Frequently Asked Questions

Common FAQs - Starting Out

Most schools do not offer a "pre-health" major. Students can major most subjects while completing the pre-requisites for the specific professional school. Common majors include Biology, Biochemistry, Biological Chemistry, Psychology, Exercise Science, and Biomedical Engineering. Students should choose a major that interests and motivates them to academically excel while considering back up career options. Keep in mind scheduling of the prerequisites may be challenging with some non-science majors and students still need to show the ability to handle difficult science courses. The most "efficient" and common major for pre-health students is the BS in Biology. Pre-PT and Pre-OT students typically major in Exercise Science (part of the College of Nursing).

***There is no "fastest" route to becoming a competitive pre-health student. The reasoning behind choosing a major is the important factor. THE REASONING SHOULD NOT BE BECAUSE YOU THINK "IT WILL LOOK GOOD". (Note: Nursing courses do NOT count for medical, dental, or PA requirements)

Like major, there is no one "best" minor that "looks good". Students can minor in more than 1 subject and should choose one (or more) based on interest and future goals. Common minors for pre-health students include biology, biochemistry/chemistry, psychology, neuroscience, or a foreign language. Most minors require 18 hours in the specific subject with 9 hours being completed at UTA and 6 hours being upper level. Requirements can vary and should be discussed with your major advisor and/or the department offering the minor. 

While it may be possible to complete some prerequisites for medical or PA school while completing a nursing degree, I typically recommend 2 options for nursing students. Since nursing courses do not count towards pre-med or pre-pa requirements (only courses for science majors are accepted) and the last 2 years are nursing clinics, students interested in applying to a graduate health program should either:

  1. Complete the nursing degree and then return to take upper level (science major) classes for at least 1 year while working, building an application, and preparing for the MCAT/PA-CAT or GRE

        OR

    2.  Switch to a different major – typically science based – and plan to directly apply

Students have been successful with either route; therefore, the choice is ultimately up to the student. 

Yes! It is highly recommended that you join a pre-health student organization on campus. Meetings are usually conducted biweekly. You can find information on volunteering opportunities, workshops, and guest speakers. Also, it is a great opportunity to meet students who are on the same path as you! A list of our organizations can be found near the bottom of the Health Professions Website.

Some schools do! International and DACA students should check with the schools admissions website for eligibility criteria. Non-US Schools may be an option. Visit the Non-US School section on the Post-Bacc Page for more information.

Degree seeking pre-health students have 2 advisors. Their main advisor will be their major advisor. The major advisor removes academic holds and helps with class registration. The health professions advisor assists with information on becoming a competitive applicant for health professional schools and course recommendations when needed.

Non-degree seeking (post bacc) pre-health students have 1 advisor, the health professions advisor.

We also have Pre-Health Peer Mentors and Alumni available! Prior to booking an appointment, read the remainder of this page. 

Courses and Education Requirements

The courses required vary by program. Common courses include General Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Statistics, Physics, Microbiology, Genetics, and Anatomy & Physiology (for science majors-not Nursing or Kinesiology). Student's should visit the admission’s website of the particular school for a complete list. Additional information regarding prerequisites can be found by visiting your specific pre-health interest page at www.uta.edu/pre-health.

Most professional schools encourage a well-rounded curriculum with emphasis on upper level sciences. Completing the bare minimum course requirements will rarely portray you as a competitive applicant. Behavioral and upper level sciences such as Psychology, Sociology, Human Anatomy/Physiology, Genetics, Microbiology, Histology, Cell Physiology, Immunology, and Virology are typically highly recommended if not already required. Humanities courses such as economics, ethics, medical humanities, foreign languages, philosophy, and public speaking are also valuable. Always check with the specific professional school for the specific requirements and recommended courses.  

Not necessarily. You can complete a Bachelor’s Degree without an Associate’s Degree. If your career goal requires graduate level schooling, it may save time and money to directly complete a Bachelor’s Degree. There is a misconception that obtaining your Associate’s means you only need 2 years of University level courses to obtain your Bachelor’s. This will vary depending on your career goal, major, course load, and how transfer courses are evaluated. Scholarships are available to incoming freshman and current students. Visit our Scholarship Website.

