Pre-health professional and research

Pre-health professions

The Nutritional Science Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree at Iowa State University looks at the connection between diet and health. Students who major in Nutritional Science can select the pre-health professional and research option and learn how diet can play a crucial role in the cause, treatment, and prevention of many diseases. A good diet is also important in maintaining normal health, growth, and development.

In studying for a degree in Nutritional Science, you will gain insights into the relationship of diet, disease, and wellness. Graduates of this major are well prepared to go on to health professional schools such as medical school, dental school, pharmacy school, or physician’s assistant school. Students are also prepared for careers in nutrition research.

General curriculum and course pre-requisites

2021-22 catalog requirements (PDF)

2021-22 sample 4-year plan (PDF)

Course sequence flow sheet (PDF)

Accelerated degree option

Fulfilling requirements

The Nutritional Science B.S. degree with the pre-health professional and research option is a good fit for several pre-health professions. Refer to the following to see how this program meets course equivalents for typical professional school requirements:

Medical school preparation

These are the courses required for admission to most medical schools:

Course(s)Included in Nutrional Science degree requirements?
BIOL 211 and 211L & BIOL 212 and 212LYes
CHEM 177 and 177L & CHEM 178 and 178LYes
CHEM 331 and 331L & CHEM 332 and 332LYes
PHYS 111 and 112 OR PHYS 221 and 232Yes
BBMB 404 and 405 OR BBMB 303 OR BBMB 316Yes
PSYCH 101Students can select PSYCH 101 for social science credits
SOC 134Students can select SOC 134 for social science or elective credits

4-Year plan

2021-22 sample Pre-Human Medicine 4-year plan (PDF)

Specific program requirements: As with all programs, students should contact the admissions counselor at the medical school they plan to attend to determine specific program requirements.

Dental school preparation

These are the courses required for admission to most dental schools:

Course(s)Included in Nutrional Science degree requirements?
BIOL 211 and 211L & BIOL 212 and 212LYes
CHEM 177 and 177L & CHEM 178 and 178LYes
CHEM 331 and 331L & CHEM 332 and 332LYes
PHYS 111 and 112 OR PHYS 221 and 232Yes
BBMB 404 and 405 OR BMB 303 OR BBMB 316Yes
Math requirements vary based on individual schools; a semester of statistics and a semester of calculus is typically recommendedYes

4-Year plan

2021-22 sample Pre-Dentistry 4-year plan (PDF)

Specific program requirements: As with all programs, students should contact the admissions counselor at the dental school they plan to attend to determine specific program requirements.

Pharmacy school preparation

These are the courses required for admission to most pharmacy schools:

Course(s)Included in Nutrional Science degree requirements?
CHEM 177 and 177L & CHEM 178 and 178LYes
CHEM 331 and 331L & CHEM 332 and 332LYes
PHYS 111 and 112 OR PHYS 221 and 232Yes
BBMB 404 and 405 OR BBMB 303 OR BBMB 316Yes
PSYCH 101Students can select as social science or elective credits
ECON 101Students can select as social science or elective credits
STAT 101Yes
MATH 160 OR MATH 165Yes
SPCM 212Yes

4-Year plan

2021-22 sample Pre-Pharmacy 4-year plan (PDF)

Specific program requirements: As with all programs, students should contact the admissions counselor at the pharmacy school they plan to attend to determine specific program requirements.

Physician assistant preparation

These are the courses required for admission to most physician assistant schools:

Course(s)Included in Nutrional Science degree requirements?
BIOL 255 and 255L & BIOL 256 and 256LYes
CHEM 177 and 177L & CHEM 178 and 178LYes
CHEM 331 and 331L & CHEM 332 and 332L OR CHEM 231 and 231LYes
PHYS 111 and 112 OR PHYS 221 and 232Yes
BBMB 301 OR BBMB 303 OR BBMB 316Yes
PSYCH 101Students can select for social science and elective credits
STAT 101Yes

4-Year plan

2021-22 sample Pre-Physicians Assistant 4-year plan (PDF)

Specific program requirements: As with all programs, students should contact the admissions counselor at the physician assistant school they plan to attend to determine specific program requirements. 

Other

For information about how the Nutritional Science major fulfills requirements for other health professional programs such as the following, contact the Food Science and Human Nutrition adviser:

  • Nursing
  • Occupational therapy
  • Optometry
  • Physical therapy school

How do health professional schools view a nutritional science degree?

Professional programs and schools do not require specific majors for entrance. This means that students should choose a major that interests them. Professional schools do not give preference to any major; instead, students must have completed the pre-requisite courses required by the school.

The Nutritional Science degree at Iowa State University combines the pre-requisites for entry into health professional schools with a unique focus on how nutrition impacts human beings.

  • American Medical Association: Indicates that it takes a “well-rounded high school and college education, including classes related to the study of human beings” to enter and succeed in medical school. More »
  • Association of American Medical Schools: States, “You’ll need a strong foundation in mathematics and the sciences that relate most to medicine: biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics. But it’s important for your college experience to be broad.” More »
  • American Dental Association: Suggests that students need simply to take the required science courses for admission to dental school but can (and do) choose to be many majors (about half of all students enrolled in dental school in 2007-2008 choose a major other than “biological science”). More »
  • American Pharmacists Association: Indicates, “you are not required to major in ‘pre-pharmacy’ in college to be eligible for admission to pharmacy school. Pharmacy students… come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds…” More »

If I change my mind . . .

Have a backup plan. Less than 10 percent of new freshman who declare themselves pre-med ever apply to medical school, usually because they change their mind. This is an important reason to choose a major that interests you

In addition to pre-health professional schools:

  • Nutritional Science graduates are prepared to go on a to graduate education in nutrition and participate in nutrition research and education.
  • Some Nutritional Science students also choose to double major in dietetics so that they have the option to complete a supervised practice experience and take the national registration exam to become a registered dietitian.

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