Doctors who work as general practitioners need a wide range of knowledge in the medical field. This is typically gained by completing medical school and then a general residency. Aspiring doctors may not know, however, what undergraduate major to pursue or which majors to consider as they embark on their medical career.
Pre-medicine is a major that aspiring medical students sometimes assume that they need to get into medical school. However, pre-medicine is not required. Medical schools simply look for qualified candidates who have a strong background in math and science, a high grade point average and good scores on the Medical College Admission Test.
Because of the need for vast knowledge of the human body and basic biological processes, some aspiring general practitioners pursue bachelor's degrees in biology. Like pre-medicine major, the biology major focuses on math and science and emphasizes different areas of biology. Courses of study can include areas like general biology, biochemistry and human anatomy and physiology. In many biology programs, students begin with a basic biology course and take several more advanced and progressively advanced general biology courses.
A biochemistry major provides the aspiring medical student with a broad background in both chemistry and biology, which are both integral to studies in the medical field. A degree in biochemistry will require courses in areas like cellular biology, genetics, inorganic and organic chemistry, human anatomy and physiology and microbiology.
A degree in a liberal arts field like anthropology or a social science major like sociology can qualify the would-be doctor for medical school to become a general practitioner. A study conducted by Knox College in 2000 showed that undergraduate majors in various fields like anthropology, English and economics were just as likely to get into medical school as someone pursuing a pre-medicine major or one of the closely related science fields like biomedical engineering or chemistry.