Pre-Professional and Health Profession Programs Advising

College of Science, Math, and Nursing


Dr. Matthew Bork

Dr. Deborah Breiter

Rockford University offers academic programs which provide a sound foundation for entering a professional school in the health professions, including: dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, optometry, veterinary medicine, and related areas. Rockford University and most professional schools believe that it is desirable for the student to complete a bachelor’s degree before beginning professional training. Professional schools do not require students to have a specific undergraduate major, and instead rely on as set of specific prerequisite courses that all applicants must complete. These requirements can vary dramatically between professional programs and even between institutions. Therefore, students are encouraged to begin exploring the requirements of the institutions they wish to attend early on. Additionally, students should consult with a health professions advisor and complete and submit a Declaration of Health Professions Concentration early in their education at Rockford University. This form can be found on the Rockford University portal or from a health professions advisor.

In addition to academic performance and entrance exams (MCAT, GRE, etc.), professional programs place a great emphasis on professional and research experience. Students should demonstrate an interest in the field and their knowledge of what the profession requires by establishing a record of volunteer work related to the field, and extracurricular involvement. Many programs require a minimum number of hours of experience in the field of interest in order to be considered for admission, in some cases well over 1000 hours are necessary. As such students should begin gaining shadowing and internship experience early on, and throughout, their academic career. 

Professional schools also place significant weight on the interview and the written portion of the application. Experience in the small classes provided at Rockford University with frequent oral class participation and writing assignments may enhance these skills for applicants. Medical students must read and absorb large amounts of scientific information; therefore, medical schools are interested in verbal reasoning skills, which are enhanced by a liberal arts education. A broad, well-balanced education is seen as an asset to any applicant.

Most professional application procedures begin in the summer between the junior and senior year or early fall of the senior year. This may be particularly important to transfer students who may need letters of evaluation to include in their packets. It is imperative that you contact and meet with a pre-professional advisor well in advance of applying to a program. You should also seek them out for assistance with the application process.

Allied Health Professions

Students interested in the allied health professions, including medical technology, physical therapy, occupational therapy and others may obtain a Rockford University degree (B.A. or B.S.) and then go to the appropriate professional school to complete their education. They may major in any field as long as they fulfill the specific entrance requirements of the professional school.

The prerequisites for entry into allied health programs vary greatly depending on the program and institution. For most schools, these requirements include one to two years of biology, one to two years of chemistry, one year of physics, one course in statistics, and supporting courses from the humanities. Also, the desired terminal degree has changed for several of the allied health professions. With frequent changes and variety in these programs, a student must first become familiar with the current requirements for the specific programs of interest, then work with their advisor to ensure their six or eight semester plan will enable them to qualify for several programs while completing their degree at Rockford University.

Pre-Medical, Dental, Pharmacy, Physician Assistant, Veterinary Programs

Because medical, dental, pharmacy, physician assistant, and veterinary school requirements are constantly changing, students are strongly urged to become familiar with the specific requirements of the schools to which they intend to apply. Information on the specific requirements may be found on the professional schools’ websites, and a pre-professional advisor can assist students in their searches.

If students have strong foundations in science, they may major in almost any area. However, a major in chemistry with the addition of Biology 150 and 201, a major in biology with a full year of physics, or a major in biochemistry generally meet the requirements.

Almost all professional schools require applicants to take a standardized admissions exam: the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) for medical school; Dental Aptitude Test (DAT) for dental school; Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for physician assistant or veterinary school; and Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) for pharmacy school. Students usually take these exams in the spring of their junior year. Applications for most exams are available via the Internet. Your pre-professional advisor can assist you in selecting additional courses that may aid in your preparation for one of these exams.