Preparing for a Doctoral Program in Dentistry, Medicine, Optometry or Pharmacy

Alternative--Five Year Schedule

Differs from the Ideal schedule by including Chem 4, delaying related courses, and a lighter unit load

Semester Summer Fall units Spring units Summer Fall units Spring units
    1   2     3   4  
Course Chem 4 3 Chem 1A 5 Chem 1B 3 Chem 24 3
Course Bio 1 5 GE (A2) 3 Bio 2 5 Bio 160 3
Course GE (A3) 3 GE (A1) 3 Eng 20 3 Phys 5A 4
Course PE 1 PE 1 PE 1 GE (Stats 1) 3
Units 12 12 12 13
Volunteer service Arrange Do Arrange
Application Begin thinking about personal statement
Semester Summer Fall units Spring units Summer Fall units Spring units
    5   6     7   8  
Course Chem 25 3 Chem 124 3 Chem 161 3 Bio UDE 3
Course Bio 139 4 Bio 131 UDE 4 Bio UDE 3 GE  3
Course Phys 5B 4 Bio 184 3 GE 3 GE 3
Course PE 1 GE 3 GE 3 GE 3
Course   1
Units 12 13 13 12
Volunteer service Do Arrange 195 Do Bio 195 credit
Application Write personal statement Rec letters
Standardized test Prepare Prepare
Summer Fall units Spring units
  9   10  
Course Math 26A 3 Math 26B 3
Course Bio UDE 3 Bio 121 3
Course GE 3 GE 3
Course GE 3 GE 3
Units 12 12
Volunteer service Programs
Application  Apply (June) Secondaries Interviews
Standardized test Take

The Excel version of the table above is useful for organizing your specific schedule.

Schedule: The schedule above is intended as a starting point for students who are able devote 45 hours per week to school. Courses shown are for a BA in Biological Sciences, but any major is acceptable. Select a major in which you are really interested.

Courses: It is most important to begin and continue your sequence of chemistry courses. Chemistry is the longest series and Chem 1A is required before Bio 2 (see prerequisites), which, in turn, is required for most upper division Bio courses. Approximately 50% of Chem 1A students earn a D or F. If you did not recently excel in high school chemistry, use the summer prior to entering the University to review chemistry, and take Chem 4 (a preparatory course) during the summer or fall. Seek relevant upper division electives (UDE), such as Systemic Physiology (Bio 131), which can fulfill the UD animal biology requirement.

GE: Consider GE courses that may help in your professional perspective and critical thinking, e.g. Eng 1C, Bioethics, Psych Aspects of Death and Dying, Contemporary Moral Issues, Health Care Delivery. See GE recommendations. Professional schools prefer that University students not (return to) take science and math courses at Community Colleges (CC). However, GE courses may be taken at CC after transferring to a University.

Volunteer service: This is an opportunity to do something that is meaningful to you. Professional schools are looking for evidence of commitment, not token effort. It is better to begin early and work one or two days per month over several semesters. You will only get busier as you approach the application period because of standardized test (i.e., DAT MCAT or OAT) and application preparation. Arrange for Bio 195 in spring of second year. Arrange to volunteer during the summer and to get credit for Bio 195 in the Fall. Programs: Many professional schools offer formal summer programs, through which they become familiar with prospective applicants. Alternatively, you might contact medical researchers associated with the UCD Medical Center to participate in medical research.

Standardized test: You want the scores to be available the application service/Universities by the date they begin reviewing applicants. This is important because schools begin accepting applicants immediately.

Recommendation letters: You should get a letter from someone who supervised you in your volunteer service as well from teachers, etc. Identify three letter writers in spring, prior to applying. In Medicine, they are not required until you receive secondary application requests, but the writer may need several weeks notice. Offer to provide letter writers with a copy of your application so that they can address any concerns they see. If you want to make a good impression when it counts, be organized when soliciting letters, and provide your writers with everything they need (e.g., envelopes: addressed, stamped, and pre-stuffed with evaluation forms; written instructions, your contact information, etc.).

Application: The most important part of preparing the application is your personal statement. Reflect on why you have made the decision to become a Doctor. Self reflection, clarity, appropriate grammar and spelling are expected. Start working on your personal statement ASAP, and return to it periodically. The writing process will help you understand your motivations, make appropriate decisions, and produce a much stronger application. See your specific health profession links to help with the application process. At least one other person with strong writing skills should proof-read your application.

Alternatives: What if your application is marginal? Consider applying to a Postbac program (e.g., at UC Davis) to strengthen your qualifications, or to a less competitive health field, e.g., Osteopathic Medicine, Podiatry, Professional Assistant, or Technician within the same profession (there are many varieties).