Is a quantitative background in Chemistry preferred over lots of classes in Bio?

Nov 14, 2011
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Hi everyone,

I was just wondering how adcoms view two types of students in terms of advanced coursework.

1. A student with a focused background in biology (i.e. lots of in-depth classes in a specific field such as immunology but not a lot of breadth in terms of advanced classes) in addition to a strong quantitative background in the physical sciences such as physical and biophysical chemistry.

2. A student with less physical science background but a lot of in-depth classes in many fields of the biological and medical sciences?

Any opinions? Please do not go on a tangent about focusing on research or choosing what's the most interesting/ best in terms of gpa. I'm just curious about what you think about this senario.

Thanks!
 

StIGMA

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What kind of adcoms? If you want a physical science PhD, more rigorous background in that subject would be preferred. If you are going for an immunology PhD, then you have better shown some interest in immunology coursework.

If you want an MD/PhD, then you need more high quality research experience. No one gives two hoots whether you take a few extra upper level classes, no matter the subject, in an MD/PhD or a PhD program, really. Both backgrounds you describe are good- but it depends on your research goal. If you intend to do biophysics in grad school, then more undergrad coursework in physical chemistry will be a plus, but if you lacked this you could always learn what you need while in grad school. No one really cares, and it doesn't matter as far as admissions go. If you have a clear goal in mind, take the coursework that will help you attain that goal and stop worrying about how other people will perceive you.
 
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S
Nov 14, 2011
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Thanks but anyone not so focused about emphasizing research in every MD/PhD admission post on the internet, especially here where I specifically asked to please not to and just answer my question?
 

Neuronix

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Thanks but anyone not so focused about emphasizing research in every MD/PhD admission post on the internet, especially here where I specifically asked to please not to and just answer my question?
Your question was answered. It depends on the applicant but one or the other is not inherently better.
 

K31

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May 10, 2011
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Thanks but anyone not so focused about emphasizing research in every MD/PhD admission post on the internet, especially here where I specifically asked to please not to and just answer my question?
We emphasize research in every MD/PhD admissions post because that's what really matters for admissions.

I know premeds like to obsess about how every decision affects their admissions decisions, but what MD/PhD adcoms are concerned with is finding applicants who will be successful in the program. That means science majors by and large (who will by definition have taken significant upper-level science courses) with a strong GPA and MCAT. Beyond that, research experience, the ability to discuss it in your interviews, and the letters from your research mentors are what will make or break your application.

What specific courses you take doesn't matter for MD/PhD admissions. So take courses that you are interested in, that you can do well in, and that mesh well with your research interests.