Frequently Asked Questions

Academic & Coursework Questions

Before making any decision, students are encouraged to speak with their professor regarding their grade in the course.

It is only recommended that you Withdraw (“W”) from a course if you are receiving below the lowest acceptable grade. Typically, health professional programs will require a C grade or higher for prerequisite coursework (Some PA programs may require a higher grade, so this will be important to confirm with program websites). 

If you are earning at least the lowest acceptable grade, oftentimes a “W” on a transcript can be more unfavorable as health professional schools may assume you were failing the course (“D” or “F”). While you may be concerned with how this will impact your GPA and success in future courses, if you are earning higher than a “C” you are encouraged to stick with the course. Students can mitigate a lower grade by focusing on improved performance in future coursework.

Health professional programs require all attempts of repeated courses in GPA calculations (with original grades given for those attempts), even if they are not included in Northeastern’s GPA calculations. We do not recommend re-taking a course for which you earned a passing grade (“C” or higher). Students can mitigate a lower grade by focusing on improved performance in future coursework.

We strongly advise that PreMed/PreHealth students do NOT choose to have their prerequisite courses graded using the Pass/Fail option. Many health professional schools require a minimum letter grade for prerequisite courses and will not accept coursework graded Pass/Fail.

Health professional schools typically will not accept required laboratory science coursework taken online. You are strongly encouraged to take all laboratory science prerequisite courses in-person. However, schools had to become more flexible due to academic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you took an online laboratory science course in 2020, you are encouraged to review the policies regarding online coursework on individual schools’ websites.

While it is preferred that you take prerequisite courses in a fall or spring semester, and at Northeastern, students may take coursework in the summer with consideration to the following:

In support of our experiential learning programs (Co-op), Northeastern has two summer semesters in which we offer a full range of courses taught by our regular faculty and presented with the same rigor as the fall and spring offerings. Thus, taking summer courses at Northeastern is suggested.

However, if you are considering taking summer courses at another institution, please consult with your Academic Advisor to determine if this is needed and/or will be accepted for your degree requirements. Once this is determined with your Academic Advisor, we advise enrolling in summer courses at four-year institutions of equal rigor to Northeastern.

Please review our Global Experience page to learn about taking coursework abroad.

If you are unsure if a course you took will satisfy the prerequisite requirement at a program that you are interested in, you should email the admissions office of the program you are interested in to clarify. You can include the name and course description of the class in question.

Students should check the prerequisite requirements for the individual schools they are interested in to determine the courses they will need to take before applying. That said, often, most humanities or social science courses involving substantial expository writing will satisfy the writing requirement for health professional schools, even if the course is not with the English Department.

Branches of the humanities include law, languages, philosophy, religion and mythology, international relations, gender and women’s studies, multicultural and regional studies, popular culture, and art and music, while branches of the social sciences include sociology, anthropology, archeology, geography, political science, psychology, communication studies, criminal justice, demographics, library and information science, and economics.

The majority of PMPH students at Northeastern take a combined general chemistry course unless otherwise specified by their major requirements. While the combined general chemistry course will meet the requirements for most health professional schools, it may not meet the requirements for all programs. If you are not on a Pre-Med or Pre-Dental pathway, we recommend that you meet with your PreHealth advisor to learn more as we may advise taking additional coursework to satisfy the chemistry requirement for your chosen health professional school. Additionally, we recommend reviewing the health profession specific information listed here.

Centralized application services for health professional programs typically calculate one or more science GPA’s that may include courses in Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics (BCMP). To calculate your science vs. non-science GPA review the instructions in the GPA Calculations section under Supporting Information on the Academic Preparation page.

For some students, the courses you use in your science GPA calculations may come from other departments that teach classes that are concentrated in the abovementioned subjects. Here is a list of NU courses that we’ve identified as meeting these criteria, that you may elect to include in your BCMP GPA. Please refer to the guidelines of your particular application service and professional program, as requirements may vary.

Entrance Exam Questions

We would not recommend a reduced course load in order to prepare for the MCAT/DAT/GRE/etc. unless it is your final semester and you only have a few courses remaining to graduate. Schools seek students who exercise good time management and are fully engaging in a rigorous course of study. Rather than take a reduced course load, consider a more manageable course selection.

Your entrance exam should be scheduled only after all pre-requisite courses are successfully completed and the applicant has had 4-6 months to study. If the resulting date would be later than May (MCAT/GRE) or June (DAT), then deferral to the next year is highly recommended. Students study for the MCAT any various times during their pre-health years, including during co-op, while in classes, during school breaks, or after graduation. The biggest mistake we see students make is to take their exam before they are ready, so it is important not to rush the process.

Medical Applicant Portal (MAP)

Information included in the Student Information section of MAP is automatically generated from your student account information in Banner. Even if it has changed/is inaccurate, the PMPH team does not rely on this information or share it with health professional programs.

Yes, MAP unfortunately does not allow students to view documents once they have been uploaded. However, all documents uploaded to the portal can be viewed by the PMPH staff.

