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What Does a Plastic Surgeon Have to Major in in College?

by Natalie Smith, studioD

Plastic surgery is one of the most sought-after medical specialties in the United States. This is because plastic surgeons perform an important job: They restore damaged bodies after accidents and correct features ravaged by cancer or fix problem areas that do not look quite right. Students can become plastic surgeons by earning a bachelor's degree and then going on to medical school and finally, completing a post-graduate residency. A number of bachelor's degrees help to prepare students for the rigors of medical school and the plastic surgery residency.


A pre-medicine major is designed to help aspiring physicians, including aspiring plastic surgeons, meet the rigorous requirements and prerequisites of medical school. The coursework included in a pre-medicine major includes courses in biology, chemistry, physics, general sciences, mathematics, and a number of other quantitative-based subjects. These courses are designed to prepare students for the MCAT, which is a standardized test that most medical schools require. In addition, these courses provide a solid foundation for the medical school coursework to build upon.


A number of students who wish to become physicians, including those who wish to become plastic surgeons, major in biology. Biology courses are usually a prerequisite for medical school. As a result, a major in biology will prepare students for entrance into medical school. Biology and the human physiology concepts learned as part of their undergraduate major also provide the basis for many of the courses the students will take while in medical school as well as in their plastic surgery residency.


Chemistry is another commonly chosen major for students who wish to become physicians as well as for students who wish to become plastic surgeons. Many medical schools require that undergraduates have two years of college chemistry before they can be admitted. A major in chemistry provides students with these required courses along with a solid understanding of chemistry, which is useful both in medical school and in their plastic surgery residency.

Health Sciences

Some aspiring plastic surgeons select majors in interdisciplinary health science degree programs. These programs have various labels, but their main intent is to provide the student with a broad background in the sciences as well as in other concepts that are important to health professionals, such as ethics, writing, communications, social sciences and cultural diversity. Because these programs can vary according to their content, students should speak with an adviser about their desire to attend medical school and to become a plastic surgeon before they commit to the program.

About the Author

Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.

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