The Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree is a professional degree program that requires first completing an undergraduate degree. The University of Iowa offers a pre-health sciences designation (also known as "pre-med") for undergraduate students that provides specialized advising and course work in preparation for medical school.

Undergraduate pre-health sciences students at Iowa are encouraged to choose a major in any area. Many major in a scientific field, although students who choose majors in areas such as the humanities (e.g., English or philosophy) or social sciences (e.g., psychology or anthropology) do very well when they apply to medical school. There is no single undergraduate major that best prepares students for entry into the health sciences, so choose a major that genuinely interests you.

In high school, develop time-management and study skills to prepare for the university’s academic environment. It is helpful to take a strong high school mathematics and science program to help you with pre-health science course work, and completing your foreign language requirement in high school will give you increased flexibility in scheduling required courses and choosing electives once you enroll at the university.

Why Iowa?

The University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and the affiliated University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics are well-known nationally for outstanding educational programs. Across the university, programs in the health sciences range from medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, and public health to biochemistry, biology, health and human physiology, medical technology, microbiology, nuclear medicine technology, physical therapy, and radiation sciences. Iowa also offers a graduate-level physician assistant degree program.

The MD program is a four-year program that prepares students to practice primary care medicine and to pursue further education and training in specialized areas of medicine. The program admits 152 new students each year.

Taking a variety of courses as an undergraduate may help you discover a specialty that particularly appeals to you. When an area sounds especially interesting, you can arrange to shadow a professional in that field for a day to get a sense of what the field is like and whether you would enjoy working in it. Many health professionals are happy to help prospective students when their schedules permit.

Admission Requirements

Requirements for undergraduate admission to the university vary depending on your area of study. See our Areas of Study for specific requirements associated with the major you seek.

Admission to the MD Program

The requirements for admission to Iowa's Doctor of Medicine (MD) program include:

  • Completion of an undergraduate (bachelor's) degree by the time you enroll in the MD program
  • Completion of specific undergraduate course work in physics, mathematics, chemistry, biological sciences, biochemistry, English, the humanities, and social sciences
  • A grade-point average (GPA) of at least 3.00 on a 4.00 scale for all undergraduate college work  (The mean cumulative GPA for students who enroll in Iowa's MD program is 3.80, the mean science GPA is 3.57, and 95 percent of applicants have a GPA of at least 3.20.) If you have a choice of taking pre-med courses for a grade or pass/fail, take the courses for a grade.)
  • Completion of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
  • Meeting technical standards regarding your ability to observe, communicate, and perform therapeutic procedures

See Requirements for Admission on the College of Medicine's website for specific details about the admission requirements and how to apply. Additional information can be found under Doctor of Medicine in the UI General Catalog.


Preprofessional program(s)
Preparatory Course Work for MD Applicants
  Competitive Admission
Careers and Outcomes

An interest in science, the healing arts, helping people, and medical research can lead to a great number of satisfying careers. For information about career options in health care, review The Road to Becoming a Physician on the College of Medicine's website and the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Study Abroad Programs and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.


The prerequisite undergraduate course work required for admission to Iowa's MD program includes courses in physics, biological sciences, chemistry, mathematics, biochemistry, the humanities, and social sciences. Strong academic work, both in science and non-science courses, is essential for students heading for the health professions.

Most postgraduate health science colleges, at Iowa and elsewhere, look for bright, engaging leaders who function well as team members, have a deep concern for others, are inquisitive, and are interested in the scientific method and the value of research.

As an undergraduate, you can show that you fit this description by excelling academically and by participating in well-chosen extracurricular activities. Many students continue one or more of the activities they enjoyed in high school—music, sports, art, or service, for example. You also may want to explore new activities among more than 600 student organizations at Iowa. Volunteer work in a health environment and research expertise in a major field can be valuable in helping you determine whether a health care career is right for you.