Applying to medical school can be a stressful and lengthy process. Before working on your application, it is important to become familiarized with the various requirements and expectations from the schools that you plan on applying to. Depending on the specific medical school, you may need to prepare additional application materials in order to be considered a qualified applicant, such as meeting certain state-specific requirements. In addition, some medical programs may value applicants who have taken specific courses during their undergraduate years, or those who have completed a post-baccalaureate or masters degree prior to entering medical school.
Navigating through these requirements and recommendations can be overwhelming. Luckily, we are here to guide you through this process! In this article, we put together a list of medical school prerequisites and useful suggestions that will help you succeed throughout your application process.
Tip: use the table of contents to skip around the article!
Table of contents:
- Medical school prerequisites overview
- Medical school prerequisites courses
- Texas medical schools vs. other U.S. medical schools
- Medical school prerequisites in California, New York, and other states
- Medical school prerequisites in Texas
- Medical school requirements vs. recommendations
- Recommended courses for medical school
- Recommended courses for the MCAT
- Post-Baccalaureate and Masters Programs
- Medical school application breakdown
- Medical school requirements per school
Medical school prerequisites overview
Before starting your medical school application, it is important to ensure that you are fully prepared and qualified to apply. You may be wondering what this means. Every medical school has their own specific requirements for their applicants. For example, some medical schools require your MCAT was taken within the last two years, while others don’t require the MCAT at all. Some medical schools require that you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, while others accept international students. That’s why it’s important to make a list of all the medical schools you want to apply to and check the requirements for each university.
Although each medical school has their own specific requirements, you can generally expect the following medical school prerequisites:
- 3 years of study at an accredited university or a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
- An MCAT score.
- Letters of recommendation.
- Pass a criminal background check.
- Completion of a primary application through AMCAS, TMDSAS, or AACOMAS.
- Completion of a secondary application.
Some medical schools may also have the following requirements:
- Completion of a CASPer test.
- An AAMC PREview™ Score.
- United States citizenship or permanent resident status.
Tip: To find specific requirements per each medical school, refer to MSAR® or our directory below.
Medical school prerequisites courses
While the prerequisites may vary to some extent across different medical schools, there are a few college courses that are commonly required by most medical schools in the United States. Below is a list of college courses that tend to be mandatory for admissions across almost all U.S. medical schools:
- Biology (with lab experience)
- Physics (with lab experience)
- Chemistry (General and Organic; with lab experience)
- English/Intensive Writing
You can find a complete list of prerequisite courses for a specific medical school by visiting its website’s admissions page. To simplify this process, we have compiled a list at the bottom of this article that contains links to various U.S. medical schools’ admissions websites.
Texas Medical Schools vs. Other U.S. Medical Schools
If you are planning on applying to a medical school in Texas, you will most likely submit your application through the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service, or TMDSAS. TMDSAS allows applicants to submit one standard application for all participating public medical, dental, and veterinary schools in Texas, which greatly simplifies the application process for both the applicant and the participating schools.
For applicants applying to enter medical school in 2023, the TMDSAS application will be made available starting May 2,2023 at 8 a.m. Depending on the specific medical program that you are applying to, the deadline to submit your application varies. Similarly, the application timeline for early decision applicants will also differ from those applying for regular decision. Visit the official TMDSAS website for a complete and updated application timeline for early decision programs.
It is also important to keep in mind that not all Texas medical schools use the TMDSAS. Certain private medical schools, such as the Texas Christian University and Baylor Medical School, use the standard AMCAS system to process applications.
Below is a list of medical schools in Texas that use TMDSAS for their application process:
- Long School of Medicine, UT Health San Antonio
- McGovern Medical School
- Sam Houston State University, College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Texas A&M University College of Medicine
- Texas Tech University Health Science Center School of Medicine
- Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine
- The UT at Austin, Dell Medical School
- The UT Southwestern Medical School
- The UT Medical Branch at Galveston
- The UT Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine
- University of Houston, College of Medicine
- University of North Texas Health Science Center – Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
If you are primarily planning on applying to M.D. medical schools outside of Texas, you will need to apply through the American Medical College Application Service, or AMCAS. The AMCAS is the standard application processing service for most U.S. allopathic medical schools. This allows for a simplified application process since applicants only need to submit one standard application to all participating schools.
The deadline to submit your transcript and application to the AMCAS is determined by the specific medical school that you are applying to. However, regardless of the due date, you should always aim to submit your application as early as possible. The AMCAS application will open in early May of 2023, and will allow application submissions beginning in late May of 2023. For more information on this, visit the official AMCAS website.
If you are interested in attending medical school to study osteopathic medicine instead of allopathic medicine, then you will be submitting your application using the the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service, or AACOMAS, instead of the AMCAS. Similar to the AMCAS, the AACOMAS simplifies the medical school application process by gathering all of your information to create one standard application to be submitted to all participating osteopathic medical programs in the U.S.
For the 2023-2024 application cycle, the AACOMAS application will become available in early May of 2023. Visit the official AACOMAS website for the complete application timeline.
Medical school prerequisites California, New York and other states
Students using AMCAS to apply to medical school are expected to fulfill varying prerequisites based on each participating school. However, the following courses are generally required by medical schools that use the AMCAS:
- Biology with labs (one year)
- Chemistry with labs (Two years, including organic chemistry)
- Physics with labs (one year)
- English or another intensive writing equivalence
For a complete and updated list of courses required by a specific AMCAS participating medical school, use our directory below to visit your dream school’s official website.
