Pre-Professional Pathways header

Pre-Professional Pathways

Gardner-Webb University is proud to offer several pre-professional pathways to prepare undergraduate students for advanced education in a range of fields. Students who wish to major in biology, chemistry, communication studies, English, exercise science, political science, and more will be able to choose from a range of professional concentrations which best align with their career goals.

If you have questions or need additional assistance, please click on the Advisors link below to connect with a faculty member who can help you.

Dentistry

Career Path Overview

Ten Great Reasons to be a Dentist

  1. Service to Others: Help people maintain and improve their oral health, quality of life, and appearance;
  2. Balanced Lifestyle: Dentistry offers flexibility to balance professional and personal life;
  3. Empower Your Patients: Give patients smiles they are proud to wear;
  4. Technology and Research: Be involved with the scientific advancement of dentristy;
  5. Be a Leader: Earn respect from your family, friends, and community;
  6. Prevention/Education: Be an educator on the importance of oral health;
  7. Detect Disease: Treat oral health and detect disease - including cancer and cardiovascular;
  8. Be Creative: Use your artistic and scientific talents;
  9. Success Potential: With the aging population and increase in access to care, the demand and need for dentistry is on the rise;
  10. Self-Employment: Own a dental practice and be your own boss.

What's unique about dentistry

  • One of the ten most trusted and ethical professions in the U.S.
  • Flexibility to balance a professional and personal life.
  • Opportunity to be your own boss and own a dental practice.
  • Personally rewarding profession.
  • Combines art and science.

What does a dentist do?

  • Diagnose and treat diseases, injuries and malformations of the teeth and mouth;
  • Improve a patient’s appearance;
  • Perform surgical procedures such as implants, tissue grafts and extractions;
  • Educate patients on how to better care for their teeth and prevent oral disease;
  • Teach future dentists and dental hygienists;
  • Perform research directed to improving oral health and developing new treatment methods;

What career options are available in dentistry?

  • Over 80% are general practitioners, while about 20% are dental specialists who limit their practices to one of the nine recognized dental specialty areas.
  • Teaching, dental research and dental industry comprise additional rewarding career options for both general practitioners and dental specialists.
  • Dentists also work in public health agencies, hospitals, the military and other settings.

For more information, visit the American Dental Association's website.

Prerequisite Courses*

  • BIOL 111: General Biology
  • BIOL 203: Anatomy and Physiology I
  • BIOL 204: Anatomy and Physiology II
  • BIOL 422: Biochemistry
  • CHEM 111: General Chemistry I
  • CHEM 112: General Chemistry II
  • CHEM 201: Organic Chemistry I
  • CHEM 202: Organic Chemistry II
  • PHYS 203: General Physics I (or PHYS 111)
  • PHYS 204: General Physics II (or PHYS 112)

View the Biology major and Exercise Science Pre-professional concentration four-year plan if interested in Dental School.

* Professional program requirements vary widely, especially with regard to advanced biology courses and English requirements. Be sure to check all programs you are considering applying to early during your undergraduate studies for specific prerequisites needed to apply to that school’s program.

Admissions Information

Review the ADA pages regarding Dental School admissions guidelines.  Requirements vary between Dental Schools, so be sure to check the specific requirements of the schools to which you plan to apply.

Complete the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) at least one year prior to applying to Dental School.

Admissions committees review credentials such as academic qualifications, the results from the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), grade point average (GPA), letters of recommendation, personal interviews and dental office shadowing experiences.

Register for an ADEA Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (ADEA AADSAS®) account and submit an application. “ADEA AADSAS collects, verifies, and processes or delivers your application information to each of the schools you have chosen to apply to. It is important to note that ADEA AADSAS does not make admissions decisions; it is the responsibility of each individual school to make its own admissions decisions. The ADEA AADSAS opens around the first of the month in June. Individuals should check with each school they are interested in to find out the deadline date for the application. Deadline dates vary by school.”

Submit additional materials requested by specific Dental Schools in the secondary application, and participate in interviews if invited.

Student Success Stories

Dr. Ashley Lowery, B.S. Biology '07; DDS, University of North Carolina School of Dentistry '11
Employed at Rutherford County Family and Children's Dentistry, Spindale, N.C.

Photo of Ashley LoweryThe department was more to me than just classes and studying. The faculty, staff, and my fellow students always went beyond normal expectations. Ultimately, the department provided me with friends and mentors that, through encouragement and educating, gave me confidence that I could enter the job market or dental school at a competitive level.


Dr. Jennifer Titus, B.S. Biology '06; DDS University of Maryland School of Dentistry, '11

The faculty in the Natural Sciences department were very helpful and encouraging when it came to helping me meet the requirements for dental school, concerning what classes to take and then with the application process. Anything that I needed for applying to school they were willing to help me with, especially sending out letters on my behalf. All the courses I enrolled in were challenging and prepared me well for the course load I would expect in dental school.

Law

The Pre-Law Pathways are designed to be flexible and personalized courses of study that prepare students for the rigorous demands of law school through a combination of mentorship, coursework, and extracurricular activities. At Gardner-Webb, we recognize that a well-rounded liberal arts education is the best preparation for careers in the legal profession and for law school. Law schools do not require a specific major but do emphasize that successful applicants should have well-developed skills in critical thinking, research, textual analysis, and written and oral communication.

