Once you have explored the various health professions and selected a specific path, the next step is to prepare. Preparing for any health professional school takes passion, commitment, and strategic planning! Given that it can take 3-4 years just to get ready to apply, it is critical to know your timeline. 

Each tab below is recommended for applying to any health professional school. Visit your health professional school's page to learn more about specific requirements.

Academic Preparation

Pre-requisite Comparison Chart for the Health Professions

Most health professions require:

  • One year of general biology with lab (BILD 1, 2, 3 and upper division Bio lab)
  • One year of general chemistry with lab (Chem 6A, B, C and 7L)
  • One year of organic chemistry with lab (Chem 40A, B, C and 43A)
  • One year of physics, including labs (Physics 1A, 1AL, 1B, 1BL, 1C, 1CL or 2A, 2B, 2BL, 2C, 2CL)
  • One year of college math (usually Math 10A, B, C or 20 A, B, C)
  • One course in statistics (Math 11, Psych 60, BIEB 100, etc.)

Additional requirements may include:

  • Biochemistry
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Foreign Language

UC San Diego Writing Requirements

Revelle HUM 1,2, 3, 4, 5
Marshall DOC 1, 2, 3
Upper division
Muir MCWP 40, 50
Warren WCWP 10A, 10B
Eleanor Roosevelt MMW 11,12,13,14,15
Upper division
Sixth CAT 1, 2, 3, 125
Upper Division Writing Requirement Check Marshall and ERC upper division writing

Healthcare/Clinical Experience

In order to be competitive applicants to health professional schools, it is critical you gain experience in a relevant healthcare setting. This can be volunteer work in a hospital, student-run clinic, pharmacy, dental office, or other health-related setting. Paid experience includes: scribe, certified nursing assistant (CNA), medical assistant, pharmacy technician, EMT, paramedic, etc.

Most hospitals and clinics have established and structured volunteer programs that will provide you with shadowing and clinical experience. 


Many health professions expect applicants to have volunteer experience or work with underserved and disadvantaged communities. This is an absolute MUST for medical school. Overall, volunteer work and service demonstrates compassion and empathy as well as shows commitment to helping communities with limited access to healthcare and vital resources.

Review service opportunities by College.

For more information on service opportunities, visit the Real Portal and Center for Student Involvement.


Demonstrating leadership is essential in any health profession. Admissions' committees want to see applicants who take initiative, manage a project, or execute an innovative idea.

There are many ways to gain leadership skills, but here are a few examples:

Review leadership opportunities by College.

List of Leadership Opportunities.


Research is generally not a requirement for entering health professional schools, however many students participate in some form of research during their undergraduate years (particularly pre-meds). While it is not recommended to do research simply to “look good” on your application, there are many benefits:

  • Exposure to a different part of science
  • Understand the relationship between research and how it applies to your specific health profession
  • Cultivate a strong mentorship with your P.I. (and potentially get a letter of evaluation)
  • Expand your network – oftentimes research can lead to other exciting opportunities (i.e. jobs, shadowing, etc.)

Learn more about Research Opportunities

Find Research opportunities

Developing Professional Relationships

If you are applying to any health professional schools, you will need 3-6 letters of evaluation/recommendation from professors, PI's, supervisors, etc. Because classes are large at UC San Diego, it can be challenging to get to know your professors. Here are some tips:
  • Start by identifying mentors vs."letter writers." Approach professors with sincerity and curiosity. This will lay the foundation for an authentic professional relationship
  • Try Coffee/Dine with a Prof! Every college gives each student 3 opportunities to invite a professor to coffee and/or a meal each quarter
  • Attend office hours and ask questions
  • Participate in class or ask questions after class
  • Become a Undergraduate Instructional Apprentices (UGIA's) for a course you did well in
  • Take multiple classes from the same professor
  • Take smaller classes (i.e. labs, senior seminars, etc.)

For more tips, check out Getting to Know Your Letter Writers.