For Transfer Students
If you are interested in applying to a health related graduate program, you must complete a number of science courses as part of your undergraduate education, including chemistry, biology, and physics. Many programs also require a year of English, usually a combination of composition and literature.
Start taking science courses as soon as you are ready.
If you are a prehealth student, start the required math and chemistry courses in your freshman and sophomore years. Don't postpone them until you transfer. The required sciences are sequential at the UW, which means they have prerequisites and must be taken in order. For example, we recommend that you don't start chemistry until you are taking at least precalculus, and postponing it until you are taking calculus is even better. In addition, you must take general chemistry before you can take the UW biology sequence.
If you postpone your science coursework until after you transfer to the UW, you could easily find yourself with three years of prerequisite coursework and thus at least four years before you would be able to start your graduate program.
Complete science series at the same school.
If you start a science series at the community college, try to complete it at the same school. Although the credits transfer as a similar course number at UW, the series will often cover information in a slightly different order than the same course at UW. Therefore, if you complete part of a series at one institution, and take the rest elsewhere, you may be missing some class material. If you have questions about this, it is a good idea to ask your adviser.
Is it OK to take pre-health requirements at community college?
MYTH—You shouldn't take your science courses at a community college.
FACT—Many students take the first year or even two years of prerequisites at a community college. The important thing is to get started.
How do graduate programs feel about prerequisite courses taken at community colleges? The answer isn't black and white. The level of the coursework at community colleges is certainly comparable; you'll cover the same topics in the same depth as you would in the equivalent courses at the UW. However, graduate programs also want to see how you do in science coursework at a 4-year school. Therefore, we recommend that you take additional sciences after you transfer to the UW.
If you plan to complete a science major, you will have some advanced science coursework completed at a four-year school and the graduate schools can also use those grades to evaluate your performance in science courses. However, this does not mean that you must choose a science major! You could also take additional science electives and complete a non-science major.
The bottom line is that you should take the prehealth courses where ever it is best for you to take them. This doesn't mean where you can get the highest grades, but where you will learn the material as well as possible. If community college is the best place for you now, take the courses there. Once you transfer to the UW, however, it is generally not a good idea to return to the community college to take additional science classes.
Start planning your major before you transfer.
MYTH—If you want to get into a health graduate program, you should complete a science major.
FACT—These graduate programs look for a diverse student body. Your choice of major will not affect your chances of admission.
Pre-med, Pre-dent, Pre-pharm etc. are not majors at the University of Washington. Virtually all successful applicants to health graduate programs have completed a bachelor's degree, which means you will need to choose and complete a major. Science majors are not required or even preferred by these programs. Major in a subject you enjoy studying and will do well in.
To learn more about how to choose a major, go here.
Getting Help and Finding More Information
Start by viewing the online pre-health information sessions. Visit the other sections of this website to get more information about how to explore health care options, how to prepare for your area of interest and how to apply successfully. There are also links to other websites that you will find helpful.
Consider attending Transfer Thursday at UW. By attending this program you can learn about Admissions to UW, academic areas of study, and other topics of interest to transfer students. During the Transfer Thursday program you can also have a brief meeting with a general advisor, during the hours of 2:30pm to 4:00pm in 141 Mary Gates Hall, the Center for Undergraduate Advising, Diversity and Student Success, which houses Pre-Health Advising at the UW.
To determine which courses at your community college are equivalent to UW courses, check Course Equivalencies for Washington Community Colleges.
Your community college adviser can also help you explore your options, plan your coursework, prepare for a major, and find information on transferring to the UW. Once you have transferred to the UW, you will be able to work with a prehealth adviser at UW.