Premed Guidelines

(Includes dental, pharmacy, physician assistant, optometry, and veterinary)

Dr. Mark Buchheim
or Dr. Ron Bonett
or Dr. Chris Brasel  
or Dr. Estelle Levetin
or Dr. Richard L. Reeder

Information about individual professional programs can be obtained at: (allopathic medicine) (osteopathic medicine) (optometry) (dentistry) (veterinary medicine) (pharmacy) (physician assistant)

NOTE: Much of the information provided here applies to all professional schools including dental, optometry, and veterinary. Application services and admissions tests vary by profession. There is some minor variation in coursework requirements and we deal with these by individual advising of students depending on interest. Medical schools require the MCAT (medical college admissions test), dental schools require the DAT (dental admission test), optometry schools require the OAT (optometry admission test) and most vet schools require the GRE (graduate record exam). These are usually taken in the spring or summer of application year.

For more details on specific differences, please contact Dr. Buchheim.


Choice of Major 

Medical schools are not concerned about choice of major as long as a student has the prerequisite courses.  Most premeds are biology or biochemistry majors, but other common majors include chemical engineering, psychology, and English.  Usually, it is best if a student majors in something they are good at and that they like.


There are strong state residency restrictions for medical school.  Most state schools take none or only a few non-residents, so any applicant has a better chance of going to med school in their home state.  Private schools do not have such restrictions, but accepted applicants generally have higher academic profiles (GPA and MCAT scores) because these schools have a nationwide applicant pool.  Non-U.S. citizens must have appropriate documentation of status to apply to most state medical schools.

Admission Statistics and Selection Factors

The average MCAT score at state schools is running around 30, and the grade point average is around 3.6 to 3.8  Stats are higher for private medical colleges and for out-of-state residents (see above). Other factors include letters of recommendation, an interview, and health-related volunteer work or health-related employment, and community service.  Undergraduate research is essential for application to MD/PhD programs. Students interested in a medical scholars training program or other MD/Ph.D. (or DO/Ph.D.) opportunity should inform their advisor early in their academic career at TU.

Healthcare volunteer experience is extremely important.  For predental students, experience in a dental practice is essential.  For Veterinary students, experience in a veterinary clinic is essential. These experiences will be regarded as a reflection of the applicant's interest in serving humanity as well as their enthusiasm for medical arts. Thus, one should begin to explore these experiences early in one's academic careeer (e.g. a growing number of TU applicants started this process in high school!).


Preprofessional (premed, predental, pre-optometry, etc.) advising at TU is housed in the Office of the Dean in the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences no matter what the student's major.  A biology premed will automatically be assigned an advisor.  Students in other majors should see Dr. Mark A. Buchheim to be assigned a preprofessional advisor.  In the latter instance, a student will have an academic advisor in his/her major and a preprofessional advisor as well.

Prerequisite Courses:

Nearly all medical schools (allopathic or osteopathic) in the United States have similar requirements:

  • 8 semester hours of General Biology with lab.
  • 8 semester hours of General (inorganic) Chemistry with lab
  • 8 semester hours of Organic Chemistry
  • 8 semester hours of Physics (algebra/trig or calculus based).

Most schools have general humanities requirements to include coursework in psychology, anthropology, sociology, etc. Most require 2 semesters of English (a few require 3).  Most schools recommend advanced coursework in biology such as histology, cellular biology, comparative vertebrate anatomy, embryology, genetics, immunology and physiology.  Some medical schools around the country now require biochemistry and/or genetics and a few require calculus or statistics.

