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Top-down view of high rises in Chicago, Illinois, where Feinberg School of Medicine is located. (Photo by Northwestern Medicine)
Photo by Northwestern Medicine

How To Get Into Feinberg School Of Medicine

May 30, 2022
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What You Need to Know Before Applying to the Feinberg School of MedicineNorthwestern Medical School: The Requirements & The ProcessExtracurricular Activities (And How They Help You Get Ahead)Recommendation Letters & Essays: What Stands Out?Supplemental ApplicationThe Next Steps: Interviews & Getting AdmittedFinal Words (& Reminders)

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Chief Resident in Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medicine, & Admissions Officer, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/30/22

Interested in becoming a doctor? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a tell-all guide on how to get into Northwestern medical school. 

Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine is a top twenty research school in the United States. The program is highly rigorous, making it a perfect fit for students seeking personal and professional growth. This guide will offer everything you need to know about how to get into the Feinberg School of Medicine. 

Infographic showing how to get into Feignberg School of Medicine
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About the Feinberg School of Medicine

Located in the vibrant windy city of Chicago, the Feinberg School of Medicine offers its students culture along with curriculum. It is one of Northwestern University’s twelve schools and was founded in 1859, declaring its mission to educate the next generations of physicians and scientists.

The school was originally part of Lind University, but has undergone several name changes over the years. In 2002, the school was renamed the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine after receiving a $103 million donation from the Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation.

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What You Need to Know Before Applying to the Feinberg School of Medicine

Before you can learn how to get into Northwestern Medical School, you should know what it offers. Below, we’ll give you some information about the school and break down each program. 

About the Feinberg School of Medicine

Located in Chicago, Northwestern Medical School offers its students culture along with the curriculum. The mission is to educate the next generation of physicians and scientists. It received a $75 million donation from the Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation and took the name in 2002. 

Programs 

Northwestern prides itself on the uniqueness of its MD program. There are several different Feinberg School of Medicine programs to choose from. Below, we’ll discuss the merits of each program.

Early Decision Program (EDP)

The Feinberg School of Medicine’s Early Decision Program (EDP) has a selective admissions process. It prioritizes applicants with an impressive academic career, medically-related experiences, and a strong research interest. EDP applicants should review the Class Profile

Feinberg's EDP program timeline

Source: Feinberg School of Medicine

MD Admissions (MD)

The curriculum for the Doctor of Medicine Program (MD) focuses on the unification of four significant elements in the program:

The MD is a four-year program. The goal is to help medical students advance and grow in all areas. 

Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)

The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) focuses on prospective students who pursue their MD and Ph.D. degrees through medical school and graduate school. 

Students can apply to the Medical Scientist Training Program after getting accepted to the medical school. MSTP is an eight-year program. It is perfect for any student interested in a combined career in biomedical investigation and medicine.  

Combined Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health (MD/MPH)

The combined Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health (MD/MPH) program allows medical students to take evening classes for a Master of Public Health degree during their MD studies at the Feinberg School of Medicine. 

Students admitted to the medical school can apply for the MD/MPH program. This four-year program provides myriad opportunities for graduate students who want a career in public health, clinical care, or health research.

Combined Doctor of Medicine and Master of Science in Health Services & Outcomes Research (MD/MS HSOR)

The combined Doctor of Medicine and Master of Science in Health Services & Outcomes Research (MD/MS HSOR) program is specialized. Students can complete it in a gap year between the third and fourth years of medical school. 

This unique program is for prospective students looking to develop and enhance health policies and outcomes through research. Full-time, part-time, and hybrid formats are available. Applicants should submit their applications to the Graduate School while in their third year of medical school.

Combined Doctor of Medicine and Master of Science in Healthcare Quality & Patient Safety (MD/MS HQPS)

The combined Doctor of Medicine and Master of Science in Healthcare Quality & Patient Safety (MD/MS HQPS) program is a small, specific program. Students can take it part-time and finish in the first two years of medical school. This program is for students dedicated to making changes to the healthcare system.

Combined Doctor of Medicine and Master of Business Administration (MD/MBA)

The program for a combined Doctor of Medicine and Master of Business Administration (MD/MBA) allows students to combine their medical training with a Master of Business Administration degree. It gives students the ability to balance business theory and medicine.

This program can take one or two years to complete. Prospective students should apply during their third year of medical school. 

Combined Doctor of Medicine and Master of Arts in Medical Humanities and Bioethics (MD/MA)

The combined Doctor of Medicine and Master of Arts in Medical Humanities and Bioethics (MD/MA) allows medical students to earn a Master of Arts degree in Medical Humanities and Bioethics. This program is ideal for students interested in bioethical issues and how to fix them.

Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME)

The Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME) is an opportunity the Feinberg School of Medicine offers to high-achieving high school students. This program allows these students to explore their scientific and medical interests during their undergraduate careers. 

Northwestern University Premedicine Linkage Program (NUPLP)

The Northwestern University Premedicine Linkage Program (NUPLP) exists for Northwestern University graduate pre-medicine students. Its goal is to help high-achieving students accelerate enrollment into medical school. 

