Getting Started

NJIT Programs & Advising

Getting In

Choosing a Career

Getting Started

What health professions can I prepare for at NJIT?

NJIT can provides an excellent preparation for virtually any health profession. Care-based professions that NJIT students have successfully pursued include Physician, Dentist, Podiatrist, Physiotherapist, Nurse, Physician's Assistant. Other students have gone on to research in bio-medical or pharmaceutical disciplines.

Is a health profession right for me?

This may be the most important question you ask yourself. The main advice we have is: keep asking it! Many students thinking about college or just beginning their undergraduate career do not know what career they want to pursue. Many question or change their choice along the way. This is normal and healthy. By all means consider a health-related profession if it seems interesting to you. As you progress through a pre-health curriculum, taking biology, chemistry and other courses, you will get a better sense of whether this career choice matches your interests and aptitudes. If it does, we will gladly help you apply to medical school or other heath-related professional training. If not, that’s fine too. There are many other careers that are as challenging and rewarding; the most important thing is to choose a career that really suits you.

Some students arrive at NJIT already determined to become health professionals and successfully follow that path. Others change direction. Your time as an undergraduate is the best time to make that decision! Medical school, dental school, etc., are challenging and costly, and only the truly committed should apply.

We encourage introspection. Ask yourself not just whether you want to help people and serve a community, but also what you like to do on a daily basis. Do you like interacting with people? Working with your hands? Being outside? Solving puzzles? Advocacy? The answers to these and similar questions will help you decide whether to pursue a medical career, and if so, which kind.

I am thinking of pursuing a degree at NJIT in preparation for a career in medicine or the health professions, what should I do now?

There are two ways to prepare for a health-related career at NJIT. One is to apply to one of our many four-year undergraduate degree programs, which culminate in a BA or BS degree. You can follow a pre-health curriculum in many majors. NJIT also offers a number of accelerated pre-health programs, in which you spend three years at NJIT and then move to a participating professional school to complete your undergraduate degree and begin your medical studies. Some of these programs require that you successfully apply to the Albert Dorman Honors College. All of them are highly competitive. See the Honors College web pages for more information about the accelerated programs.

Neither approach is ‘better’ than the other — each has its advantages and disadvantages. An accelerated program may be right for someone who is 100% sure that a career in medicine is for them. [Link to Is a career in medicine right for me?], and is prepared to give up some of the breadth of a four-year program to pursue that goal. On the positive side, if you maintain the high standards required, admission to a participating professional school is automatic or highly facilitated. A four-year degree allows you to explore a wider range of interests, both in health-related subjects and more broadly. This can help you figure out whether a health-related career is right for you, and which kind of career in the medicine field is right for you. It gives you valuable additional time to prepare. Four-year students get assistance from their advisors and the University in applying to medical or other health professional schools when the time comes.

I am an NJIT student, and would like to prepare for a career in medicine or the health professions. What should I do now?

If you are enrolled in a regular four-year program, you should first read the rest of this FAQ! Your next steps depend on your undergraduate standing.

If you are a freshman or sophomore, you should discuss your interest in medicine with your departmental advisor. If you haven’t chosen a major, there are many options. It is also a good idea to contact NJIT's university-wide pre-health advisor. That person can discuss your options with you, give you sense of the milestones you will need to pass along the way, and put you in touch with various helpful student organizations at NJIT. There are number of academic steps you need to take before applying to any health professional program, and many programs also expect certain extra-curricular activities, such as shadowing a professional in the field of your choice. These can take time to arrange.

If you have not yet begun to take the courses required for medical school applications, it is advisable to take them sooner rather than later. The basic courses are prerequisites for other advanced courses that might also be good preparation. Also, they will give you better feel as to whether you have made the right choice.

If you are a junior or senior, you should make both consultations (with your major advisor and the NJIT pre-health advisor) a priority. Your major advisor should audit your transcript for progress towards your major, and the NJIT pre-health advisor for progress towards a suitable pre-health curriculum. If you only just made the decision to pursue a health profession, don't worry, read on…

I’m a junior or senior and I just now realize I want to be a health professional!

It’s OK; you haven’t missed your chance! However, if you haven’t been preparing to apply to a health professional school, you are very likely missing some key elements. These might be courses, practical experience, or both. You may well have to wait at least a year to apply, and perhaps take some extra courses (if you have graduated, these may be as a non-matriculated student). This happens often and will in no way harm your eventual application. In fact it is a mistake to rush in a weak application, or to take the MCAT without adequate preparation.