The Gardner-Webb Experience

Preparation for law school begins as soon as the freshman year. Students considering law school should meet with the pre-law mentor in order to learn about pathway, how it fits with many majors, elective course offerings, and extracurricular activities. Upon declaring a major, faculty advisers will mentor students to discover the courses within and outside their major that will build and reinforce the skills that are crucial to success in applying for and also thriving at law school. In the sophomore year, students will meet with their faculty advisers and the pre-law faculty mentor to discuss a study schedule for the LSAT. In the junior year, students will be encouraged to consider potential law schools tailored to their interests and schedule their LSAT exam. In the senior year, students will prepare materials for law school applications with the assistance of their faculty advisor, the pre-law mentor, and other qualified faculty members.

Relevant Majors for Pre-Law Students

Many majors can provide pre-law students with a well-rounded liberal arts education that emphasizes essential law school skills such as critical thinking, research, textual analysis, and written and oral communication. Pre-law students may choose one of the following majors for their academic studies and are strongly encouraged to take the specified courses within their major.

Chemistry

  • CHEM 310 - Environmental Chemistry: Environmental Chemistry applies the fundamental principles of chemistry and chemical thermodynamics to understand the chemical processes in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. Pre-requisite is CHEM 112.
  • CHEM 380 - Forensic Chemistry: Study of chemical microscopy as applied to forensic science focusing on the correct use of the polarized light microscope, identification of unknowns through a number of microscopic techniques, techniques for preparing samples for microscopic examination, and the fundamental chemical principles applied to each. Additionally, traditional techniques for crime scene analysis will be covered including fingerprint analysis, ballistics comparison, and crime scene investigation. Pre-requisite is CHEM 112.

English

  • ENGL 270 - Rhetoric: Development of skill in rhetoric, the ancient art or discipline that deals with the use of discourse to inform or persuade or motivate an audience. Prerequisite: ENGL 102.

History

  • HIST 314 - Making America: This course explores the origins of colonial, state, and national constitutional texts with an emphasis on interpreting these documents in their historical contexts as political and social instruments of their time.
  • HIST 401 - The Long Civil Rights Movement: This course examines in detail the social and political contexts of civil rights laws in the twentieth century. Topics include: Jim Crow regulations, de jure & de facto segregation, social and economic protest, the origin of constitutional interpretations in racial conflicts, the effects of the mid-twentieth century civil rights acts, and the political debates surrounding housing, schooling, policing, and workers' rights.

Philosophy

  • PHIL 200 - Introduction to Philosophy: An introduction to the major types of philosophy (schools and movements) and the principal problems and questions of human existence.
  • PHIL 201 - An Introduction to Logic: An introduction to classical and contemporary logic, emphasizing argumentation and reasoning. Attention to language and its relation to philosophical problems. Examination of the formal laws of valid thought and fallacies found in ordinary discourse.
  • PHIL 338 - Epistemology: Survey in the traditional problems in epistemology, including the nature of human knowledge, the relations between knowledge and true belief, and the nature of rationality and justi cation. Also includes a section on the rationality of religious belief. Prerequisite: PHIL 200 or permission of the instructor.

Political Science

  • POLS 320 - Constitutional Law I: Structures and Institutions: This course provides an introduction to the case law and principles that animate the structure and institutions of the Constitution. Students will learn to employ legal terms, practice textual analysis and interpretation, and develop legal reasoning skills.
  • POLS 315 - Constitutional Law II: Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment: This course provides an introduction to the case law and principles that animate the civil liberties protected by the Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment. Students will learn to employ legal terms, practice textual analysis and interpretation, and develop legal reasoning skills.

Electives for Pre-Law Students

In addition to a major, pre-law students can expand and supplement their skill set through elective courses. Electives are courses taken from disciplines outside of a student’s major and minor. The following courses should be considered by pre-law students eager to build an individualized course of study.

  • CHEM 310: Environmental Chemistry (Pre-requisite is CHEM 112.)
  • CHEM 380: Forensic Chemistry (Pre-requisite is CHEM 112.)
  • CJAD 210: Criminal Law
  • CJAD 230: Criminal Justice Procedures- Law and Practice
  • COMM 310: Media Writing
  • COMM 380: Communication Theory
  • COMM 480: Media Law & Ethics
  • ENGL 270: Rhetoric
  • HIST 200: Introduction to Historical Study
  • HIST 314: Making America
  • HIST 402: The Long Civil Rights Movement
  • PHIL 200: Introduction to Philosophy
  • PHIL 201: Introduction to Logic
  • PHIL 388: Epistemology
  • POLS 320: Constitutional Law I: Structures and Institutions
  • POLS 315: Constitutional Law II: Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment

Extracurricular Activities

As important as success in the classroom is to pursuing a legal career, pre-law students should seek opportunities outside the classroom to grow their leadership, public-speaking, and presentation skills. Law schools look for applicants who are multifaceted and dynamic individuals and extracurricular activities are a way for pre-law students to demonstrate their individuality.

