CAN I CLAIM AP / IB CREDIT?

Please read our detailed recommendations.

While we generally recommend that as a Pre-Health Professions student you not “claim” AP/IB credit for prerequisite courses such as Biology, Chemistry, English, Physics, and Mathematics, these are important decisions that you must make and that require your careful consideration. 

It may seem like a convenient way to eliminate hours from your degree plan and accelerate your path to professional school, but claiming credit can actually be detrimental to your preparation for success on entrance exams and in professional studies. Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses vary in rigor, and they are generally not equivalent to the rigor of UT Austin courses. However, your AP/IB courses can be very good preparation for taking these courses at UT Austin, providing the opportunity to master that material, become better prepared, enhance your GPA, and demonstrate your academic ability and readiness for advanced study in health professions schools.

Unless you are academically very well prepared, it is best to start with the introductory courses. Please consult with your academic advisor for help in determining your readiness for higher level science courses. Most schools that accept AP/IB credit will expect you to take additional upper-division course work in that area of study.

SHOULD I Q DROP A COURSE?

Check out our TO Q OR NOT TO Q? handout. 

Choosing to drop a class should not be taken lightly. Admissions committees become concerned when they see dropped courses on a student’s record. (More than one dropped course can indicate a pattern.) You may be giving the impression of taking on more than you can handle and then dropping a course when it becomes difficult. Or it might mean that you did not ask for assistance in a timely manner and then became overwhelmed. There are times, of course, when dropping a course is the right choice. Under the best circumstances, you would make this decision after consulting with your professor. In these situations, take what you learned from the experience as you move forward in your academic career. 

SHOULD I TAKE A COURSE PASS/FAIL?

In order for a course to count as a prerequisite for professional school it must be completed with a letter grade of C or better. Some schools may accept a grade of C-, however each school varies with their interpretation. At The University of Texas at Austin a C- is equivalent to a 1.67, students are strongly recommended to retake any prerequisite course in which they received a grade below 2.0. Please be reminded that this is the minimum requirement, in order to be competitive an A or B is preferred. Please check school’s website for specific information.

DO I NEED TO DO RESEARCH AND VOLUNTEER?

You have probably already been getting pressure to spend time working in a research lab or volunteering in a hospital or clinical setting. While both of these are excellent additions to a competitive student’s application it is important to at least explore both options. It is absolutely necessary that you have adequate exposure to the healthcare field you want to be a part of.

For example, if you say you want to be a Physician Assistant but haven’t spent time around a P.A., it will be very difficult to convince an admissions committee of your true passion and understanding of the profession. While many applicants have research experience it certainly isn’t a required part of an application. Many students participate in research and find that they don’t have a sustained interest, while many continue to do research while in professional school. There is also value in discovering that you aren’t as passionate about research or healthcare as you thought you might be. Many students spend time in a Family Practice Clinic or Laboratory and soon realize that things aren’t quite what they thought they would be. These experiences are all part of the career exploration process and sometimes finding out that you don’t like something is just as important as finding out that you do.

CAN I TAKE COURSES IN THE SUMMER OR SOMEWHERE ELSE?

It is advisable to take all prerequisite courses at UT Austin. Not only will this better prepare you for admissions exams and for you professional school experience, it will also make you more competitive. While the course may be equivalent in name it might not necessarily be equivalent in rigor or depth of course content. UT Austin is known for academic rigor. If you perform well in the classroom here, an admissions committee can make a better prediction of your success in professional school. If you must take prerequisite courses elsewhere (based on timing or costs), we strongly encourage you to take them at a four-year institution.

Non-prerequisites course, like government or history, can be taken at Community College without having an impact on your competitiveness. Remember, all courses taken at other institutions do not affect your UT GPA, but they definitely affect your application GPA – so do your best.

Completing your coursework at UT (your home institution) is considered best preparation for health professions schools. For students who find it necessary to take courses away from UT, we offer the following recommendations.

CAN I TAKE MY PREREQUISITES WHILE I AM STUDYING ABROAD?

HPO Study Abroad Guidelines

Most health professions schools require that prerequisites be taken at U.S. accredited schools, and some will accept credits from Canadian accredited schools. 

Although exchange program courses and some affiliated program courses are counted as in-residence credit by UT Austin, according to Texas state law, foreign course work cannot be counted in the GPAs for application to graduate and post-baccalaureate professional schools.  The rules and policies can vary among the professional schools.  Students who plan to study abroad should research this carefully for the schools and application services they plan to apply to.  Look in the education requirements, transcripts, and FAQ sections of their web sites for information about foreign course work and study abroad.