Ask the NJIT pre-health advisor look at what you have done so far and advise you on what is missing. Then make a plan to fill in the blanks. Even if you are about to graduate from your major, or have already graduated (within the last few years), NJIT will help you with you your preparation and application. There are also post-baccalaurate programs at various schools that cover exactly this eventuality. Let us know what you are planning as soon as possible.

I am an older or otherwise non-traditional student and I just now realize I want to be a health professional!

Medical and other health professional schools generally attract students under 30 years of age. However, the only requirement is that you meet the competitive requirements. Some schools — particularly the better ones — look favorably on non-traditional students because they often bring a maturity and sense of focus that other applicants lack. They may also being a unique perspective or set of skills gleaned from a previous career. If you feel this describes you, then don't be disheartened.

At the same time, you should also consider the strenuous demands of medical education, training and practice. Personal sacrifices (time and money) are very much part of the pursuit of a medical career. Non-traditional students need to evaluate these considerations from their particular perspective. We recommend that non-traditional students read the following:

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NJIT Programs & Advising

What degree programs would prepare me for a career in medicine or the health professions?

There are no ‘pre-med’ majors at NJIT. Most students considering pre-medical training at NJIT select biology, biomedical engineering or bioinformatics, but medical schools do not typically favor one major over another, and may look favorably on 'non-traditional' students. It is possible, in principle, to follow any major at NJIT into the health professions. NJIT students who have successfully gained admission to medical schools have also majored in chemistry, physics, engineering, computer science, management, and history. We recommend that you choose your major in light of your particular interests because you must excel in your chosen major to be competitive for admission to medical school.

Note that certain courses (biology, chemistry) are required by all health professions, and which you must therefore take even if they are not in the curriculum for your major. In addition, it may be a good idea to take additional upper-level science courses. It is important that you let your major advisor know of your pre-health intentions as soon as possible, especially if you are not pursuing a biology-related major, so that your curriculum can be planned accordingly.

What is an accelerated degree program?

NJIT offers accelerated programs in medicine, dentistry, optometry, and physical therapy (Doctor of Physical Therapy). In an accelerated program, you complete all of your General University Requirements and most of your major courses in three years at NJIT. The first year of professional school completes the BS degree requirements. Most of these programs are run through the Albert Dorman Honors College.

Where do NJIT students with pre-health interests receive their advising?

NJIT has a University Pre-Health committee, with representatives from various Colleges and Departments, that is responsible for organizing and monitoring the pre-health advising at NJIT. The committee mainly provides guidance to the faculty and professional advisors who interact with students. For students interested in health professions, personal advising is a cooperative effort between the student's major advisor (who is responsible for matters related to completing the major), and the University pre-health advisor (who will advise on a suitable pre-heath curriculum, as well as application procedures). It is expected that both advisors will provide a sounding board for the student to discuss their interests. Furthermore, when it becomes time to apply to a professional school, the two advisors will work together to help a student prepare the best possible application. For most kinds of applications, the student will be interviewed by a committee consisting of the University pre-health advisor, an advisor from the student's home department, and other faculty and staff as appropriate. Based on the interview, plus letters of recommendation from faculty and others, this same group will produce an NJIT-endorsed 'committee letter' that summarizes a student's strengths.

At this time the University Pre-Health Advisor is Dr. Darshan Desai (pre-health@njit.edu, 973-642-7084).

What courses are required for admission to medical schools?

Admission to schools of medicine, podiatry, optometry, dentistry, and veterinary medicine all require the following minimum course prerequisites.

  • One year of General Biology (with laboratory)
  • One year of General Chemistry (with laboratory)
  • One year of Organic Chemistry (with laboratory)
  • One year of Physics (with laboratory)
  • One semester of Calculus (with some schools requiring an additional semester of Calculus and/or Statistics)

Schools generally consider students competitive for admission if they have at least a 3.6 GPA in these classes. Students must also maintain a high GPA in their undergraduate major.

When should I complete the core science courses for pre-medical training?

The core courses for pre-medical education should generally be completed by the end of the junior year in preparation for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), DAT (Dental Aptitude Test) or other entrance exam, because many questions on these tests are related to these courses. The MCAT/DAT should be taken at least a year before you intend to start medical school.