Pre-law students should participate in the Pre-Law Society and other campus organizations such as:

  • Pre-Law Society: The Pre-Law Society aims to prepare students for law school. Students will meet members of the legal profession, explore different areas of law, attend law school fairs, participate in mock trials, take practice LSAT exams, learn leadership skills, practice interview skills, and find LSAT study partners.
  • Alpha Chi: Alpha Chi is a coeducational academic honor society that promotes academic excellence and exemplary character among college and university students and honors those who achieve such distinction. Membership is open to students with junior and senior classification who demonstrate strong character and whose GPA ranks them in the top 10 percent of their academic classes.
  • Model United Nations: Model United Nations is an authentic simulation of the UN General Assembly, UN Security Council, or other multilateral body, which introduces students to the world of diplomacy, negotiation, and decision making.
  • Student Government Association: SGA is a great way to lead and serve by representing the student body on issues that pertain directly to the academic and campus experience. SGA is comprised of a student senate including executive officers and officers from each of the four student classes elected each year by the student body. Whether it’s planning homecoming festivities or advocating for change on behalf of students, SGA strives to improve the Gardner-Webb experience.

In addition, pre-law students should aim to participate in conferences such as Life of the Scholar and to apply for the Summer Scholar Program.

  • Life of the Scholar Multidisciplinary Conference: The annual conference showcases a range of stellar original research conducted by GWU students across a variety of disciplines.
  • Summer Scholar Program: The Gardner-Webb University Undergraduate Research Scholars program sponsors successful student applicants to focus on an original project. As part of their research project, each scholar spends five weeks of a summer term on campus working on his/her topic for 40 hours a week. At the same time, students are mentored by a dedicated faculty member, who provides information and guidance to ensure a successful research experience for the scholar.

Student Success Stories

Meet Gardner-Webb students who have successfully pursued careers in law!

Lt. Elizabeth K. Kiessling, History '07; J.D., M.A. '10

Photo of Lt. Elizabeth KiesslingAfter graduating with her bachelor’s degree in history and minor in English from Gardner-Webb University, Elizabeth K. Kiessling (’07) headed to law school in Sacramento, Calif. Her goal—which she reached in the fall of 2010—was to be commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps.

Her GWU professors prepared her to excel in law school and in service to the Navy. “It was important to me to be able to effectively research, analyze, write, and communicate on a variety of topics in a variety of situations,” she assessed. “My studies accomplished this, in addition to challenging me on a daily basis to think about things in new ways.”


Larissa Bixler Stein, English '03; University of North Carolina School of Law '06

Photo of Larissa SteinLarissa is an attorney with Garrity & Gossage, LLP in Matthews, NC, focusing her practice on estate planning and elder law. Of her education at Gardner-Webb University, she says that she is "convinced that the solid, analytical reading and writing proficiency I developed [here] as an English major was crucial to helping me get accepted into a top-tier law school, perform well in my classes, and be an effective advocate for my clients."


Medicine

Career Path Overview

Doctor of Medicine (MD) / Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)

Should I become a doctor?

Think about what kind of future appeals to you. Do you like challenges? Are you interested in science and how the body works? Do you care deeply about other people, their problems, and their pain? Are you a good listener? Do you enjoy learning? Are you intrigued by the ways medicine can be used to improve life?

If you answered “Yes” to most of these questions, chances are you have the right personality for a career in medicine. Talk to a career counselor or pre-health advisor to learn more and help determine if this is the right choice for you.

What is a doctor’s job like?

Physicians diagnose and care for people of all ages who are ill or have been injured. They take medical histories, perform physical examinations, conduct diagnostic tests, recommend and provide treatment, and advise patients on their overall health and well-being. While there are several different types of physicians, they can usually be divided into three broad categories:

Primary care physicians are the doctors patients usually visit most frequently. They treat a wide range of illnesses and regularly provide preventive care, and they also enjoy long-term relationships with their patients. Pediatricians, family practitioners and general internists are primary care physicians.

Surgeons perform operations to treat diseases and repair injuries.

Specialists have expertise related to specific diseases as well as body parts, organs, and systems. Cardiologists, oncologists, neurologists, and ophthalmologists are examples of specialists. The AAMC’s Careers in Medicine website contains information about various specialties in medicine.

Prerequisite Courses1

  • BIOL 111: General Biology2
  • BIOL 422: Biochemistry2
  • CHEM 111: General Chemistry I2
  • CHEM 112: General Chemistry II2
  • CHEM 201: Organic Chemistry I2
  • CHEM 202: Organic Chemistry II2
  • PHYS 203: General Physics I (or PHYS 111)2
  • PHYS 204: General Physics II (or PHYS 112)2
  • MATH 105: Statistics2
  • MATH 151: Calculus
  • ENGL 101: Composition I
  • ENGL 102: Composition II
  • COMM 233: Public Speaking
  • PSYC 201: General Psychology2
  • SOCI 201: Introduction to Sociology2

View the Biology major, Chemistry major Pre-Health concentration, and Exercise Science Pre-professional concentration four-year plan if interested in Medical School.

1 Professional program requirements vary widely. Be sure to check all programs you are considering applying to early during your undergraduate studies for specific prerequisites needed to apply to that school’s program.

2 These courses should be taken before you take the MCAT.

Admissions Information

Review information at aamc.org to learn how best to prepare for medical school, about preparing for and taking the MCAT, and about the medical school application process. 

Complete the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) during the calendar year prior to the year you plan to enter medical school.

Register for an American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®) account and submit a primary application (including transcripts, recommendation letters, MCAT® scores, and essays). 

Submit additional materials requested by specific medical schools in the secondary application, and complete in-person interviews.

Student Success Stories

Photo of Dr. Taylor Ferrier

Dr. Taylor Ferrier, Chemistry '08; University of Ottawa, M.D.