There are some lower level courses that are accepted. While it is understandable financially to take courses at a Community College, it is important to consider how it can effect the future. Students that do well in both Community and University level courses will not have an issue. However, more often students that complete a majority of their lower level or core courses at a community college struggle with University courses. University level courses are more rigorous due to pace and content level. This can make the transition to a University and course scheduling challenging. Since maintaining a competitive undergraduate GPA and having a good foundation of course content is important, it may be more beneficial to save some, if not all, lower level courses for UTA. Ultimately, it is up to the student to decide what works best for them. It is a red flag when a student takes all the "hard" prerequisite classes at a community college and does not take challenging upper level courses. 

This will depend on the professional school. Most admissions committees expect (if not require) students to complete a Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degree may not be required for pharmacy programs. However, most students that are accepted have completed a Bachelor's degree. 

Academic Ability & Experience Expectations

Most accepted students have GPAs from 3.5-3.9 with medical schools being on the higher end. It is also important to keep your science GPA (BCMP: Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics) high and have a high standardized test score (MCAT, DAT, PCAT, etc.) in order to be a competitive applicant. Trend is important. If your current GPA is lower than average, 1-2 years of a positive trend in difficult science courses can help. The goal is to show you are academically prepared to be successful in graduate school. Always check with the specific professional school for additional data and information. TMDSAS statistics

GPA Calculators: 

Every undergraduate college level course you have taken will be used in the GPA calculation for most health professional schools. This includes dual credit courses. Even if you repeat a course or have “grade forgiveness/substitution”, ALL college course grades are typically taken into account. Several different GPAs are evaluated, such as but not limited to: science, overall, graduate, and post-baccalaureate. A positive trend in more recent and difficult coursework can help offset a rough freshman semester.  

Most important GPA: Science GPA (BCPM) - Typically includes all academic Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math courses.  (Does not include research, seminar, certain topics, or TA related courses)

To calculate your Science GPA, input only the courses from all transcripts that count towards this GPA in one of the below GPA Calculator Tools: 

One to two drops are not going to significantly impact the overall view of a student as long as the student has shown they are academically capable of handling the rigors of a health professional graduate school (trend, science GPA, course load, etc.) A student should also have a good reason for dropping a course. However, a pattern of dropping courses is considered a red flag.

While a competitive GPA and test score strengthen chances of acceptance, most schools use a holistic approach in evaluating students. Trend in grades is important. If you had a rough early semester but learned from it and have been doing well in more difficult classes, then you have shown a positive trend. In regards to statistics, Admissions committees simply want to know "Has this applicant proven they can be SUCCESSFUL in this rigorous program?" If your GPA trend has not proven this, additional classes or alternative academic enhancing should be considered. 

Admissions Committees have determined grades and tests are not the only factors that indicate a successful applicant, which is why holistic review is used. These experience help shape a person and offer learning opportunities. They provide evidence of goals and personal characteristics through action instead of just words. 

Shadowing/Healthcare Experience - This provides insight and knowledge in the field and the healthcare system, exposes the pros and cons of the field, and builds communication skills while interacting with diverse groups of people. Watch the VIDEO - HOW and WHY to SHADOW

Volunteering - All pre-health students want to "help people". Prove it by WANTING to give your time to benefit someone or something else that means something to you. Gain an understanding of the needs and issues in the world. Volunteering DOES NOT have to only be clinical based! Explore opportunities in the community, clinics and at UTA. 

Leadership - Pre-health students, especially pre-meds, claim they want to be the decision maker or leader of the healthcare team. But how many have actually experienced being leader and making decisions that effected others? Effective leadership is a skill that requires experience and practice. Being a SUCCESSFUL officer (not just an officer) of an organization is a good way to start but there are other ways to develop this skill. It can include supervisory roles at a job, church, or volunteer setting. 