What courses beyond the core science courses are recommended for pre-medical education?

It is recommended that you supplement your required core science courses with a strong performance in your major and with electives that better prepare you for success in professional school. These electives should include those that improve your writing and quantitative analysis skills, as students sometimes do very well on the science/biology portions of admissions tests only to fall short on the writing and other more general components. Students with good verbal and writing skills fare better on the MCAT and later in medical school.

Many pre-med students also elect to take additional biology-related courses. Surveys reveal that some high-achieving students, including non-science majors, have fared well on the MCAT with just the basic core of science courses, especially if they earned “A” grades in those courses and are excellent readers with high SAT scores. However, most students need to continue to study the subjects in core science courses to have the fluency necessary to excel on the MCAT.

Courses helpful in preparing for the biology component of the MCAT, DAT and other admissions tests

Studies also reveal that the following courses beyond the core pre-med courses help students perform better on the MCAT:

  • Foundations of Biology (for overall in-depth information)
  • General Microbiology (for functional mechanisms and understanding experimental data)
  • Molecular Biology (for cellular and molecular mechanisms)
  • Genetics (for additional DNA and related questions on the MCAT)
  • Mammalian Physiology
  • Comparative Anatomy
  • Anatomy and Physiology (for non-biology majors, in place of Mammalian Physiology and Comparative Anatomy)

All of these classes except Anatomy and Physiology have General Biology and Foundations of Biology as a prerequisite.

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Getting In

What entrance exams are required?

Medical schools require that you take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The MCAT measures your fundamental understanding of those basic sciences that are covered in the core courses for pre-medical education. The exam emphasizes the ability to apply basic science knowledge critically by asking you to read passages, analyze them, and apply the information in them in a way that shows mastery of scientific reasoning.

The MCAT is a timed test that asks you to demonstrate your cognitive skills through multiple-choice answers and written essays. You must have good vocabulary and reading skills to comprehend the questions and to extract the answers hidden in the passages. You must read the questions quickly and critically to discover and apply the given information. You must also write two analytical essays, often on non-scientific topics.

The MCAT is currently divided into four parts:

  1. Physical Sciences: 52 multiple choice questions in 70 minutes. The maximum score is 15.
  2. Verbal Reasoning: 40 multiple choice questions in 60 minutes. The maximum score is 15.
  3. Writing Sample: two essays in 60 minutes. Scores are “J” (low) to “T” (high).
  4. Biological Sciences: 52 multiple choice questions in 70 minutes. The maximum score is 15.

The maximum possible score is therefore 45T. To be competitive for most U.S. medical schools you will must have a score of 30P or higher. More competitive schools require 31.5P or better.

The MCAT is offered eight times a year. Results are reported 4–6 weeks after the test. For more information or to register for the MCAT, visit the website of the American Association of Medical Colleges.

What entrance exams are required for dental school?

Dental schools require that you take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). The DAT consists of multiple-choice items distributed across a battery of four tests: the Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry), Perceptual Ability Test, Reading Comprehension Test, and Quantitative Reasoning Test. The Test Specifications list the topic areas covered in each of the four tests and are located in the Guide at www.ada.org. DAT scores are based on the number of correct responses, and reported as standard scores, not raw scores. Standard scores allow the comparison of one examinee’s performance with the performance of other DAT examinees. Standard scores range from 1 to 30; a score of 17 typically signifies the average national performance.  There are no passing or failing scores. Percentile equivalents are shown for each standard score on the examinee’s score report. Please refer to the Guide at www.ada.org for detailed scoring information.

Dental Admission Test

Optional Tutorial 15 minutes
Survey of Natural Sciences 90 minutes
Perceptual Ability Test 60 minutes
Optional Break 15 minutes
Reading Comprehension Test 60 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning Test 45 minutes
Optional Post Test Survey 15 minutes
Total 5 hours

What entrance exams are required for other health professional schools?

See the University Pre-health Advisor (pre-health@njit.edu) for information about entrance exams for other professions.

How should I prepare for the MCAT/DAT?

Those who perform well on the high school SAT tend to excel on the MCAT/DAT because they both strongly rely on strong cognitive and reading comprehension skills. What courses beyond the core science courses are recommended for pre-medical education? There are various proven ways to prepare for the exam, including taking an MCAT preparation course (such as Kaplan or Princeton Review), taking sample tests (available at bookstores and the Internet), and by trying to improve reading skills and vocabulary, taking writing intensive courses, and additional science classes.