Medical school prerequisites Texas
For those applying to Texas medical schools using TMDSAS, each participating school has their own set of prerequisites that must be fulfilled prior to applying. However, according to the official TMDSAS website, an applicant who has taken all of the following courses would be eligible to apply to all Texas medical schools that use the TMDSAS service:
- Biological sciences with labs (14 semester hours)
- General chemistry with labs (8 semester hours)
- Organic chemistry with labs (8 semester hours)
- Biochemistry (3 semester hours)
- Physics with labs (8 semester hours)
- English (6 semester hours)
- Statistics (3 semester hours)
For a complete and updated list of courses required by a specific Texas medical school, please visit the school’s official website.
Medical school requirements vs. recommendations
So far, we examined the various requirements necessary for medical school admissions. Now, we will shift our attention towards looking at certain recommended courses, masters programs, and post-baccalaureate degrees that may help boost a candidate’s chance of getting accepted.
We have broken down these recommendations into three sections: recommended courses for medical school, recommended courses for the MCAT, and recommended post-baccalaureate and masters programs.
Recommended courses for medical school
As discussed earlier, most U.S. medical schools have required courses that an applicant must complete prior to applying for medical school. These courses include biology with labs, general and organic chemistry with labs, physics with labs, math, and english. Although completing these requirements will allow you to apply to medical school, they may not be enough to help your application stand out among the thousands of qualified candidates. Typically, medical schools will prefer applicants who have taken undergraduate courses that can further demonstrate their ability to succeed in the extremely competitive medical field. Below is a list of recommended courses that may help you stand out during the application process and help you prepare for the mcat:
- Behavioral sciences (such as psychology and sociology)
- Human physiology
- Public Health
Recommended courses for the MCAT
Although students are not required to take specific courses that teach them how to approach potential topics on the MCAT, it is highly recommended as it will likely ensure better performance on exam day. Below is a list of recommended courses that may help you better prepare for the MCAT, in addition to the required courses discussed previously:
- Human Physiology
- Introduction to Psychology
- Introduction to Sociology
- Human anatomy
Post-Baccalaureate and Masters Programs
Although not required by medical schools, many students choose to complete a Post-Baccalaureate or masters program prior to entering medical school. This can be a beneficial path for prospective medical school students in many ways. For example, it allows students to improve their GPA, complete medical school prerequisites, and prepare for the rigor of medical school courses. This all sounds good, but what is the difference between a post-baccalaureate and masters program? Continue reading to find out!
A Post-Baccalaureate program refers to the courses and studies being pursued after an individual receives his or her Bachelor’s degree. This is an excellent degree to complete for those who would like to improve their undergraduate GPA. It is also a great fit for those who did not complete all medical school prerequisite courses in college. In addition, pursing a Post-Baccalaureate degree can provide you with more time to gain valuable research and volunteer experience that will strengthen your application.
On the other hand, if you don’t need to take medical school prerequisite courses after graduating from college, then you may want to consider enrolling in a master’s program in which the curriculum can help you develop a better understanding of the field of medicine that you are interested in. Common masters programs for prospective medical school students include master’s degree in medical physiology, master’s degree in biomedical sciences, master’s degree in health sciences, and master’s degree in medical sciences. By completing one of these programs, students are able to enhance their medical school application and become more prepared for medical school overall.
Medical school application breakdown
So far, we’ve covered a lot of information for the medical school application process, including prerequisites, recommended courses, application services, and recommended post-baccalaureate and masters programs. Now, we will discuss three more factors that play an important role in contributing to the overall success of your medical school application.
MCAT score and gpa
It is widely known that in order to be accepted into medical school, an applicant must have received an impressive MCAT score and have maintained a high GPA. Although admissions committees often take a holistic approach when judging an application (meaning they consider all aspects of your application), your MCAT score and GPA still contribute heavily to the final decision as they are massive indicators of your ability to succeed in medical school. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the mean MCAT score for applicants during the 2021-2022 cycle is 505.9, and the mean GPA for the same cycle is 3.59. However, it is important to keep in mind that these numbers are much higher for top medical schools. In fact, the highest-ranking medical schools typically accept applicants with a 518+ MCAT score and a 3.7+ GPA.
Although having a high MCAT score and GPA is crucial, there are other important factors that an admissions committee will consider when evaluating an applicant, such as what the applicant has accomplished outside of the classroom. In other words, medical schools tend to value applicants who are not only academically focused, but have also participated in extracurricular activities that contributed to their overall growth. Below is a list of common activities that can enhance an application:
- Volunteering/community service
- Leadership experience
- Research experience
- Clinical experience
- Pursuing a passion project
- Hobbies (sports, choir, painting, etc.)
Make sure you accumulate substantial time in a clinical setting. Here are some extracurricular/employment ideas to get you hours in the hospital:
- Shadowing clinicians
- Volunteering in a hospital
- Working as a scribe
- Working as an LVN
- Working as a paramedic
Another crucial component of the medical school application is your personal statement. A successful personal statement essay will tell your story. You may discuss personal hardships that you have encountered and how you overcame them, as this is a great way to highlight your ability to adapt and grow as a person. Moreover, a well-written personal statement essay should avoid cliché phrases and scenarios, and instead focus on making yourself sound authentic and interesting. If done right, your personal statement should greatly contribute to the overall success of your application, so it is recommended that you start working on it early to give yourself enough time for revisions. This way, you can feel certain that you are submitting a quality essay that will help you stand out.
Without further ado, here is our list of medical school admissions requirements per school!