Most professional schools highly recommend (if not expect) healthcare experiences. This is because you can't be sure of what you want to do until you actually experience it! Shadowing working professionals in the field is highly recommended. The easiest way to start this is to contact local clinics and see if shadowing is allowed. Start with your own local physician/healthcare professional! Join a pre-health organization! Networking is important. 

Experiences must be post-high school (exception: pre-veterinary students). Visit the recommended experiences section of specific pre-health pages, our Special Programs, Volunteering, Research, and Helpful Resources page, and the COVID FAQ on this page for more information.

Clinical experience examples: emergency medical technician (EMT), paramedic, nurse, scribemedical assistantcertified nursing assistant (CNA), emergency room technician (ER tech), physical therapist assistant,phlebotomistpharmacy technician, dental assisting, and clinical research assistant. Most require certification through a program, therefore getting an early start is essential!

There is typically no set quantity, however, the average accepted student does have upwards of hundreds of hours in different areas. Before stressing out, consider that it is more about the quality and not the quantity of the hours. It is not a checkbox! One student that has 500 hours in shadowing may not be a better applicant than one that has 40. Each student is different and should focus on building an application that portrays a picture of who they are as a personConsistency is more valuable then quantity. Over a period of time, hours easily add up. Pre-veterinary students are required to have at least 100 hours under a licensed Veterinarian. Some PA programs also require a certain amount of direct patient care/healthcare experiences. 

Research experience is not required to apply for programs, however, having research experience can benefit your overall application and is a valuable learning experience. It is significant to learn about the process of being in a research lab, conducting a project, and presenting scientific data. There are several undergraduate research opportunities at UTA. If your school of interest is research heavy or you are interested in Ph.D. dual degree programs, then you are expected to have research experience. Research experience does not necessarily mean spending hundreds of hours in a lab under a PI. It can be through your own presentation or class project. 

One way is to simply contact professors! Many of UTA's professors participate in ongoing research. It is important to network and get to know your professors. Keep in mind research is important and you should not participate in research just "to be competitive". Admissions committees will notice if you used research as a valuable experience or only to “look good” for your application. It is recommended to have some understanding of the professor's research before asking to join their lab. Research experience DOES NOT have to be clinically based! You can also visit our Special Programs, Volunteering, Research and Helpful Resources Research Page for more opportunities.

Admissions Test(s) and the CASPer

This will depend on your learning style. It is always beneficial to start early (yes, freshman year) and spread the preparation over several months/years. Do NOT “cram”. Some resources used by our students are listed on the specific pre-health pages of the Health Professions website(you can also use the menu tabs on the right of this page). Do your research to choose the best option for you. I encourage students to begin preparing in their General Biology and Chemistry courses. "Intense prep" should include taking and reviewing 8-10 practice tests.

You must take into account the year you plan on entering the professional school, application deadlines, dates the test is offered, and, most important, your level of preparedness. For example, pre-med students are recommended take the MCAT by April or May of the year they are applying to medical school. (one year prior to entry year) Pre-dental students should take the DAT by mid-July if not earlier of their application year. It is highly recommended to have all courses that are topics on the test completed. Most students start intense preparation at least 3-6 months in advance. Contact your health professions advisor if you are unsure when you should schedule your test.

Some health professional programs also require the CASPer Test, an assessment of an applicants personal qualities. This test is taken during the application cycle and valid for one year. Students can take it anytime during the application cycle. Typically most students take it fairly early in the cycle. Students should visit the admissions requirements of any program they are applying to verify the CASPer requirement. More information can also be found on the CASPer website.

