Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is the best way to learn more about a profession if I’m undecided?

Join a Pre-Health Student org! SHPA, LMSA, AMSA, and Flying Sams are great students organizations to join if you are unsure what Health Profession you want to pursue. Also, look at the handout for each health profession to help determine which one is the best fit for you!

How often should I come in to speak with an advisor if I want to go to a professional school?

Typically once a semester.

What major should I pursue?

There is no one answer to this question. Although, the vast majority of students who apply to health profession schools have majored in a biological subject, this is NOT a requirement. Your choice of major is best determined by considering what subjects you enjoy and what career you would be happy to pursue if you do not become a health professional. Whatever major you choose you will need to successfully complete certain required science courses which will normally include:

One year of general biology with lab


Biology 151 (4 units), Cellular and Molecular Biology
Biology 152 (4 units), Evolution and Oranganismal Biology

One year of chemistry with lab
Chemistry 120A (5 units), General Chemistry
Chemistry 120B (5 units), General Chemistry

One year of organic chemistry with lab
Chemistry 301A (3 units), Organic Chemistry
Chemistry 301B (3 units), Organic Chemistry
Chemistry 306A (2 units), Organic Chemistry Lab

One year of physics with lab
Physics 211 (3 units), Elementary Physics
Physics 211L (1 unit), Elementary Physics Lab
Physics 212 (3 units), Elementary Physics
Physics 212L (1 unit), Elementary Physics Lab

One semester of calculus
Math 130 or 150A (each 4 units), A Short Course in Calculus or Calculus

Since requirements vary with different programs and schools, students are strongly advised to speak with the Health Professions Advisor to determine your individual study plan. Certain specific courses in addition to the above ones may be required or be strongly recommended, including BIOL 362, Mammalian Physiology, BIOL 302, Microbiology, and CHEM 421 Biological Chemistry.

Should I take classes at a community college if I cannot get them at CSUF?

You can take lower division courses (100 and 200 level) at a community college. Before enrolling, check on to make sure the courses will transfer to the correct course at CSU Fullerton. If you have questions about how to do this, make an appointment with the advisor.

What is the CSU's policy on: course repetition, withdrawal and incomplete classes? (Items taken directly from EO 1037)

Repetition of Course Policy 
16-unit limit (Repeated courses with 'Grade Forgiveness')
- Grade in the first class is replaced by grade in the repeated class
- Can use 'Grade Forgiveness' no more than twice on the same class
12-unit limit (Repeated courses with 'Averaged Grades')
-Grades in both classes taken are included in GPA calculation
-Includes only repeated classes at the campus where student is earning the degree
3 times limit (Cannot take the same course any more than three times - except classes noted in the catalog as "may be repeated for credit")

Withdrawal Policy
18-unit limit (maximum number of W's a student can have on record)
W unit limit begins with Fall 2009 and will be set to '0' for all students (W's received prior to that remain on the record, but will not be counted in the cap)

Incomplete Policy
Student cannot re-enroll in a course that has a 'I' until the 'I' has either converted to 'IC' or received a grade.

Grade Forgiveness (Taken directly from CSUF Academic Advising website)

You can repeat courses for which you earned a C- or lower, WU or IC grade.
You can use Grade Forgiveness to repeat and replace the grade in your GPA up to a maximum of 16 units at CSUF.
Any course taken at CSUF must be repeated at CSUF to be eligible for Grade Forgiveness.
New repeat policy implemented in fall 2009:
Grade Forgiveness can be used no more than twice for the same class
Students cannot repeat the same course more than two times
These rules do not apply to courses designated in the University catalog as "may be repeated for credit"
Repeats are not automatically applied. Students should file an Adjustment Inquiry form at Admissions & Records during finals week or after of the semester you are repeating the class. This form is available in the Admissions & Records Service Center (LH-114). Failure to file the Adjustment Inquiry form will delay application of the Grade Forgiveness policy and the GPA from being recalculated accordingly.


What are my options if I get a D or C in a class and lower my GPA but the grade wasn’t low enough to retake the class?

You can sometimes retake classes. Please see CSUF repetition of course policy for more information. 

What should I do about shadowing and volunteering?

Clinical experience is essential. Plan to have at least 200 hours before you apply (some professions require considerably more). Try to be a leader and innovator. A good first exposure is a Clinical Care Extender Program (CCE).

Community service is also important and for some schools/professions is a key component of the application. Find a program that you are passionate about and consistently be involved.

How do I prepare for standardized tests?

Each health professional school usually requires a standardized test such as the MCAT for medical school, the GRE for vet school and the DAT for dental school. You should plan to take the test at least 15-18 months before you wish to matriculate at the professional school. To best prepare for these tests you should have completed at least the core courses in science since this is the foundation material not only for the tests but also for the medical science curricula. In addition, all tests have a verbal and/or writing component so it is to your advantage to have completed at least a year of college English (Eng 101 and 301) prior to taking the test. Many students take a prep course such as Kaplan or Princeton Review and we often have reduced rates for these courses.

How many hours should I realistically spend studying for an entrance exam?

Depending on how much review you need, you will spend 400-1,000 hours.

