Instead of studying organic chemistry to become a doctor, applicants to an early acceptance program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine are allowed to study Chaucer or ceramics instead.

Director of the school’s Humanities and Medicine Early Acceptance Program Mary Rifkin explained that admissions officers look for students who are motivated in subjects outside of the sciences and are not on a pre-medical track.

“You don’t need college physics, calculus or organic chemistry to be a doctor. High school is enough,” she said.

The admissions process consists of three letters of recommendation, SAT or ACT scores and two essays. About a hundred sophomore applicants are interviewed and a third of them are accepted on a rolling basis.

By eliminating the pre-med requirements, Mount Sinai allows students to pursue other interests, which Rifkin said can range from humanities research to arts and athletics.

“These students are able to excel in their passions and take advantage of college,” she said.

However, Rifkin said because these students are not involved in a science-rigorous curriculum, they may be “less prepared than a biology major.”

For College senior Jamie Rosen, who didn’t know what she wanted to study when she first came to Penn, Mount Sinai’s program allowed her to explore other fields of study rather than commit to a pre-med track.

“I didn’t want to be confined to biology and organic chemistry classes, and wanted to be able to explore many different fields and take classes in various departments,” she said.

Those accepted must attend a summer program at Mount Sinai after their junior year where they are introduced to clinical work and brought up to speed in organic chemistry and other sciences.

College senior and international relations major Masha Jones said the summer program “reaffirmed my desire to work in primary care in a community setting” and benefited her on both academic and personal levels.

Jones was able to study abroad in South Africa, Vietnam and Brazil while studying public health, which she would not have been able to do had she applied to regular medical schools.

“I was impressed that Mount Sinai was making an extra effort to enroll a class of students with a variety of viewpoints and experiences,” she said.

Although not as humanities-focused, Penn’s School of Medicine allows students to major in the social sciences as well.

Penn Medical School Director of Admissions Gaye Sheffler explained that applicants can major in any field as long as they have completed the pre-requisite science courses.

“We have a lot of non-science majors in our class and many non-traditional students,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Although possible, it is difficult to pursue humanities majors while fulfilling these requirements. College junior Shana Rusonis recently decided to stop her pre-med plans and focus on pursuing her English major.

“I switched academic paths from English and pre-med to English because I thought I would get more out of my undergraduate experience as a humanities student,” she said.

Although she did not apply to the program, Rusonis said she thinks Mount Sinai is making an “important step in the right direction by accepting applicants early and from atypical areas of study.”

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