Medical School Application Requirements
“Don’t be surprised by failure, expect it, in fact, embrace it and seek obstacles in your life which seem uncomfortable. It is in failure where your character will be tested and most importantly molded and developed.”
— Philip Ghezelbash
Applicants may apply if they lack one or two of the above prerequisites, but completion of these courses is a requirement for enrollment.
It is rare that premier medical schools admit individuals from foreign universities because the Admissions Committee does not have satisfactory means of evaluating premedical education at universities outside of the United States and Canada. Most institutions, therefore, require at least one year of premedical training at an institution in the United States.
The MCAT may be taken up to three years prior to applying.
The Committee hopes you will have received grades of As and Bs in your scientific courses (more As than Bs), but recognizes such grades are not possible under all circumstances. We know, for example, that in some advanced scientific courses, the grading curves may be atypical in comparison with introductory courses. A final grade lower than C minus in any required courses is not regarded by the Committee as satisfactory completion of our requirements. If you have such grades in required courses, you must have retaken the courses (or acceptable substitutes) with higher grades. You may take a few courses not required for admissions on a pass/fail basis but if you have failed a course, the Committee will wonder why. If applicable, please include an explanation of such a grade in your application.
Required coursework should be completed within three years prior to applying.
Letters of Recommendation
We welcome letters of recommendation from both individual and premedical advisory groups who have a genuine knowledge of you and your capabilities and thus can provide more than routine praise. Admission Committees generally require 3 letters of recommendation and accept no more than 7. One must come from a science faculty member, teacher or research mentor. As the committees commonly accept up to seven letters of recommendation; but keep in mind that letters from people who do not know you personally cannot be given serious consideration.
Extracurricular Activities and Summer Jobs
Extracurricular activities and summer jobs provide the Admissions Committee with a better sense of who you are as an individual. We look at what you have done and how you have incorporated those experiences and grown as a result. Not all students have had the opportunity to test their motivation by working in the medical field. The Committee on Admissions recognizes you may lack experience in the medical field due to personal reasons, including financial constraints, but at the same time may exhibit and possess other attributes demonstrating your persistence, interest, and qualifications.
While closely agreeing on standards, the members of the Committee on Admissions have diverse interests and views, and respect that many roles are possible in medicine. They attempt to achieve heterogeneity in each class. Although the typical applicant admitted to medical school is approximately 23 years old, has an excellent academic record in scientific courses, outstanding recommendations, and high MCAT scores, some admitted applicants do not conform to this profile. Because institutions avoid inflexible criteria whenever we can, it is not possible to define our “lower limits” of acceptability for grade point averages and MCAT scores. Additionally, our decision process is need-blind.
Medicine represents an evolving landscape, with the science and those it seeks to serve constantly transforming. The issues and perspectives addressed are a function of the diversity and varied experiences of those participating. Physicians are uniquely equipped to assess and respond to the changing environment as a result of their diverse viewpoints, experiences, and backgrounds. In doing so, they succeed in furthering research, changing policy, and improving healthcare in the world around us.
Source: Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; Image: Yale Medical School