You can be a medical doctor with any major. You just need the right preparatory coursework

Many UNM graduates go on to medical school, and Dr. James McKinnell is UNM's dedicated pre-Health Professions advisor who makes sure you are taking the right courses and preparing for the MCAT in a timeline that works for you.

Students interested in medicine often major in Biology, Chemistry, or Biochemistry, but those are by no means the only options. For example, our Anthropology department just launched a Human Biology program that provides students with an introduction to biological, behavioral, and health sciences, focusing on human health, behavior, genetics, and evolutionary history, and you might want to add some Psychology courses into your studies, especially if your goal is psychiatry. Additionally, courses in Sociology, Health, Medicine, and Human Values, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and speaking multiple languages (Languages, Cultures, and Literatures, Spanish and Portuguese, Linguistics) will give you well-rounded preparation for the human side of medicine. If you are concerned with health disparities, you may want to add a Race and Social Justice Certificate to your degree plan, or consider International Studies if you are interested in global health.

Choosing a major is up to you, and you should choose something you legitimately enjoy. If that's Biology, great! If that's Native American Studies, great! College is about exploring your interests. There is no "right" major for medical school, but you do need to demonstrate that you have the hard science skills and knowledge to succeed in the medical field.

Similarly, there's no "right" or "best" route to medical school. If going to medical school and becoming a doctor is your goal, you will get there in a timeline that works for you. Graduating early, however, is not recommended for medical school admissions, even if you have lots of credits from taking college courses in high school. If you finish your degree requirements before your eighth semester, take advantage of your remaining time at UNM to explore and deepen your understanding.

For information on Health Science fields other than medicine, please visit the Exploratory & Pre-Professional Advising Center.

Preparatory Coursework

This information is from Dr. McKinnell, but please make an appointment with him to make sure you're on the right track!

This coursework can be completed at UNM or another college, including community college. Central New Mexico (CNM) Community College has a close relationship with UNM and course credits easily transfer. Medicals schools restrict online coursework, often to two lectures maximum. Online labs are never accepted, as the purpose of the lab is to get hands-on experience.
Transfer student? See how your coursework may transfer to UNM ⇒

In general, medical schools are looking for the following coursework, which must be completed before you attempt to take the MCAT:

Primary Coursework


  • General Chemistry I for STEM majors and lab (CHEM 1215/1215L)
  • General Chemistry II for STEM major and lab (CHEM 1225/1225L)
  • Organic Chemistry I and lab (CHEM 301/303L)
  • Organic Chemistry II and lab (CHEM 302/304L)
  • The above coursework makes up the Chemistry minor


  • AT LEAST one semester of Biochemistry


  • Cellular and Moluecular Biology (BIOL 2110C)
  • Genetics (BIOL 2410C)


  • Algebra-Based Physics I and lab (PHYS 1230/1230L)
  • Algebra-Based Physics II and lab (PHYS 1240/1240L)

It is important to get at least a 'C' in these classes, particularly if you are majoring in a non-STEM field. If you get a C- or lower, you should re-take the course.

If you are not happy with your grade of a C, don't retake the course for a grade replacement! Instead, take a higher level course in the same discipline and work hard to demonstrate that you have indeed retained the concepts and skills of the discipline.
Example: You get a C in Physics I and you wish you had done better. Instead of taking the course again with a grade replacement option, go ahead and take Physics II. Visit CAPS, create a study group, and take advantage of the Tutoring Table provided each semester by the Physics department to get the help you need.

Additional Recommended Coursework


  • Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 1110)


  • Introduction to Sociology (SOCI 1110)


  • Introduction to Statistics (MATH 1350)

Contact Information

Advising Email:

Department/Program Website