Pre-Professional Health Programs

Advisers: E. Benner, A. Dart, A. Douangpanya, I. Garrett, S. Hamington, L. Marsh, A. Schmidt, L. Shatzer, L Shrestha, M. Yates.

Professional advisers in the Health, Science, and the Earth advising pathway administer programs designed to support students’ efforts to prepare for and apply to professional health programs. Pre-professional health programs at Portland State University are not majors. Rather, they are programs in which students take advantage of advising, coursework and resources all designed to support and guide students’ efforts to apply to undergraduate and graduate health programs offered at other institutions. There are two types of pre-professional health programs at Portland State – 1) transfer programs, and 2) bachelor’s degree programs.

Transfer programs are those in which students complete a set of prerequisite courses at Portland State and then transfer to undergraduate professional health sciences programs at other institutions to complete their bachelor’s degrees. The students’ focus at Portland State is on fulfilling the admissions requirements of receiving institutions. Transfer programs include the following:

Clinical Laboratory Science

Dental Hygiene


Radiation Therapy

Students choosing to continue at PSU, rather than pursue a pre-professional transfer program should meet with a pre-health adviser to determine PSU graduation requirements.

Bachelor’s degree programs are those designed to prepare students for masters and doctoral programs in the health sciences that require or recommend completion of a bachelor’s degree prior to entry. However, pre-professional bachelor’s degree programs at Portland State are not majors. Thus, students must a) select a major and fulfill Portland State’s graduation requirements, and b) fulfill the prerequisite coursework required by the professional graduate programs to which they plan to apply. Majors commonly selected by pre-professional health students include biology, chemistry, health studies, science, social science and psychology. However, a student can select any major offered at Portland State, as long as he or she completes both Portland State’s graduation requirements and those of the receiving professional institutions. Professional schools do not prefer one major over another. They do look for students who perform well in prerequisite coursework and who are broadly educated; this can be accomplished with any major.

Professional health sciences programs that require or recommend that applicants earn a bachelor’s degree before matriculating include the following:

Allopathic and Osteopathic Medicine

Chiropractic Medicine


Naturopathic Medicine

Occupational Therapy



Physical Therapy

Physician Assistant

Veterinary Medicine

A typical pre-professional health program, whether it is a transfer or a bachelor’s degree program, includes but is not limited to coursework in mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, English composition, and social science. However, coursework varies, depending on the admissions requirements of the institutions granting the professional degrees. It is essential that a student’s academic program be planned with an advisor in the Health, Science, and the Earth pathway.

PSU's pre-health advisers work closely with students to facilitate their ability to plan coursework and activities strategically; to integrate personal, academic, and career goals; to develop the ability to evaluate options and make decisions; and to be aware of the available resources across campus that can support their efforts to gain admission to professional health sciences programs. Advisers also provide students with guidance on selecting a major, preparing for graduate admissions tests such as the MCAT and GRE, organizing letters of evaluation, and writing the personal statement for admissions applications.

Postbaccalaureate Pre-Medical Program

Postbaccalaureate Pre-Dental Program

Postbaccalaureate Pre-Dental Program

For students who already have a bachelor’s degree but are lacking the specific science prerequisites for dental school, PSU offers a loosely structured postbaccalaureate program. It typically takes postbaccalaureate students who are lacking all of the science prerequisites for dental school at least two years to complete the core coursework. Courses can be planned in a variety of ways. Postbaccalaureate pre-dental students should bring all previous college transcripts to an appointment with a health sciences adviser; after reviewing previous transcripts, the adviser will work with the student to develop a plan for completing the pre-dental coursework.

The postbaccalaureate pre-dental program is not a certificate program. Many postbaccalaureate pre-dental students do, however, easily complete a degree in science (science is an interdisciplinary major at Portland State) while completing prerequisite coursework for dental school. Pursuing a second degree while working on pre-professional coursework often enables postbaccalaureate students to receive financial aid for a longer period of time. For more information, contact an advisor in the Health, Science, and the Earth pathway.