In the remote northern reaches of Canada’s Ontario province, miles from the nearest service roads, Gardner-Webb University alumnus Dr. Taylor Ferrier has provided medical care. The residents in communities such as Moose Factory, Attawapiskat and Polar Bear Provincial Park are closer to the brilliant light shows of the aurora borealis than the comforts of a modern medical facility. But Ferrier has flown in to meet their health needs with the skills he has developed in his own life journey.

Ferrier felt incredible support from mentors in his science programs and across the entire campus. “Gardner-Webb’s greatest asset is that it is replete with a group of professors and staff who are invested in their students, want to see them excel and go to great lengths to see it happen,” Ferrier shares. “A program, course or even project is only as successful as the student and professor who mutually embark upon success together. What made my particular Gardner-Webb experience successful were the professors in the science department who fostered my eagerness, demonstrated willingness and supported a platform for my interests and career goals. It was not the lessons taught in the classrooms, albeit important, but the discussions that flowed from them.”


Photo of Danielle Marshall

Danielle Marshall, Exercise Science '12; The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) '17

Danielle Marshall chose to practice medicine, because she wanted a career dedicated to serving people. "Being a doctor is the most supreme opportunity to show compassion," she stressed.

The 2012 Gardner-Webb University graduate reached her goals with the help of her professors in the Department of Exercise Science (formerly health and wellness) and the Department of Natural Sciences. She graduates soon from The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) in Blacksburg, Va., and will begin her residency at the University of Pittsburgh (Pa.) Medical Center Susquehanna Family Medicine Residency Program in Williamsport, Pa.

"The classes I took as prerequisites for medical school were very important for the building blocks of my medical education," she affirmed. "Not only were they important for my entrance exams into medical school, but anatomy, physiology, and microbiology are continued themes. The health and wellness curriculum additionally provided classes in nutrition, exercise physiology, and program planning, which are useful on a more practical level for patient care."


Photo of Tyler Beckler

Tyler Beckler, Biology '13; M.D. UNC Medical School '17

Tyler Beckler, a native of Hickory, N.C., described himself as an idealistic 18-year-old when he arrived on campus at Gardner-Webb University. “I wanted to make people’s lives better—to change the world—but I had no idea how to do that,” he recalled.

Before the end of the first semester, though, his future started to take shape. “I was placed into ‘Anatomy and Physiology 1’ with Dr. (Tim) Zehnder, and I fell in love with the study of the human body. I just found it fascinating,” he reflected. “I felt God was opening my eyes to how he wanted to use me to make a difference in the world, through medicine. This led me down the path of preparing for medical school. However, I also recognized that people have spiritual hurt and pain just as they have physical hurt and pain. I wanted to be able to address spiritual hurt, so I decided to pursue a major in religious studies to have a better foundation of knowledge going forward with my career.”

His GWU professors prepared him for the challenges of medical school by teaching him to be a critical thinker. “The professors poured their time and energy into our education,” he offered. “They want to teach and interact with students. They didn’t just teach me information for a test, they invested in my life and my personal development. My classes taught me how to be a self-motivated learner and how to be inquisitive. Eventually in life the tests stop and grades don’t matter anymore, but we still have to have the motivation to learn and grow. At Gardner-Webb, I was given the space to be inquisitive and encouraged to explore areas of interest. I was learning to love learning.”

A fourth-year medical student at UNC Chapel Hill, Beckler’s goal is to become an emergency medicine physician and work in a hospital, but also participate in medical mission trips in other countries. “I hope to be able to mold my career where I can spend part of my time working in the U.S. and part of my time working abroad,” he specified. “As Christians, I feel that it is our calling to go to hurting people, wherever they may be, and show them there is hope.”

Photo courtesy of Jon Gardiner / UNC Chapel Hill University Photographer

Occupational Therapy

Career Path Overview

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) / Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (DOT)

"Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability.

Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing support for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.

Occupational therapy services typically include:

  • an individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals;
  • customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals; and
  • an outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan.

Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment and/or task to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team. It is an evidence-based practice deeply rooted in science."

Click here to learn more about occupational therapy.

Prerequisite Courses*

  • BIOL 111: General Biology
  • BIOL 203: Anatomy and Physiology I
  • BIOL 204: Anatomy and Physiology II
  • BIOL 222: Medical Terminology
  • CHEM 111: General Chemistry
  • EXSI 335: Kinesiology or EXSI 347: Sport and Exercise Physiology
  • MATH 105: Statistics
  • MATH 151: Calculus
  • PHYS 203: General Physics I
  • PHYS 204: General Physics II
  • PSCH 201: General Psychology
  • PSYC 206: Developmental Psychology
  • RELI 341: Christian Ethics

View the Biology major and Exercise Science pre-professional concentration four-year plan if interested in Occupational Therapy.

* Professional program requirements vary widely. Be sure to check all programs you are considering applying to early during your undergraduate studies for specific prerequisites needed to apply to that school’s program.

Admissions Information

Review the AOTA program pages for important accredited Master’s-Level and Doctoral-Level program-specific formats and admissions criteria.

Complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE®) at least a semester prior to program deadline.

Submit official transcripts from every college/university attended as required by the OT program. It is important to apply early! Many OT programs have multiple deadline dates (i.e., preferred, priority, or early decision) or operate on a rolling admissions process.

