All health profession programs expect applicants to have a strong background in the sciences, with a particular emphasis on the life sciences. However, schools are interested in broadly educated applicants, so select courses in the humanities, arts and social sciences alongside your prerequisites.
When you arrive at Smith, you are assigned a liberal arts adviser (LAA)—a member of the faculty who will help you plan your academic pathway. While LAAs have basic information about prehealth course requirements, you will need to seek advice from a member of the Board of Health Professions Advisers for specific questions.
Tips for Academic Success
Applicants to health profession schools should demonstrate the ability to grasp and apply learned knowledge. Select a course load that allows time for you to master class material without feeling overwhelmed. Speak with your LAA and prehealth adviser about your social, athletic, and extracurricular expectations before drafting your academic plan. For example, you may wish to take fewer science courses in your first year while you are still learning about campus life. Or, if you are unsure of your interest in a health profession, you may wish to combine science courses with classes in other disciplines during the first two years so you don't narrow your options prematurely.
It is also wise to consider how quickly you plan to complete prerequisites. While many students enter Smith planning to enter a health profession school directly after graduation, there is no competitive advantage to applying on this timeline. Health profession schools do not discriminate against applicants who matriculate one or more years after graduating from college, and most Smith students choose this path. A slightly longer timeline allows students to complete courses over four years (or more), and it frees up time to explore the many opportunities available at a liberal arts college.
Because health profession schools use grades to evaluate your competence in the basic sciences, do not use Smith's S/U option for required prehealth courses. It is acceptable to use the S/U option to explore new areas of inquiry. An 'S' on your Smith transcript is not computed into your GPA.
Ask for Help
Above all, use good judgement and ask for help if you start to struggle. You can talk with your class professors, LAA, members of the Board of Prehealth Advisers, classmates, your class dean, or find tutoring at the Jacobson or Spinelli Centers.
Students hoping to pursue a career in a health field must complete prerequisite courses that are determined by individual health profession programs. These courses help build a strong foundation in the basic sciences. It’s almost always advisable to take a few courses beyond the basic prerequisites.
Click open the tabs below to learn more about prerequisites for specific professions. Please speak with a prehealth adviser about your individual plan of study.