Pre-Professional Health Studies Program

Majors for Medicine & Dentistry

FAQ4: If a medical or dental school requires four years of college, then I need a major, right?

FAQ5: How do I know which major will be best for me?  Which major will increase my chances of admission to medical or dental school?

FAQ6: Do I need to pick a major as I enter Clemson?

FAQ7: If I decide to designate Pre-Professional Health Studies (major code 886) as my entering major, what courses will I take?

FAQ8: What were the majors of prior Clemson students who were successful in gaining admission to medical school?  

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FAQ4: If a medical or dental school requires four years of college, then I need a major, right?

Correct. A major will insure your opportunity to graduate with a degree and pursue an alternate career after college should you not gain admission to medical or dental school, or should you decide that a career in medicine or dentistry is not for you.

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FAQ5: How do I know which major will be best for me?  Which major will increase my chances of admission to medical or dental school?

The admissions committees at medical and dental schools have no opinions on or preferences for “appropriate” majors. You are, however, required to have an outstanding grade point average (GPA). Therefore, you should choose the area of study in which you have the most interest as your major. The student who enjoys the material presented in a major usually makes better grades. 

No matter what you may have heard, there is no "silver bullet" major beloved by medical and dental school admissions committees. Do not attempt to pick a major to impress the medical or dental school! A major that leads to a readily employable career is a good selection in the event you do not get into medical or dental school. In fact, you may find this alternative makes you appreciate your chosen major even more. However, you must pick a major you really like! Mediocre grades will not facilitate admission into a professional school, and you do not want to end up with a career you will not enjoy.

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FAQ6: Do I need to pick a major as I enter Clemson?

Not necessarily. You may enter Clemson in one of two ways. 

1) If you feel you know which major you will like the most, declare that major and follow your summer orientation ambassador to that major’s meeting place. The sooner you find out you are interested in and enjoy a major, the happier you will be with your choice. Conversely, the sooner you find out you don't like a major, the quicker you can change to a different major without wasting time taking courses in an undesirable major.

2) Should you not know which major you wish to pursue at Clemson prior to enrolling for your first semester, you may list your major as Pre-Professional Health Studies (PPHS) with the major code 886. (Do not confuse this option with the Health Science major that has a concentration by the same name.) The PPHS major allows you to take courses for one year, explore majors, ask questions, and declare a major by the beginning of your sophomore year. You should note that PPHS is a non-degree granting major, meaning you cannot graduate from Clemson with a bachelor’s degree, unless you declare a “true” major.

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FAQ7: If I decide to designate Pre-Professional Health Studies (major code 886) as my entering major, what courses will I take? 

Medical and dental schools require a year of English, Mathematics, Biology, Physics, Inorganic Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry. Clemson University suggests English, Math and a Natural Science during the first year to satisfy the General Education Requirements.

Suggested Core Curriculum for Pre-Professional Health Studies Majors 

Fall Semester Hours Spring Semester Hours
Biology 110 (or 103/105)  5 (4) credit hours Biology 111 (or 104/106)  5 (4) credit hours
Chemistry 101  4 credit hours Chemistry 102  4 credit hours
Comm 150 (or elective)  3 credit hours English 103  3 credit hours
Math Req. *  4 credit hours Math Req. *   4 credit hours
Total  16 (15) credit hours Total 16 (15) credit hours


* Students are advised to take the math courses required by the major in which they are most interested OR the math course suggested by the Clemson Math Placement Test (CMPT) as the appropriate math course for their level of math preparedness.

Every student is an individual, and each student registers online for a set of courses of his or her own liking, so you may modify your curriculum to meet your own needs and desires. Some students hesitate to take two lab sciences during their first semester of college. Some students wish to investigate different majors by choosing to enroll in a variety of courses. And some students have AP credit for one or more of the suggested courses. Students are strongly urged, however, to select a “true” major by the end of their first year.

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FAQ8: What were the majors of prior Clemson students who were successful in gaining admission to medical school?
The following information exemplifies the diversity seen in the majors of Clemson University students who were accepted for admission to medical school. Always pick the major that feels most comfortable to you.

Majors and Numbers of Clemson Students Accepted to Allopathic Medical Schools 
For the Entering Class of 2005 through 2010

Accounting 2 Food Science 3
Animal & Vet Science 3 Foreign Language 4
Anthropology 1  Genetics 8 
Biochemistry 62 Health Science 15
Bioengineering 6 Horticulture 1
Biomedical Engineering 8 Language and Int. Health 2
Biophysics 7 Marketing 3
Biosystems Engineering 5 Mathematics 4
Biological Science 112  Mechanical Engineering 9
Business 3 Microbiology 32
Chemistry 14 Nursing 2 
Chemical Engineering 7  Nutrition 3
Civil Engineering 3 Performing Arts 1
Computer Science 6 Philosophy & Religion 1 
Economics 3 Physics 1
Electrical Engineering 1 Plant and Env. Science 2 
Engineering 2  Political Science 4 
English 3 Psychology 24 
Financial Management 4 Public Health 10

Most students chose the major in which they had the most interest. Since students are often attracted to medicine or dentistry because they find they have an aptitude for the subjects used frequently by doctors and dentists, it is natural that science majors are very popular. However, many other students have been successful in gaining admission to medical schools using a wide variety of majors. While it is undeniable that some students pick science majors because they contain all those courses required by medical schools, this is not a very good reason to choose a major.

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