Majors & Study Abroad

Choosing a Major

Choosing a major is a highly personal decision, and those who excel academically in college are most often those students who select majors they truly enjoy. If you really enjoy the sciences and are a very strong science student, then choosing a major in that area is the right decision for you. On the other hand, if you have other interests and talents, you should feel confident in pursuing a non-science major as a prehealth student. You do not need to major in science to do well on the MCAT or be admitted to medical school. Since you have a wide choice of subjects in which to major, your decision should be based on an honest assessment of your interests and talents. You are strongly urged to view your undergraduate years as a time for intellectual growth and not solely as a means to an end. Professional schools want students who have proven themselves not only in the required science courses, but in the humanities and social sciences as well. They will be looking to see if you allowed yourself sufficient depth and breadth in your studies. The ideal candidate shows not only good academic competence, but also evidence of strong, independent judgment and motivation for lifelong learning.

As you are developing your ideas on a choice of major, you should consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the relevant department or departments. This does not in any way commit you to pursuing a major in that area, but it does enable you to get the very latest and most accurate advice on the subject. It is also always possible to change your major, but in this situation it is absolutely crucial that you first speak with the Director of Undergraduate Studies of the department to which you plan to transfer, to ensure that it is possible for you to complete all the necessary courses in time for graduation.

Undergraduate Study Away

Many prehealth students ask if it is feasible or desirable for them to study abroad. With careful planning, this is an excellent idea. You could plan to spend either a summer, a semester, or a full year abroad. If you plan to spend a full year overseas, you must bear in mind that you will need to complete all your prehealth courses in a U.S. college in time for the MCAT, and be available throughout most of your senior year for interviews at the schools to which you are applying. You could therefore most conveniently spend either your sophomore or junior year away. If you would like to take advantage of a study abroad opportunity, you should keep in close contact both with the our office Preprofessional Advising Center and NYU Global.

NYU currently offers Principles of Biology I & II, General Physics I & II, and Organic Chemistry I & II with labs at its sites in London and Sydney. NYU Tel Aviv and NYU's portal campus in Shanghai also offer science coursework that may be appropriate for prehealth students in specific majors. Students should consult with their CAS and/or major advisor in choosing courses, and are advised to take maximally two lab-based science courses during study away experiences, as in regular semesters. Note that, as grades earned at NYU sites will appear on your regular NYU transcript, they are acceptable to all medical schools in this country.

Please note that when you apply to medical school, you must classify your semester(s) spent studying abroad as a program that was separate from your courses taken at Washington Square, even if you were at an NYU site. Be sure to consult the AMCAS instructions on study abroad coursework for further clarification.

In addition to the usual sites in the U.S., Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands, the MCAT is administered at several other overseas locations on the same days as they are offered in the United States. For more information about these testing sites, you may write to AMCAS, visit their web site at, or call them at (202) 828-0600.