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Online courses and degree programs are offered far and wide across the country, with hundreds of universities now implementing distance education options. Online courses provide students with added flexibility so that they can complete their degrees on their own terms. With that said, finding a fully online undergraduate program can prove to be pretty tricky, especially if your goal is to study pre-med. Pre-med isn’t offered as a major; instead, students can major in a field of natural science and a handful of other disciplines. Science is one of the most hands-on fields, so attending campus at some point is a given. However, some schools still strive to provide you with more flexibility by allowing you to take courses online.
What Is Pre-Med?
As mentioned earlier, pre-med in itself is not actually a major that you can pursue. In other words, there is no designated major for pre-med students. Because of that, students who enter medical school can choose a variety of different majors before completing their undergraduate degrees. Therefore, calling yourself a “pre-med” student essentially means that you plan to go to medical school. Typically, you are pursuing an undergraduate degree that aligns with your future career goals.
If someone says they are pre-med, they could be taking courses in natural science, psychology, genetics, math, or English. Pre-med designates a student’s plan more than their actual current coursework, so keep this in mind as you consider your pre-med track.
Pre-med students take courses in a variety of different subjects, and you can find many of these courses online. While your entire degree may not be available as remote coursework, many of your classes likely have an option for distance learning, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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What Do Students Take In Pre-Med Coursework?
Since you could pursue a variety of different majors on a pre-med track, your coursework may vary significantly. For example, students who are seeking a natural sciences degree on their pre-med track might take courses involving biology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, genetics, chemistry, and more. If you are on an English track, on the other hand, you will be exposed to courses like writing, literature, editing, and perhaps even film.
The best pre-med schools with online courses will be the schools that provide you with a rigorous education and ample opportunities and support in meeting your requirements for admission to medical school. Getting into med school is a stressful experience, but feeling confident in your choice for your undergrad can help alleviate that stress. Some of the best schools for pre-med students with online courses are the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Ohio State University, Colorado State University, the University of Florida, and the University of California-Irvine.
What Kind of GPA Do You Need To Get Into Medical School?
Medical schools typically only accept the highest caliber of students following their undergraduate degrees. While this isn’t exclusive to having a high GPA, grade-point-average during your undergraduate coursework is one of the many things that admissions counselors look for when admitting students, so it’s in your best interest to keep it high. You should always think about keeping your GPA above a 3.5 if possible, especially if you want to be set apart from other applicants in your pool.
Perhaps more important than keeping your GPA high is your extracurriculars during your undergraduate years. When an admissions committee sees that you’re heavily involved at your school and are interested in participating in student and community life, you will appear much more well-rounded and considerate. With that being said, consider joining Greek life organizations, volunteering societies, or even campus ministries to show your dedication to your community outside of the classroom.
How Much Does a Pre-med Degree Cost?
The cost of an undergraduate pre-med degree will vary greatly depending on the school you choose. Additionally, pursuing an online degree will eliminate some of the expenses you might typically associate with college. For example, if you attend an online school, you won’t need to pay for a meal plan or find expensive housing close to campus.
However, tuition costs will also vary depending on where you live and choose to attend school. While some schools offer lower rates for online coursework, other colleges charge out-of-state tuition prices for online students who are not state residents. Therefore, you’ll want to carefully look into both the in-state and out-of-state tuition costs at each school you are interested in, as well as any special discounts for taking classes online.
Next, we’ll take a look at the previously-mentioned best pre-med schools with online courses.
The Best Pre-Med Schools With Online Courses
The University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign
The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign is a large school with close to 50,000 students. It is an R1 Research University and a member of an organization of premier research institutions across the country called the Association of American Universities (AAU). UIUC is world-renowned for its research and scientific innovation across several fields. The University, based in Champaign, Illinois, has an acceptance rate of around 63 percent and a graduation rate of about 86 percent.
If you’re studying science, this is one of the best schools you could attend. Potential pre-med majors at this University include Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Molecular and Cellular Biology. There are hundreds of courses offered online. While the University may not offer entire bachelor’s degrees for pre-med students online, you can achieve passing grades in a lot of your coursework for a pre-med degree by taking individual courses online. Some of the online courses offered on the Illinois Online site include Introduction to Telemedicine, Medicine in Literature, General Chemistry, and Introduction to Public Health.
Ohio State University
Ohio State University is the only R1 Research University in the state of Ohio. OSU is also a member of the AAU, on top of being regarded as a Public Ivy. U.S. News & World Report has ranked it among the best public universities in America. It is a highly-regarded school that offers an extensive selection of courses online. The University is based in Columbus, Ohio, and has a student body of about 46,000 undergraduates. OSU has an acceptance rate of about 68 percent and a high graduation rate of about 87 percent.