Student Success Stories

Charity Byrum, EXSI '15

Photo of Charity ByrumI am a member of Gardner-Webb’s graduating class of 2015. I was a student-athlete in swimming and earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science. I am currently working toward a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy at Lenoir-Rhyne University and will graduate in August 2017. This journey has been challenging but incredibly rewarding and I cannot wait to discover all that God has for me in my future career as an occupational therapist.

I chose to be a bulldog because of the incredible team and community I encountered on my swimming recruiting trip. I wanted to be in a place that would foster my walk with Christ, my athletic abilities, and provide the best educational opportunities and I found just that at Gardner-Webb. 

During my time at Gardner-Webb I discovered that the Lord was calling me to a career in occupational therapy, which is how I discovered the Pre-Professional Track of Exercise Science. The major was brand new when I declared and it was exciting to experience the growth of a new program! Throughout my academic career at Gardner-Webb, I was encouraged to make my education my own by digging deeper into my studies. I was given the privilege to pursue incredible internships, research opportunities, and practicum courses. Through membership with our chapter of the Alpha Chi National Scholarship Honor Society, I was given the opportunity to present my work on a national stage. 

The best thing that Gardner-Webb offered me was relationships with incredible people who challenged me along the way. I cultivated friendships that drove me to seek a deeper relationship with Jesus; coaches who cared as much about who I was as a person as they did my performance in the pool; and professors who took the time to individualize my educational experiences to push me to my full potential. The mentorship and opportunities that I was offered created a foundation for my graduate studies and future career as an occupational therapist that I would not have received anywhere else.


Lauren Dunn Smith, EXSI '16

Photo of Lauren DunnI am in my second semester in the Master of Science Occupational Therapy program at Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia, a nine-semester program that examines pediatrics through older adults as well as placing a heavy emphasis on research. 

GWU has helped me in so many ways. The course load I had in the Exercise Science Pre-Professional Concentration provided a great foundation of knowledge that I use in graduate school. The seminar class at GWU allowed me to understand the process of undergoing research. The Exercise Science faculty were excellent mentors that helped me when I conducted research regarding Fitbits and Apple watches. I am also very thankful for having Kinesiology, as it gave me an advantage over my peers in the OT program. What really helped me prepare for graduate school interviews were the mock interviews and the professional image dinner required of all Exercise Science majors. I learned a lot about etiquette and how to communicate my best assets. Overall, the curriculum and experiences I had at GWU helped me feel prepared for graduate school and I am very grateful to be an alumna.


Pharmacy

Career Path Overview

“What do pharmacists do? Pharmacists are essential healthcare professionals who enhance patient care and promote wellness. While responsibilities vary among the different areas of pharmacy practice, the bottom line is that pharmacists help patients get well. Pharmacists also:

  • Play an important role in helping people get the best results from their medications.
  • Help outcomes improve and costs decline when involved in patient care.
  • Are accessible, and are someone people can talk to face-to-face without an appointment.
  • Communicate effectively to evaluate factors that may affect a patient’s ability to take a medication.
  • Are the medication specialists on the healthcare team.
  • Work in a wide range of healthcare settings and have flexible hours.
  • Are trained in colleges of pharmacy, which are centers of academic excellence, scientific research and innovation.
  • Help people live healthier, better lives.

A pharmacist's professional commitment is to provide pharmaceutical care to their patients. The principal goal of pharmaceutical care is to achieve positive outcomes from the use of medication, which improves patients' quality of life with minimum risk. In providing pharmaceutical care, pharmacists strive to:

  • Cure disease;
  • Eliminate or reduce symptoms;
  • Arrest or slow a disease process;
  • Prevent disease;
  • Diagnose disease; and
  • Alter physiological processes for desirable result in the patient's health.”

Click here to learn more about the role of a pharmacist.

Prerequisite Courses*

  • BIOL 111: General Biology
  • BIOL 203: Anatomy and Physiology I
  • BIOL 204: Anatomy and Physiology II
  • BIOL 105: Microbiology for the Health Sciences (or BIOL 206)
  • CHEM 111: General Chemistry I
  • CHEM 112: General Chemistry II
  • CHEM 201: Organic Chemistry I
  • CHEM 202: Organic Chemistry II
  • PHYS 203: General Physics I (or PHYS 111)
  • PHYS 204: General Physics II (or PHYS 112)
  • MATH 151: Calculus
  • MATH 105: Statistics
  • ECON 203: Principles of Economics I
  • COMM 233: Public Speaking
  • ENGL 101: Composition I
  • ENGL 102: Composition II

Additional 6 hours of Humanities courses, 6 hours of Social Science courses, 12 hours of advanced Biology/Chemistry electives

View the Biology major or Chemistry major (Pre-Health Concentration) four-year plans if interested in Pharmacy School.

* Professional program requirements vary widely, especially with regard to advanced Biology courses and English requirements. Be sure to check all programs you are considering applying to early during your undergraduate studies for specific prerequisites needed to apply to that school’s program.

Admissions Information

Review these pages regarding Pharmacy School admissions guidelines. Requirements vary between Pharmacy Schools, so be sure to check the specific requirements of the schools to which you plan to apply.

Complete the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) by the November before the year in which you are seeking admission to Pharmacy School.

Register for a Pharmacy College Application Service account and submit the primary application. Official college transcripts are included in this application.

