Pre-Health Professions

The Nutritional Science Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree at Iowa State University looks at the connection between diet and health. Students who major in Nutritional Science can select the pre-health professional and research option and learn how diet can play a crucial role in the cause, treatment, and prevention of many diseases. A good diet is also important in maintaining normal health, growth, and development.

In studying for a degree in Nutritional Science, you will gain insights into the relationship of diet, disease, and wellness. Graduates of this major are well prepared to go on to health professional schools such as medical school, dental school, pharmacy school, or physician’s assistant school. Students are also prepared for careers in nutrition research.

Fulfilling requirements

The Nutritional Science B.S. degree with the pre-health professional and research option is a good fit for several pre-health professions. Refer to the following to see how this program meets course equivalents for typical professional school requirements:

Medical school preparation

These are the courses required for admission to most medical schools:

Course(s) Included in Nutritional Science degree requirements?
ENGL 150 & 250 Yes
BIOL 211/L &212/L Yes
CHEM 177/L & 178/L Yes
CHEM 331/L & 332/L Yes
Math (1-2 semesters of calculus) Yes
PHYS 111, 112, or 221, 222 Yes
Advanced biology Yes
Some medical schools require an advanced biochemistry course
(BBMB 404 & 405; 420)
Students can fill elective credit if needed for specific program

Specific program requirements: As with all programs, students should contact the admissions counselor at the medical school they plan to attend to determine specific program requirements. Additional information about medical school admissions can be found  on the LAS pre-health site.

Dental school preparation

These are the courses required for admission to most dental schools:

Course(s) Included in Nutrional Science degree requirements?
ENGL 150 & 250 Yes
BIOL 211/L & 212/L Yes
CHEM 177/L & 178/L Yes
CHEM 331/L & 332/L Yes
PHYS 111, 112 or 221, 222 Yes

Specific program requirements: As with all programs, students should contact the admissions counselor at the dental school they plan to attend to determine specific program requirements. Additional information about dental school admissions can be found on the LAS pre-health site.

Pharmacy school preparation

These are the courses required for admission to most pharmacy schools:

Course(s) Included in Nutritional Science degree requirements?
ENGL 15 & 250 Yes
SP CM 212 Yes
STAT 101 or 104 Yes
BIOL 211/L & 212/L Yes
CHEM 177/L & 178/L Yes
CHEM 331/L & 332/L Yes
BIOL 255/L & 256/L Yes, students take BIOL 255/L and a 300-level physiology course
MATH (1 semester of calculus) Yes
PHYS 111, 112 or 221, 222 Yes
MICRO 201/L or 302/L Yes
Humanities & Social Science electives Yes
COM S 103 Students can fill elective credit

Specific program requirements: As with all programs, students should contact the admissions counselor at the pharmacy school they plan to attend to determine specific program requirements. Additional information about pharmacy school admissions can be found on the LAS pre-health site.

Physician assistant preparation

These are the courses required for admission to most physician assistant schools:

Course(s) Included in Nutritional Science degree requirements?
ENGL 150 & 250 Yes
BIOL 255/L & 256/L Yes, students take BIOL 255/L and a 300-level physiology course
BIOL 211/L & 212/L Yes
MICRO 201/L or 302/L Yes
CHEM 177/L & 178/L Yes
CHEM 331/L & 332/L Yes
BIOL 314 Yes
STAT 101 or 104 Yes
PSYCH 101 & 230 Students can fill elective or social science credit

Specific program requirements: As with all programs, students should contact the admissions counselor at the physician assistant school they plan to attend to determine specific program requirements. Additional information about physician assistant school admissions can be found on the LAS pre-health site.

Other

For information about how the Nutritional Science major fulfills requirements for other health professional programs such as the following, contact the Food Science and Human Nutrition adviser:

  • Nursing
  • Occupational therapy
  • Optometry
  • Physical therapy school

How do health professional schools view a Nutritional Science degree?

Professional programs and schools do not require specific majors for entrance. This means that students should choose a major that interests them. Professional schools do not give preference to any major; instead, students must have completed the pre-requisite courses required by the school (From the ISU LAS pre-health site.)

The Nutritional Science degree at Iowa State University combines the pre-requisites for entry into health professional schools with a unique focus on how nutrition impacts human beings.

  • American Medical Association: Indicates that it takes a “well-rounded high school and college education, including classes related to the study of human beings” to enter and succeed in medical school. More »

  • Association of American Medical Schools: States, “You’ll need a strong foundation in mathematics and the sciences that relate most to medicine: biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics. But it’s important for your college experience to be broad.” More »

  • American Dental Association: Suggests that students need simply to take the required science courses for admission to dental school but can (and do) choose to be many majors (about half of all students enrolled in dental school in 2007-2008 choose a major other than “biological science”). More »

  • American Pharmacists Association: Indicates, “you are not required to major in ‘pre-pharmacy’ in college to be eligible for admission to pharmacy school. Pharmacy students… come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds…” More »

If I change my mind . . .

Have a backup plan. Less than 10 percent of new freshman who declare themselves pre-med ever apply to medical school, usually because they change their mind. This is an important reason to choose a major that interests you. (From the ISU LAS pre-health program.)

In addition to pre-health professional schools:

  • Nutritional Science graduates are prepared to go on a to graduate education in nutrition and participate in nutrition research and education.

  • Some Nutritional Science students also choose to double major in dietetics so that they have the option to complete a supervised practice experience and take the national registration exam to become a registered dietitian.

  • Undergraduate Research

    Joel Weiler, a recent graduate in Nutritional Science, worked side-by-side with associate professor and mentor Manju Reddy to investigate iron bioavailabilty in an African berry. Weiler went on to attend dental school at the University of Iowa. Video »

  • 2 Colleges - ALS and HS

    The Nutritional Science program is offered by the FSHN department, which is jointly administered by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Human Sciences.

  • Did You Know?

    The Nutritional Science curriculum provides an equivalent science foundation to other basic science degrees at ISU, but Nutritional Science provides an additional understanding of the food-health interconnection that is not available through other more traditional degree paths.