Breadth, Depth, and Rigor

Professional programs review applicants' transcripts for the breadth, depth, and rigor of their coursework. As you pursues you pre-health track, keep in mind these three key factors and specifically how your classes speak to and fulfill these different areas.

These three areas are meant to showcase that you:

1) Have meaningful academic interests outside of the strict sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Engineering) and are passionate about non-STEM learning and thought. Healthcare professionals should be culturally sensitive providers, creative thinkers, and knowledgeable people. These classes provide you a way to stand out and offer a unique element to your candidacy—no two transcripts are the same, and that is an amazing thing!

2) Are able to spark interest in a particular subject area (STEM or non-STEM) and pursue meaningful learning in that area with the goal of becoming an expert. Healthcare professionals consistently work towards becoming experts in their field—this is your way, as an undergraduate student, to showcase that you have the capacity to explore something in detail and from many different perspectives.

3) Can challenge yourself in rigorous biomedical sciences coursework and excel. While your GPA is not everything, it is one predictive factor of success; schools want to know that you are capable of handling difficult coursework. Your science GPA, in particular, is usually calculated by combining course performance in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math disciplines—knowing that, we encourage you to pick wisely when it comes to which rigorous courses you choose to pursue and when. Though it is important to challenge yourself, do so by selecting classes that speak to your strengths and allow you to balance your work appropriately!

To read more about breadth, depth, and rigor—and to find resources and examples to help you—explore the information below.


Breadth in coursework typically refers to pursuing upper-level courses in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Programs are becoming increasingly interested in seeing that their applicants not only have a background in the natural sciences but other areas as well, a trend evidenced by the newest section of the MCAT entitled "Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior."

Examples of subject areas to explore are the Psychological Sciences, Statistics, Anthropology, and Sociology. Applicants might also consider pursuing language courses as a way to enhance their cultural competence. UConn offers a great range of social science courses that appeal to pre-health students, such as Illness and Curing (​ANTH 3202W​), Global Health and Human Rights (​ANTH 3326​), Sociology of Health (​SOCI 3451​), and Racial Disparities in Health (​SOCI 2250​).

Our office has compiled a list of health-related courses offered on campus. We encourage students to look through this list and consider what courses appeal to them. We also highly recommend that students explore the broader ​UConn Course Catalog​ to familiarize themselves with what is being offered outside of their major-related courses.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit at least one letter of recommendation from a non-science faculty to demonstrate their successful engagement with this range of coursework.


Depth in coursework typically refers to pursuing upper-level courses within your major or area of interest.

Applicants are expected to showcase a depth of study that is rich and focused on cultivating strong knowledge around one or a few subject areas.

For example, if one is interested in the area of genetics, they might begin by taking Human Genetics (MCB 2400) and continue on to take Gene Expression (MCB 3201) and Research Literature in Comparative Genomics (MCB 3843W).

In addition to traditional coursework, applicants should consider further depth of study by engaging in independent research through the university or elsewhere. Participating in research shows initiative and curiosity and has great potential to develop strong critical thinking and scientific inquiry skills.


Rigor in coursework typically refers to pursuing upper-level courses that necessitate a certain level of academic dedication.

Applicants are expected to demonstrate that they are capable of handling a demanding course load and rising to challenges.

Admissions committees want to see that applicants will be able to adjust to the rigor of their program's course load—as such, applicants are encouraged to explore and enroll in more 3000- and 4000-level classes the further they get in their undergraduate career. Participating in these classes can also help applicants develop a sense for what kind of health career they might be interested in pursuing.

Students on a pre-health track can also demonstrate breadth, depth, and rigor in other ways, including adding a second major or minor, gaining research experience in their major area and/or another discipline, and taking Honors- and/or graduate-level coursework. There are many different ways to cultivate these three aspects and showcase them through your academic record. If you would like to discuss your transcript and experiences with an advisor, you are welcome to make an appointment with our office.