Prerequisites and MCATs
Thank you for your interest in our program. The goal of the UNC School of Medicine is to produce outstanding physicians who are well-prepared to meet society’s rapidly evolving health care needs. Our Admissions Committee seeks to find students who will thrive in our rigorous educational setting, and who demonstrate the altruism, integrity, leadership, communication skills, motivation, and passion for service that set Tar Heel Doctors apart.
The requirements below will be in effect for all students applying for matriculation in the fall of 2021–this cycle begins in May 2020
Prerequisites for AMCAS cycle 2021
The UNC School of Medicine requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of natural science coursework at an accredited institution prior to applying and completion of the MCAT in order to be adequately prepared for our science curriculum. Additional coursework in the Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences is required in order to matriculate with the written language, communication and critical thinking skills needed to thrive in our curriculum and practice medicine in our current healthcare environment. We recommend courses that encourage an appreciation for diversity and cultural awareness – both critical to effectively caring for patients in the U.S. healthcare system.
- Mathematics – One statistics course is required. AP coursework cannot substitute for the required course. If you have AP (or similar) credit for a statistics course, we require another course from the field, such as Biostatistics in order to fulfill the requirement.
- Chemistry – Three chemistry courses are required including a biochemistry course. Two of the chemistry courses should include associated laboratories. AP coursework cannot substitute for these requirements. If you have AP (or similar) credit for an introductory course, we require another course from the field, such as organic chemistry and lab, in order to fulfill the requirement.
- Biological Sciences – Three biology courses are required. Two should be advanced biology courses and one should include a laboratory. Recommended advanced biology courses include Microbiology, Cell and Molecular Biology, Physiology, or Genetics. AP coursework cannot substitute for these requirements. If you have AP (or similar) credit for an introductory biology course, we require other courses from the field, as described above, in order to fulfill the requirement.
Three courses are required. Examples of Humanities courses include but are not limited to English, Philosophy, Ethnic and Gender Studies or foreign language study. At least two courses should include a writing component. AP coursework cannot substitute for these requirements.
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Three courses are required. Examples of courses include but are not limited to Behavioral Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, and Anthropology. We encourage courses that include a writing component. AP coursework cannot substitute for these requirements.
We require seated (in-class) prerequisite coursework in order for you to acquire the interpersonal skills required to succeed in our curriculum and in medical practice. On-line courses will be considered if your institution is unable to offer you a classroom course. We recommend contacting our Admissions office for confirmation of acceptability.
A bachelor’s degree is required for admission. Students are encouraged to pursue one or more scholarly interests in depth during their undergraduate years, but course work must demonstrate proficiency in the natural sciences. A student who earns a degree in less than four years may apply, and should recognize that understanding the human condition and developing good judgement require experience. Without unusual qualifications, questions about the breadth of education, maturity, experience, and motivation may put such an applicant at a disadvantage.
Please note that CLEP credits are not accepted for required courses, and we do not accept verification from the World Education Services (WES) or a similar type of organization for the required coursework.
Academic preparation should include the prerequisite courses on our website regardless of your field of study or advanced degree. Typically, the prerequisite courses are taken as a whole during an undergraduate program, alternatively, others will take the prerequisite courses after earning their four-year degree.
You can choose one of the following pathways to successfully complete the required coursework:
- During your undergraduate program and graduating within five (5) years prior to submitting an AMCAS application to our school. Please note: we begin calculating the elapsed time from the YEAR you graduated from your program (see example below) – OR –
- Completing the required coursework (at least 30 credit hours or more) post baccalaureate (after college). Please note: we begin calculating the elapsed time from the YEAR you completed, or graduated, from your post baccalaureate program (see example below)
Example for clarification:
If you took your prerequisite courses during college, typically a four-year program, and graduated in 2013, and you planned to apply to medical school in May 2020, this would be seven (7) years since you graduated from college. The elapsed time would be outside of the five year requirement, and you would need to meet one of the requirements listed below:
If you are not within the five (5) year limit then you are required to complete one of the choices below before applying: to our medical school:
- Demonstrate current mastery in the natural sciences by satisfactorily completing a graduate science program in the natural sciences prior to applying – OR –
- Complete 30 credit hours or more of advanced level science course work in Chemistry, Biology, Physiology, Physics, Microbiology, etc. to demonstrate current mastery in the natural sciences
Prerequisites for AMCAS Cycles 2019 and 2020
|Important: You must complete the courses listed in this table for the cycles indicated below. The courses in this table must be on your final official transcripts which are required by July 1st of the matriculating year.