Submit additional materials requested by specific Pharmacy Schools in the secondary application, and participate in interviews if invited.

Student Success Stories

Dr. Evan Drake, B.S. Chemistry '12; Pharm. D., Wingate University '16
In residence with Walgreens, Asheville, N.C.

Photo of Dr. Evan DrakeEvan Drake ’12 of Asheville, N.C., came to Gardner-Webb University for an opportunity to play volleyball and to study chemistry and math in preparation for pharmacy school. However, through the University’s close-knit atmosphere and small class sizes, her professors gave her something more valuable than the ability to solve equations or understand physiological processes.

“The Department of Natural Sciences at GWU challenged me to learn and perform as a graduate-level student, all the while mentoring me on how to study effectively, manage my time, and still care for my well-being,” Drake observed. “Thanks to them, I already knew the reality of having to study at night or on the weekends, how to utilize resources, and how to engage with my new faculty to enhance my learning opportunities.”

She obtained her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Wingate (N.C.) University School of Pharmacy in 2016 and is completing a post-graduate year 1 community pharmacy residency with the University of North Carolina and Walgreens. Reflecting on why she wanted to be a pharmacist, Drake explained, “I was interested in medicine and people, but more than that, I wanted to be part of a profession where I can help people have a better quality of life. The field of pharmacy has a plethora of paths one can take, but they all lead to this one goal, and that’s what I love about it.”


Dr. Walter Wong, B.S. Biology '06; Pharm.D. Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy, '11
Employed at Green Valley Pharmacy, Yucaipa, CA

Photo of Walter WongWalter Wong ’06 came to Gardner-Webb University with a goal to become an anesthesiologist. While studying biology and chemistry, he researched more about the lifestyle, the time, and the financial investment to be in anesthesiology. “I made an educated decision of pursuing a career as a pharmacist instead,” Wong stated. “It is a rewarding career. I can directly improve patients’ outcomes and still manage to have a family life."

When he entered Loma Linda (Calif.) University School of Pharmacy, he discovered GWU’s supportive faculty had prepared him with a solid foundation. He valued the small class sizes and the chance to conduct research one-on-one with a faculty member in the Department of Natural Sciences. He earned his Pharm.D. in 2010 and is the pharmacist in charge and owner of Green Valley Pharmacy in Yucaipa, Calif. “The most important thing I learned during my time at GWU is ‘to learn to love learning,’ Wong reflected.


Physical Therapy

Career Path Overview

Doctorate of Physical Therapy

"Physical therapists (PTs) are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility—in many cases without expensive surgery and often reducing the need for long-term use of prescription medications and their side effects.

Physical therapists can teach patients how to prevent or manage their condition so that they will achieve long-term health benefits. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. PTs also work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

Physical therapists provide care for people in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and nursing homes. State licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices."

Click here to learn more about physical therapists.

Prerequisite Courses*

  • BIOL 111: General Biology
  • BIOL XXX: Specialized Biology
  • BIOL 203: Anatomy and Physiology I
  • BIOL 204: Anatomy and Physiology II
  • BIOL 222: Medical Terminology
  • CHEM 111: General Chemistry
  • CHEM 112: General Chemistry II
  • EXSI 335: Kinesiology or EXSI 347: Sport and Exercise Physiology
  • MATH 105: Statistics
  • MATH 151: Calculus
  • PHYS 203: General Physics I
  • PHYS 204: General Physics II
  • PSCH 201: General Psychology
  • PSYC 206: Developmental Psychology
  • SOCI 201: Introduction to Sociology
  • RELI 341: Christian Ethics

View the Biology major and Exercise Science Pre-professional concentration four-year plan if interested in Physical Therapy.

* Professional program requirements vary widely. Be sure to check all programs you are considering applying to early during your undergraduate studies for specific prerequisites needed to apply to that school’s program.

Admissions Information

Review the PTCAS program pages for important program-specific admission requirements and descriptions. Review the PTCAS checklist for an overview of the application process.

Obtain the required references, prerequisite courses and observation hours for your designated programs.

Complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE®) at least a semester prior to program deadline.

Submit official transcripts from every college/university attended as required by the DPT program. APPLY EARLY! Many PT programs have multiple deadline dates (i.e., preferred, priority, or early decision) or operate on a rolling admissions process.

Student Success Stories

Bonnie Baczewski, EXSI '13

Photo of Bonnie BaczewskiGraduated from the University of St. Augustine with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Accepted her first job as a travel therapist in California.

My time at Gardner-Webb really helped prepare me for my future as a PT. While trying to graduate early, I was forced to take on a very rigorous course load each semester. This quickly forced me to pick up good time management skills, as well as good study habits. I can recall countless times in graduate school where I felt at an advantage to other students in the program because of my studies at Gardner-Webb. The close student to teacher ratio ensured that I really learned the content, which was especially beneficial in my prerequisite courses for PT school. My professors at GWU were so invested in truly helping students learn, which I soon found to be beneficial for my graduate studies, especially with courses such as anatomy and kinesiology. 


