, Inc.).
  • Distance or correspondence education courses will be considered by the Admissions Office, but must be equivalent to in-person courses; as well, be aware that this option may not fulfil lab requirements.
  • If you have already completed a bachelor's degree, then Summer session, evening session or other alternate sessions may be accepted if the course is university-level and is credited or can count toward the required semester-hours in the given subject. Summer or other interim session courses are discouraged when the purpose is to reduce the credit load in regular sessions of the basis of admission degree.

Are my science courses ok? What are the equivalent course descriptions at McGill?

The Office of Admissions is not able to assess your courses prior to your application. A determination of validity will be made only during the file review process. Please use this information as a guide, and consult your academic advisor.  

Essentially, the courses of Biology, Chemistry and Physics should be introductory (freshman-level, 100-level) courses. These are typically the courses with no prerequisites; they are often the prerequisites for second year (major, 200-level) courses in their field and in related specializations. Courses in Organic Chemistry should be the first course in the world of organic chemistry. A verification with the institution's program requirements for each of the subjects is used as the best indicator to the introductory courses.  This document reviews the concepts that need to be covered in your science courses: 

PDF icon Basic scientific concepts McGill Medical School

EXAMPLES

The most commonly recognized McGill university courses for OPTION 1 are listed here. All of these courses offered at McGill are considered equivalent to 100-level CEGEP courses.

 

The following Quebec CEGEP courses, or their equivalents (with labs), fulfill Option 1

  • General Biology 1 (101-NYA; OOUK) 
  • General Biology 2 (101-NYB; OOXU)
  • Chemistry 1 (202-NYA; OOUL)
  • Chemistry 2 (202-NYB; OOUM)
  • Organic Chemistry 1 (OOXV)
  • Mechanics (203-NYA; OOUR)
  • Electricity and Magnetism (203-NYB; OOUS)
  • Waves and Optics and Modern Physics (203-NYC; OOUT)

 

The most commonly recognized courses at McGill for OPTION 2 are listed here.

***For applicants using CEGEP courses to fulfil OPTION 1 Basic Sciences:  A university level Introductory Organic Chemistry is required for OPTION 2 Recommended Sciences.  Some students may choose to do CHEM 222 – Introductory Organic Chemistry 2 (4 credits) to fulfil this requirement.

Information for specific institutions

  • Concordia University (Montreal) offers several entry-level biology courses, not all of which include laboratory work. Many successful applicants who have taken Biology at Concordia have taken the following: (1) BIOL 201, and either (2a) BIOL 225 with BIOL 227, or (2b) BIOL 226 with BIOL 227. It is recommended that you speak with your academic adviser for proper course planning. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all required course and laboratory work is/will be fulfilled.
  • The University of Toronto has a different layout for chemistry courses when it comes to students who do not major in Chemistry. We are often asked how one can properly complete the chemistry courses requirements in this context. Many successful applicants from the University of Toronto have CHM138 and 139, along with CHM 220 and another chemistry-related course —including Biochemistry— that has laboratory work (e.g. CHM 217, CHM 238, CHM 247, CHM 249, BCH 370, ...). It is recommended that you speak with your academic adviser for proper course planning. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all required course and laboratory work is/will be fulfilled.
  • If registered in the B.H.Sc.(H) program at McMaster University, the courses HTH SCI 1I06, along with 2F03 and 2FF3, are considered as fulfilling the biology requirement. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all required course and laboratory work is/will be fulfilled.t D

Exemptions / Substitutions

  • Advanced studies in the basic sciences may also be considered in this assessment. Candidates seeking an exemption from having to retake expired science courses because of their continuous advanced scientific degree programs or research work are encouraged to contact the admissions office between June and September of the year they wish to apply to medicine.  Send all relevant transcripts and CV by email with your request. Requests will be reviewed in the order received.
  • In general, higher level or specialized science courses are not substituted for missing the introductory requirements.  Requests for substitution are considered in the case of programs whose introductory courses are atypical or other special cases. Substitutions are not accepted for the purpose of improving the Science GPA.
  • The Admissions Office reserves the right not to consider requests for exemption or substitution for basic sciences after September 30.

Basic Scientific Principles that All Students Should Know (including courses not required for admission) 

In addition to the concepts covered in the 7 introductory sciences and the 4 recommended sciences, knowledge of physiology, statistics, and genetics is useful in the context of the MDCM curriculum, however they are not required for admission. Given the varied educational backgrounds of our admitted students, we provide below a list of scientific concepts which admitted students are expected to have been exposed to through the course of their formal studies or self-directed learning. These concepts have been identified by the MDCM curriculum leadership as foundational to the study of Medicine and Dentistry at McGill. Consult the detailed document: PDF icon Basic scientific concepts McGill Medical School