General Information

Two main components of a health professions school application include 1) academic performance and 2) clinical experience. In the academic arena, graduate schools want applicants to be well grounded in the basic sciences and to be familiar, through practical experience, with laboratory techniques. In terms of clinical experience, schools expect that students will have gained significant experience in their intended field before they apply.

In terms of coursework, most professional programs require one year of:

  • General Chemistry with lab
  • Organic Chemistry with lab
  • Biology with lab
  • Physics with lab
  • English

In addition, one year of mathematics is usually strongly recommended. Some medical schools require calculus. Many programs have additional required courses, such as biochemistry, psychology, or nutrition. Therefore, during your undergraduate career you should carefully research the specific requirements of the schools to which you wish to apply. Advance coursework is also useful in helping prepare for the entrance exams (as well as health professions graduate school). Such advance coursework includes classes like biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, and physiology.

Advanced Placement

Health professions graduate schools vary in their attitudes toward advanced placement. We will present some general guidelines here, but suggest that you contact individual schools if you have questions concerning the policy at specific institutions.

If you have received advanced placement in a science (biology, chemistry, physics), most health professions graduate schools will accept this as long as you take an equivalent number of courses (and laboratories) at a more advanced level within that discipline. Please keep in mind that professional school requirements may or may not coincide with the requirements of your college major. Regardless of whether or not you receive advanced placement in English, we strongly recommend that you take two English courses while in college. Most health professions graduate schools prefer that students complete two college-level English courses.

There are clearly pluses and minuses to taking advantage of advanced placement opportunities. On the plus side, it allows you to get more quickly involved in intellectually challenging upper level courses. On the negative side, one's freshman year is often a significant period of adjustment. This, combined with the highly competitive nature of health professions graduate school admissions, may argue for extra careful course planning during one's freshman year.

Student Success

Clarion University has had a long stranding tradition to place a number of our alumni in a variety of programs across the nation. Below is a recent listing of the various types and locations of student successful matriculation into a professional program.

Veterinary programs

    • Ohio State University
    • Ross University

Medical programs

    • Temple University
    • U. of New England Coll. Of Osteopathic Med.
    • Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
    • University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ
    • Xavier University, Aruba
    • Case Western Reserve University (full scholarship)
    • Ross University
    • West Virginia University
    • St. George's University Caribbean Medical School
    • Penn State College of Medicine
    • Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Dental Programs

    • University of Pittsburgh
    • VA Tech
    • Virginia Commonwealth University
    • SUNY- Buffalo School of Dental Medicine

Optometry Programs

    • Indiana School of Optometry
    • Ohio State University
    • Illinois College of Optometry
    • Salus University / Philadelphia College
    • Southern College of Optometry

Physician Assistant Programs

    • Lock Haven University
    • Seton Hill University
    • Marietta College
    • Arcadia University
    • Nova Southeastern University (Florida)
    • University of Pittsburgh
    • Chatham University

Pharmacy programs

    • Albany State University
    • Ohio State University
    • Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
    • VA Tech
    • Duquesne University

Physical therapy programs

    • Gannon University
    • Slippery Rock University of PA
    • St. Augustine College (Florida)
    • Duquesne University

Chiropractic Programs

    • Life University College of Chiropractic (GA)
    • NY College of Chiropractic
    • Sherman College of Chiropractic
    • LOGAN Chiropractic

Course Sequences/Timing of the Application

Undergraduates who plan to enter a professional school the fall after they graduate should attempt to complete the required science/math courses by the end of their junior year. Most students take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), or Graduate Record Exam (GRE) in the spring or summer of their junior year. The basic science courses are covered in these exams. Course areas also useful in helping prepare for the entrance exams, although not required, are biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, and physiology.

Also, students who plan to enter medical/dental/veterinary school the fall after they graduate, should ideally file their application during the summer after they complete their junior year. If a student is a competitive candidate, he/she would then be invited for interviews during the fall or early winter of his/her senior year. If accepted, a student would begin graduate school in August/September after graduating from college.

We note that increasing numbers of students are applying to health professions graduate schools at the end of their senior year — or even later. Students who delay their applications have the opportunity to pursue other interests and/or opportunities (e.g. study abroad, completing a thesis, minoring in a non-science discipline, volunteer work, research) in a more leisurely fashion, thus potentially making them more attractive candidates. This is an especially good option if you have had a modest performance during your freshman year, as it may allow you to bring your grades into a more competitive range.

This four-year option also allows for more flexibility in terms of deciding when to take the entrance exams (MCAT, DAT). We note that the average age for students beginning health professions graduate school is approximately 25, and therefore the majority of students do not enroll directly after graduating from college.


The Pre-professional Committee for the Healing Arts have a number of individuals from whom they can seek advice. All of the committee members are available to meet with students on an individual basis. These members advise students who are considering one or more of the health professions graduate schools. Group meetings are also held for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors and seniors. During these meetings, students are updated regarding current admissions trends.

Exam Preparation (MCAT, DAT, GRE, OAT, PCAT)

Pre-professional Students take all the course work required for their appropriate admission's entrance exam as part of their pre-professional studies program. To help our students further prepare for this exam, we have placed Student Manuals on reserve in pre-professional office. An Exam preparation workshop is also offered here on campus.

Gaining Health-Related Experience (job shadowing and clinical hours)
Strong, consistent classroom performance and a solid performance on the entrance exams are important characteristics for health professions graduate school applicants, but there are additional ways to strengthen one's candidacy. Sufficient extracurricular activities and evidence of service work are also very important attributes.

Given the competition for admission, experience in a hospital or health care environment (e.g., doctor's, dentist's, or veterinarian's office) is critical. Students have attained these positions through several avenues, including utilizing the resources offered through our Career Services Center, networking through the health careers club, and recommendations via advisors. The number of hours required or recommended for each program various. It is advised that each student check the requirements for the program they are seeking admission.

Application Preparation

The application process various for each profession and it is recommended that the applicant review the process through the central application service of their appropriate profession.

During the fall semester, a consultation meeting is held for all students planning to apply to health professions graduate schools during the upcoming summer. For example, if you plan to enter graduate school the fall after you graduate, you would attend this meeting during the fall of your junior year. These meetings are required for any applicant needing a committee letter from the pre-professional committee. At present only medicine (MD and DO) and dental programs allow the use of committee letters.

At this consultation, are assigned to work one on one with individual members of the pre-professional committee. During the spring, students work closely with their assigned advisors, thus enabling them to be well prepared to file their applications in June.

To further prepare our students for the application process, we offer workshops on

  • how to approach the personal statement component of the applications process
  • examination preparation
  • resume building
  • interview preparation

At the end of the Spring semester, the Committee prepares a comprehensive letter for the necessary applicant. This (~ 5 page) letter reviews the students' academic, extracurricular, and personal characteristics. When a health professions school requests a letter, the Clarion student simply requests that his/her Committee letter be sent to a particular school.

Interview Preparation

The Career Center, in cooperation with pre-professional committee, has developed a program to help prehealth students refine their communication and interviewing skills for the required health professions graduate school interviews. The Center offers interview workshops and the opportunity to videotape and critique a simulated interview.


Last Updated 3/4/20