Pre-Health Professions

College of Extended Learning
Dean: Gail Whitaker

SFSU Downtown Center
425 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

College of Science and Engineering
Dean: Sheldon Axler

Health Professions Advising Committee
HH 548
Web Site:
Chair, Health Professions Advising Committee: Barry Rothman

Certificate Program Coordinator: Barry Rothman


Certificate in Pre-Health Professions

Program Scope

This is an undergraduate certificate designed for students who have already earned a BA/BS degree and who plan to apply to allopathic medicine, osteopathic medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry and veterinary medicine schools. Due to its cohort structure, the program is best suited for students who have completed little or no prerequisite course work prior to entering the certificate program. Cohorts of about 25 students take pre-requisite biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics course work, as well as auxiliary course work in the form of discussion sections, a Health Professions Colloquium, and a yearlong clinical exposure activity. Optional course work in mathematics is available for those needing preliminary and/or more advanced courses. The goal of the Pre-Health Professions certificate is to guide participants through the entire preparation and application process so that they will be competitive applicants to graduate health profession schools. On-campus MCAT/DAT/PCAT/GRE preparation courses are available from commercial vendors at a discount. The program begins in the early summer and runs continuously for six semesters, a period of two years. The program is supervised by a director. A faculty committee writes a letter of evaluation that may be submitted with the student’s health profession school application.


Admission Requirements and Application Procedure

Applicants must have graduated from an accredited institution of higher learning with a baccalaureate or higher degree. Since this certificate requires a bachelor’s degree for admission, applicants will be required to have a GPA of at least 2.5 for the last 60 semester units. Students whose primary language is not English must earn a minimum score of 550 on the paper version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or a minimum score of 213 on the computer-based version.

Applicants must complete the online Pre-Health Professions Certificate application at and submit the supporting documents requested in this application. These include a personal statement, a current résumé or curriculum vitae, and two letters of reference from college faculty. Students who consider themselves economically and/or educationally disadvantaged must fill out a special section of the application. A small handling fee is charged for processing the application. International students are welcome to apply to the program.

Fees are $491 per unit of course work. The entire 57-unit program costs $28,000. Additional course work taken at SFSU during participation in the certificate program will be charged at the same rate. Tuition is due by the beginning of each semester.

Deadline for receipt of a complete set of application materials is in mid-spring; admission decisions are announced in late spring. Final approval for entry into the program is contingent upon payment of a $500 non-refundable deposit. See the online application for details.


Curriculum Units

First Semester (Summer)

CHEM 115 General Chemistry I: Essential Concepts of Chemistry 5
SCI 115 Science Concepts: General Chemistry I 1
MATH 109 Pre- Calculus and 4
  SCI 109   Mathematics Concepts: College Algebra and Trigonometry or 1
MATH 226 Calculus I and 4
  SCI 226   Mathematics Concepts: Calculus I 1
Total 11
Second Semester (Fall)
PHYS 111 General Physics I 3
SCI 111 Science Concepts: General Physics I 1
PHYS 112 General Physics I Laboratory 1
CHEM 333 Organic Chemistry I 3
SCI 333 Science Concepts: Organic Chemistry I 2
CHEM 334 Organic Chemistry I Laboratory 1
Total 11
Third Semester (Spring)
PHYS 121 General Physics II 3
SCI 121 Science Concepts: General Physics II 1
PHYS 122 General Physics II Laboratory 1
CHEM 335 Organic Chemistry II 3
SCI 335 Science Concepts: Organic Chemistry II 1
CHEM 336 Organic Chemistry II Laboratory 3
Total 12


Fourth Semester (Summer)

BIOL 230 Introductory Biology I 5
SCI 230 Science Concepts: Introductory Biology I 1
SCI 693 Cooperative Education Program 1
MATH 124 Elementary Statistics (Optional) 3


MATH 226 and Calculus I (Required if MATH 109 taken in first semester) 4
SCI 226 Mathematics Concepts: Calculus I (Required if SCI 109 taken in first semester) 1


MATH 227 and Calculus II (Optional) 4
SCI 227 Mathematics Concepts: Calculus II (Optional) 1
Total 7-12
Fifth Semester (Fall)
BIOL 240 Introductory Biology II 5
SCI 240 Science Concepts: Introductory Biology II 1
CHEM 215 General Chemistry II: Quantitative Applications of Chemistry Concepts 3
SCI 215 Science Concepts: General Chemistry II 1
CHEM 216 General Chemistry II Laboratory: Quantitative Applications of Chemistry Concepts 2
SCI 693 Cooperative Education Program 1
Total 13
Sixth Semester (Spring)
SCI 695 Health Professions Colloquium 2
SCI 693 Cooperative Education Program 1
MCAT/DAT/PCAT/GRE Preparation (Optional)
Total 3
Total Required for Certificate 57

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Students must demonstrate an appropriate level of writing competency. This is accomplished by the student receiving a grade of B or higher in the Health Professions Colloquium, which focuses on writing personal statements and interview skills. Students who do not pass this requirement may have alternative course work specified by the program director.

Health Professions Advising Committee

The Health Professions Advising Committee (HPAC) has designed programs to meet the course requirements for the following types of health professional schools: medicine (Human), including allopathic and osteopathic; dentistry; veterinary medicine; pharmacy; optometry; podiatry; chiropractic; physician assistant; and dental hygiene.

