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Pre-Health Careers

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Why Choose Genetics for Pre-Health?

A B.S. degree in Genetics at Iowa State meets the coursework requirements for most healthcare related professional programs (MD, DO, PA, DDS) and demonstrates the ability of genetics students to succeed in rigorous academic courses.  The importance of genetics in the care and treatment of patients has grown exponentially and will continue to increase over the next decade. At Iowa State, Genetics majors have access to numerous cutting edge research labs and facilities such as the nanovaccine institute. Faculty research interests stretch across three departments that oversee the major (EEOB, GDCB, BBMB). Experiential learning staff are available to connect students with department funded and for credit research opportunities on campus as well as regional and national internship opportunities.

Choose Iowa State Genetics as your next adventure!

Genetics Video

Degree Requirements & 4-Year Plans

Genetics major course requirements here

Genetics majors can receive their degree through either the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences or the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Degree requirements include university requirements, college general education requirements, and major requirements. All students complete the same major and university requirements.

Degree requirement checklist including a side by side comparison of the college general education requirements here.

4-year plans are available as a general guide to the program and particularly freshmen year. Students will create their own unique 4-year plan in their orientation course.

4-year plan for LAS students

4-year plan for CALS students

Transferring credits here

Additional Recommended Courses

Most healthcare related professional programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0 and with a 3.8 average GPA for accepted students. Your Genetics coursework provides a strong framework for acceptance into and success in the program. To strengthen your application consider adding a minor in Psychology or Leadership Studies.

MCAT Requirements (complete by the end of your junior year):

  • Statistics (101 or 104)
  • 300 level Biology and Genetics classes
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry sequences through BBMB 405
  • Physics 131 and 132
  • Psychology 101
  • Sociology 134

Additional Optional Advanced Science or Elective Coursework:

  • Psychology minor (18 credits) including Brain and Behavior (PSYCH 310)
  • Anatomy and Physiology (BIOL 335, BIOL 350)
  • Medical Microbiology (MICRO 310)
  • Human Genetics (GEN 340)
  • FS HN 367: Medical Terminology
  • COMST 450 B: Health Communication
  • BBMB 498X: Research and Scientific Literature
  • SOC 330: Ethnic and Race Relations (U of I CCM Recommends)

Potential Extracurricular Activities

To be a considered a strong candidate for medical, physician assistant, and other professional programs in healthcare, you'll need substantial involvement in non-academic activities. Programs are interested in the depth of the experience and how it influenced your path to a career in healthcare, not the quantity of experiences.

Biomedical Research: Develop organizational, problem-solving, analytical, and communication skills and a close relationship with mentors who can then provide meaningful letters of recommendation. Opportunities include BIOL/GEN 299, GEN 499, Summer Internships, and many more (See experiential learning opportunities here).

Teaching: Teaching experience (as a tutor, undergraduate TA or LA, peer mentor, or SI leader) will be valuable in developing communication skills and learning how to interact with a variety of individuals. 

Volunteer Work or Employment: While no specific number of patient contact hours are required, you will need to volunteer in a hospital or clinic, complete EMT or CNA training, or become a medical scribe to get some patient contact and learn whether this profession is for you. ACCESS or Mary Greeley Hospital,  ISU Student Counseling Center. See potential programs for requirements!

Clubs: Pre-med, Genetics, Rare Disease Awareness

Leadership Activities: Consider becoming a tutor or SI leader for General Chemistry or Organic Chemistry as a way to be paid for reviewing that material before taking the MCAT.

Applying to Programs: Life Sciences advisors now serve as the pre-health advisors for our advisees. Make an appointment to talk about timelines, prep and applications.

Additional Optional Activities: Publish research, present research at a national meeting, start a club, start a business or charity, spend a summer volunteering with a medical aid organization.