Medical School Admission Requirements You Need to Know

June 16, 2023


Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 06/12/23

Wondering what you need to get into med school? Read on to learn what medical schools are looking for and how you can satisfy their admissions requirements. 

9 Essential medical school requirements

Getting into medical school is no easy feat. You have to meet many medical school requirements, making it challenging to know where to start.

Fear not, because we’ll break down all the requirements you need to know. Read on to feel more knowledgeable about medical school admission requirements and empowered to tackle the application process. 

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What Are Medical School Admission Requirements?

You must meet medical school admission requirements to be considered for admission. Med school admission requirements include specific coursework, GPAs, and MCAT scores. Increasingly, these requirements include extracurriculars and interpersonal skills to gain a better picture of each applicant.

Medical School Course Requirements

Med school course requirements are specific classes schools want you to take before applying.

Image explaining what med school course requirements are

Medical school admission requirements are unique to each school, so it’s important to check the criteria listed on each program’s website. For example, here are the course requirements from two top U.S. medical schools:

Baylor College of Medicine Perelman School of Medicine
Math (3-4 semester hours)
Biostatistics (preferred) but any course with quantitative math
English/Communication (speaking other languages is helpful)
Expository Writing (3-4 semester hours) Biology
Humanities - Social/Behavioral Sciences (12 semester hours) Chemistry
Organic Chemistry (2 semesters with 6-8 semester hours) - lab not required Physics and Mathematics
Biochemistry (3-4 semester hours) - lab not required Behavioral Disciplines
Advanced Biology (3-4 semester hours) - lab not required
Genetics and Cell/Molecular biology (highly recommended)
Spanish (recommended)

Source: Baylor College of Medicine and Perelman School of Medicine

As you can see, both Baylor and Perelman require biology, chemistry, physics, and math before applying. Although they share several similarities, they do have some differences. 

For example, Baylor requires psychology, whereas Perelman lists psychology as one of many options fulfilling the “Behavioral Disciplines” requirements. Although medical schools may have similar prerequisites, they have variations. So, it’s important to evaluate each school’s requirements before submitting your applications.

Medical School Academic Requirements

There are other academic med school requirements applicants need to meet, mainly GPA and MCAT scores.

med school academic requirements

Medical School GPA Requirements

Your GPA is the average of your course grades combined. Many med schools look at your cumulative GPA, the average of all grades you received in college. Med schools may also evaluate your GPA in only science courses. So, it’s essential you achieve high grades in biology, chemistry, physics, and math courses.

Med schools may also have a minimum GPA requirement, meaning your average needs to meet or exceed a minimum threshold to apply. These thresholds vary, so it’s checking whether schools have GPA requirements is important. 

Your GPA is one of the first things admissions committees look at. If you have a low GPA, it’s best to explain it (and supplement it with higher MCAT scores) so that admissions committees know why it’s low. Otherwise, they may make assumptions.

Medical School MCAT Requirements

Med schools require applicants to submit MCAT scores. The MCAT assesses your scientific knowledge and critical thinking skills. Some schools have MCAT cutoffs – your MCAT score shows you’re qualified for medical school. 

This test is overseen by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and you can book your test through an online portal. Your MCAT score will be available approximately one month after test day. 

Once your score is available, it will be sent to the med schools you applied to. Med schools will accept test scores dating back two to three years, so you can take the MCAT the year before you want to apply if you wish.

Community Service for Med School

Med school admissions committees value your experiences beyond the classroom. Community service and extracurriculars help them understand who you are and what matters to you. Community service, in particular, shows your compassion, sense of social responsibility, and commitment to the underserved. 

Great examples of medical-related community service include volunteering at hospitals and nursing homes. However, working at organizations that aren’t directly linked to medical care is also valuable. While a minimum number of service hours required for medical school isn’t common, seeking meaningful experiences adds differentiation.

The most important aspect of community service for med school is that it’s meaningful to you. Supporting a cause that matters to you speaks to your ethos and demonstrates your desire to help others. You shouldn’t just do something just for the sake of it looking good on your application; it needs to be genuine.

Clinical Experience for Med School

As Dr. Sarah Carlson, a vascular surgery resident at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, explains, “Med school admissions committees want students to have realistic expectations for what a career in medicine will be like.” The best way to understand a physician’s life is to obtain hands-on clinical experience. 

Although some schools specify a minimum number of clinical experience hours, there’s no standard minimum. As Princeton’s Health Professions Advising Committee explains, med schools seek “evidence of your motivation [to become a physician] that is grounded in experience, not in the abstract.”

Several easy-to-obtain clinical experiences include working as a: 

  • Medical scribe
  • Emergency room tech
  • Certified nurse assistant
  • Phlebotomist
  • Pharmacy technician

You can also shadow a physician or volunteer with medical organizations, including:

  • Hospices 
  • Emergency rooms
  • Medical centers

If you’re struggling to find clinical experience opportunities to satisfy med school requirements, ask your pre-med advisor or school medical center for help. Alternatively, some pre-health advising websites provide volunteer opportunities to help you get started.

Medical School Research Requirements

Although med school research isn’t the most important factor in the admissions process, it can strengthen your application. The University of Utah School of Medicine, for example, uses participation in activities like research to determine your “interest in continuous learning” and how it will contribute to your performance. 

Some med schools require applicants to conduct research or academic projects. While research isn’t a universal requirement to get into medical school, it’s valued more at research-intensive schools than in primary care-focused programs. 

As research isn’t necessarily a requirement, there’s no minimum number of required hours. However many hours you dedicate to research, ensure it’s relevant to you. 

Dr. Kama Guluma, Associate Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs at the University of California—San Diego School of Medicine, stresses the importance of choosing an appropriate research topic. 

