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Do I need to take certain majors (such as biomedical sciences) if I want to study medicine later?

medicine

In a word, NO.

The majority of medical schools say that ANY science major is excellent preparation for further studies in medicine. Furthermore, students do best when they choose the major that interests them the most.

How ANY Science degree prepares you for a medical career

As long as you choose your courses wisely, any of our undergraduate degrees can thoroughly prepare you for applying to medical school — and for other academic and career opportunities too. Any undergraduate science degree from McGill University in any discipline can serve as a stepping stone to a medical career.

Medical schools are interested in diverse applicants with diverse backgrounds, and they are particularly open to applications from students with non-biomedical science undergraduate degrees.

What programs of study can I choose from?

Please see our programs of study webpage.

What programs (majors) should I consider?

Choose the program of study that interests you most, because students do best at what they enjoy.

Consider also how your program of study would prepare you for other careers or educational paths.

You might be interested in joint majors or joint honours programs that combine life sciences and other areas (for example, computer science and biology, or physiology and mathematics), or fascinating minors (such as biotechnology or interdisciplinary life sciences, to name just two) that you can add to your major.

Or you can choose the one program you like best, such as earth and planetary sciences (geology) or chemistry, and simply take the courses required for medical schools as part of your electives and other courses required for your degree.

If your interest lies in geography or environmental studies, did you know that McGill offers health-related options for these undergraduate majors?

Whatever you are curious and passionate about, we have a program of study of you. See our programs of study webpage for all the B.Sc. majors, minors, honours, and liberal cores science components you can choose from.

(What do we mean when we say "electives" or "minors"? Please see our "Extras: electives, minors, field studies, and more" webpage.)

Can I choose a major from the Physical, Earth, Math & Computer Science group if I want to study medicine later?

YES. Consider combining your major from the Physical, Earth, Math & Computer Science group with the Minor in Interdisciplinary Life Sciences to broaden your studies with courses in basic life sciences, health social science, and empirical technological science. (This Minor is not open to students majoring in Anatomy and Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, or Physiology.)

What do the medical schools say?

Still doubtful? Have a look below at extracts from the websites of five of Canada's leading medical schools. (They are not looking for any specific majors.)

McGill University

Extracted from the McGill Faculty of Medicine website, August 2014.

"Although the Faculty attempts to ensure by means of the specific requirements listed that all students have an adequate preparation in science, we also encourage students from a variety of backgrounds to select medicine as a career. Prospective applicants are therefore advised to pursue courses of study, whether in the natural or social sciences or the humanities, which appeal to them and which have as their aim a broad education and intellectual training rather than merely anticipating a medical curriculum."

Queen's University

Extracted from the FAQ at the Queen's University Medical School website, December 2009.

"Program of Studies: The Admissions Committee does not give preference to applicants who have studied in a particular university program. Applicants are encouraged to consider all of the undergraduate programs available to them and to embark on the course of studies in which they have the greatest interest and that would prepare them for an alternate career should they not gain a place in medicine."

University of Toronto

Extracted from the U of T Medical School website, November 2014.

"There is no single background that is ideal preparation for the practice of medicine. Students with university education in any discipline are encouraged to apply. Medicine requires individuals with strong backgrounds in the social sciences, humanities, physical sciences and life sciences. The ideal candidate will have completed a rigourous and coherent course of study, which will provide evidence of an independent, self-directed, and mature learning style. The ideal candidate will also provide evidence of outstanding non-academic qualities, including altruism, reliability, responsibility, perseverance, creativity, and leadership, through this process."

University of British Columbia

Extracted from the UBC Medical School website, August, 2013.

"The Faculty of Medicine considers students from a variety of backgrounds; no preference is given to any particular degree program."

McMaster University

Extracted from the McMaster University Medical School website, December 2009.

"Q: Are some courses better to take than others? What courses should I take?

"Just as we do not require prerequisite subjects for the program, we do not favour or discount various academic programs. Many of the successful applicants do come from science backgrounds but this may be, in part, due to the fact that they apply to more than one medical school and must do the prerequisites for the others. It is in your best interest, regardless of academic program, to at least gain some exposure to the basic sciences as well as the social sciences and humanities. The aim is to develop a well-rounded education and also to prepare yourself for alternatives to medicine."