How many practice exams should I take before I take my official entrance exam?

Take as many as are available.

Questions regarding new medical schools

What, if any, major risks are associated with going to a newly accredited school?

Newly accredited schools or those still in the early stages of obtaining accreditation are reviewed carefully by the LCME which carries out accreditation work with new and existing schools. However, a new school is unproven and by definition has a brand new curriculum. In many cases, this can be good because designing a new curriculum has the potential of bringing together elements of educational strategies that existing schools would have difficulty doing. There are certainly challenges and opportunities with a new school, for example, being the first class in can be like a pioneer with multiple opportunities to “make a difference”. On the other hand, if you are among the first to enter, there are no classmates ahead of you and the usual vertical advising that comes from the more advanced students is not there.

Is there a greater than normal chance that the school could lose accreditation?

Any school could lose accreditation but it is fair to say that new schools are more at risk. That being said, the LCME that does the accreditation have never removed accreditation in the past. That is, in part, due to the very high bar that is set for the initial stage of accreditation called preliminary accreditation. Schools may not recruit students until the LCME grants preliminary accreditation and to achieve that status, schools must show that they have adequate resources for the long haul.

Response provided by Henry M. Sondheimer, M.D. , Senior Director Student Affairs and Student Programs from Association of American Medical Colleges

Will degrees from a new school be well-respected by the medical community, especially when applying for residency?

No one can predict how the graduates of the new schools will be received.

Response provided by Henry M. Sondheimer, M.D. , Senior Director Student Affairs and Student Programs from Association of American Medical Colleges

Given that there are so many new medical schools, if some of them fail, how much room is there in older medical schools to absorb displaced students?

The two sponsors of the LCME (AMA and AAMC) have worked on a process to try and place students if an existing or a new school should lose its accreditation. That being said, there are no guarantees.

Response provided by Henry M. Sondheimer, M.D. , Senior Director Student Affairs and Student Programs from Association of American Medical Colleges

How is it determined where new medical schools are built?

Decisions about where new schools are created or where regional campuses from existing schools are located is totally a local decision. Interest, adequate resources, and passion for a new school are what go into those decisions.

Response provided by Henry M. Sondheimer, M.D. , Senior Director Student Affairs and Student Programs from Association of American Medical Colleges

Are there any metrics yet for any of the new schools in terms of USMLE pass rates and residency placement?

With this current crop of new schools in the US, none have students far enough along to take any of the United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLE). Florida State University graduated its first class in 2005 and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine graduated its first class in 2009. Details of their graduates performance would have to be obtained from the individual schools.

Response provided by Henry M. Sondheimer, M.D. , Senior Director Student Affairs and Student Programs from Association of American Medical Colleges

Which application services honor campus grade replacement policies and how are they treated when calculating GPAs?

  • AACOMAS: Only the last instance of a repeated course is included in the GPA calculation.
  • AACPMAS: AACPMAS will calculate both the original course and the repeated course grades in your GPA.
  • AADSAS: All courses that appear on your official transcript(s) and for which a grade and credit were ever assigned will be included in the AADSAS GPA calculations, even if they are not included in the GPA calculations of the transcript-issuing school. This includes, but is not limited to courses that have been repeated. Both grades from repeated courses are used in calculating the ADEA AADSAS GPA, even if this is not the policy of your college/university.
  • AMCAS: AMCAS counts all attempts of a repeated course, even if your school does not.
  • CASPA: CASPA must standardize applicant information throughout the country, and therefore does not recognize individual school or state academic “forgiveness” policies in regards to repeated courses, as each college treats these situations differently. Some schools average the two grades together, others factor in the higher grade, some take the second grade even if it’s lower than the first, and others do not recognize repeated courses at all. Therefore, CASPA must factor both grades into your CASPA GPA. Once your application arrives at the schools you are applying to, they may or may not recalculate your GPA depending upon their individual policies.
  • OPTOMCAS: Repeated courses taken at the same school will be marked as repeated under special classification. The final attempt will have full credit value and will be included in the GPA calculations. All prior attempts will have a credit value of 0.0 and will not be included in the GPA, although the course and grade will be listed in the coursework. Repeated courses taken at a different school will be counted as a normal course and will be included in the GPA calculations.
  • PHARMCAS: All courses with credit hours and a PharmCAS Grade are calculated into the PharmCAS GPAs, regardless of whether the credit counts toward a degree or counted toward a college/university GPA. PhsarmCAS will include ALL initial AND repeated course work in its GPA calculations (including those repeated under freshman forgiveness, academic bankruptcy, and other related institutional policies).
  • VMCAS: List each time you took the course as it appears on your transcript. You should choose "Repeat Course" for each attempt (including the first) until the final attempt, when you will choose "Completed."

Question and response provided by Dr. Dave Thurlow from Clark University

back to top

This site is maintained by Health Professions.

Last Published 9/12/23

To report problems or comments with this site, please contact
© California State University, Fullerton. All Rights Reserved.

Web Accessibility

CSUF is committed to ensuring equal accessibility to our users. Let us know about any accessibility problems you encounter using this website.
We'll do our best to improve things and get you the information you need.