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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What major should premed students declare?
Stanford does not have a “premed” major. Instead, students are encouraged to choose a major that reflects their strongest academic interest. Whether that major is English Literature, Biology, Music or something else entirely, all students who apply to medical school must complete specific prerequites.
It is “convenient” to major in Biology because many of the premed requirements are also requirements for the Biology major, so it requires less time to complete both. However, medical schools also like to accept premed students who have broad interests and have chosen a non-traditional major, so do not be deterred if you are passionate about Art History. In conclusion, you can major in any subject you want!
Can I complete some of the med school requirements over the summer?
It is possible to take some of your premedical requirements during the summer, either at Stanford or at another institution. This option can be particularly helpful if you have scheduling conflicts, are double majoring, or prefer to take other classes during the school year. The UAR maintains a collection of summer school catalogs and listings of courses which fulfill the premedical requirements.
If you take a course at an accredited two or four year college which has an equivalent at Stanford, it is usually possible for you to transfer the credit. However, you should check with the Registrar’s External Credit Evaluation section for verification.
Can I complete med school requirements as pass/fail classes?
Medical schools strongly suggest that students take all required premedical courses for a letter grade. You may choose to take some of your other classes on a pass/fail grading basis. However, remember that your GPA is an important component of your medical school application. Pass/fail grades are not calculated into the GPA. The more information you can present to the schools (the more letter grades rather than “passes”), the better.
Why would someone take a “gap year” between their undergraduate career and applying for medical school?
Students decide to take a gap year for a variety of reasons. Some students simply do not have the time to fit in all of the requirements in time to apply by June after their junior year, some want time to take “a breather” from academic study, and some students have a weakness in their application on which they want to work during the gap year (GPA, MCAT score, insufficient clinical experience, etc.).
Are premeds able to study abroad?
Many students study abroad for a quarter or more and still get into med school. This just requires planning ahead as most many med schools do not count courses taken abroad toward their requirements. Many students take some classes over the summer or take a gap year to make it easier to schedule quarters abroad. Ultimately, it is just a case of planning premed coursework and applying to med school around the quarter abroad.