Application Process

Commonly, students apply near the end of their junior year or the  year prior to expected admission . This can be senior year or after which is becoming more common. Students should not apply until they are a competitive applicant and should become familiar early with the application services available. Below you will see a suggested application timeline for UTSW Medical School. This application timeline can be helpful for all Texas Medical Schools and can be similar to the application process of many graduate health professional schools. (Note: dates may vary per program)

 

Suggested Application Timeline -UTSW

Reference: Medical School Admissions: UT Southwestern - Dallas, TX. (2018). UT Southwestern Medical Center. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.utsouthwestern.edu/education/medical-school/admissions/

 

Application Deadline: November 1

Recommended Application Timeline

Note: December - February begin preparing to apply for UTA's HPAC

 

January – May

  • MCAT
    Take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). If you are taking the MCAT the first time in July, August, or September, be aware that the UT Southwestern Medical School may not complete the review of your application until your MCAT score has been received
  • Prerequisite Courses
    Ensure you’ve completed or are in the process of completing any required prerequisite courses for admission
  • Application Preparation
    Start preparing your applications – Reach out to your recommenders, start writing your essays, and ensure you’re familiar with the TMDSAS and UT Southwestern application process

May

  • May 1
    UT Southwestern begins accepting applications. Please visit TMDSAS for application dates and deadlines.
  • CASPer examination
    Pick a date and register for the CASPer examination. Please be sure to have your scores sent to UT Southwestern. Visit the CASPer site for more information. If you are invited to interview, your scores must be delivered to UT Southwestern prior to your interview date.
  • Primary Application
    Complete your primary application to the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service. The deadline to submit your primary application is November 1. Apply via TMDSAS.
  • Secondary Application
    You may submit your secondary application after we receive your primary application from TMDSAS. You will receive an email prompting you to create an account to access the secondary application once your primary application is transmitted. Please check your spam and junk folders. Once you have created your account, please access your application portal. The deadline to submit your secondary application is November 15.

July

  • Interview Invitations
    UT Southwestern begins extending interview invitations via email to applicants
  • Retake the MCAT
    If necessary, retake the MCAT and ensure you submit your updated scores

August

  • Interview Season Begins
    Watch your email for an invitation to interview

October

  • Oct. 15
    UT Southwestern begins extending Medical School offers of admission; Rolling admissions period begins
  • Interviews Continue
    Application review and interviews continue

November

  • Nov. 1
    Deadline to complete primary application
  • Nov. 15
    All supporting documents submitted to TMDSAS (transcripts, evaluation letters) for applicants should be post-marked by this date. Deadline to complete secondary application.
  • Pre-Match Offers
    Pre-match offers of admission continue through January
  • Interviews Continue
    Application review and interviews continue

December

  • Interviews Continue
    Application review and interviews continue

January

  • Interview Season Ends
    Interview season ends in late January
  • Late January
    Pre-match offer period ends

February

  • Mid-February
    Deadline to rank schools of preference in TMDSAS admissions match
  • MS0 Weekend
    Second Look Weekend takes place at UT Southwestern

March

  • Early March
    Match results announced and rolling admission period begins.

April

  • April 30
    Last day to resolve multiple offers. This date applies to all medical schools across the nation. It is the final day an applicant can hold on to more than one offer from an LCME accredited medical school.

May

  • May 15
    After 5 p.m. CT on May 15, no medical school in Texas may offer a position to an applicant already accepted by another medical school in Texas.

 

You will need to apply through the application service(s) of your specific pre-health interest and program:

  • MEDICAL SCHOOLS APPLICATION SERVICES
    • TMDSAS - Texas Public Medical (MD & DO) Schools & Baylor
    • AMCAS - U.S. Allopathic Medical Schools (MD) (including TCU)           
    • AACOMAS - U.S. Osteopathic Schools (DO) (including UIW) 
    • AACPMAS - U.S. Podiatric Medicine Schools (DPM) 
    • AANMC - U.S. Naturopathic Schools of Medicine (DNM) - apply to each school separately                         
  • DENTAL SCHOOLS APPLICATION SERVICES
    • TMDSAS - Texas Dental Schools
    • AADSAS - U.S. Dental Schools (excluding Texas)                                             
  • PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAMS APPLICATION SERVICE
    • CASPA - All PA Programs (PA, PA-C) 
  •  PHARMACY PROGRAMS APPLICATION SERVICE
    • PharmCAS - All Pharmacy Programs (PharmD)   
  • OPTOMETRY PROGRAMS APPLICATION SERVICE  
    • OptomCAS - All Optometry Programs (OD)           
  • VETERINARY PROGRAMS APPLICATION SERVICES
    • TMDSAS - Texas Veterinary Schools (Texas Tech and Texas A&M)
    • VMCAS - U.S. Veterinary Schools                                                                 
  • ADDITIONAL APPLICATION SERVICES
    • PTCAS - Physical Therapy Schools     
    • OTCAS & OTACAS - Occupational Therapy & OT Assistant Schools   
    • OPCAS - Orthotics & Prosthetics                                                               
    • SOPHAS - Public Health Schools 
    • CSDCAS - Speech Pathology, Audiology/Communication Science & Disorders Programs   

