BLOG: All Things Higher Ed

What are pre-professional programs?

Pre-professional programs are specialized undergraduate courses of study that provide students the skills, knowledge and experiences to gain graduate school admission to further their learning and excel in a particular profession. Pre-professional programs typically include a combination of coursework, internships, research opportunities and mentorship.

In this post, we explore what pre-professional programs are and how you can maximize your undergraduate experience to increase your chances of success in graduate school.

CMU offers pre-professional pathways focused on providing rich and diverse experiences that can set you apart as a graduate school candidate. 

Explore pre-professional pathways

Benefits of pre-professional programs

  • Gain a deeper understanding of your chosen profession and its requirements. Build a solid foundation to continue to grow throughout your undergraduate years and beyond.
  • Develop specialized skills and knowledge that will make you a strong candidate for graduate school. Professional graduate programs (medical schools, law schools, etc.) are quite competitive and always looking for the very best students.
  • Build a strong network of professionals and mentors in your field. These people will be the ones you’ll ask to write your recommendations for graduate school.
  • Access resources and opportunities tailored to your career goals. Extra-curricular, career-relevant activities will stand out on your graduate school application.

Examples of pre-professional programs

How to maximize your undergraduate experience for graduate school success

Choose the right pre-professional program

  • Research different pre-professional programs and choose one that aligns with your career goals and interests. Academic advisors at the high school and college level are great resources to consult about your professional aspirations and how to achieve them. 
  • Consider the program's curriculum, resources, and opportunities for hands-on learning. Those that offer practical, real-world experiences provide meaningful examples that can set you apart when applying to graduate school.
  • Talk to current students and alumni of the program to get their insights and advice. Their input may be more specific and relevant than that of recruiters, advisors or even faculty members.

Take relevant courses and utilize academic resources

  • Take courses that align with the requirements of your graduate degree program. Meet with your academic advisor regularly to ensure you are on track with your coursework and requirements for your pre-professional program.
  • Look for courses that provide a strong foundation in your chosen field and develop essential skills. Consider taking advanced or specialized courses to demonstrate your commitment and passion.
  • Take courses and participate in opportunities that will enhance your communication and leadership skills. Present on behalf of a group. Lead a project or initiative. In all fields, graduate schools—and employers—value skills that help people work better together. 
  • Seek out additional academic resources such as tutoring, study groups and academic workshops. We know graduate schools can be competitive. Less appreciated are the camaraderie and cooperation students within pre-professional programs share with each other.

Gain experience, grow your network, find mentors

  • Look for internships, research opportunities, or part-time jobs that are relevant to your pre-professional program. Volunteering can be a great opportunity to apply your skills and knowledge in real-world settings.
  • Network with professionals in your field and ask for opportunities to shadow or assist them. Attend career fairs, networking events, and professional conferences to connect with professionals in your field. 
  • Join student organizations or clubs related to your pre-professional program to meet like-minded peers and mentors. Take on leadership roles within these clubs or organizations to demonstrate your commitment and grow leadership skills.
  • Find mentors who can provide guidance and support throughout your undergraduate journey and beyond. You may seek mentors who can provide specialized advice and insights about specific aspects of your studies or profession. You can never have too many mentors!


Participating in a pre-professional program during your undergraduate years can greatly enhance your chances of success in graduate school and ultimately your chosen profession. By choosing the right program, taking advantage of academic resources, gaining practical experience, seeking mentorship, and developing strong communication and leadership skills, you can maximize your undergraduate experience and set yourself up for a successful future.

At Central Michigan University, we have a large number of pre-professional programs to help you begin your journey. CMU has eight pre-health pathways, including pre-physical therapy and pre-physician assistant. Central Michigan’s Pre-Law Center has gathered many resources for those interested in law school in one place. And for those interested in going on to a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, CMU’s College of Business Administration has seven distinct academic departments, including Business Information Systems, Economics, and Entrepreneurship.

Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Author: by University Communications | Categories: University Communications
The views and opinions expressed in these blog pages are strictly those of the page author.