Frequently Asked Questions

What classes do I need to take?

Each health professions school program has particular courses that are required in order to apply for that particular program.  You can click on the links in the menu to explore what courses are required for each program, but these are intended as guides, as specific courses can vary from program to program.  Completion of all General Education requirements are also needed. Please note that many health professions schools do NOT accept AP credit, so you may need to retake courses at Cal State L.A. that you got AP credit for - for instance English or Biology.

What should I major in? Am I a pre-health major?

Cal State LA does not offer a pre-health major. Since health professional schools do not prefer one major over another, students may select a major that they find interesting and can do well in.  A large percentage of students do select a major in the sciences, likely reflecting the fact that most of the prerequisite coursework for health professions schools are also requirements for the major.  Students who decide to major in something outside of the sciences can absolutely get accepted into professional schools, provided that in addition to their major and graduation requirements, they complete the additional prerequisite coursework for the health professions school.

What grades do I need to get in order to get admitted to medical/pharmacy/dental school?

Strive for A's! Per statistics provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the overall average gpa for admitted medical students (2017) was a 3.7.  Similarly, dental and pharmacy average was roughly a 3.5/3.6. If you are struggling in your coursework, Cal State LA provides many resources for students, and we encourage you to utilize them! Please click on the link to get information on the writing center, tutorial center, and advising centers which can help discuss how to improve your academic performance.

Can I repeat courses that I do not pass?

You can repeat courses at Cal State L.A. up to two times for purposes of grade replacement if the grade of record is below a “C. ” Grade replacement is the circumstance in which the new grade replaces the former grade in terms of the calculation of GPA.  However, many health professions schools do not replace your grade, and instead include both grades in your GPA.

In addition to doing well in classes, what else should I be doing?

Health profession programs are interested in students who are not only academically prepared, but are active and engaged individuals on campus and/or in his or her community.  Seek extracurricular activities that are appealing, and meaningful to you. While having a variety of experiences can be valuable, admissions committees are interested in the depth of your experiences and what you learned/how you changed/what you gained from them. Do not shy away from leadership opportunities or responsibilities.  Utilize the "prepare" section in the menu links to help you with the process!  

Is volunteering and/or shadowing required?

While not formally listed as a requirement for admissions into your health professions school, these type of experiences are critical to your application and your own exposure to the field.  These type of activities not only show admissions committees (and yourself) that you are committed to the career, it can also be a place to make connections for letters of recommendations, leadership opportunities, and impactful moments for your personal statement. Be sure to balance the time you spend on these activities with enough study time, though. You don't want GPA to suffer!

When should I apply to medical school?

Each student is unique, and will choose the time to apply that is the best fit for their journey. It’s best to apply when you are ready, meaning you are have taken all the required courses work and have achieved a competitive GPA, you have taken the required entrance exam and are satisfied with your score, and you have gained meaningful extracurricular experiences.

I've heard I can have my letters of recommendation stored with your office.

The Health Careers Advisement Office no longer stores letters of recommendations for students.  We do encourage students to look into third party storage companies, like interfolio.  Interfolio, which do offer a way for letter writers to directly upload their letters of recommendations for students before they are ready to apply. Once students are ready to send their letters of recommendations to the proper application service, Interfolio will electronically distribute them as you instruct. For more information, contact Interfolio directly.

What math courses do I need?

Typically, health professions schools require college level math, so at least one semester of calculus and one semester of statistics is recommended.

Do I need to take Biochemistry?

Most medical and dental schools require biochemistry.  Also, biochemistry is 30% of the MCAT, so it is recommended to complete biochemistry.


Do I need to take Psychology and Sociology?

Most health professions schools require a year of social sciences.  Also, psychology and sociology are covered on the MCAT.

Will AP credits count?

Some programs do accept AP credits, but since many do not, we recommend taking all your pre-requisite courses at the college level.

How do I get research experience?

After you have completed general biology and general chemistry, it may be a good time to look into research opportunities on campus.  Reach out to professors who run labs and whose work is interesting to you. Take a look at their research articles before you initiate with them.  There are also plenty of off-campus research opportunities you can explore here.  

Where can I get more questions answered?

Please click and watch here to learn all about being a pre-health student at Cal State L.A.  Email [email protected] or make an appointment through the appointment tab for further questions.