 

AJ Francioni, EXSI '16

Photo of AJ FrancioniStudent in UNC-Chapel Hill's Doctorate of Physical Therapy program

Looking back at my time at Gardner-Webb, I am very impressed by the curriculum and professors that tailored my education to prepare me so well for graduate school. Motor Behavior has been a class that offered me great insight to my Development Through the Stages course. The structure of the Lab Practical in anatomy and physiology courses at GWU definitely prepared me for the set-up in my Gross Anatomy course as well, and all of the research papers and assignments throughout my college education prepared me for the expectations of correctly citing sources and using peer-reviewed articles at the graduate level. I appreciate that Gardner-Webb prepared me for group projects, class discussions, and presentations because, in graduate school, testing a student's knowledge comes from more than just mid-terms and finals. I have found value in every class from my undergraduate studies because learning is always just building on what you know. My physics classes helped me in Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology helps in my Exercise Prescriptions class now. I am very thankful for the dedicated professors and staff at Gardner-Webb, because without them my success in graduate school would not be possible. 


 

Photo of Mary O'DohertyMary O’Doherty, EXSI '15
Student in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at East Carolina University

When Mary O’Doherty graduated with her exercise science degree from Gardner-Webb University in 2015, she had nine days to transition to graduate school. She was excited to begin the next part of her educational journey. “Gardner Webb helped me get there by giving me a supportive environment of professors, coaches and peers who helped me prepare academically and personally to be accepted into physical therapy school and handle the stresses of school once I was accepted,” assessed O’Doherty, a native of Charlotte, N.C. “My professors, Dr. Jeff Hartman specifically, worked with me before I was even in the exercise science program to help me plan out my college courses to put me in the best possible position to apply for physical therapy school on time.”

The anatomy and physiology courses she took at Gardner-Webb prepared her for the more extensive anatomy courses in the physical therapy doctoral program at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. She also gained practical experience by studying in the GWU exercise physiology lab, competing on the GWU Swim Team and serving as founder and president of the Exercise Science Club.

“I had a wonderful understanding of human anatomy and physiology, exercise physiology, kinesiology, clinical relevance regarding exercise prescription and testing, and many interpersonal skills that cannot be learned from a book,” reflected O’Doherty. “The seminar class I took as a part of my exercise science major required that we went to the mock interviews held annually by Gardner-Webb. These turned out to be one of the most helpful experiences, because they prepared me for my physical therapy school interview, which is the most important part of the application process.”


Physician Assistant

Career Path Overview

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)

"A PA is a nationally-certified and state-licensed medical professional. PAs practice medicine on healthcare teams with physicians and other providers.

They practice and prescribe medication in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the majority of the U.S. territories and the uniformed services." 

The Gardner-Webb University Physician Assistant Studies Program prepares graduates with the competencies needed for entry into clinical PA practice. Gardner-Webb hopes to attract students focused on providing medical service in underserved communities. The PA Program is a practice-oriented master’s degree program designed to accommodate students with a bachelor’s degree, diverse educational backgrounds, and an aptitude for patient care. Students will spend 16 months in didactic (classroom, small groups, and lab) followed by 12 months of clinical rotations. Our didactic curriculum will use a traditional classroom setting augmented with problem- and team-based learning modules and hands-on skills training. This will be followed by nine clinical rotations (experiential education). Rotation sites include family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, women's health, emergency medicine, general surgery, mental health, and one elective. In addition, students will rotate through an underserved community.

Prerequisite Courses*

  • BIOL 111: General Biology
  • BIOL 203: Anatomy and Physiology I
  • BIOL 204: Anatomy and Physiology II
  • BIOL 206: General Microbiology
  • BIOL 222: Medical Terminology
  • BIOL 301: Genetics
  • CHEM 111: General Chemistry I
  • CHEM 112: General Chemistry II
  • CHEM 201: Organic Chemistry
  • MATH 105: Statistics
  • PSCH 201: General Psychology
  • RELI 341: Christian Ethics

View the Biology major and Exercise Science Health Sciences concentration four-year plan if interested in Physician Assistant Studies.

* Professional program requirements vary widely. Be sure to check all programs you are considering applying to early during your undergraduate studies for specific prerequisites needed to apply to that school’s program.

Admissions Information

Students should review the program-specific application requirements.

The vast majority of accredited PA Studies programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree and complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE®) at least a semester prior to the program deadline. A few PA Studies programs accept applicants after the completion of 60 to 90 credits of undergraduate coursework. Each PA program has different deadline requirements and prerequisites for entry. Please contact the schools to which you are applying to determine their entry requirements.

Apply early to ensure your application is verified and on time. Begin the application process at least three months prior to program-specific deadlines. Requests often stipulate that official transcripts be sent directly to your specific programs at least 10 weeks prior to deadlines. A minimum of three letters of recommendation are required by the vast majority of PA programs, with preference given to letters from healthcare professionals. While PA programs require a range of direct patient contact hours for admissions, the median number of direct patient contact hours of matriculates for CASPA-participating programs was 1,428 hours.

Student Success Stories

Haley Dotson Crouch, B.S. Biology '06; M. Med. Sci., Physician Assistant Program, Wake Forest University, '08
Employed at Apex Allergy, Greenville, S.C.

The faculty in the Department of Natural Sciences at Gardner-Webb University encouraged me to pursue my goal of entering the medical field as a physician assistant. The small classes, personal attention, and welcoming environment allowed me to grow mentally and spiritually. As a freshman, I didn't think that I was capable of becoming a physician assistant, however, I graduated from the physician assistant class of 2008 at Wake Forest.


