Prospective Students

Are you a prospective student interested in learning about how pre-health works at UW-Madison? The first thing to know is that pre-health or pre-med, pre-dental, pre-PA etc. are not majors. Pre-health students can choose from a range of different majors across campus. CPHA helps students plan out the prerequisite courses needed to apply to a specific health professions program and also helps students think about how to get involved in extracurricular activities to be a well-rounded applicant in the future.


Visiting Campus:

UW-Madison provides students with a number of different opportunities to visit campus and learn more. We recommend that you choose the visit that best matches your academic interests!

Applying to UW:

Once Admitted:

  • Your UW Day is a full–day program designed to give admitted freshman the information and campus perspective needed to make a final college selection. CPHA advisors will be at the resource fair to answer any of your questions.
  • SOAR (Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration) will be your first step as a UW-Madison student. CPHA will be at the Academic Connections fair!

Frequently Asked Questions:


Is there a preferred major for health professions graduate programs?


No. While some majors may incorporate several pre-requisites for medical school in their requirements, you can major in any area of interest. Many schools are interested in candidates with diverse interests and backgrounds. One way to diversify your coursework or to pursue other academic interests is to get a certificate (what in many institutions is referred to as a minor).


What if I don’t take chemistry and/or math my first semester, can I still go to a health professions graduate program?


Yes. There is no one timeline that all pre-health students follow to complete their pre-requisite coursework. Your course plan will be tailored to your unique situation. Some courses, like math, establish a foundation for other courses, like chemistry, physics and biology. It is important to do well in these foundation courses so you can do well in subsequent courses.


Should I take Chem 109?


Most medical schools require two semesters (or 8 credits) of inorganic chemistry, so taking Chem 109 may still mean that you will have to take another semester of inorganic Chem. Chem 109 may be an appropriate option for you if one of these options fits you:

  • You took the AP chemistry exam and earned credit for Chem 103
  • Your intended major requires advanced inorganic chemistry (Chem 311, 327 or 329)
  • You plan on taking an additional inorganic chemistry course later in your academic career, even if your major does not require it.


I’m enrolled in chemistry and math, but what else should I take?


Anything you’re interested in! Most colleges at UW-Madison have general education requirements in humanities, social sciences or literature, so feel free to balance your schedule with courses that interest you!


Do I need to take calculus?


It depends. Most health professions schools (including most medical & dental schools) do not require calculus. If you’re interested in pharmacy or optometry, however, you will require at least 1 semester of calculus. Also note that many science-related majors require calculus.


I noticed many programs require 6 credits of English or composition.  What counts towards this requirement?


Schools interpret this requirement differently, so you should always talk with the specific school if you are wondering about this requirement.  Any course with “literature” in the title will count towards this requirement provided you are reading literature in English; consider coursework in Comparative Literature, English, or Literature in Translation or in ethnic or area studies departments like Afro-American Studies or Asian American Studies. In addition, the UW Med School now requiremes an intermediate or advanced writing-intensive course in either the humanities or social sciences and taking an upper-level Literature course is one way to potentially meed this requirement.


Do I need to be member of a student organization to get into a health professions program?


No. Many student organizations give you the opportunity to hear from members of your professional community and participate in service. However, you should pick organizations that reflect your interests, so that you can speak about these experiences in a meaningful way when you apply to professional school. Your participation in these organizations should reflect leadership and teamwork over a period of time.


How do I get involved with volunteering?


Take a look at our page on volunteering. The Morgridge Center for Public Service on campus is also an excellent resource.


How do I get involved with research?


See our website for programs, including Undergraduate Research Scholars, a program specifically designed for freshman and sophomores.