5 majors that can lead to careers in medicine

A student works in a medical lab setting, Vials, microscopes, and chemicals can be seen.

Did you think the only path to a medical career is medical school? Think again. Whether you see yourself in a traditional medical profession in the future (i.e.; doctor, nurse, physician’s assistant), or you want to contribute to healing via medical research, creating medical devices, or even working in public health, we’ve got a great place to start. Check out these five CSU majors that can lead to careers in medicine.

#1: Neuroscience

CSU’s Neuroscience major focuses on the human nervous system: how it develops, functions, how it affects our senses and thoughts, and how it’s structured. Studying Neuroscience can lead you to a wide array of medical professions — including the obvious ones, like a neurologist/neurosurgeon (after medical school, of course)  — but also into professions that don’t require an MD. Depending on the concentration (Behavioral and Cognitive or Cell and Molecular) you choose, you can look forward to jobs in research, studying the brain and how different chemicals, supplements, and medicines affect it, or for pharmacological companies that create nervous-system-related medications. You can also transition into programs for clinical therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, or audiology. Lastly, neuroscience can take you into a more-humanitarian medical profession, working in global health for the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) with a specialty in neuro, or even running a similar program overseas.

#2: Health and Exercise Science

Want to work in a field that’s got a medical component, but also focuses on health and well-being at a broader level? If you want to help communities and individuals achieve wellness on their own or through earlier interventions, CSU’s Health and Exercise Science major might be your perfect fit. With the Sports Medicine concentration, you can expect career prospects in patient-centered care, like physical therapy, nursing, or as a trainer/medical aid for sports teams. The Health Promotion concentration will give you options in corporate wellness and health advising, work in health clubs or training, and even specializing in health-related insurance roles. While you find the right path for you within the major, you’ll get a rigorous background in the sciences and in kinesiology (the study of human movement).

#3: Biochemistry

In the Biochemistry major, you’ll study living biological processes at a cellular and molecular level, examining the non-living molecules that combine to create living cells, tissues, and organisms. You’ll have four concentration options that can take you into a variety of medical-related fields after college, from traditional medical doctor to pharmacy technician or pharmacist to researcher and data scientist. More specifically, you could work in forensics, analyzing and processing evidence for law-enforcement, in toxicology, examining how toxins affect bodies at a cellular level, or at a water plant, ensuring processed water is safe for the environment and humans. If the data gathered in biological research appeals to you, you might consider the data science branch of biochemistry, and work with large sets of biochemical data to organize and understand data for scientists and researchers working to solve environmental and global health problems.

#4: Biomedical Sciences

If your career dreams center around patient care, public health, and curing disease, the Biomedical Sciences major is an option that provides a fair amount of customization with three versatile concentration choices. The Anatomy and Physiology concentration focuses on human/animal anatomy, spending time learning the molecular and systemic functions of various species; you’ll have opportunities to further focus on medical professions in endocrinology, pharmacology, neurophysiology, and cardiopulmonary physiology. The Environmental Public Health concentration will center on how biological, chemical, and physical factors in natural and built environments affect human health, allowing you to work with local and national governments to prevent injury and disease by managing environmental hazards and promoting healthier air, water, soil, and communities. In the Microbiology and Infectious Disease concentration, you’ll study the structure and function of microorganisms, allowing you to do research that strives to understand and eliminate diseases, viruses and illnesses. Note: this is a competitive major.

#5: Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering differs from our previously mentioned majors in that it focuses more on the creative problem-solving side of medicine. CSU’s Biomedical Engineering major is a five-year, dual-degree program designed to give you a broad foundation in both engineering and biology, leading to professions in consulting, rehabilitation, and even orthopedics. Careers in the field of biomedical engineering can range from designing and building advanced-technology limbs for amputees to creating more-efficient testing for deadly viruses, like Covid-19. Orthopedic bioengineers combine their mechanical engineering and science skills to understand and improve the function of human joints. Rehabilitation bioengineers focus their knowledge around medical devices and disability aids to help improve quality of life. Clinical bioengineers might work in hospitals managing biomedical or clinical engineering departments and ensuring patient safety. Note: this is a competitive major.

Still not feeling the right fit?

Take this quiz to help you match your interests with our academic paths.


Prairie Smallwood

Prairie Smallwood is a writer and content creator for the Office of Admissions at Colorado State University. She is passionate about education and exploration, and knows that going to college can be both an adventure and an overwhelming experience. She aims to create content that helps students through that journey — the wonderful, the scary, and everything in between.