Course Requirements for AMCAS Cycles 2019 and 2020
|Minimum Semester Hours|
|Substitutions are not acceptable for any of the required courses, and all of the science course work must be taken in a seated class.||—|
|General Biology (Biology I and Biology II) including at least one course with lab
|It is strongly recommended that students take at least one course in Cell and Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Physiology or Genetics to enhance preparation.||—|
|General Chemistry (Gen Chem I and Gen Chem II) with lab
|Organic Chemistry (Org Chem I and Org Chem II) with lab||8|
|General Physics (Gen Physics I and Gen Physics II) with lab||8|
|In addition, a course in Biochemistry is strongly recommended.||—|
|English Please note that if you satisfy your undergraduate institution’s English or Literature requirement for your degree program, you will also satisfy ours.||6|
|Behavioral or Social Sciences (Humanities, Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, Social Diversity, etc.)||3|
|Advanced Placement (AP) courses are accepted as long as they appear on your official undergraduate transcript. If you have received AP credit for any of the required science, or Behavioral/Social Sciences courses, we do require that you to take advanced-level college courses to enhance your academic preparation for medical school. Your AP courses must meet the equivalent semester hours required, including any of the associating labs.
- Students should also plan to take the MCAT no later than September of the year they are applying. MCAT scores are valid for three application cycles. Please refer to the chart below.
- Review the technical standards that apply to all entering medical students.
- We do require that your undergraduate coursework has been completed at an accredited college or university within the U.S. or Canada, and that your grades are documented in letter-grade format on your transcript and not pass/fail. Also note that narrative evaluations in lieu of, the letter-grade format and GPAs, will not meet our requirements.
International Educational Institutions
If your degree is from an educational institution not located in the United States or Canada, then AMCAS, the degree verification service, will not certify your credentials. Therefore, our prerequisites must be met from an accredited college or university within the United States or Canada to allow eligibility for verification by AMCAS.
After your prerequisites have been successfully completed, and AMCAS has verified your credentials, UNC School of Medicine will review your application and take into consideration all of your educational degrees.
Beyond the fixed requirements, a variety of undergraduate educational experiences are appropriate to medicine. UNC School of Medicine values a pattern of preparation for medicine that shows serious and mature use of your undergraduate years. Course work in the humanities and social sciences as well as advanced work in the sciences and mathematics is preferred. Proficiency in English is essential. Please note, all degree granting programs and coursework must be successfully completed prior to matriculation, and you will be required to provide confirmation of successful completion of all coursework and degree granting programs, by submitting final official transcripts from all U.S. institutions attended July 1st of the matriculating year.
Students should plan to take the MCAT no later than September prior to the year they are planning to matriculate. It is very important that you pay close attention to the application cycles your MCAT scores are valid for. Remember, AMCAS identifies the application cycle for the year you will matriculate into medical school.
Please pay close attention to the chart below and be mindful of the APPLICATION CYCLES that your MCAT score will be valid.
|If you took your MCAT exam in the calendar year of:||Your MCAT scores will be valid
for the following application cycles listed below.(AMCAS names the application cycles for the year you would begin medical school)
|2014 (no longer valid)||AMCAS CYCLES: 2015, 2016 and 2017|
|2015 (no longer valid)||AMCAS CYCLES: 2016, 2017 and 2018|
|2016 (no longer valid)||AMCAS CYCLES: 2017, 2018 and 2019|
|2017||AMCAS CYCLES: 2018, 2019 and 2020|
|2018||AMCAS CYCLES: 2019, 2020 and 2021|
If you submitted your AMCAS application prior to taking the MCAT for the first time, or if you are retaking the exam, please note that your application will not be reviewed until the scores have been reported by AMCAS. Make sure you indicate when you plan to take the MCAT exam on your AMCAS application and we will review your application after we receive the new scores. There is no need to call us to give us your scores because AMCAS will automatically upload them to your application. We do not average MCAT scores but will use the most recent valid score on your AMCAS application. Once again, pay attention to the table above to make sure that your MCAT scores are valid for the application cycle you are applying for.
To prepare for the MCAT, we recommend checking out the AAMC Pre-Med Navigator at Khan Academy.
All UNC medical students must bring a laptop to the program. Student laptops are required for all exams and should be in good working order. Students may choose their own device as long as it meets the minimum requirements.
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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is open to all people of all races, is committed to equality of educational opportunity, and does not discriminate against applicants, students, or employees based on based on race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The Equal Opportunity/ADA Office has primary responsibility for administering this policy. Moreover, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill actively seeks to promote diversity by recruiting and enrolling disadvantaged students and students from underrepresented groups.