Build your qualifications

Planning & Advising

If you are interested in pursuing a career in the health professions, then you’ve come to the right place! Mount Holyoke College offers top-notch academic preparation, research and internship opportunities. A liberal arts education is valued by health profession schools, and MHC has a well-deserved, excellent reputation. The Office of Pre-Health Programs provides information, resources, events, and advising to support you in your choices and through the application process. This document is designed to introduce things you should consider as you plan for a career in the health professions. We work with students interested in all the health professions, and thus our recommendations here are general. Speak with an advisor about your specific interests and questions.

Envisioning the future:  What does a qualified applicant look like?

  • Prerequisite courses complete (or nearly complete)
  • Strong GPA
  • Strong score on entrance exam
  • Knowledge of the profession; commitment to the profession
  • Experience in intended field
  • Commitment to serving others
  • Research experience
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong, diverse letters of recommendation
  • Stands out by showcasing their particular interests, skills, experiences, etc.

How do I get there?  Tips for becoming well qualified....... 

  • As soon as you know you have an interest in the health professions, begin a collaboration between you and your academic advisor, and you and your pre-health advisor. Learn what you need to accomplish, then design and implement a plan for doing so.
  • Sign up for the pre-health mailing list, and attend health professions workshops and events.
  • Explore academics and pick a major you love. A liberal arts background will serve you well.
  • Understand what courses are required, and have a plan for fulfilling them in a timely manner.
  • Understand the timetable for preparation, and plan for fitting that timetable with your goals.
  • Be flexible and willing to change your plans and goals.
  • Get experience in the field you hope to enter. This is important. Really important. Connect with patients and practitioners.
  • Do a research project. It doesn’t have to be in a medical field, or even science. Independent research demonstrates your problem-solving and analysis skills.
  • Become a leader on campus. Be open to things you have not previously considered.
  • Find your passion and stand out by pursuing it. This looks different for everyone but may be through honors work, study abroad, summer study, internships, community service, leadership, athletics, campus involvement – wherever your strengths and interests lie.
  • Write. A lot. This is even more important for those who dislike writing and tend to avoid it.
  • Be critical/patient/honest/optimistic with yourself. There will be ups and downs, successes and disappointments. Use them to evaluate your intentions and adjust your planning.
  • Take a deep breath. Take your time. Preparing for professional school is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Ask for help from many sources, and meet with a pre-health advisor early and regularly.
  • International students face a special set of challenges in gaining entrance to U.S. professional school. If you are an international student, contact the pre-health office to discuss options.

Selecting and planning courses

  • Many first-year students will begin with biology and chemistry, from among the pre-requisite courses for professional schools. However, your choice of courses should be based on major(s) you are interested in, the profession you hope to enter, and your high school preparation in specific disciplines. Discuss your choices with your academic advisor and a pre-health advisor.
  • Select a balanced course load. Most students are well served by balancing some science and math courses with courses in the social sciences, arts, and humanities.
  • Challenge yourself, but also maximize your chances to succeed.
  • Avoid becoming overcommitted/overwhelmed.
  • Ask for help (PLUMS mentors, faculty office hours)
  • Make yourself aware of MHC pre-requisites (For example, pre-requisite courses for Biol 230: Cell and Molecular Biology are Biol 200 and Chem 201.)
  • The Five College Program in Culture, Health and Science offers a certificate designed to complement a traditional major. Pre-health students may be interested in using the CHS course list to find interesting courses outside of pre-requisites, even if you do not intend to pursue the certificate. Find out more at


To make an appointment, see Jackie in Clapp 125 or call 413-538-3389.