Begin Preparing as an Undergraduate: Recommended College Courses to Become a Psychiatrist

Becoming a Psychiatrist

If you have decided to become a psychiatrist, you probably know that a long, formal education awaits you. Completing medical school and residency represent just two of the many steps in practicing medicine and helping people with mental disorders. Before those steps, you must concentrate on your undergraduate classes, working toward a high grade point average (GPA) while receiving a well-rounded education.

While a bachelor’s degree is required for admission into medical school, a particular undergraduate major is not. For this reason, colleges and universities offer pre-med curricula, not pre-med majors. A psychology degree, for instance, is good preparation for a future psychiatrist. The course required for such a major could be considered among the recommended college courses to become a psychiatrist. The study of psychology teaches students how humans think and behave, how they relate to each other, and how to improve skills in relating to them. In an abnormal psychology course undergraduates study mental disorders and the types of treatments used to relieve them. Since medical school includes psychology and behavioral science courses, psychology majors will receive a solid foundation in these subjects.

Recommended College Courses to Become a Psychiatrist

Science classes are not only recommended college courses to become a psychiatrist, they are generally required. Many pre-med students do, in fact, major in science. Science course requirements usually include one year of general biology, at least one year of general and organic chemistry, and one year of physics. All of the required labs should be completed with these science courses.

At least one year of advanced math will be required of pre-med students. Undergraduates may take calculus or statistics to fulfill this requirement. In addition, students will need to take many humanities classes, such as English and sociology. Although medical schools vary in course requirements, many humanities majors do very well in getting into medical schools. Humanities or liberal arts majors have actually become sought out by medical schools because these students better understand the complexities of the modern world. These majors are also found to have more caring, compassionate manners and have better listening skills than other majors. Humanities majors find that history, English, and other classes make them more well-rounded people while taking the required math and science courses for medical school.

In thinking about the recommended college courses to become a psychiatrist, remember that medical schools differ in admission requirements. The medical school you choose, though, will look at your GPA, particularly in your math and science courses, closely. Most schools accept medical students with average GPAs of 3.5, with at least a 3.6 in math and science courses. You will also take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) to get accepted into medical school. Depending on the requirements and the competitiveness of the school’s admission process, you should gain acceptance with an MCAT score between 8 and 12. With the knowledge you learned from your recommended college courses to become a psychiatrist, plus lots of studying, achieving a good score will represent one more step in beginning your medical career.


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Pre-med and other health programs. (2010). University of California – Berkeley. Retrieved October 20, 2010, from