For students looking to pursue a career in medicine, the first course of action can be participating in a pre-med program. These programs are designed to prepare candidates with the foundations of medicine and to expose them to the various specializations within the field.
Pre-med is not a major but rather an advising track for students who intend to go onto medical school.
Depending on the intended area of focus, students may want to assess each school’s specializations before beginning the arduous application process.
While selecting a top pre-med program can be overwhelming, it’s a matter of knowing what to look for. As an initial search criterion, students should consider the resources, support, reputation, clinical experiences, and advising these schools offer.
Whether students are looking to become physicians, doctors, dentists, or medical specialists, choosing the right pre-med program can guide applicants towards their destined study path.
Here are our picks for the 10 best pre-med schools in Illinois.
10. Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL)
With a 71% acceptance rate for medical and dental schools, Wheaton provides pre-health tracks to help students fulfill their prerequisites for their majors. Students will have the opportunity to specify their intended career paths, which will assist them in personalizing their academic experience.
With an emphasis on personalization, students will have access to support and career planning services. One-on-one advising is offered to help students throughout their coursework and internship opportunities.
Students applying to this program can also expect to find resources for the medical school application process, such as mock interviews with medical professionals in the area.
A unique feature of the school is the Health Professions program, which allows students to learn about current issues within the healthcare field. Students can discuss and shape their medical career paths based on this insightful forum.
9. Augustana College (Rock Island, IL)
Augustana College has a medical school placement rate above 50% for its students, preparing them to enter a diverse and in-demand industry. With a foundation in sciences, Augustana equips students with a well-rounded experience before entering the medical field.
Utilizing the local partnerships in the area, students can gain real-world experience at nearby hospitals, clinics, and care facilities. With access to fully equipped resources, undergraduate students can experience a glimpse of medical school with laboratories dedicated to anatomy, genetics, cell biology, and physiology.
Through research assistantships, students can build their experience and portfolios with notable institutions. A summer internship at the prestigious Texas Medical Center in Houston is offered exclusively to pre-med students.
The program also encourages students to pursue their studies in non-medical-related fields. Subject areas that expose students to cultural awareness and communication skills can make for a more promising and well-rounded medical school candidate.
8. Illinois Wesleyan University (Bloomington, IL)
Leading in the highest acceptance rate with 80% for pre-med graduates, Illinois Wesleyan has a wide selection of pre-med tracks. Pre-med is not offered as a major but instead a track of listed courses that prepare students for their intended medical career path.
With over nine listed specializations, students can prepare themselves for the future medical tracks they plan to pursue. The school emphasizes that students choose a major of their interest, whether that relates to the healthcare field or not, as they have a better chance of excelling in those courses.
A foundational part of the program, students will have the opportunity to shadow healthcare professionals to assess the area of focus they’re interested in. If aligned, students may be able to secure internships at the institutes they shadowed.
7. Dominican University (River Forest, IL)
Known as a leading pre-med institution, Dominican University is well equipped with the resources and technology to help students achieve a career in medicine. Students will get exposure to cutting-edge technology and receive precise one-on-one advising to build their path towards their dream medical school.
Personal advisors assist students in building a personalized academic plan. Whether it’s through courses or internships, students can expect to build a professional resume of medical experiences.
For students pursuing a path towards dentistry, the school has cultivated a program specific to following this track. Advisors are available to not only help students prepare to take the MCAT, but for the DAT as well, which stands for the Dental Admission Test.
With state-of-the-art labs and equipment, students will acquire the most recent experience as pre-med students.
6. DePaul University (Chicago, IL)
While many schools have traditional four-year pre-med programs, DePaul University offers students options as to how they can complete their prerequisites. Students can build a pre-health track that meets their academic needs.
For students with exceptional academic marks, the Pathways Honors program was established to provide exclusive resources. Students within this program will gain access to the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and the internship opportunities offered at the institution.
With the Accelerated Degree option, pre-health students have the chance to complete their studies within three years. By partnering up with other accredited medical institutions in the state, students receive streamlined paths towards their desired healthcare professions.
Regardless of the degree program pre-health students choose, the school is committed to assisting students to build their knowledge and experiences towards a career in the healthcare field.
5. University of Illinois at Chicago (Chicago, IL)
For students interested in attending the University of Illinois at Chicago for pre-med, they must declare an educational goal as an internal selection for their academic plan. These goals accompany the majors selected by students and are designed to support their pre-professional careers.
These educational goals allow for advisors in the pre-med track to assist students in curating an academic plan that aligns with their objectives. Students will be alerted when opportunities and resources within their educational goals are made available through periodic academic newsletters.
4. Loyola University Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The pre-health program at Loyola University is dedicated to assisting students on their paths to medical professions. Even though the school doesn’t offer a specified pre-med major, it does carry a unique set of programs to prepare students to apply to medical school.
The Early Assurance Program (EAP) was designed to prepare undergraduate students attending Loyola to secure a spot at Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine. Students who apply to EAP can receive early admission and get a head start in exploring the opportunities made available to pre-med students.
For more traditional paths, the Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee assists Loyola students and alumni in their pursuit of applying to medical school. The committee provides essential resources to help first-time applicants along their journey.
Recently matriculated undergraduates who are interested in applying to medical school can apply to the Post-Baccalaureate Program. This program is designed for students to complete the science prerequisite courses needed to apply to medical school.
3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Champaign, IL)
Ranked 4th in the top 20 best pre-med programs in the country, students at the University of Illinois have the option to major in molecular cell biology as a pre-health major. As an MCB major, students looking to pursue pre-med, and other pre-health-related tracks, will be equipped with the necessary prerequisites before applying to the medical school of their choice.
MCB students will have access to the Pre-Health and Professional Mentorship Program, where students are paired up with alumni from the MCB program. Students will be able to receive insights and guidance from healthcare professionals from the program throughout their academic journey.
As a part of extracurricular opportunities, students can apply to internships, job shadowing, and volunteer positions through the program’s extensive network. With a 4-year pre-med guide laid out, students have a clear path to follow on their journey to medical school.
2. Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)
With Northwestern being a leading institution in the medical field, students have many pre-health track options to choose from. Each track is paved with incredible resources, advisors, and coursework.
Having a framework to assist any student along their pre-med journey, Northwestern has organized itself as the ultimate resource for those curious about joining the medical field. Students can explore traditional and alternative paths to medical school that fit their interests.
Similar to many schools on this list, Northwestern is dedicated to providing students with hands-on experiences in the healthcare field. These experiences fall under five categories: research, shadowing and clinical, non-clinical, summer programs and post-graduation programs.
Another experience offered by the school are student groups. Pre-med students with similar interests are highly encouraged to connect and share opportunities and insights regarding the application process.
1. University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
With an emphasis on the timeline, the University of Chicago urges students to consider their four years as a roadmap to prepare them for the medical school application process.
A year-by-year guide shows students which courses to build into their schedules as the prerequisites needed for their respective fields of interest.
Unique to the school, students have the chance to apply to the Accelerated Medical Scholars Program.
In partnership with the Pritzker School of Medicine, students accepted to this program in their third year would have the opportunity to begin medical school the following year.