If accepted, students can enroll in the Feinberg School of Medicine’s MD program immediately after completing the post-baccalaureate pre-medicine program. Students can complete this program in 12, 15, or 21 months.

Northwestern Undergraduate Premedical Scholars Program (NUPSP)

The Northwestern Undergraduate Premedical Scholars Program (NUPSP) caters to Northwestern University undergraduate students dedicated to pursuing a career as a physician. It is an early acceptance program into Feinberg for highly successful students. Accepted students receive notice during their third undergraduate year. 

Northwestern Medical School: The Requirements & The Process

In this section, we’ll discuss the requirements you should have under your belt and the process for getting into Northwestern medical school.

All applicants must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Prospective students should take the MCAT exam no later than June of the year they apply to the Feinberg School of Medicine. 

At Feinberg, the average MCAT score for admission is 519. There is no official cutoff score. The average GPA for Northwestern medical school is 3.90, though no official requirement exists. Feinberg’s acceptance rate is around 2%.

Further down, we’ll explore the statistics in greater detail. For complete information about Northwestern medical school stats, visit the class profile

Program of Study

Prospective students must complete ninety hours of coursework from an accredited U.S. or Canadian university. This coursework can be at the undergraduate or graduate level. 

The Feinberg School of Medicine does not require any specific major field of study. However, it requires yearlong biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics courses. Applicants should also have taken statistics, writing, and social science courses.

Since the Feinberg School of Medicine is primarily research-based, prospective students should have clinical and research experience before applying. 

Admissions Process & Timeline

All of the above aspects are required to apply to the Feinberg School of Medicine. However,  the school evaluates each application holistically. Everything in a student’s background is considered, such as:

Prospective students under serious consideration will receive an in-person interview.

The earliest time for applying to AMCAS is the end of May. By mid-July, prospective students will begin to receive invitations to complete a secondary application. Admissions interviews take place between August and February. 

The Feinberg School of Medicine’s AMCAS deadline is the beginning of November. The secondary application deadline falls in mid-November, as does the deadline for letters of recommendation. July is the Feinberg School of Medicine’s commit-to-enroll deadline. The application process is lengthy, so it’s crucial to keep these important dates in mind.

Admission and Acceptance Statistics

The Feinberg School of Medicine received 7,052 applications in the last admissions cycle. 801 applicants had interviews, and 160 students enrolled. As such, the Northwestern Medicine acceptance rate is around 2%. The last entering class is approximately 53 percent women and 47 percent men. 

Feinberg’s acceptance rate is low because it’s a top-rated program. You can give yourself the best possible chance at getting in by pursuing admission consulting services

Your MCAT Score

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is required to apply to the Feinberg School of Medicine. The test has four sections: 

Each area is scored on a scale from 118 to 132. Totaled, the entire MCAT is scored on a scale from 472-to 528. 

MCAT sections and the possible scores for each section

The Feinberg School of Medicine requires all applicants to take this exam within three years. The average accepted GPA at Northwestern medical school is 3.90, and the average MCAT at Feinberg is a score of 519. 

However, admission stats at Northwestern medical school aren’t everything. There is no “required” score that applicants must receive to be accepted, as the Feinberg School of Medicine commits to an integrated review of every application.


Extracurricular Activities (And How They Help You Get Ahead)

One of the Northwestern medical school requirements is a robust set of extracurriculars. The extracurriculars section of any application can be daunting, especially on a medical school application. What stands out? What is relevant? Is any of it relevant, if not medicine-related?

The answer is yes. Non-medical-related extracurriculars can still be relevant to your application. Your extracurricular experience shows the Feinberg School of Medicine who you are and what helped you grow. It gives them more insight into who you are.

However, it’s essential to have clinical experience as well. With this experience, you’ll show those reading your application that becoming a doctor is your passion and goal. You can prove that you have experience in patient care and have done well. As such, they can expect that you’ll excel in their program. 

Overall, it is best to exhibit what has impacted you and helped you grow as a person, a leader, and a future doctor. Any experience that highlights this is key in your application. This way, the Feinberg School of Medicine can get to know you and decide if you are the right fit for their school. 

Leadership Experiences: How to Develop (& Strengthen) Them

Leadership skills can be tough to tackle on a med school application. What makes a student stand out? Why are some students overlooked? What looks best on your application?

Dr. Mehdi Ghajar addresses these many questions to define leadership and what it means for aspiring medical students. Leadership requires initiative, Dr. Ghajar says. Whether it directly correlates to medicine, premedical students can demonstrate this. 

“Regardless of the activity, focus on taking an idea and bringing it to fruition,” says Dr. Ghajar. “The skills you develop in this process will help you during your medical education and future career as a physician.” 

Dr. Ghajar offers four opportunistic ways to help premedical students develop and refine these skills.

