Academic Preparation

Majors

Professional programs do NOT require students to major in any one particular area and they do not prefer one major over another. You should choose a major based on your strengths, interests, and personality. As long as admission requirements are met you MAY BE IN ANY MAJOR and still apply and be accepted to professional healthcare programs. Major in whatever you find interesting and exciting. Health professions schools value well rounded and educated applicants. You will also be evaluated on the rigor of the courses you take and the number of credits you take each semester. Completing two majors and/or two minors will NOT make you more competitive.

General Academic Planning

Health professions schools place a priority on well-rounded achievement. Be sure to demonstrate your academic abilities and excellence through completing your major requirements and pre-requisite courses with excellence and rigor. Go beyond the minimal expectations.

  • Be sure to demonstrate your ability to engage in rigorous course loads by taking 15-17 credits and two sciences each semester (after your first semester at UF). Try to maintain strong overall and science GPAs of 3.5 or higher.
  • Be careful not to get over-involved outside of the classroom: Remember a general rule of thumb is to leave approximately two to three hours of study time for each credit hour spent in class. For example, if a student carries 15 credits during the semester, plan approximately 30 – 45 hours in study and course preparation time outside the classroom. This amounts to a full time job! Your academics come first. You may require some help with developing new study skills or time management skills. Use campus resources available to you. Be involved but manage your time well!
  • Healthcare professions schools place emphasis on well-educated and well-rounded applicants: Pursue not only the pre-requisite courses but also courses that demonstrate your love for learning, personality, interests and intellectual breadth outside of the sciences.

AP/IB

Many professional schools do not accept AP or IB credit by itself to fulfill prerequisite requirements. Therefore if you have earned AP or IB course credit in prerequisite courses we recommend that you either retake these courses or take higher level courses in the same area.

When discussing whether to repeat courses you have AP/IB credit for or take upper division courses in the same areas, consider whether these courses taken at the high school level are adequate preparation for not only upper division biology, chemistry, math and physics courses, but for standardized tests and the foundational courses you will encounter in the professional schools.

Repeating Courses and Withdrawals

Repeating courses

  1. Repeating a course in which you have already earned a C or better is not looked upon favorably by professional schools in most cases. You need to demonstrate that you can successfully complete courses the first time you see the material. Professional schools would rather see stronger performance in a higher level course than a repeated course. If you do not do well in your early foundation courses, we recommend that you take upper division coursework in the same area to demonstrate academic proficiency in that area.
  2. All grades in all attempts must be reported to healthcare professions schools. UF does not have grade forgiveness or grade averaging. Therefore all attempts will count toward your transcript.
  3. Healthcare professional schools do not accept grades less than a “C” in pre-requisite or required coursework. If you earn a “C-“or below, repeat the course.
  4. If you struggled in or earned a “C-“or below in the first half of a sequenced or required course, DO NOT take the second course in the sequence. Please speak with your instructor or an advisor.
  5. If you completed prerequisite courses 5 or more years ago you will need to check with the schools you plan to apply to in order to determine whether or not you need to repeat them.

Withdrawals

  1. Healthcare Professions Admission Committees will look for academic patterns when they review applications for admission. It is important to not establish a pattern of withdrawing from your courses or saving courses to take during the summer or with a lighter course load.
  2. If you believe you are able to earn a “C” or above in the course, complete the course and then take a higher level course in the same area to demonstrate academic abilities.
  3. If you believe you will earn a “C-“or below, it is best to drop the course with an understanding it will be important to earn a “B+” or preferably an “A” in the second attempt.

See our “Should I Drop My Course?” handout for more information.

Sample Timelines

The following suggested course timelines are just that, suggestions. You will take pre-requisites for the health profession of interest within the context of your major. Therefore, you will develop an individual academic plan based on major requirements and health professions pre-requisites. If you need assistance, please see a Pre-Health advisor.

Electives

Elective courses are a great way for you to pursue your own interests and to prepare for the humanistic, social, and ethical sides of health care. Use them to learn about your future patients: their cultures, languages, and the social challenges they may face. Do NOT choose courses just because you think they will help you improve your GPA. This will appear as though you are not up to a challenge. We have a list of suggested courses (PDF, 119 KB) for students wishing to choose courses specifically related to the health professions and developing cultural competency.

Graduating Early

You may have arrived at UF with numerous advanced credits. Many students may be able to complete their major in three years, and some students erroneously believe professional schools look positively on students completing their degrees earlier than in four years. This is not usually the case. Most Deans of Admission indicate a preference for students who have demonstrated academic performance throughout a four year period. An application filed after only two years will certainly not be as rich as one filed after three or four years of demonstrated academics and experiences. If for financial necessity you complete your degree in three years, consider taking a “growth” year between undergraduate and professional school to work or continue service activities. This way your application will reflect a full three years of academic performance and will be a stronger, more competitive application. When in doubt, feel free to consult with a pre-health advisor.

Pre-Health Pre-Requisite Course Chart