Science Courses which all premeds at T.U. should take are as follows:

  • Biology 1603 and 1601 (Intro to Organismic & Evolutionary Biology)
  • Biology 1703 and 1701 (Intro to Cell & Molecular biology)
  • Biology 2124 (Genetics, this is a prerequisite for upper division classes in biology at TU)
  • Chemistry 1013 and 1011 (General chem I)
  • Chemistry 1023 and 1021 (General chem II)
  • Chemistry 3013 and 3011 (Organic chem I)
  • Chemistry 3023 and 3021 (Organic chem II) 
  • Physics 1013 and 1011 (Introductory Phyics I)
  • Physics 1023 and 1021 (Introductory Physics II)  Note:  This is algebra/trig based physics; calculus based physics will also suffice (Physics 2053 & 2051 and Physics 2063 &2061)

MCAT (medical college admissions test)

All medical school applicants need to take this test.  Since students on a typical degree program apply to medical school in the summer between their junior and senior years, we recommend all students take the test during the Spring semester of the junior year (med schools do as well).  That gives you a second chance to take the test later if your first results are not as good as anticipated.  It is not uncommon for students to take the test more than once.  The MCAT is a computer-based examination.  Application to take the MCAT is an online process.

There are multiple test dates between late January and early September. You can register for the exam on-line 6 months prior to the exam date.  See your advisor or go to the MCAT website to obtain the current list of exam dates.

The MCAT exam has 4 areas:

  • Biological Science (includes organic chemistry)
  • Physical Science (physics and inorganic chemistry)
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • 2 written essays

The test is scored from 0 to 15 on the first three sections; the essays are not given a numerical score.  Composite scores are running around 30 at state medical schools and somewhat higher at private schools (This would be the equivalent of a 10 on each of the first three sections)

Test info and practice tests are available from the MCAT national office. At present, one online practice test is available free of charge. Additional tests are charged at $35.00 ea.

All pre-med students that matriculate in the Fall of 2012 (or later) will be taking a revised MCAT exam (beginning 2015). Some of the details regarding the new MCAT exam have yet to be determined or released. However, we have been advised that four new content areas will be included in the new exam: Statistics, Behaviorial Science, Biochemistry and Genetics. All students should also be advised that the new 2015 MCAT exam (and all exams thereafter) will have NO writing component. At present, the medical schools have made no formal changes to the current list of prerequisites (see above). Nonetheless, we will be advising all the matriculants for the fall of 2012 to include the following in their Freshman, Sophomore and Junior years:

  • 3 semester hours of Biochemistry (lab is not required at present) 
  • 3 semester hours of Statistics
  • 4 semester hours of Genetics (with lab)
  • 3-6 semester hours of Psychology and/or Sociology

Several of these new requirements have long been on the list of recommended courses. Thus, at present, we do not forsee any serious scheduling issues. However, students should talk to their advisor about how these courses will fit into their schedules.

DAT (dental admission test)

The DAT is a computer-based exam, available year round (currently administered by Prometric Test Centers). It has four main areas with subsections:

  • Natural Sciences
  • Perceptual Ability
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Quantitative Reasoning

OAT (optometry admission test)

The OAT is a computer-based exam, available year round (currently administered by Prometric Test Centers).  It has four main areas:

  • Survey of the Natural Sciences
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Physics

Special Application Note

Students apply to medical school through a national application service.  Allopathic (AMCAS) and osteopathic colleges (AACOMAS) each have a centralized application service. Dental (ADSAS) and Veterinary schools (VMCAS) have their own application services as well.  The University of Texas system has its own application center for medical, dental and veterinary school (TMDSAS). Pre-optonetry students use (OPTOMCAS). Pre-pharmacy students use (PharmCAS). Pre-PA students use (CASPA). Applications are completed online, usually starting in May.  Most students apply to about 5-7 schools.

As for recommendations, most schools prefer to get a committee letter.  Some students elect to send individual faculty letters, but most students go through the committee.

The University of Tulsa has such a committee.  Premed packets are available in the Advising Office (KEP M205) and the departmental offices of Biology and Chemistry.  This process begins in March prior to the summer of application.  The committee members are: Dr. Mark Buchheim (chair), Dr. Ron Bonett, Dr. Chris Brasel, Dr. Scott Holmstrom, Dr. Syed Hussaini, Dr. Estelle Levetin, Dr. Bill Potter, Dr. Richard Reeder and Dr. Robert Sheaff.