Students flock to Florida for many reasons, but did you know one of them is to study pre-med?
Florida has some of the best pre-med schools in the country. These programs provide ample resources and opportunities to support students through the arduous process of applying to med school.
To be clear, pre-med isn’t a major. Rather, it’s an academic track that students in any major can follow in order to fulfill the courses required by medical schools.
Students often major in biology or other science disciplines because many of the degree requirements overlap with pre-med requirements, making them the most efficient choices.
However, pre-med students can just as quickly major in a different field they’re interested in, such as sociology or English, before committing fully to the science-heavy curriculum of med school.
Not all pre-med programs are equal. The best ones provide support through advising, a pathway to med school, and extracurricular opportunities related to various health interests.
These opportunities include but are not limited to health-related student clubs and organizations; internships, clinical shadowing, and volunteering; and events where students can network with alumni and/or current health professionals.
The following 10 best pre-med schools in Florida fit these criteria.
Many also come with the perks of attending a large research university or a small liberal arts college. Indeed, when selecting a pre-med program, it’s important to consider the overall experience you’re looking for as an undergraduate. After all, you’ll be spending the next four years there.
10. New College of Florida (Sarasota, FL)
NCF is well-known as one of the most affordable colleges in Florida and the nation. After financial aid, average tuition falls below $8,000 per year.
Students in the pre-med program will enjoy individualized advising and career coaching. Dr. Sandra Gilchrist, a professor of biology and marine science, leads pre-health advising with the help of C-Suite career coaches.
They guide students through research, shadowing and clinical opportunities, networking, the MCAT, and interviews.
Studying at NCF means a unique assessment experience. Instructors provide narrative evaluations in lieu of letter grades for every student in every course.
This allows faculty to forge deeper connections with students and provide more useful feedback going forward. Students also benefit, as the narrative evals can work as excellent starting points for letters of recommendation in med school applications.
9. Florida Gulf Coast University (Fort Myers, FL)
Pre-meds at FGCU can take advantage of a new mentorship opportunity called Students in Health & Medicine (SiHM) Mentor Program. It aims to connect students based on shared interests and career goals, building networks of future health professionals who support one another.
Lowerclassmen can learn firsthand from upper-level students going through the application and interview process of med school. They build relationships that endure long past graduation.
Biology is the second most popular major at the school, and two-thirds of them are on a pre-health track. There are eight student organizations dedicated to health or medicine.
Thus, you can expect to be well-supported and access people and resources that will help you on your health career journey.
8. Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton, FL)
FAU’s Pre-Health Professions Office provides custom advising and learning opportunities through research, volunteering, and clinical experiences.
Pre-med students have the opportunity to participate in summer research at places like Scripps Research Institute and Max Planck Florida Institute.
Due to credit hour restrictions and changes brought by the new MCAT exam, FAU recommends pre-med students choose Biology or Neuroscience as their major. The university also offers a post-baccalaureate medical pathway program for students who already have a bachelor’s degree.
At FAU, pre-med students can choose from many student clubs and organizations, including over 12 health-related pre-professional organizations on campus. Pre-health courses include Current Issues in Biomedicine, Introduction to Pre-Professional Studies & Lab, and a Medical Shadowing Internship.
Ambitious high school seniors can also apply to FAU’s Bachelor’s/MD program.
7. Florida International University (Miami, FL)
FIU is highly involved in increasing access and interest in healthcare professions among people of all education levels. With programs for K-12, undergraduate, and post-baccalaureate students, the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine is a great place to meet like-minded individuals while exploring various healthcare fields.
One of the unique programs open to FIU and non-FIU undergraduates is Doctors of Tomorrow, a rigorous 5-day pre-med summer course. Its goal is to expand learning opportunities for traditionally underrepresented and disadvantaged students applying to med school.
Another program, the Florida Science Training and Research Fellowship (F-STAR), has been helping prospective med students of underrepresented backgrounds since 2011. Every year, 15 sophomores are selected from FIU and partner institutions to receive year-round, long-term guidance throughout their journey to med school.
6. University of South Florida (Tampa, FL)
According to U.S. News, USF is the fastest-rising university in the U.S.
