Premedicine 2013-14

Hinrich Boeger, Assistant Professor of MCD Biology

*UCSC does not offer this as an undergraduate major.

UC Santa Cruz students have been accepted at the eight California medical schools, as well as at all the major medical schools in the country, including Harvard, Yale, and Johns Hopkins. The academic performance of UC Santa Cruz students once they enter medical school has been very good.

No specific major is required by medical schools. Each professional school has a core of general requirements. Please note most medical colleges do not accept AP credit to meet requirements. In addition, most medical colleges require a specific writing course such as Writing 2 along with generic core courses.

You may choose from any of the university science majors and apply to medical school provided you include the core requirements. All Physical and Biological Science majors are efficient pathways to medical colleges.

In addition to the majors in the Physical and Biological Sciences, other disciplines, such as anthropology, community studies, sociology, psychology, and environmental studies offer a variety of interesting courses appropriate for students interested in medical school. However, if you choose a major outside of the Physical and Biological Science area you must include the basic science requirements for medical school along with satisfying requirements appropriate for your major.

It is a widespread misconception that it is necessary to major in a science, especially biology, to be a premedical student. It is also a widespread misconception that medical schools prefer science majors. The truth is that any academic major is suitable and acceptable for medical school.

UC Santa Cruz undergraduates planning to apply to medical school should exercise the grade option in all of their courses. A competitive GPA (3.7), strong MCAT* scores (31 or better), and substantial health-related experience (two years) are standard for entry.

*A new MCAT will be released in 2015, pending completion of test development. The new version will include a test of the behavioral and social sciences concepts.

High School Preparation

High school students should complete the courses required for UC admission, and those who plan to attend UC Santa Cruz and pursue a career in medicine should also have a strong science and math background, including chemistry, biology, physiology, physics, algebra (two years), geometry, and trigonometry.

Transfer Preparation

Transfer students who plan to attend UC Santa Cruz should try to complete courses that satisfy campus general education requirements as well as any prerequisites for their major before coming to UC Santa Cruz.

While it is not a requirement for admission, students from California community colleges may complete the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC). A completed and certified IGETC program satisfies the university’s general education requirements. To learn more about IGETC and its requirements, prospective transfer students should consult with their transfer center counselor.

However, students planning to major in the sciences and engineering are not well served by completing IGETC due to the extensive lower-division major preparation course load and related prerequisite course requirements. Students interested in these high-unit majors are encouraged to complete courses equivalent to the specific program’s lower-division major requirements first and the university’s broader general education equivalents second. Please see to identify these course equivalents.

Alum Focus

Some UCSC alumni currently in medical school:

Camila Cribb Fabersunne (B.S., biochemistry and molecular biology, '10): Harvard University.

Brooke Goddard (health sciences, '10): Oregon Health Science University School of Medicine.

David Pham (health sciences, '11): University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Elizabeth Rocha (biochemistry and molecular biology, '10): University of Washington School of Medicine.

Aaron Surrey (health sciences, '13): George Washington School of Medicine.

Some UCSC alumni physicians:

Dr. Robert K. Brooner (B.A., psychology, ’78) is Professor of Medical Psychology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Recipient of numerous NIH research grants on psychiatric and substance use disorders and treatment service delivery models to improve patient adherence and outcomes, he has published extensively.

Dr. Larry deGhetaldi (B.A., biology and chemistry, ’76) is CEO of Sutter Health's Santa Cruz Area health care services including the Santa Cruz Medical Clinic, Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center of Santa Cruz, and the VNA of Santa Cruz.

Dr. Gary Heit (B.A., individual major in psychobiology, ’77), a neurosurgeon at Permanente Medical Group of Northern California, is known for helping to develop Deep Brain Stimulation, a treatment for neurological disorders such as chronic pain and Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Patrick Meehan (B.A., chemistry, ’78) is a family physician and executive director of the Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center.

Dr. Thoai T. Nguyen (B.A., biology, ’88) is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon based in Milpitas, California.

Dr. Cheryl Scott (B.A., biology, ’74) is a medical epidemiologist and recently retired from the U.S. Public Health Service.

Dr. Michael Sepulveda (B.A., biology, ’90) is an internist based in Salinas, California.

Dr. Jeffrey Solinas (B.A., independent major combining pre-med with Chicano/Latino studies, ’74) is a family physician in Watsonville, California.

Dr. Lisa Solinas (B.A., biology, ’76) is widely known and respected for her medical care of African-American and Chicano/Latino families in the Midwest. Her research on infant mortality was honored at a medical symposium in 1996.

Medical School Admission Requirements

Although admission requirements vary slightly from medical school to medical school, all medical students must complete a premedical curriculum that includes basic science and mathematics courses in the following areas:

  • General biology with laboratory (one year)
  • General chemistry with laboratory (one year)
  • Organic chemistry with laboratory (one year)
  • Elementary physics with laboratory or introductory physics with laboratory (one year)
  • General statistics (one quarter)
  • Calculus required by some schools (one or more quarters)
  • Biochemistry required by some schools (one or more quarters)
  • English (one year)
  • Behavior sciences required by some schools (two quarters)


The Career Center provides advising services for all premedical students. The Health Science Advisor (located at the Career Center) offers individual guidance for students throughout the academic year. Services are also provided for students and alumni who are in the process of applying to medical school.

Recommended Courses

In addition to completing the requirements above, students preparing for admission to medical school may wish to select some recommended upper-division courses from the following areas:

  • Cell biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Human physiology
  • General microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Genetics
  • Developmental biology
  • Vertebrate zoology
  • Eukaryotic molecular biology
  • Physical chemistry
  • General business
  • Foreign language
  • Psychology
  • Courses that contribute to professional and cultural background

Students who plan to attend medical school are advised to complete, in addition to their minimum campus general education requirements in the humanities and social sciences, two or more quarters of writing or literature courses and a course in social psychology, humanistic psychology, theories of personality, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, research methods in psychology, or psychological statistics. Knowledge of Spanish is also recommended.

More Information

Hugo Mora-Torres, M.A.
STEM Adviser
Career Center
Bay Tree Building
University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA  95064
(831) 459-1244