OSU offers a variety of different pre-med degrees entirely online, which is ideal for distance learning students. Some of the pre-med tracks available online include an AS to Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences, Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, and a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. In addition, OSU has a unique feature that makes it stand out as a pre-med option. Students can actually select Pre-Medicine as an area of interest and get specialized advice on being accepted into a med school program.
Colorado State University
Colorado State University (CSU) does not offer an entirely online pre-med program, but they do provide their students with the option to take many of their pre-med courses online. These courses vary when it comes to subject and credit count, although they primarily hover between 2 and 4 credits. These online courses are taught by the same faculty members present on campus at Colorado State, and they can count for CSU credit when you successfully complete and pass them. Some of these online pre-health courses include:
- Principles of Human Physiology
- Individual and Family Development
- Death, Dying, and Grief
- Medical Terminology
- General Microbiology
CSU tuition costs are $476 per credit, which includes the costs of your student services. The school, which is located in Fort Collins, Colorado, has an acceptance rate of around 98 percent and a graduation rate of about 47 percent. They have a student body of just over 24,000 undergraduates, so you will be sure to find your group there.
The University of Florida
The University of Florida (U.F.), based in Gainesville, provides distance learning students with the opportunity to pursue undergraduate degrees in Biology or Microbiology online. These two majors are some of the most popular among pre-med students, and UF allows you to complete all of the necessary coursework for these majors online. The biology degree is a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), meaning it is more interdisciplinary and theoretical and requires much less preparation in divisions like mathematics or chemistry. The microbiology degree is a Bachelor of Science (BS), meaning it is more hands-on with the actual life science that is microbiology.
For residents of Florida, UFs online degree programs are a fraction of the cost of their in-person programs, which typically require you to pay for things like a meal plan or student housing. The same high-ranking faculty members who teach on UF ‘s campus also teach the online courses, meaning you are getting the same quality of education whether you’re in-person or a distance learner. With an acceptance rate of 62 percent, it is moderately challenging to get into this school. However, around 75 percent of students successfully graduate from UF.
The University of California – Irvine
The University of California-Irvine could be another great school to study pre-med and take online courses. While the University doesn’t offer any full degree programs for pre-med students online, you can get a lot of coursework done using the available online courses from UC Irvine. However, the University is challenging to get into, with an acceptance rate of 30 percent. Although, the school does have a high graduation rate of 85 percent.
UCI is another member of the Association of American Universities, and it has some diverse pre-med major options for those doing a hybrid in-person and distance learning approach. Some of these majors are:
- Human Biology
- Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
- Developmental and Cell Biology
- Biomedical Engineering
- Biological Sciences
- Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
So, again, because of the broad range of options, UCI would be a great place to study pre-med because you could get a solid interdisciplinary education by getting the most out of your electives.
How To Choose Your Pre-Med School
There are a few different things you should keep in mind when determining which school you should attend for your pre-med degree, especially if your degree isn’t entirely online. When you have to spend some time at in-person classes on campus, it’s essential to look at the profile of the school as a whole rather than just the actual coursework you’ll be completing. To get this full profile, here are a few things you should look at:
- The school’s admissions history. In addition to just looking at their actual acceptance rate, you should also evaluate the profiles of the students they turn away and investigate how many students from their programs actually end up getting into medical school. If a school you want to attend doesn’t have a lot of students going to medical school following their undergraduate degree, this might not be the best choice for your studies. Conversely, if a school has a high percentage of students going on to medical school, this should become one of your top pre-med choices.
- The school’s student life. You’re going to be spending a lot of time on campus, even if your degree is partially online. Looking at the school’s Greek life, extracurriculars, party scene, and sports teams, you can tell a lot about what the students at the school like to do during their free time.
- The school’s advising teams and clinical connections. If your school has decent advisors and guidance counselors, this can be a big help in getting you through school successfully. Advisors can help you decide which courses to take, and if they have outside connections, they can help you get into medical school or participate in different clinical experiences. Good advisors can make or break your college experience, so make sure you talk to the advising team before deciding on a school.
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Should I Complete a Pre-Med Degree With Online Courses?
If you are a student looking to complete their pre-med degree before continuing onto medical school, completing a portion of your undergraduate degree online is certainly a great option. Not only does it usually make your degree significantly cheaper, but it also reduces the amount of time you’ll need to spend in the classroom.
If you have a busy work schedule or cannot afford to spend as much on your undergraduate education, this could be the perfect option for you. Becoming a doctor, surgeon, or dentist is already expensive enough, so do yourself a favor and at least make your undergraduate degree as simple and straightforward as possible.