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Hi! I’m a sophomore (junior, technically) that recently transferred to my state school from a university in Japan. I spent the last two years of undergrad in Japan as a bio major because I’ve always wanted to live closer to my family in Japan (I am a US citizen btw). But, throughout my experience, I gained an interest in a career in medicine. Because my university in Japan did not have a program for this, I decided to move back to the states to complete my undergrad to apply to med school. Sadly, a big portion of my credits didn’t transfer, so I’ve been pushed back a year. I know US medical schools don’t accept any foreign credits, so I will be taking the next two-three years to complete all my prerequisites.

It turns out that a few of my biology classes I took in Japan transferred and equated to general biology 2 and lab at my current school (general biology 2 covers mostly ecosystems, evolution, plant and animal structure). But because these are credits from a foreign university, I need to take other bio courses with lab to fulfill the prerequisite requirement (I heard some med schools accept foreign credits, but I want to play it safe as possible). I’m taking gen bio I this semester and thinking of moving on to take more upper biology courses instead of gen bio 2 next semester.

I was wondering if the 1-year prerequisite biology requirement for med schools is specifically general biology courses, or if upper-level biology courses can be substituted for them (like genetics or human physiology)? If possible, I’d like to avoid taking gen bio 2 and lab to save some money and take courses for my major that I haven’t taken yet.

Thanks so much!!
 

anniekat2025

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The requirements will vary by school, but many schools do not specify that your biology classes must be general biology. You can check the specific requirements at each school you are applying to, but I wouldn't stress about not having general bio 2.
 
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The requirements will vary by school, but many schools do not specify that your biology classes must be general biology. You can check the specific requirements at each school you are applying to, but I wouldn't stress about not having general bio 2.
Thank you so much for your advice!
 
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gonnif

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The requirements will vary by school, but many schools do not specify that your biology classes must be general biology. You can check the specific requirements at each school you are applying to, but I wouldn't stress about not having general bio 2.
With the competitiveness of medical school, and the need for applicants to first target schools with MCAT and GPA, students need to have the broadest array of medical schools to consider. Since some schools will require a year of General Biology, not having those course will mean you have already begun to self limit the schools you can consider. After applying to an average of 15 schools, with 60% of applicants getting rejected and another 20% getting a single acceptance, I strongly advise that applicants do everything under their control to have the broadest and most "traditional" prereqs in order to apply the broadest array of medical schools, thus maximizing their chances of acceptance
 
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With the competitiveness of medical school, and the need for applicants to first target schools with MCAT and GPA, students need to have the broadest array of medical schools to consider. Since some schools will require a year of General Biology, not having those course will mean you have already begun to self limit the schools you can consider. After applying to an average of 15 schools, with 60% of applicants getting rejected and another 20% getting a single acceptance, I strongly advise that applicants do everything under their control to have the broadest and most "traditional" prereqs in order to apply the broadest array of medical schools, thus maximizing their chances of acceptance
Thank you for your reply! Do you think it would be okay if I waited on taking gen bio 2 and reached out to the schools I am applying to at the time of application to see if gen bio 2 is necessary and if it is, I could take it during my remaining semesters?
 

rx001

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Genetics is preferred over Gen Bio. Also it is more useful for MCAT preparation.
 
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gonnif

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Thank you for your reply! Do you think it would be okay if I waited on taking gen bio 2 and reached out to the schools I am applying to at the time of application to see if gen bio 2 is necessary and if it is, I could take it during my remaining semesters?
1) you can check the school websites and MSAR to find specific prereq requirements per school
2) while you can ask admissions office for guidance you will not get any definitive answer under after you have an acceptance but before matriculation when your are checked for prereq fufillment.
3) by that time it may be too late so I suggest you plan to fit this in you schedule prior to potential matriculation
 
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KnightDoc

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However some schools will require general bio and the student may not be able to matriculate without it
I'm very confused by this advice. Hopefully, you have misunderstood what OP initially posted. He is saying he received credit for gen bio 2 that he took in Japan. How is this different from any American student receiving AP credits for any required science class and taking upper level courses in the same subject to fulfill a med school prereq requirement?
 
