Questions About Studying Abroad
May I Take Pre-med Requirements Abroad?
Question: Hi, I want to study abroad this summer and I was looking at some programs in the UK. Since biochemistry is not a universal requirement for med school, would it be OK to take it at an university abroad? I know that you recommend we do pre-med courses here at Princeton. Would the med schools that require biochemistry have issues if I took the class in a foreign country?
Answer: The medical schools that require biochemistry will want it taken at a U.S. school, preferably Princeton. All pre-med science coursework should be taken in the U.S. However, please do not let this discourage you from studying abroad if you're pre-med. Careful planning will allow you to go abroad and complete your science requirements (it's done all the time!). Even if your foreign country of choice is English-speaking, medical schools are not familiar enough with foreign curricula, faculty, and science texts to accurately evaluate the content of what you've taken; they're pretty much unanimous in asking that pre-med sciences be taken at American colleges and universities. The only exception, re: biochemistry, would be our fall at Oxford program, where students have succeeded in counting that very intensive term as their biochem for med school. Please note: Taking other science abroad (just not the courses for med school admissions) is acceptable. Taking a literature course abroad is fine, too (if you're looking to complete the second English course required by many schools). ♦
Studying Abroad and Being Pre-med
Question: I really want to study abroad during my junior year but I also want to major in MOL and finish the pre-med requirements. It really doesn’t seem possible. Can I study abroad, complete what I’ve got to do for my major, and study abroad? Thanks.
Answer: Yes, it is indeed possible. As a potential MOL major, you should first go to www.molbio.princeton.edu and click on Undergraduate/For Majors/Study Abroad; the MOL Department has anticipated your concerns and has some detailed advice about how to manage going abroad in the fall of junior year (though spring of junior year is tough for MOL). Please, do not forget that the Study Abroad Office, 4th floor of West College (led by Dean Nancy Kanach), can help you find a summer abroad opportunity as well. Many pre-meds do end up studying abroad in summer programs. Lastly, no matter what your concentration, studying abroad is a valuable experience for all college students and should be encouraged. As a pre-health student, exposure to different cultures will make you more culturally competent, and in the diverse world of patients you will one day encounter this background will be vital. Learning new languages also helps in this regard. Do not forget that more than half of Princeton pre-meds take the full four years to complete requirements and do all that they want to do with their Princeton education, applying to medical school during the summer after senior year and taking one year off before matriculating in med school. Spreading the list of requirements for your major and your pre-med curriculum out over four years almost always allows a pre-med student to go abroad for a summer or a semester at the very least. ♦