Hello UT, my name is Katie! I’m a senior Biology major, but more importantly I’m a Pre-health student. I know many of you have questions about going abroad if you are Pre-health, and for good reason. There are a lot more things you must take into consideration during your undergraduate years that other students do not have to worry about. “Where can I take my pre-reqs?”, “When should I study abroad if I plan to take the MCAT or a postgraduate exam?”, “Do I have time to study abroad during my four years?”, etc.
Do not fear fellow CNS peers; I’m here to answer as many questions as I can. I’ve been lucky enough to go abroad twice while finishing my undergrad. My first time abroad was an exchange program in Barcelona, Spain and my second time abroad was for a six-week internship in Bangkok, Thailand. If anybody is able to help you, it would be me.
Where can I take my pre-reqs?
Unfortunately, the AAMC requires all prerequisites be taken at your home university, which will be on UT campus. However, you are able to take any upper division core classes or certificate/minor courses abroad. I highly recommend taking at least one course that pertains to your major while abroad so that you are not piled up on science classes when you return. For example, if you are a Biology major you can take BIO 320 or BIO 370 abroad for credit and it will be counted as in residence when applying to postgraduate schools. Keep in mind that the credit you obtain abroad will take a full semester to transfer back to UT, so plan ahead!
When should I study abroad if I plan to take the MCAT or a postgraduate exam?
If you are planning to go to Medical school immediately after you graduate, then you need to pick which semester you are going to start studying for your exam. Keep in mind you will want to start studying the semester before your exam date since the MCAT is a lovely 8-hour test. Students taking the MCAT usually do so in the time frame between fall of junior year, to summer leading into their senior year. Regardless of when you decided to take the exam, because of the time needed to study, I suggest going abroad either a year before you take the exam or term right after. Side note: you probably should not go fall of your senior year because of potential interviews.
Do I have time to study abroad during my four years of undergrad?
OF COURSE! I did TWO programs during my undergraduate that ranged from 6 weeks to 6 months abroad. The International Office has over 400 programs that you can choose from, ranging from a Maymester to a full year. There are also research and internship opportunities that will make your resume more competitive for any post-grad plans you may have. The first time I went abroad was spring of my sophomore year in Barcelona. Then I went abroad again for an internship in Bangkok the summer of my junior year.
Where can I study abroad?
ANYWHERE! There are a wide variety of programs targeted specifically for CNS students to help you keep on track with your degree. Some of the most popular places to go are Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, and England. If you are nervous the program you want to apply for wont have many classes you need, or have the proper credits, feel free to use our MY Credit Abroad database to see what credits other students have received on that same program. Don’t forget you can always petition for credit as well. Lastly, remember that all exchange programs count as in-residency, which can make a difference when talking about going abroad with your academic adviser.
Why should I study abroad as a pre-health student?
Going abroad makes you a highly competitive candidate when applying to medical or pre-health schools. A majority of pre-health students don’t go abroad so you will definitely stand out amongst your fellow competitors. There is a 99% chance in an interview that you will be asked about your experience abroad and that is your chance to shine and impress your interviewer. In my internship in Bangkok, Thailand I worked at different hospitals helping me gain international professional networks. Even if you’re not going to medical school, future employers will ask about the skills and experiences you learned abroad. Even if you can only attend a summer program or Maymester, it is so worth. It doesn’t just add to your resume, it gives you FANTASTIC, and ENJOYABLE MEMORIES to reflect on for the rest of your life!
I hope this post has put your mind at ease about juggling all the complications that come with studying abroad as a pre-health major. Now, you should take the next step and come talk to one of our peer advisors. Don’t stress out about the future, but if you are going to, you might as well do it in a cafe in Italy, or on a mountain in Latin America.