She notes, “It is how that research experience fits in context with the rest of that applicant’s application … what the applicant had available to them” that matters.  

Medical School Application Requirements

There are several components to your AMCAS application. This application contains your personal information and other important documents like transcripts and a personal statement.

After completing this information, you can select which medical schools to apply to. There is a base fee of $175 and an extra $45 for each additional school.

Personal Statement

Your personal statement describes why you want to attend medical school, what you’ve done to prepare, and how your experiences make you a suitable candidate.

A personal statement should highlight qualities or attributes that make you an excellent fit for med school. Additionally, it should provide examples of when you’ve demonstrated those qualities or attributes.

Image outlining that some experiences and personal statement are application requirements to get into med school

Focusing on a few of your best-exemplified characteristics allows you to provide a detailed, centralized narrative about yourself. Personal statements that tell a story stand out more than those written as just a statement of facts. The best personal statements are relatable and genuine, avoid cliches, and use the first-person perspective.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are a key medical school admission requirement. Generally, medical schools want three recommendations. One of these usually needs to be from a medical doctor. 

Image outlining who you should get letters of recommendation from to get into med school

These letters are written confidentially, meaning you shouldn’t see what’s written about you. Your writers can upload their letters to the AMCAS Letter Writer or Interfolio. In both scenarios, your letters are attached to your primary application and made available to all schools you applied to. Remember, your letter writers need your AMCAS Letter ID and AAMC ID.


You must provide a copy of your transcript from every post-secondary school you’ve attended. You should request transcripts from your school(s) early to ensure they arrive before the application deadlines. 

Secondary Application

Requirements for medical school often include completing secondary applications. Individual schools send out these applications. Secondary applications demonstrate why you’re a good fit for the medical school you applied to. 

Image outlining that transcripts and secondary application are application requirements to get into med school

Some schools send them if you make the first cut following primary application reviews. Other schools invite all applicants to submit a secondary application and use both applications to screen candidates. Check each school’s website to determine when you may receive a secondary application.

These applications allow you to elaborate on your fit and how your skills and experiences will make you an excellent physician. 

CASPer Test

CASPer is a situational judgment test (SJT) designed to evaluate various “soft” skills. 

The CASPer test consists of 14 sections, each describing a different scenario with open-ended questions. 

The test is virtual and is proctored through your webcam. The CASPer website describes the test and how to register in more detail.

The CASPer is used by more and more professional healthcare schools, including medical schools, because it provides a more comprehensive picture of applicants beyond their academic abilities. 

CASPer assesses your soft skills like communication, emotional intelligence, and professionalism. The absence of these key skills can signal who is likely to succeed in the profession.

Image outlining that CASPer Test and Interviews are application requirements to get into med school


If a medical school is impressed by your primary and secondary applications, they’ll invite you to attend an interview. This could be done with one interviewer, a panel, or across multiple mini interviews.

A one-on-one interview is the most straightforward and common format. You’ll meet with one interviewer for anywhere from half an hour to an hour, where you’ll answer questions. A panel interview means more than one person interviews you. 

A multiple mini interview (MMI) has you rotate through stations, each with its own interviewer and unique question or scenario. You’ll typically have two minutes to review the prompt and then five to eight minutes to discuss it. 

The MMI allows admissions committees to better gauge your interpersonal skills, which aren’t always easy to see on a paper application. MMI also allows you to make multiple first impressions, so if you don’t do well at one station, there’s hope to redeem yourself at others.

It’s important to know what format you can expect on interview day so you can prepare accordingly. Being prepared is the best way to set yourself up to succeed.

After your interview, you’ll wait for decision notifications of being accepted, waitlisted, or rejected. Once most of your interviews are complete, you may wish to send a letter of intent to your top-choice medical school to express your interest and commitment.

FAQs: Med School Requirements

These questions and answers will help you understand the AAMC medical school requirements and how you can submit a stellar application. 

1) Do All Medical Schools Have Prerequisite Course Requirements? 

No, not all med schools have prerequisite course requirements. For example, Stanford University School of Medicine doesn't have specific requirements but recommends students take courses in multiple subject areas. 

2) What Experiences Satisfy Medical School Admission Requirements?

Experiences can come from your volunteer work, clinical experiences, extracurriculars, and research projects. While most med schools don’t have recommended hours for experiences, they help differentiate your profile. 

3) Do All Med Schools Require the MCAT?

Most medical schools require MCAT scores – there are some exceptions for Early Assurance and BS/MD programs. If you’re applying to a regular MD program, you likely need to take the MCAT. 

4) What GPA Is Good Enough for Med School?

It depends on the schools you want to apply to. If a school has a minimum GPA cutoff, you can apply as long as yours is higher. If the school doesn’t, check class profile data to compare your GPA to past admitted students. 

5) Do All Medical Schools Have Minimum MCAT and GPA Requirements? 

No, not all medical schools have MCAT or GPA cutoffs.

6) Where Can I Find Medical School Admissions Support?

Your current institution likely offers at least some resources to help you prepare for medical school. You can also find support here at Inspira through our end-to-end application support programs, MCAT prep, interview prep, and more!

7) What Is Required for Medical School in Terms of Courses? 

Commonly required courses for med school include biology, chemistry, physics, math, and behavioral sciences. Check med school course requirements at each school on your list before applying. 

8) What Degree Do You Need for Medical School? 

MD program applicants must obtain (or be on track to obtaining) a bachelor’s degree. 

Medical School Requirements: Covered

The work required to apply to medical school is extensive, but the admissions process becomes much more manageable by breaking it down into parts and keeping track of deadlines.

It can be tricky to satisfy all med school requirements. However, breaking down each requirement one by one is a great way to approach the application process and minimize your stress levels. Good luck! 

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