When you defer your application, we will hold on to all of your documentation on file in MAP, including submitted letters of evaluation and self-assessment, though materials may need to be updated in your application year.

Please note, we do not suggest obtaining updated faculty letters of evaluation, unless you have significant developments to your academic competencies.  It is recommended to get updated or new external letters of evaluation.

Letters of Evaluation

We are strict about our requirements and deadlines. We do not provide extensions for students/applicants to identify and secure letter writers. We only make evaluator extensions for extenuating circumstances, on a case-by-case basis.

If they’ve agreed to write you a letter of recommendation, evaluators are very good about meeting our submission deadlines. Many letters do come in the week they are due, and that is ok! You can send a couple of well-spaced reminders, but please be respectful. We do not grant extensions unless there are extenuating circumstances and must speak directly with your evaluator to make such determinations.

Application Questions

Typically, Patient Care Experience (PCE) hours will derive from a paid position where you are able to provide care for the patient. It is always encouraged to check individual school webpages to find more information on what a specific program may view as contributing to PCE hours.

Applicants may choose to send update letters to schools as long as they are substantial and offer a new perspective on you as an applicant. Admissions committees are quite busy, so you would not want to overwhelm them with messages. You’ll only want to update schools where you have not yet interviewed, if they accept updates (this can usually be found on their admissions website). Schools where you have already interviewed, or are scheduled to interview, have already shown a strong interest in you, and it is the interview itself that largely determines the admissions decision. Therefore, an update letter would not be recommended.

If you are waitlisted, applicants may send a letter of intent to one school, to let them know that if they offer you a spot from the waitlist, you will accept it.  That is important to the schools because they want to know that the people who they accept off the waitlist will attend, they will not have to go to the next person. This letter is most compelling after all acceptance decisions are sent and schools have moved on to their waitlists.  You may be fully committed to the school, but enough people send letters of intent without being fully committed that they will question it if you send it too early.

PreMed/PreHealth Letter Process Updates

Beginning in the 2025 application cycle the Northeastern University PreMed and PreHealth Advising Program will be joining other leading universities in only offering a Letter Packet service and will no longer be offering an additional Committee Letter service for candidates applying for admission to schools of allopathic medicine (MD), osteopathic medicine (DO), dental medicine, or podiatric medicine.

Many leading universities have discontinued offering Committee Letters as much of the information provided in the committee’s evaluation is already included elsewhere within the application. In order to better support candidates with their applications, we plan to eliminate this duplication by offering a singular, robust Letter Packet service and recommitting our time to provide you with comprehensive application support via additional programming and continuous and personalized advising feedback throughout the application cycle.

A Committee Letter is a composite letter authored by a pre-health committee or pre-health advisor. A committee letter is often sent with additional letters of recommendation that you solicit from your faculty and others in support of your candidacy.

A Letter Packet is also a composite letter that includes full content of all required evaluator letters, but it does not additionally include a pre-health committee evaluation. In its place, we include an institutional cover sheet from the PreMed and PreHealth Advising Program. The PreMed and PreHealth Advising Program’s institutional cover sheet provides context to your academic and experiential preparation. For NU undergraduate students and alumni, this includes information about Northeastern’s Cooperative Education program, Global Pathways programs, unique aspects of our curriculum (I.e., our single-semester general chemistry course), and more. For students and alumni of the Northeastern University Pre-Medical Studies, Post-Baccalaureate Undergraduate Certificate program, this includes program details and requirements. 

No! All medical, dental, and podiatry schools accept Letter Packets. Health professional schools do not have a preference for any particular letter type. Rather, health professional schools prefer candidates to utilize the letter services offered through their undergraduate or post-bacc program.

The PreMed & PreHealth Advising Program will notify medical and dental programs that we no longer offer a Committee Letter. Additionally, this update will be included on the cover page of our Letter Packet. If you are asked by a medical or dental school why you are not receiving a Committee Letter, you may tell schools that starting with the 2025 application cycle, Northeastern University PreMed & PreHealth Advising Program no longer offers a Committee Letter.

This change will have no negative impact on the competitiveness on your application! On the contrary, the decision to eliminate the Committee Letter enables us to extend required deadlines, offer new programming to support applicants during the secondary application process over the summer, and enhance our existing programs and resources in order to ensure that you are the most competitive applicant possible!

Yes! Candidates utilizing the PreMed/PreHealth Letter Packet process will still be required to obtain all required letters of evaluation via their Medical Applicant Portal. Any previously submitted letters can still be used for a Letter Packet.

The PreMed and PreHealth Advising Program is currently working with ITS to update the language in Medical Applicant Portal. While we await text updates, all of the features and functions within MAP are applicable and will carry over to our updated letter process.

More information on Letter Packet processes can be found within the applicable health professions page on the Applicants tab of our website or directly via the following links:


We recommend experiential learning for any healthcare profession(s) you’re interested in. Shadowing and informational interviewing experts in various fields is a great place to start! Learn more about different health professions here 

We recommend using these tips to find shadowing opportunities!