Frequently Asked Questions

Career Exploration

One place you can start exploring your future career is: https://explorehealthcareers.org/

You can certainly set up an appointment with a Career Counselor at University Career Services, too. University Career Services has resources that can help you narrow down your career goals and personal strengths, including:

Once you’ve narrowed down your interest, that might be the time to shadow or talk with a professional in that field.

You can explore the individual pre-health pathways under the professions tab.

You can explore all pathways here.

Academics

Health professions schools do not choose students based on majors or minors. Instead they are looking for strong grades in prerequisite and recommended coursework, good scores on relevant standardized tests (MCAT, DAT, OAT, PCAT, GRE, etc.) and significant clinical, volunteer, research, leadership/teamwork, and extracurricular experience. You should choose a major that interests you.

Majors at Mason

Minors at Mason

These majors are popular with pre-health students because they incorporate the prerequisite course requirements into the major.

Biology

Chemistry

Neuroscience

Community Health (clinical science concentration)

Integrative Studies (life sciences concentration)

Pre-PT: Kinesiology

Reminder: you can apply to any pre-health profession program with any major provided that you complete the prerequisite courses.

Ideally, you would start taking your prerequisite courses in your first year. It’s important to work with your academic advisor to plan out your course schedule and fit your prerequisite courses in with your major requirements. 

Yes. If you receive an institutional action for unacceptable academic performance or conduct violation, you must report it on an application even if it did not interrupt enrollment, require withdrawal, or appear on a transcript. Prospective health professions students should be mindful of university policies.

You can show your readiness for health profession programs by taking a full academic load each semester with a mix of prerequisite courses and classes for your major. Ideally, you would do well in your classes and show, by junior and senior years, that you’re able to handle the most challenging courses in your major and prerequisite courses at the same time. If you take your prerequisite courses over the summer health professional schools will question whether you’ll be able to handle the rigor of the first year in their program. During your first year in a health profession program, you’ll be taking multiple, difficult science courses and you won’t have the ability to space them out. Lightening your fall and spring semester course load by taking prerequisite courses over the summer is exactly the type of behavior that health profession schools want you to avoid. 

It’s recommended that you take a full course load each semester to stay on track for graduation/prerequisite requirements. Taking a challenging load and doing well can demonstrate your ability to handle the rigor of the curriculum in health profession schools. If you choose to take a lighter load, it might be necessary for you to justify your decision in your application. 

More information here.

Professional schools typically look at your cumulative total GPA (all colleges/universities attended and all courses completed – including repeats) and your BCP (biology, chemistry, and physics courses) GPA or science GPA most heavily. MD programs look at the cumulative total GPA and the BCPM (biology, chemistry, physics, and math courses) or science/math GPA most heavily. You can use an online GPA calculator to determine your cumulative GPA (if you’ve attended multiple institutions) or your BCP/BCPM GPA. 

Application

No, we do not offer pre-health committee letters. You should ask faculty, mentors, supervisors, and health professionals you’ve shadowed/worked with directly for letters. Health professional schools only ask for committee letters if they are available from your school, so you will not be at a disadvantage in the application process without one.

It’s important to ask individuals who know you well, can speak to your academic and personal strengths, and will be willing to write you a positive letter of support. Most health professional schools want to see 1-2 letters from science faculty and 1 letter from a health care provider who you’ve shadowed or worked with. You should check with the schools you’re applying to to make sure you’re meeting their letter of recommendation requirements. 

It is not appropriate to ask friends or family for letters of recommendation. 

More information here

Be professional in class; arrive on time, regularly attend, be engaged, ask questions, and sit near the front. Attend office hours and always introduce yourself. Make time to build a meaningful and positive relationship with faculty in preparation for letters of recommendation.

It’s best to ask your letter writers 4-6 months in advance of when you’ll submit your application. If they’re writing a letter for you, there’s a good chance they’re writing letters for other students, too. Be respectful of their time and plan ahead.

If you need assistance with your personal statement, set up an appointment with the Writing Center. They can assist with brainstorming, drafting, editing, and finalizing your personal statement. 

Check out their guide to writing health profession personal statements here

No. For most health profession programs, the average age of matriculants is 24 (or older). There are different reasons to take a gap year, but if used productively, it can make you a stronger applicant.