 

Applications cycle dates and important dates

  • TMDSAS-5/1/2021 - 11/1/2021 (2022 TIMELINE) (SUBMISSIONS START 5/17/2021)
    • ***Note: Deadline 9/15/2021 for veterinary applicants
  • AMCAS-  5/3/2021 -Deadlines vary per school (SUBMISSIONS START 5/27/2021; TRANSMISSIONS START 6/25/2021)
  • AACOMAS- 5/4/2021 -Deadlines vary per school (TRANSMISSIONS START 6/15/2021)
  • Friday, October 1, 2021 - Early decisions announced
  • Friday, October 15, 2021 - TMDSAS Medical schools acceptance offers begin
  • Wednesday, December 15, 2021 - TMDSAS Dental schools acceptance offers begin
  • Friday, February 18, 2022 - TMDSAS Match preferences deadline
  • Wednesday, March 5, 2021- TMDSAS MATCH DAY!
  • AADSAS: 5/11/2021 - Deadlines vary per school (SUBMISSIONS start 6/1)
    • Thursday, December 1, 2021 - Dental schools acceptance offers begin 
  • CASPA: 4/29/21 - deadlines vary per school
  • OptomCAS: 6/30/21- deadlines vary per school

Consider and prepare for the following areas: 

  • Academic Ability: Overall GPA, Science GPA, evidence of upward trend in last 30-60 hours especially in upper level sciences
  • Life Experiences: Clinical and Non-Clinical Experiences, Volunteering, Leadership, and Research
  • Test Prep plan - MCAT DAT, PCAT, GRE, etc.
  • Review Application Service(s) Handbooks & Guides
  • Letters of Recommendations
  • Personal Statements, Essays
  • Applying to HPAC - Committee Letter
  • CASPer Test (needed for certain programs-see below section)
  • Taking admissions test and evaluating score
  • OVERALL ASK YOURSELF: 
    1. Am I academically and mentally prepared to handle 22+ credit hours per semester of rigorous graduate courses?
    2. Is this career the best fit for my personality and interests?
    3. Can I back this answer up with evidence?

If you need to work on improving an area(s) of weakness, a gap or growth year should be considered. A growth year can be a good thing as long as there is mature thought and reasoning put into it. Many students choose to take additional classes, complete a master’s program, continue gaining healthcare experiences/volunteering, and/or dedicate more time to study for their admission exam. Just have a plan! 

Essays, Letters and Interviewing

HPAC is a committee of staff and faculty throughout UTA that provides the opportunity to receive a "committee" letter of recommendation. Most graduate health schools highly recommend (if not require) students to apply to HPAC if their school provides it. Currently, HPAC is available to pre-med and pre-dental students. The HPAC process is meant to help prepare students for their medical or dental school application. If accepted, a letter of recommendation from an HPAC member is provided. Visit the HPAC page for additional information.

Post-Baccalaureate FAQs

No. If you have graduated from an accredited U.S. or Canadian school, prerequisites can be completed as a non-degree seeking student, sometimes also referred to as a transient/transfer student. You also have the option of obtaining a second degree. The best choice will depend on your unique situation. Students should visit our Post-baccalaureate page for helpful information.

Time is certainly a factor that should be considered, especially for post-baccalaureate students, but building an overall competitive application is not a process that can be rushed. Each students timeline will be different and depend on previous classes taken, year the classes were taken, undergrad GPA, current clinical experiences, volunteering, and other experiences. Expect this process to take 1.5-2 years. Setting yourself up for success is the goal. Please review this entire FAQ page on becoming a competitive candidate.  

