The following is a summary of the medical school admissions requirements as listed by the AAMC and several medical schools in the United States. Please note that requirements may vary from state to state and program to program.
There is generally no required major to apply to medical school. Many medical schools encourage students merely to pursue their own academic interests while making sure to complete the required courses for admission. Although the vast majority of medical school applicants possess a degree in the sciences, this is not a requirement for admissions at any medical school in the U.S. However, many pre-professional advisors argue that those students who choose to major in non-science courses may lack the exposure necessary to do well on the MCAT.
Nearly every medical school in the United States has similar course prerequisites, which include the following:
- One year of biology
- One year of physics
- One year of English
- Two years of chemistry (through organic chemistry)
In addition to the courses listed above, it is strongly advised that students elect to take courses in Genetics, Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Phsychology, Sociology, and Biochemistry prior to taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) . Some schools require that some of these courses be taken prior to matriculation.
Grade Point Average – GPA
Generally speaking, competitive applicants possess a GPA of 3.5 or higher overall. Of course, statistically speaking, medical school applicants with higher GPA’s have a higher chance of being accepted to the school of their choice than those with lower grade point averages.
Keep in mind that, considering the thousands of applications that medical schools receive each year, some schools implement an electronic screening process in an effort to reduce the applicant pool. This could potentially mean that those applicants with a GPA lower than a certain number may not even be considered, even though the students application may be otherwise outstanding.
Read more about medical school GPA statistics.
“Students interested in medicine are encouraged to research the wide variety of jobs available in the health professions, to discuss the nature and demands of medicine with a pre-medical advisor or health professional, and to ask a lot of questions before embarking on the application process.”
This quote is from the AAMC regarding the recommendation of students to enhance their medical exposure through direct professional contact. If possible, pre-medical students should seek work in a healthcare setting while working towards applying to medical school.
Volunteer Work / Community Service
“Applicants should consider volunteering at a local hospital or clinic to gain practical experience in the health professions. A well-rounded sampling of extra-curricular activities or work experiences, both related and unrelated to medicine, will help broaden an applicant’s knowledge and development.”
Letters of Recommendation
Be prepared to request at least three letters of recommendation, including the following:
1. A letter from the pre-medical committee of your current university.
2. A letter from a physician with whom you have had a professional relationship.
3. A letter from a science professor.
This is often an overlooked aspect of an applicants portfolio. Many students may find it difficult to find opportunities shadowing a physician because of lack of resources, lack of opportunity, or lack of knowledge of shadowing etiquette. Many medical schools may consider an applicants experience shadowing a doctor in the admission decision, although the school may not explicitly list shadowing as an expectation.
MCAT scores of 30 or higher are generally considered competitive. Some applicants score much lower and some much higher. As with most standardized tests, the MCAT is used as a tool to determine your ability to perform well in medical school.
Keep in mind that, considering the thousands of applications that medical schools receive each year, some schools implement an electronic screening process in an effort to reduce the applicant pool. This could potentially mean that those applicants with a MCAT lower than a certain number may not even be considered, even though the students application may be otherwise outstanding.