Joanna Ward, B.S. Biology '08; PA-C, Physician Assistant Program, South University '10
Employed at Urology Specialists of the Carolinas, Charlotte, N.C.

The faculty, staff and students involved in the Natural Science Department will forever have a spot in my heart. Their strong faith, support, knowledge and enthusiasm for learning prepared me not only for graduate school but for life, and I will always hold the lessons, experiences and memories dear to me.


Veterinary Medicine

Career Path Overview

“Whether they're pets, livestock or working animals, animals matter to individuals and society. Every community needs veterinary professionals to provide animal health care, but veterinarians also do many other kinds of jobs. They make sure the nation's food supply is safe. They work to control the spread of diseases. They conduct research that helps both animals and humans. Veterinarians are at the forefront of protecting the public's health and welfare.

Besides medical skills, veterinarians often take a holistic approach to human well-being and animal welfare that, combined with communications and problem-solving skills, makes veterinarians uniquely qualified to fulfill a variety of roles. Many veterinarians, of course, provide care for companion animals through private medical practices, but veterinarians are also involved in promoting the health and welfare of farm animals, exotic animals, working animals (like those in the equine industry), and those that need a healthy environment in which to thrive, whether that environment is a rain forest, a desert, or even the ocean.

Outside of companion animal practice, the largest employer of veterinarians in the United States is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, but veterinarians are found throughout government in roles where they contribute to public health, the environment, and even Homeland Security, as well as working in research and public policy.

Many veterinarians are engaged in work at the intersection of both human and animal health. For example, veterinarians play an important role in food safety, where epidemiological research is crucial to forecasting the threat of food-borne diseases and outbreaks. They work to keep cattle and other food animals healthy by developing and testing various farm-control methods that help to detect, limit, and prevent the spread of food that might be contaminated by salmonella, E. coli or other pathogens. And they’re often on the front lines of surveillance where their extensive medical training can help them to detect and treat the outbreak of diseases that have the potential to make the jump from animals to humans.”

Prerequisite Courses*

  • BIOL 111: General Biology
  • BIOL 105: Microbiology for Health Sciences (or BIOL 206)
  • BIOL 202: Vertebrate Zoology
  • BIOL 301: Genetics
  • BIOL 422: Biochemistry
  • CHEM 111: General Chemistry I
  • CHEM 112: General Chemistry II
  • CHEM 201: Organic Chemistry I
  • CHEM 202: Organic Chemistry II
  • PHYS 203: General Physics I (or PHYS 111)
  • PHYS 204: General Physics II (or PHYS 112)
  • MATH 105: Statistics
  • ENGL 101: Composition I
  • ENGL 102: Composition II
  • COMM 233: Public Speaking

View the Biology major four-year plan if interested in Veterinary School.

* Professional program requirements vary widely, especially with regard to advanced Biology courses such as Nutrition, Cell Biology, and Physiology. Be sure to check all programs you are considering applying to early during your undergraduate studies for specific prerequisites needed to apply to that school’s program.

Admissions Information

Review ADA pages regarding Veterinary School admissions guidelines. Requirements vary between Veterinary Schools, so be sure to check the specific requirements of the schools to which you plan to apply.

Complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) by October 15 the year before you plan to enter Veterinary School.

Register for a Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) account and submit a primary application (including transcripts and recommendation letters). GRE scores are sent directly to the schools to which you are applying.

Submit additional materials requested by specific Veterinary Schools in the secondary application.

Student Success Stories

Anna Honey Tremblay, Biology '15; Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine '18

Photo of Anna TremblayBecause of her lifelong passion for animals and interest in the medical field, Anna Honea Tremblay ’15 had briefly shadowed a veterinarian during high school. At Gardner-Webb University, she explored the career further. She majored in biology and minored in writing and Spanish and sought out more extensive experiences to work with a veterinarian. “It became increasingly clear to me that veterinary medicine is a unique combination of working with animals, helping people, intellectual tasks, and physical activity,” she reflected. “I also realized that this combination was exactly what I was looking for in a career.”

After she made her decision to go to veterinary school, the professors in the Department of Natural Sciences worked to help her achieve her goal. They did a mock interview with her to prepare her for the application process. She was accepted to Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine and begins her third year there in May. “Dr. Thomas Jones (biology professor) was an encourager and the embodiment of the Honors Program during my time at Gardner-Webb,” Tremblay observed. “His office was the first place I went after getting the news that I was accepted to vet school.”

Tremblay chose to attend Gardner-Webb because of the school’s Christian foundation. Once she settled in on campus, she also experienced the benefits of the GWU close-knit community. “The more I got to know the school, the more I found to like: Small classes with caring professors, new friends (including the man who is now my husband, Matthew Tremblay), exciting trips with the Honors Program and the Department of Natural Sciences, and a memorable month studying in Costa Rica,” Tremblay affirmed.

Advisors

Use one of the contacts below to reach a faculty advisor.

Pre-healthcare

Photo of Dr. Jeff HartmanDr. Jeffrey M. Hartman
Associate Professor of Exercise Science
704-406-3202
jhartman@gardner-webb.edu



Photo of Dr. Meredith RoweDr. Meredith Rowe
Associate Professor of Biology
704-406-2141
mrowe1@gardner-webb.edu


Pre-law

Photo of Dr. Elizabeth AmatoDr. Elizabeth Amato
Assistant Professor of Political Science
704-406-4466
eamato@gardner-webb.edu