What Are the Academic Requirements for Becoming a Pediatrician?

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    High School Diploma

    • As the prerequisite for any college degree, the high school diploma is the first educational milestone for any aspiring pediatrician. Though a basic high school curriculum will suffice, ambitious students can take Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses to try and earn college credit while they are in high school. An advanced curriculum will improve a student's chances of being admitted to his top college choice, and coming in with college credit can cut down on the time he spends at the undergraduate level.

    Bachelor's Degree

    • After high school graduation, hopeful pediatricians advance to college to work toward their bachelor's degree. Though medical schools do not require students to choose a particular major, students should choose courses that focus on a number of areas. For example, while Harvard Medical School does not require its applicants to choose a specific major, they do need to take one year of biology, physics and math as well as two years of chemistry. A science-focused undergraduate curriculum supported by writing and liberal arts courses prepares a student for medical school.

    Medical Degree

    • Earning the M.D. is the last stage of becoming a pediatrician. This four-year program begins with an introduction to basic medicine before students will transition into their pediatric focus. For example, at Dartmouth Medical School, pediatric students take basic science courses in their first year followed by courses in pediatric health and development in their second year. The third year focuses on a pediatric clerkship, where students rotate through different teaching sites. During their fourth and final year, pediatric medical students take internships and electives specific to the pediatric field.


    • Though medical school is a four-year program, students' education continues after they earn their M.D. Pediatricians work through a three-year residency program to gain hands-on, real-world experience in the field. Students move through several one- to three-month rotations that focus on a specific area in pediatrics each year. For example, first-year residents at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine can choose from rotations like newborn nursery and adolescent medicine. Second- and third-year residents can study community pediatrics, cardiology and school health and child advocacy.

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