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gonnif

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I'm very confused by this advice. Hopefully, you have misunderstood what OP initially posted. He is saying he received credit for gen bio 2 that he took in Japan. How is this different from any American student receiving AP credits for any required science class and taking upper level courses in the same subject to fulfill a med school prereq requirement?
Because it isnt AP but credit that originated from off-shore school. Btw many medical schools wont accept AP as fulfilling prereqs. So while this not likely to be at most schools, it could be at a few and could delay any potential matriculation. Since applying to medical school is as much as reducing risk as anything else, I advise all applicants to have all the “traditional” prereqs. Better safe than sorry
 
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KnightDoc

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Because it isnt AP but credit that originated from off-shore school. Btw many medical schools wont accept AP as fulfilling prereqs. So while this not likely to be at most schools, it could be at a few and could delay any potential matriculation. Since applying to medical school is as much as reducing risk as anything else, I advise all applicants to have all the “traditional” prereqs. Better safe than sorry
I hear you, but I've been advised that, while AP won't satisfy prereqs in some cases, depending on the school, upper level courses in the same subjects will. Hopefully this will be the case. Otherwise I will be screwed, since I placed out of the first year of just about everything! I am pretty sure this is the case, because the alternative really doesn't make a lot of sense, i.e., forcing someone with AP credits to retake classes versus demonstrating proficiency through upper level courses. :cool:

Assuming this is indeed the case, the same should apply for the foreign class, since it converted to American credits at OP's school, just like AP credits would. At that point, the med school should be agnostic as to what was the underlying basis of the credit, since what they are accepting is the UG credit, not the foreign or AP coursework. I understand why you are saying what you are (risk aversion), but it honestly seems like a huge waste of time and money to retake classes one has already received credit for because some random TBD med school might be unreasonable and not accept the credit PLUS upper level coursework in satisfaction of a prereq requirement.

I obviously don't have your level of experience, and have not performed a survey of every med school, but, in my two years of obsessing on med school admissions, I have not yet come across a single school that insists on a specific class, and will under no circumstances accept credit for prior coursework (such as AP credit) or credit plus additional upper level classes. Do you know of a single example contradicting this so I can save myself some time and money next year, since under no circumstances am I going to go back now and retake bio 1 or physics 1? Thanks!! :cool:
 
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gonnif

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I hear you, but I've been advised that, while AP won't satisfy prereqs in some cases, depending on the school, upper level courses in the same subjects will. Hopefully this will be the case. Otherwise I will be screwed, since I placed out of the first year of just about everything! I am pretty sure this is the case, because the alternative really doesn't make a lot of sense, i.e., forcing someone with AP credits to retake classes versus demonstrating proficiency through upper level courses. :cool:

Assuming this is indeed the case, the same should apply for the foreign class, since it converted to American credits at OP's school, just like AP credits would. At that point, the med school should be agnostic as to what was the underlying basis of the credit, since what they are accepting is the UG credit, not the foreign or AP coursework. I understand why you are saying what you are (risk aversion), but it honestly seems like a huge waste of time and money to retake classes one has already received credit for because some random TBD med school might be unreasonable and not accept the credit PLUS upper level coursework in satisfaction of a prereq requirement.

I obviously don't have your level of experience, and have not performed a survey of every med school, but, in my two years of obsessing on med school admissions, I have not yet come across a single school that insists on a specific class, and will under no circumstances accept credit for prior coursework (such as AP credit) or credit plus additional upper level classes. Do you know of a single example contradicting this so I can save myself some time and money next year, since under no circumstances am I going to go back now and retake bio 1 or physics 1? Thanks!! :cool:
Actually three memorable incidents come quickly to mind
1) a nontrad professional journalist and textbook editor, who never had an English as a UG (all writing was journalism classes) required to an English class before matriculation
2) a nontrad PhD chemist required to take freahman Bio II (with plants bio) prior to matriculation
3) in a similar vein, an acceptee who had to take one of a gen bio summer before starting, had completed the class prior to orientation at med school but UG registrar closed for a week in early August, official transcripts got to med school two days after acceptee was forced to defer for not fulfilling prereq
4) And I have known many acceptees who rushed to take a summer course to fill a missing prereq just prior to matriculation, which is becoming a more tenuous backup as medical schools start earlier and earlier

