Academic Preparation

Your academic preparation and accomplishments are a vital component of your application to health professional school. It is important to create an academic plan with your advisor to take full advantage of the academic offerings at Barnard and prepare for your application. You are strongly encouraged to thoroughly review our Coursework and Course Sequences pages for more information and guideance. 

Selecting a Major

You should choose a major of study you are passionate about. You do not need to major in a science in order to be a competitive applicant. It is important that you select a major that reflects your strongest academic interests, rather than one that you think will make you a strong applicant. Click here for a list of majors and minors offered at Barnard. Regardless of your major, there are a core set of classes that we advise you take in preparation for a heath professional program; visit our Coursework page to learn more.

Course Classification and BCPM GPA:

When assessing your application, admissions committees look for evidence that you can manage the challenges of a health professional school science curriculum and will view your cumulative grade point average (GPA) and BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math) GPA as your way of demonstrating your ability to handle academic rigors. Other considerations include trends in your academic performance, the diversity and rigor of your courses, and other academic interests. 

For pre-medical students, please refer to the AMCAS Course Classification Guide to help determine how your courses will be classified by AMCAS during application to medical school. We encourage you to calculate your BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Math) GPA in preparation for application to medical or dental school. To calculate your GPA, we encourage you to use a BCPM calculator. You may also wish to use the AMCAS Application Grade Conversion Guide.

Study Abroad

It is possible to study abroad and be a pre-health student, but this will take advanced planning. We encourage you to discuss your options early with your academic advisor, Dean Cohen, and the International and Intercultural Student Programs Office (IISP). Click here for IISP's page on study abroad for prospective students. 

Important Academics Notes

A note about AP and IB Credit
Students should forfeit test credits (AP and IB) for science courses and complete these courses at Barnard. Students with AP or IB credit for mathematics do not need to forfeit these credits and can count these credits towards the pre-requisites for health professional programs. 
A note about Science Courses
We believe it's best practice to complete at least two semesters of "double sciences" (enrolling in a minimum of two science courses in a given semester) to demonstrate that you can handle the rigor of the course load. 
A note about Summer Courses
We do not encourage students to take summer science courses. Summer is an excellent time to engage in meaningful activities that will help to build your pre-health portfolio. We encourage you to consult with Dean Cohen if you are considering a summer course(s). 
A note about Letter Grades
All pre-health requirements must be taken for a letter grade, and for the majority of medical schools, you must receive a grade of C or higher. Do not take any required or suggested pre-health courses Pass/D/Fail (PDF).
A note about Chemistry

Our Chemistry course sequence at Barnard differs from the course sequence at Columbia. Students may take Chemistry at either Barnard or Columbia, but should be aware of the differences in sequencing and requirements. Please refer to the Chemistry department's website for more information and consult with Dean Cohen if you have any questions or concerns.