To improve your reading and vocabulary skills for the MCAT, and in preparation for a career in medicine or another health profession, you should become an avid reader. Read newspapers and other current events, politics, business, science, medicine, and cultural materials. Familiarize yourself with journals and magazines that cover advances in medicine and science (for example, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the New England Journal of Medicine, Science, and Nature).

Try to complete writing intensive courses by the end of your junior year to benefit your performance on the MCAT.

How do I apply?

The University Pre-health Advisor will guide you through the application process. But note that you must make contact with him/her about a year before you plan to apply. For most applications, which are due around August, that means at the beginning of the previous Fall semester. This will allow time for you to develop your application, address any weak areas, etc. You may not suddenly announce your intention to apply in May, and expect help.

What extracurricular activities should I consider?

Medical and other health profession schools value leadership, discipline, and passion. Applicants who have a demonstrated record of such accomplishment outside of the classroom are generally well regarded by admissions committees. Many NJIT students interested in medicine or other health professions engage in research activities or internships beyond their course work. Some have worked part-time in an area related to health or medicine. Many have shadowed a physician or other health care professional to gain a better appreciation of their daily life. Volunteer involvement in student government, community organizing, or charity work is also rewarded by admissions committees, as is high-level achievement in extra-curricular activities such as the arts or sports. Not all extra-curricular activities need to be directly related to medicine and health*. Indeed, there is no one best way to demonstrate to an admissions committee that you have the qualities needed for success. However, it is absolutely essential to demonstrate a record of commitment and accomplishment beyond your formal undergraduate studies to be competitive.

Keep in mind what professional schools' admissions committees are looking for: men and women who are eager to learn from their medical faculty and who are committed to the task at hand (and will not easily distracted or deterred). They want students who are already primed for success, because medicine and health professions involve a heavy workload, a good deal of stress and uncertainty, and constant new challenges.

* For professions such as dentistry and podiatry, it is very important that you shadow a professional or otherwise gain a full understanding of what is means to practice. Dentists and podiatrists almost all practice in the same way: seeing patients in general practice. You should be sure that the details of the job are right for you, and your prospective school will want to know that you are sure as well. This is not as critical for general medical studies, as the range of possible jobs is large. Medical schools will still be looking for some medicine-related experience

I have other questions or need more information, what should I do?

Contact the University pre-health advisor at pre-health@njit.edu

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Choosing a Career

I know I’m interested in medicine, but how do I know which medical field is right for me. How do I choose?

Explore the options. The internet is a good place to start. Volunteer or work as hospitals and other places of medical practice. Also, there are usually one or more pre-health clubs at NJIT that invite speakers from various disciplines to describe their jobs. Students in these clubs can also put you in touch with volunteer and other opportunities.

Think about what you like to do, in terms of day-to-day activities. Do you like interacting with people, or not? Do you like being outside, in a lab, or in front of a computer? Do you like high-pressure situations, or prefer things more calm and orderly? Do you have any special skills (sports, music, etc.) that you could bring to bear on your profession?

Finally, talk to your major advisor and the university pre-health advisor. But don't just show up and expect them to tell you what kind of career to choose — you should have done some research first.

I like biology, and would like to help people, but don’t necessarily want to be a physician. What other health-related career options are there?

There are many more options than just getting an MD — one of these might be just right for you. NJIT students have pursued careers as Physician’s Assistant, Physical Therapist, Nurse, etc. Fields such as public health provide the opportunity to help thousands or millions of people worldwide, and have the advantage that they accommodate a broad range of skills and training (biology, social science, engineering, policy, math…).

We plan to expand this section of the site over time — for now, the NJIT University Pre-health advisor will be able to make some suggestions about other career choices.

What is an MD-PhD?

Students who want to have the clinical training of a physician, but also want to explore the scientific experimentation side of basic research, can opt for a joint degree program or MD/PhD.  This dual degree provides the student with the clinical training of a medical doctor and the scientific training of a PhD.  Most medical schools that provide this dual degree offer a seven-year program, where the first two years are a traditional Medical school curriculum, followed by three years performing experiments and defending a doctoral degree, with the last years being clinical rotations to complete the MD. Students can choose to follow up this program with a residency in a medical discipline or a post-doctoral training program in a science discipline.

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