Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the description of the pre-health/pre-med major?
There is no “pre-health or pre-med” major at WCSU (pre-health and pre-med are not majors anywhere), though students can designate a pre-health pathway upon entering Western. Pre-health pathways give you the foundations necessary for graduate placement exams and other pre-requisites for admission to graduate programs in pre-health fields.
Do I have to major in Biology or Chemistry?
For many students the biology major or the chemistry major with a biology minor or biochemistry option are the most appropriate majors because the program requirements include many, if not all, of the pathway courses. However, for most graduate programs, students may major in any subject, provided they complete the pre-requisite coursework designated in these pathways.
If the pathway courses aren’t in my major, what do they count as?
Many of the pathway courses can be used to satisfy general education requirements. Planning a pathway from the start will help you to choose appropriate general education courses as you go. Others will count as free electives or a minor if you choose to complete one.
Do I have to take the courses in a specific order?
No, but it is also important to remember that several of the pathway courses serve as pre-requisites for other courses in the sequence, so you’ll need to plan the timing of courses as well. Check out the sample four year plans for each pathway.
Are the pathway courses all I need to be admitted into a graduate program?
No. Admission to all of these programs is very competitive. In addition to looking at GPA and performance on standardized tests (MCAT, DAT, GRE, PCAT, OAT) programs are looking for well-rounded students whose extracurricular activities demonstrate a knowledge of and interest in their desired profession. See specific details of the recommended extracurricular activity for your intended pathway.
Who is my pre-health advisor?
Dr. Paula Secondo from the Department of Chemistry and Dr. Joshua Cordeira, from the Department of Biology, serve as pre-health professions advisors at Western.They can help you prepare for graduate study in any of these health-related fields and a number of others you may not have considered. (See the section on the range of health careers open to you).
What can I expect from the pre-health advisor?
The pre-health advisors will hold general interest meetings and discipline specific meetings to make sure you have all of the basic information you need to plan for a post-grad program in one of the health professions. Individually, the pre-health advisors will help you develop a realistic plan (course selection, etc.) to move toward your desired goal. We will make suggestions as to how you can become a more competitive applicant, and be honest about what we see as your strengths and weaknesses.
Are there healthcare careers besides being a doctor or nurse?
There are many different fields within the health professions that could provide a satisfying career, some of which you might never have heard of or considered. These could include fields such as speech pathology, public health, occupational therapy, anesthesiology assistant, etc. It is important to fully explore your career options to see what would be an appropriate fit for your strengths and interests. An excellent website is http://www.explorehealthcareers.org which lists many different professions, describes the average salary, daily working conditions, degree or education requirements, and has links to programs. It is always good to have a few different fields in mind. For more help, contact your pre-health advisor.
When do I sign up for the MCAT, DAT, GRE, PCAT, OAT?
These standardized exams will require months of preparation on your part. You will sign up for these exams at least a month in advance (if not longer to get your desired date/location.) You should plan to take these exams early enough that you will have your score when you apply, to know how competitive you will be. Score reporting may take up to six weeks. For more about these exams check our link on graduate placement tests.
When do I apply to graduate school?
When you are ready and have done everything you can to prepare. The application process is expensive and ideally you only want to go through it once. Most application cycles start in the early summer and applying early is recommended. The application process (submitting primary and secondary applications, interviewing, receiving acceptances) typically takes up to a year.
Who should I approach for a recommendation? How many do I need?
Generally you will need recommendations from 2-3 professors (generally 2 science professors) and perhaps other professionals. If you are applying to medical or dental school you will need to go through the pre-health committee letter process. It is desirable to develop relationships with professors so they feel they can comment on your academics as well as your character and motivation.
What graduate programs have WCSU students been accepted to recently?
Frank M. Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University
University of Connecticut School of Medicine
West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
Kansas State University
Louisiana State University
East Carolina University