Now lets try to understand how all this works
1) the schools are accredited in part by having admissions criteria and policies, and are reviewed and re-accredited by following those policies.
2) If schools are continually granting waivers to these policies and this is seen on either an internal or re-accreditation audit, they can be "dinged" for excessive waivers and not adhering to their published admissions criteria
3) As the number of medical schools grow and how medical schools are falling under the umbrella of large corporate-structured health systems, this any ding to accreditation is seen as a liability to reputation and branding. Therefore, upper management doesnt want it
4) Over the past decade schools many schools have be altering admission prereqs to do so, moving from specific courses to either more general course and/or core competency requirements
5) In sum, applicants expect a school will be reasonable and flexible where in many cases it is constraint by fear of LCME and upper management.

As for the specific course questions/points raised in this thread
1) As prospective physicians, you should realize that specificity matters
2) a prerequisite course fulfills TWO things: the course content and the credits/time
3) AP credit awarded, AP course exemption/placement, Transfer credit from US school, Transfer credit from foreign school are all different things and medical schools handle them differently. And in many cases dont have a clear policy especially on the last ite,
4) Usually medical schools will allow AP to fulfill the content of prereq but not the credit. Hence you need to take additional credits in the area.
5) Medical schools will usually take transfer credits from a US school. This comes into play with some schools that do not accept CC credits for prereqs but are acceptable as transfer credits from a 4 year school.
6) For foreign transfer credits, policies are not consistent. My impression is that most will take them but applicant must assume they will need a transcript eval service and submit original transcript
7) Placing out of a course (as opposed to getting AP credit) is an issue at many medical schools.

As for my risk aversion philosophy
1) As I said, at most medical schools there is low risk
2) However, with 60% of applicants being rejected, and more importantly, 20% getting a single acceptance, do you really want to have applied to 27 schools, get 3 II, and get on 1 WL, get called in only to then find the school wont grant you a waiver for missing general bio II? The medical school is by no means required to defer you and then can simply take the acceptance back
3) So while the potential of the risk is low, the impact of the risk is high as in possibly not becoming a doctor
4) The only way to have this risk at zero instead of just low is having all the required prereq courses
5) while this can be seen as a waste of time, effort and money, not becoming a doctor because of not taking some prereq seems like a bigger waste.
6) I dont go thru all this just be one of the “nattering nabobs of negativism.” ( either @Goro @LizzyM will get that). Yes, all of this is rare except I have seen it all over my career. Do you really want to risk being one of the few acceptees per yea who winds gets that single acceptance only to be deferred a year or worse.
 
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KnightDoc

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As for the specific course questions/points raised in this thread
1) As prospective physicians, you should realize that specificity matters
2) a prerequisite course fulfills TWO things: the course content and the credits/time
3) AP credit awarded, AP course exemption/placement, Transfer credit from US school, Transfer credit from foreign school are all different things and medical schools handle them differently. And in many cases dont have a clear policy especially on the last ite,
4) Usually medical schools will allow AP to fulfill the content of prereq but not the credit. Hence you need to take additional credits in the area.
5) Medical schools will usually take transfer credits from a US school. This comes into play with some schools that do not accept CC credits for prereqs but are acceptable as transfer credits from a 4 year school.
6) For foreign transfer credits, policies are not consistent. My impression is that most will take them but applicant must assume they will need a transcript eval service and submit original transcript
7) Placing out of a course (as opposed to getting AP credit) is an issue at many medical schools.
Thank you VERY much for the extremely thoughtful, detailed response. The part I bolded precisely conforms to my understanding, and is what I was looking for. I would assume the same would hold true for credit granted by an American UG for foreign coursework (i.e., content is covered and additional credits are required). Thanks again!!!
 
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