If you want to be part of USF’s rising prestige while pursuing a pre-med track, you’ll have access to expert advising as well as unique shadowing experiences.
Many of these opportunities enable students to study at different institutions across the country, including the University of Alaska-Anchorage and the University of Colorado.
In Alaska, pre-med students can learn about rural medicine, while in Colorado, they can learn about emergency and wilderness medicine.
These experiences are integral for the holistic education of pre-med students, especially when it comes to deciding on future specializations.
Locally, pre-med students can gain volunteer clinical experience at Tampa General Hospital, James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, South Bay Hospital, and more.
5. Nova Southeastern University (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
NSU is a large, private research university with at least 13 pre-health student clubs and organizations.
Nova is especially known for connecting students with extensive internship opportunities. For example, the Summer in Biomedical Sciences (SIBS) Undergraduate Research Program pays participants a $3,200 stipend to work with faculty researchers over a period of eight weeks.
For neuroscience majors on the pre-med track, they have many internship and research opportunities to choose from.
One of them involves conducting research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Summer Research Program. Or they can take part in a Scripps Research program, either on the Florida campus or California campus.
In fact, many of these opportunities are open to pre-med students of other science backgrounds, including chemistry and biology. They also have a pathway to gain professional internship experiences at conglomerates like L’Oreal, SC Johnson, and Johnson & Johnson.
4. Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)
As a large and renowned public university, FSU provides pre-med students ample opportunities to strengthen their med school applications.
For one, the Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences (IMS) Division runs more than just pre-med advising. Pre-College SSTRIDE (Science Students Together Reaching Instructional Diversity & Excellence) supports middle and high school students interested in pursuing a STEM career via engagement programs throughout Florida.
Undergraduate SSTRIDE, an extension of Pre-College SSTRIDE, is open to students from FSU, Florida A&M, Tallahassee Community College, and post-baccalaureate students.
The program provides access to unique clinical opportunities in rural and underserved communities as well as group tutoring to help students excel academically.
For students pursuing the Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences BS degree, the IMS Division provides career exploration opportunities through specialized seminars and a senior capstone course.
3. University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL)
With nearly 72,000 total enrolled students, UCF is the largest university in the nation.
Thus, going the pre-med track here will immerse you in a vibrant learning environment made up of students and faculty of many different interests and backgrounds. Some popular majors for pre-med students at UCF are biology, chemistry, and psychology.
Students also have the option of earning a Health Sciences BS. The pre-clinical track for this degree provides foundational knowledge that students will need in order to enter medicine as well as other health careers.
At UCF, pre-med advisors can provide students with a letters packet; personal statement editing; interview and test practice; and workshops and webinars featuring visiting health professionals.
Med school can be expensive, but preparing for it at UCF doesn’t have to be. Half of all first-time college students graduate with zero debt. Plus, U.S. News ranks UCF as one of the top 15 most innovative schools in the nation.
2. University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL)
The pre-health advising office at UM is dedicated to helping both undergraduates and post-baccalaureates nurture their passion for pursuing healthcare and prepare for the rigors of applying to med school.
In addition, the school offers over 300 different student organizations, including 11 that are health-related, including Minority Women in Medicine and Medicine, Education, and Development for Low Income Families Everywhere (MEDLIFE).
The Health Professions Mentoring (HPM) Program is also available to help guide qualified pre-meds through academic and career mentoring. Participants learn an enhanced curriculum that will make them even more competitive applicants to med school.
Pre-med students can also attend information sessions and annual Health Professions Fairs to network with med school administrators.
1. University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
In addition to extensive pre-health advising, UF gives students access to unique health-related study abroad opportunities that will make them even more compelling to med school admissions officials.
One such program is UF in Cusco, for experiential learning in health professions. This program grants students the chance to improve their Spanish, learn about the country’s healthcare system, work with local health professionals, and experience the cultures of Peru.
UF in Zanzibar utilizes theater as an educational tool to uplift local communities. UF students will work with middle school students to create a play based on their life experiences. In the process, local students will develop English skills and learn about community health issues in their own towns and broader Tanzania.
If you’re interested in studying abroad, note that pre-med required courses should not be taken abroad. This will ensure that your credits will be accepted without a doubt by the med schools of your choice.