Undergraduate studies - What should I take?

What Undergraduate Degree Should I Take?

In Canada, you cannot enter medical school directly from high school—you must complete an undergraduate degree (or part of a degree) before you apply. 

You need strong high school marks (aim for minimum 80% average) to be accepted into a college or university undergrad program. You’ll likely need to take science courses in university and write an entrance exam to get into med school, so high school sciences are needed for that. We recommend you take 30-1 level courses in:

  • English
  • Math
  • Biology
  • Physics 
  • Chemistry

IB (International Baccalaureate) and AP (Advanced Placement) classes in these subjects are also great, but not mandatory. A 30-1 second language course may also be advisable.

Learn about the admission requirements of the College or University you’re interested in applying to.

What’s the Best Degree to Get into Med School?

We strongly suggest that you do a degree in something you find interesting and can get good grades in. This way, if your career or life plans change along the way, you will always have an education and a career to fall back on. And, if you’re still keen on medical school, your high GPA (Grade Point Average) will help you compete for a spot.

This means you aren’t necessarily restricted to a science degree. These days, a variety of undergraduate degrees are acceptable for med school admission. While biology or health-sciences degrees are common, students with arts, engineering and education degrees get in as well.

What About Pre-Medical Programs?

Recent changes have seen some universities such as the U of C and U of A scrap the science-heavy pre-med classes altogether.

Other Canadian universities still require the traditional pre-med courses which are:

  • Full Year Courses:
  • Organic chemistry
  • General (inorganic) chemistry
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • English
  • Half-Year Courses:
  • Biochemistry
  • Statistics

Most students apply to several medical schools in order to get accepted into one. You wouldn’t want to NOT be able to apply to those still requiring science pre-requisites because you didn’t have the high school science courses needed to take university-level science courses.

Bottom line: position yourself and take all three (Bio, Chemistry and Physics) 30-1 courses in high school. Once in university, increase your chances even more by researching multiple med schools’ admission requirements and fitting their pre-med courses into your degree program. You may not end up taking a science degree, but science courses help prepare you for many of the courses you’ll take in med school as well as the science-based questions you’ll be asked on the MCAT.

Keep in mind it may take several applications (and years) before you get into medical school.  That means you may need to work for several years before you get accepted. Consider taking a university degree in something that you can get a job in…and that you enjoy.