The pre-health professional programs are not academic majors, and do not by themselves lead to a certificate, baccalaureate, or graduate degree. However, these programs may be included as part of a recognized academic major. Official requirements of all majors and programs are published in this Bulletin.

Academic majors with significant overlap with pre-health professional requirements include: biology, especially concentrations in cell and molecular biology or physiology; biochemistry and chemistry; and physics.

Role of HPAC

The Health Professions Advising Committee (HPAC) helps students prepare for admission to health professional schools in the areas listed above. The committee offers informal advice, presents workshops at various times during the academic year, distributes test forms, and manages an office that transmits to health professional schools letters of evaluation submitted on the student’s behalf by on- or off-campus references. For fee information, contact HPAC.

HPAC works with both undergraduate and graduate students, including those registered as second baccalaureates and post-baccalaureates (unclassified graduate students).

The office is located in Hensill Hall 548 and the telephone number is (415) 338-2410.


Minimum preparation for health professional school includes course work in biology, chemistry, and physics. Although most applicants to health professional schools major in a natural science (biology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics), majors in other fields (social sciences, behavioral sciences, humanities) have also been successful in gaining admission provided that these applicants have completed the prescribed course requirements. It is recommended that the final choice of the undergraduate major reflect the true academic interests of the student.

Minimal Science Requirements

The program listed below is recommended for admission to allopathic and osteopathic medical schools and dental schools. Catalogues from individual schools should be consulted for specific requirements.

Program Units
BIOL 230 Introductory Biology I (with laboratory) 5
BIOL 240 Introductory Biology II (with laboratory) 5
CHEM 115 General Chemistry I: Essential Concepts of Chemistry (with laboratory) 5
CHEM 215 General Chemistry II: Quantitative Applications of Chemistry Concepts 3
CHEM 216 General Chemistry II: Quantitative Applications of Chemistry Concepts Laboratory 2
CHEM 333 Organic Chemistry I 3
CHEM 334 Organic Chemistry I Laboratory 2
CHEM 335 Organic Chemistry II 3
CHEM 336 Organic Chemistry II Laboratory 3
PHYS 111 General Physics I 3
PHYS 112 General Physics I Laboratory 1
PHYS 121 General Physics II 3
PHYS 122 General Physics II Laboratory 1
Total units 39

Schools for veterinary medicine, pharmacy, optometry, podiatry, chiropractic, and physician assistants may have somewhat different requirements than those listed above. Applicants should consult the catalogue for the school(s) they are considering for accurate information on course requirements.

Additional Science Courses

Beyond the above minimal requirements it is recommended that the student select other science courses in consultation with an adviser. Many health profession schools prefer more extensive preparation in biology, chemistry, and/or mathematics. Some foreign schools require appropriate language courses.

Recommended Courses Units
BIOL 327 AIDS: Biology of the Modern Epidemic and/or 3
BIOL 330 Human Sexuality
BIOL 328/329 Human Anatomy 4/5
BIOL 349 Bioethics 3
BIOL 350 Cell Biology 3
BIOL 355/356 Genetics/Honors Genetics 3/2
BIOL 357 Molecular Genetics and/or 3/3
BIOL 361 Human Genetics
BIOL 380 Comparative Embryology and/or 3/3
BIOL 382 Developmental Biology
BIOL 401/402 General Microbiology/Laboratory 3/2
BIOL 420/421 General Virology/Laboratory 2/2
BIOL 430 Medical Microbiology 5
BIOL 343 Cellular and Molecular Immunology (3) or 3/2
BIOL 435/436 Immunology/Laboratory
BIOL 439 Medical Mycology and/or 4/3
BIOL 464 Medical Entomology
BIOL 453/454 General Parasitology/Laboratory 3/1
BIOL 612/613 Human Physiology/Laboratory 3/2
BIOL 614 Vertebrate Histology 4
BIOL 615 Molecular Pathophysiology 3
BIOL 616 Cardiorespiratory Physiology 3
BIOL 620 Endocrinology and/or 3/3
BIOL 622 Hormones and Behavior
BIOL 621 Reproductive Physiology 3
BIOL 640 Cellular Neurosciences I or 3/3
BIOL 642 Neural Systems Physiology
BIOL 699 Special Study in Biology or 1-3
CHEM 699 Special Study in Chemistry
BIOL 861-884 Graduate Biology Seminars 1-2
CHEM 340/341 Biochemistry I/Biochemistry II or 6/3
CHEM 349 General Biochemistry
CHEM 347/348 Clinical Biochemistry/Laboratory 2/2
CHEM 338 Organic Chemistry II: Special Projects Laboratory 3
MATH 124/
BIOL 458
Elementary Statistics/
MATH 226-228 Calculus I-III (4 each) 12

Health profession schools prefer that students take advanced courses because they are in area(s) of interest rather than as an attempt to duplicate material that will be covered in their curricula. There are other advanced science courses that might be considered in consultation with an adviser.

Qualities of Successful Applicants

Listed below are the qualities that health profession schools are seeking in their applicants. These qualities can be determined from a variety of sources including the applicant’s personal statement, answers given in secondary applications, letters of recommendation, and interviews. Successful candidates:

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