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Should I Study an Undergraduate Degree Before Medicine?

Some of the reasons why you might want to study an undergraduate degree before Medicine: the advantages, disadvantages and other advice.

July 2021
Carolina Williams
UCL - 2nd Year

There are many instances in which you may choose to undergo an undergraduate degree before studying Medicine – meaning you will be studying Medicine as a graduate student.

For example, it may be because you chose to study the fifth, non-Medicine, choice on your UCAS Medicine application, or you didn’t feel ready to study Medicine as an undergraduate student, or that you aimed to gain more knowledge and experience before committing yourself to the Medicine career. There are a range of reasons, but the main thing to remember is that studying Medicine as a graduate student is an option and you are not alone if you decide this is the path for you.

Which undergraduate degrees can you study before Medicine?

It is possible to study either a science or non-science degree as an undergraduate before studying Medicine as a graduate. HOWEVER, it does depend on the universities that you are applying to.

Classically, science degrees are most common to study before studying Medicine. For example, Biomedical Sciences (with or without specialising), Medical Sciences, Biochemistry and Chemistry are all common options. Nonetheless, non-science degrees are accepted by many (approximately just over half) of UK graduate Medicine courses. So, do not feel limited by the examples I have provided above.

The following Medic Portal link highlights the graduate medical courses in the UK and their entry requirements concerning undergraduate degree types:

What are some advantages of studying an undergraduate degree before Medicine?

Studying an undergraduate degree before Medicine can be advantageous for both your application (if you use your experiences cleverly!) and also as a medical student.

With regards to helping with your graduate Medicine application…

To put some of this information into context… I studied Biomedical Sciences as my undergraduate degree. I really enjoyed this degree and especially my speciality in Reproductive Biology. I felt as though this speciality had a significant clinical element associated with it which I loved. I chose to undergo an internship at a fertility clinic which I found highly interesting, and importantly it highlighted to me that I preferred the clinical elements over the more laboratory research elements. These are just a couple of points that further encouraged my choice to study Medicine as a graduate. Along with a range of work experience, I tried to highlight these points in my application as a whole to show how the last 4 years (note – degrees in England are usually only 3 years long however, I was studying in Scotland) had consolidated my choice to apply for Medicine.

With regards to helping you as a medical student…

This is not to say that undergraduate medical students will be at a disadvantage with regard to the points mentioned  – it is just that, from my experience and from what I hear form my peers, graduate students may feel slightly more comfortable starting their medical school journey due to reasons such as those listed above.

What are some disadvantages of studying Medicine as a graduate student?

As with any career, I believe it is never too late to choose the career that you would truly like to pursue. Medicine being no exception! There may be some (minor) drawbacks associated with studying Medicine as a graduate student. However, note that some of these points may be potentially viewed as positive OR negative depending on the individual and particular circumstances.

These may include…

What is my advice if you are thinking of undergoing an undergraduate degree before graduate Medicine OR are considering studying Medicine as a graduate?

Ultimately, there is often always time and a route to the career you would like to pursue. There are advantages of undergoing an undergraduate degree before Medicine, as well as some considerations such as the additional time and funding. Try to make use of all of the resources available to you, including Medmentor (and other Medicine application and information websites), school and university careers services and discussing with your peers, university students and doctors. It all falls into place in the end. Best of luck!

Author: Carolina Williams

Editor: Allegra Wisking

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