COVID Impacts and Related FAQs

Most schools will be accepting courses that were originally on ground then moved "online" for 2020. Most will also accept P/F grades (for Spring 2020 only but may include Fall 2020) but would prefer a letter grade if there is an option. This will vary per school, therefore, students should continually be keeping up with updates from the schools. Some schools are not accepting P/F for prerequisites. If the course is a prereq to another course that requires a C or better, the letter grade should be taken (if at least a C). 

If schools will be accepting P grades, other areas of the applicant's transcript will be looked at more closely. Everyone's circumstances are different and each student was affected differently by the pandemic so you must make the best decision for you. It is important to keep in mind the goal is to show preparedness for rigorous courses. A 'P' grade indicates you were making a C or D in the course which may question your knowledge of that topic. 

Admissions committees understand COVID-19 has greatly impacted many students circumstances and time. Applications are looked at holistically. One to two semesters will not make or break an application! Only you know what you need to prioritize at this time. However, while most "traditional" experiences may not be available, admissions committees will be looking at the non-traditional experiences an applicant WAS doing during this time. Life has not stopped! There are still people (and animals for pre-vet students) in need and learning experiences available, even if in your own home. You are the future essential workers.Now's the time to distinguish the true pre-health students from the application checkboxers. Thinking outside the box is key. Having to work more hours to support family, taking on more family responsibility like teaching siblings or caring for a family member may be the reality for now and its ok! These are still experiences.

There are still numerous volunteer opportunities available virtually and in-person within communities. They just need to be sought out. There is not an experience that "is better" than another. It is about what you learned and contributed from that experience. 

Below are some suggestions from admissions committees, health profession advisors, and organizations:

  • For community service, how about taking that night job at HEB restocking shelves, or delivering groceries in a program that serves those who cannot get out. I predict our committee will be very enthusiastic when we see all of the creative things the applicants are coming up with. - Long SOM
  • Write letters via e-mail of support, well-wishes, prayers, poems, positive vibes, etc. to persons at retirement homes or in hospice as a community service project

  • Become a pen-pal or email-pal to people that have limited social interaction during this time

  • Take or make calls from/to residents at a local retirement or hospice community 

  • Reach out to practitioners to see if they would be willing to be "interviewed" for you to gain a better understanding of the field 
  • Check to see if Meals on Wheels needs more volunteers in your community. Inquire whether other local organizations focused on supporting the elderly need volunteers
  • Check local clinicals and nursing homes to see if volunteering opportunities are available
  • VIRTUAL VOLUNTEERING: 
    • Operation Warm has a list of 35 ways to volunteer virtually
    • Paper-airplanes.org invites volunteers to provide online tutoring to “bridge gaps in language, higher education, and professional skills training for conflict-affected individuals”
    • Dosomething.org’s nine places to volunteer online and make a real impact
    • If you’ve received crisis hotline training, check to see if your community’s crisis hotline could use additional phone or chat volunteers. Many crisis hotlines are overloaded right now.
    • Work with underserved and under-resourced youth - online tutoring, mentoring, etc. 
  • Research a disease and/or clinical aspect of disease 
  • If shadowing was discontinued, how about spending the time you would have been shadowing with You Tube to learn about taking a cardiac history and doing a heart exam? (Pick an organ system!)
  • Journal and reflect on clinical and non-clinical experiences 
  • Take an initiative to search or create other opportunities! Each student is unique with unique circumstances & skills! 

All the pre-health services are available virtually, including peer mentoring! Alumni currently attending graduate school and pre-health students are available to offer advice! Please don't hesitate to email or book an appointment with any member of the Health Professions Office. Students interested in JAMP can make an appointment with a JAMP Ambassador. We all want to assist you! 

HOW CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

More information can be found on the pre-health pages below. Students should read these pages before booking an appointment.

Information for booking appointments can be found on the Advising page. Questions can also be emailed to the Health Professions Advisor, Sandy Hobart, at sandy.hobart@uta.edu