Choose Pre-Med: The Path to a Becoming a Doctor

As with many careers, diversity matters, particularly in the field of medicine. The medical field needs your interest, voice and talent to help make a difference for Americans of all colors, backgrounds and needs. And to do that, you’ll need to prepare for medical school with an undergraduate pre-medical degree that leads to further training to become a doctor, be it as a general practitioner, a specialist, an emergency physician or even a surgeon.

Pre-med studies are designed to prepare students to take the MCAT and ultimately enter medical school. Different schools approach pre-med coursework differently, and rather than having a designated pre-med major, many schools instead offer a pre-med track or concentration that students select in addition to their chosen major. 

Some pre-med students choose majors in the sciences so that their core requirements have a lot of overlap with pre-med requirements; however, it is not unheard of for English or philosophy majors to complete all of the requirements for medical school in addition to their humanities coursework. 

Importantly, each medical school has its own list of required pre-med coursework. For a definitive list of the classes you’ll need to take to get into your desired medical school, it’s best to look for that information on the individual school’s website. That being said, the majority of medical schools require that applicants have completed classes in the following subjects:

  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry (organic and inorganic)
  • Physics

students in group shot

Careers in Medicine

Within the field of medicine, there are dozens of sub-fields. Depending on your interests and skills, if you choose to become a doctor, you could practice medicine in any of the following specialties:


  • Primary care / family medicine
  • Cardiology
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency medicine
  • Surgery
  • Internal medicine
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Urology and nephrology
  • Bariatrics / obesity
  • Neurology
  • Pediatrics

Practicing medicine isn’t the only career path open to those with an MD. Other possible career options include: 

  • Medical researcher
  • Medical consultant
  • Teacher
  • Medical writing
  • Physician’s assistant

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How to Prepare for Success

A strong background in science and math will be extremely helpful for students looking to pursue a pre-med education. In particular, biology is considered a cornerstone of early pre-med education. 

However, many medical schools are also embracing the value that a cross-disciplinary education brings to the medical school curriculum. For example, practicing medicine requires strong interpersonal communication and problem-solving skills, both of which are often emphasized in liberal arts and humanities courses such as English, sociology, psychology and others. Bolstering your application with interdisciplinary coursework and extracurriculars shows that you are a versatile candidate, and makes your application that much more likely to stand out.

UNCF Schools to Consider

A number of UNCF-member schools offer pre-med programs, including:

ACP logoProfessional Organizations

These organizations and others can provide information about and related to the practice of medicine:

American Medical Association

American College of Physicians

Note: Many medical subspecialties also have their own professional societies that you can further join and follow. 


Scholarships Available

Several scholarships are available through UNCF. The UNCF General Scholarship Awards are an excellent opportunity for any student going to a UNCF-member college, regardless of their major. The UNCF/Koch Scholars Program offers scholarships, mentorship, academic support and networking opportunities to undergraduate African American students. The Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Scholarship Program awards a $10,000 scholarship to one exceptional HBCU senior each year who has demonstrated high academic achievement, strong leadership skills, commitment to community service and unmet financial need.

Keep an eye on the UNCF website for current scholarship opportunities. Students should also check with each college or university to see if there are scholarships available to study pre-med.

Reach out for guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in medicine. Submit the form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!