  1. Start an organization. No matter the cause, it is a fantastic way to showcase strong leadership skills and provides a great learning experience for those involved. 
  2. Lead a research project. This is a great way to prepare for and develop valuable skills for a medical career, especially at a strong research-based institution like the Feinberg School of Medicine. 
  3. Champion a cause that you are passionate about. Find an organization that supports or works with a cause that matters to you. Dedicate yourself and your time to this organization and do what you can to help and learn. 
  4. Give to the underserved. Developing a project to give back speaks about your character and offers growth in leadership. 

Regardless of your focus, Dr. Ghajar emphasizes remembering your ultimate mission and what you are working toward. If you put in the work, you’ll achieve results. Not only will your application stand out, but it will help you be a better doctor. 

Research Experience at Feinberg

The Feinberg School of Medicine is a research-based institution, so it is safe to say that research is a highly-valued practice. It is a vital aspect of their application process. 

The Northwestern University Office for Research, the Feinberg Research Office, and a network of 60+ research core facilities support science, clinical, and translational research. 

Having a solid range of research experience is important to the Feinberg School of Medicine. It gives prospective students a chance for a hands-on experience that they should expect as medical students. Research experience prepares prospective students for medical school. 

Feinberg strongly encourages research for all MD students. The Area of Scholarly Concentration (AOSC) program helps students through this process. It offers a wide variety of research fields, multiple external funding opportunities, and an extensive list of mentors available for MD students. 

Recommendation Letters & Essays: What Stands Out?

An essential requirement for the Feinberg School of Medicine is letters of recommendation. You’ll also be required to write multiple admissions essays. Read on for information about these documents and how to stand out in the process. 

Recommendation Letters

Letters of recommendation for the Feinberg School of Medicine should take the form of a committee letter or letter packet. Your university’s pre-medical or pre-health advisory committee does this. 

Individual letters are accepted if your university does not have either of these committees. You must have three separate letters, and at least one of them must be from a science faculty member.

It is important to have letters of recommendation written by faculty to attest to your skills and passion for medicine truly. Reach out to a faculty member with whom you have a solid professional relationship.

You should ask your potential letter writers for a letter of recommendation months in advance. This gives them ample time to write a good letter for you. Be sure to extend a friendly reminder to your chosen letter writer one month before your application’s due date.

Essays

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) offers relevant information on how to write about yourself in your personal essay. This is one of the many ways that the Feinberg School of Medicine determines whether you are a strong candidate for their next entering class. 

The personal essay is your opportunity to distinguish yourself amongst all your applying competitors. Consider why you want to be in the medical field. Find out what motivates you in medicine. Include experiences that will support why you decided to pursue a career in medicine. 

Though these may seem like basic topics, they often go unacknowledged in a medical school application until the essay portion. The personal essay gives you the chance to showcase your personality and explain why you are passionate about medicine. 

Supplemental Application

When you submit your AMCAS application, AMCAS verifies the submission and transmits it to the Feinberg School of Medicine’s Admissions Office. After this, students receive an invitation to submit a supplemental application. This typically happens four to six weeks after you submit your primary application.

The Feinberg School of Medicine urges prospective students to remove spam filters on their emails, so this invitation does not get lost. The supplemental application has a fee of $95, due with the application in mid-November.

Tuition and Scholarship Opportunities

Tuition at Feinberg totals approximately $64K. Additional fees approximate $1.5K. Health insurance is available for approximately $5K, but students can opt out of this plan. The direct costs approximately total $70K. 

All students in Feinberg’s MD program are eligible for merit scholarships. You do not need to apply for these. Students may also be eligible for need-based grant funding. Students can submit financial aid applications for these grants.

The Feinberg School of Medicine also offers several outside scholarship opportunities, as detailed on their website. There are also many external scholarships available to students. 

The Next Steps: Interviews & Getting Admitted

You’ve submitted your application. What comes next? Read on to find out. 

Interviews 

The Feinberg Committee on Admissions distributes interview invitations via email, sent from mid-August through January.

You’ll get an orientation session and a virtual campus tour if you make it to the next step. You will then have three individual interviews. Full-time faculty members will conduct two, and the third is with a senior medical student. 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) offers a Video Interview Tool for Admissions (VITA) for all prospective students. This is a one-way recorded interview implemented so medical schools can more accurately assess prospective students.

You’ll be asked many questions in these interviews, including questions about ethics in the medical field. Be sure to organize your thoughts and prepare for these questions. 

Getting Admitted: What Makes a Successful Candidate?

The Feinberg School of Medicine utilizes a competency-based education framework to guide them in their decisions on whether or not a candidate is a suitable fit for their institution. Selection factors include: 

Students are not admitted to Northwestern Medical School for their GPA, MCAT score, or knowledge of medicine alone. The admissions committee uses an integrative, holistic review of each candidate and application.

Final Words (& Reminders)

Feinberg School of Medicine wants candidates that are dedicated, passionate, and ready to grow and learn in a rigorous environment. They want to produce the best physicians and scientists possible. 

Put everything into your application, so the admission committee at Feinberg gets to know you and why you want to be a future doctor. Now that you know how to get into the Feinberg School of Medicine, it’s time to apply! 



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