College of Arts & Sciences

Health Professions Advising

Frequently Asked Questions
1. What factors do professional schools consider for admission?
2. Do I have to be a science major? Is there a pre-med major?
3. What percentage of SJU students get admitted to health professional schools each year?
4. Which medical or dental schools do students typically attend?
5. Does SJU offer a Nursing major?
6. What is the purpose of HPAC?
7. Who is on the HPAC Committee?

1.  What factors do professional schools consider for admission?

A) Grade Point Average (in science and overall) 
Professional schools are concerned with the overall quality of your curriculum and with your specific performance in the prerequisite courses.  Generally health professional schools prefer candidates who have at least a 3.2 GPA, although the average GPA for admitted students in competitive fields such as medicine and dentistry is over a 3.5. If your GPA is low after first, and/or second years, it may take you longer to reach your goal. 
B) Standardized Test Scores (MCAT, DAT, GRE, OAT, PCAT) 
Professional schools require candidates to take the appropriate standardized exam. Generally, the exam will test knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, verbal reasoning and writing skills. Students who do not perform well on standardized exams will have to work to overcome this weakness since doing well on standardized tests is critical not only for admission to professional schools but also for passing national exams required for licensing as a health care professional. 
C) Activities, Work Experience 
Schools like to see that you have participated in activities which have enhanced your leadership skills and your ability to deal with people. Similarly, work experience in a hospital/health care facility shows evidence of your interest in the profession. GET INVOLVED! 
D) Letters of Recommendation 
You will be reviewed by the Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC) in your junior or senior year to determine the rating you will receive in your composite letter of recommendation from the University. To determine this rating, the Committee considers faculty evaluations which you obtain from four of your professors. Get to know your professors well so that you will be able to get strong evaluations when needed. 
E) Interview Impressions 
If a health professional school is pleased with your academic profile, they usually invite you in for an interview. At that time, you need to sell yourself by articulating your positive personal qualities. Good communication skills are necessary for anyone considering a career in which positive interaction with a variety of people is critical to success. If you need help with your verbal expression, seek help early. The Career Services Center sponsors workshops and can videotape you in a mock interview.
2.  Do I have to be a science major? Is there a pre-med major? 

There is no "perfect" major that will guarantee your admission to a health professional school. It is true that the vast majority of students who apply to medical school major in biology or chemistry as undergrads, however, that is probably because most enjoy science courses and prefer to concentrate in a science area. You certainly can major in a humanities or social science field and still qualify for medical and other health professional schools provided that you take the necessary science pre-requisites and show that you have the ability to do well in science courses. Students who try to avoid challenging science courses don’t do themselves any favors since you will be taking a rigorous science curriculum in medical, dental, or other health professional schools and need to be well prepared. Your decision about your major should be based on an honest assessment of your interests and talents. There is no such thing as a ''Premed'' major at Saint Joseph's University. "Premed" refers to the prerequisite courses needed for admission and the advising program to help students prepare for the application process.

3.  What percentage of SJU students get admitted to health professional schools each year?

Over the last 10 years, an average of 75% of the students who have applied to medical, dental, veterinary, or podiatry schools have been admitted, with the vast majority of candidates applying to medical school. The range of acceptance has been from 65% to 95% in this time period. It is important to stress that NO COLLEGE CAN GUARANTEE ADMISSION TO MEDICAL SCHOOL NO MATTER HOW GOOD THEIR STATS LOOK! Students get themselves admitted by hard work. At SJU, we offer the resources needed to succeed and we support students throughout the process but the student must earn a place in medical, dental, or other health professional schools by performing at a high level both in and out of the classroom.

4.  Which medical or dental schools do students typically attend?

Given that the vast majority of SJU students come from the Northeast region, most students tend to apply to medical and dental schools in the Northeast as well. Given the number of excellent programs right in Philadelphia and the fact that those schools know SJU well, the majority of SJU students tend to go to Philadelphia-area medical and dental schools. In the past 10 years, our students have been accepted to the following medical schools: Jefferson, Drexel, Temple, University of Pennsylvania (Penn), Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), Penn State, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, George Washington, University of Virginia (UVA), Robert Wood Johnson, New Jersey Medical, UMDNJ Osteopathic, University of Maryland, Albert Einstein, New York University (NYU), State University of New York at Syracuse, Boston University, West Virginia, Loyola- Chicago (Stritch), St. Louis University, Creighton University, New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYIT), and St. George’s University. Dental applicants have been accepted to: Temple, Penn, Tufts, New Jersey, Boston University, Buffalo, Marquette, Creighton, Maryland, Stony Brook, New England, and New York University(NYU).

5. Does SJU offer a Nursing major?

No, we do not offer Nursing courses on our campus but we do have an affiliation with Thomas Jefferson College of Health Professions in Philadelphia. Students take their prerequisite courses for Nursing at SJU but then do the actual Nursing courses and clinical rotations at Jefferson. There are two possible routes for this and both take 5 years to earn both an SJU bachelor’s degree and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Jefferson. The options are: PACE Program – Students apply to both SJU & Jefferson in senior year of high school. If admitted to both schools, students spend the first 3 years at SJU taking courses toward either a Biology or Interdisciplinary Health Services degree here along with Nursing prerequisites. Then students move to Jefferson for 2 more years to complete a BSN degree. The first year of Jefferson courses transfer back to SJU to give students the full complement of courses needed for our degree and students walk in graduation at SJU with the class in which they started here. After the second year at Jefferson, students earn the BSN degree from Jefferson. This is a total of 5 years for 2 different bachelor degrees. For more information about the Jefferson PACE Program in Nursing and a link to their application, please go to  the Jefferson College of Nursing website.

Accelerated BSN Program
– This option allows students to take a traditional 4-yr program at SJU in any major as long as they complete the necessary prerequisite nursing courses. Then they apply in their senior year of college to Jefferson (or other schools offering this fast-track Nursing option) for a one-year accelerated nursing program. Students complete their nursing courses and clinical work in one calendar year and not only earn the BSN but also earn 9 credits toward their MSN (Masters) degree. To qualify for this program, students should have at least a 3.2 undergraduate GPA. For more information about this option, consult the Jefferson College of Nursing website.

6.  What is the purpose of HPAC?

The purpose of the Health Professions Advisory Committee is to assist students who aspire to health related careers by providing information about the process and by reviewing the credentials of those who plan to apply to health professional schools. The committee decides what level of endorsement a student will receive in his/her letter of recommendation from the university.

7.  Who is on the HPAC committee?

The twelve members who serve on HPAC are drawn from science, social science, and humanities departments and the Health Professions Advisor serves as Chair of the group. For a list of current members, see the HPAC Committee Page.