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The Best Pre Med Major:

A Definitive Guide (2020-2021)

pre med majors

Some of the most common questions we receive from premedical students are about the best pre med majors. In this guide you will learn the following:

  • What undergraduate pre med majors are associated with the highest GPA.
  • What undergraduate pre med majors are associated with the highest MCAT.
  • What undergraduate pre med majors are associated with the highest medical school acceptance rate.
  • How you should choose the best pre med major for you!
  • Much more!

Let’s dive right in.

When getting ready to position yourself as a competitive premedical applicant, you likely already know the following:

 

So, is there a specific premed major that will allow you to increase your chances of getting in to medical school while satisfying the six items listed above? Is there a major medical schools prefer to see?  To understand what the best major is for premeds, it is important to review the AAMC data for medical school applicants and matriculants based on primary undergraduate major.

 

Let’s first review the GPA data for medical school applicants based on major.

MCAT and GPA Data for Medical School Applicants Based on Pre Med Majors

Now we will review each major group, the number of applicants from each group, and the average MCAT and GPA from highest to lowest:

Major
Number of ApplicantsMean MCAT
Mean GPA
Math and Statistics344510.53.61
Physical Sciences4,937508.93.61
Humanities1,678508.13.58
Biological Sciences30,6935063.59
Social Sciences5,003505.73.52
Other8,7545053.58
Specialized Health Sciences1,964502.83.57

Interestingly, the highest MCAT and GPA for medical school applicants is earned by math and statistics majors. This group also has the highest percentage of matriculants to medical school with 47% of applicants gaining acceptance (see below). However, the smallest number of applicants major in math and statistics (344 applicants last year) versus  more than 30,000 biological science majors.

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MCAT and GPA Data for Medical School Matriculants Based on Pre Med Majors

It may not come as much of a surprise, but, the groups with the highest medical school acceptance rates come from the three groups with the highest average applicant MCAT and GPA. The data for medical school matriculants from each major group with percent accepted, average MCAT, BCPM GPA, and Total GPA is below.

Major
Percent AcceptedAverage MCAT
Mean BCPM GPA
Mean Overall GPA
Math and Statistics47%514.83.73.72
Physical Sciences 47.7%5133.73.73
Humanities46.6%512.93.633.72
Biological Sciences40.6%5113.673.73
Social Sciences39.9%511.73.63.68
Other38.5%5113.653.74
Specialized Health Sciences36.7%510.13.653.74

By reviewing this data a few things become clear:

First, the three groups with the highest medical school acceptance rates (Math and Statistics, Physical Sciences, and Humanities) also earned the highest MCAT scores in both the medical school applicants pool and the medical school matriculant pool. 

Average BCPM GPAs were highest for the two groups with the highest acceptance rates (Math and Statistics and Physical Sciences).

Acceptance rates were lowest for the three groups (Social Sciences, Other, and Specialized Health Sciences) with the lowest average MCAT and GPA for both the medical school applicant pool and the medical school matriculant pool.

Therefore, highest acceptance rates were earned by those major groups that earned the highest MCAT scores and had high GPAs as well.

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What is the Best Major for Premedical Students?

So, when choosing your premed major, this is what you need to ask yourself:

Which major will allow me to earn the highest MCAT?

Clearly, a higher MCAT score correlates with a higher medical school acceptance rate regardless of major. So, if you are someone who loves biology, it might be easier for you to earn a high GPA and MCAT by majoring in biology. 

However, if you enjoy English, for example, maybe that major would afford you more time and flexibility to study for the MCAT more effectively. 

You should also find out which majors at your college have a reputation for being extremely difficult and which are more reasonable. 

With so many medical school requirements to satisfy, rather than focusing on what “looks good” to admissions committees, it is ideal if you can choose the academic discipline that interests you most.  Why? Genuine interest in a subject usually leads to a better academic performance. However, you also want to choose the major that will give you the time to explore other extracurricular and scholarly interests and provide the time you need to focus on MCAT studying to earn the highest score possible.

Major Selection and Medical School Acceptance

So, the final lesson is that your major selection alone will not impact your chances of admission to medical school. We do not advise you to choose a difficult major just because it might impress admissions officers. The bottom line is, above all else, your MCAT and GPA are the two metrics medical schools use to screen applicants so higher numbers in both categories, will certainly improve your chances of getting accepted to medical school. 

If you decide on a very tough major or one that is not aligned with your interests and strengths, you might earn a lower GPA which would hurt your medical school candidacy. A more demanding major might also cut in to MCAT preparation time which could hurt you.

So, in the ideal world, it is best to find the major that interests you most and also allows you to earn a high GPA and time to prepare for the MCAT.

MedEdits Medical Admissions Founder and Chairwoman, Jessica Freedman, MD
JESSICA FREEDMAN, M.D., is president of MedEdits Medical Admissions and author of the MedEdits Guide to Medical Admissions and The Medical School Interview. Follow Dr. Freedman and MedEdits on Facebook and Twitter.
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