Medical School GPA Requirements: What Do You Really Need?

October 26, 2022


Reviewed by:

Akhil Katakam

Third-Year Medical Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed: 7/27/22

Graphic with "medical school GPA requirements" written in big letters

Wondering what the GPA requirements for medical school are? Read on to learn how to turn a low GPA into a medical school acceptance! 

Getting into medical school is tough. You must meet many prerequisites that serve as the foundation for a successful application, plus qualitative elements such as your personal statement. But what’s the GPA needed for med school acceptance? 

Many medical schools promote their holistic selection methods, but attaining a high GPA and MCAT score boosts your chances of acceptance. It’s challenging to have a perfect GPA and MCAT score to match, so here are the medical school GPA requirements you must meet to ace to begin your medical school journey.

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How Important Is Your GPA for Med School?

There’s no denying that without high undergraduate-level performance, your chances of acceptance at a top medical school decrease. Many sought-after schools use national averages or set minimum med school GPAs as a baseline for contention - cutoffs that deem students academically fit. Then, they continue the selection process from there. 

If you’re entering the admissions process for medical school with less than stellar grades, don’t panic just yet. You’ll be considered for admission if your score is near your preferred school’s average GPA or the national average. Medical schools look at all the characteristics of your application, including: 

High grades certainly help, but if you have a below-average GPA and are above average in everything else, you still have a chance at success. Medical GPA requirements vary significantly between institutions, so do your research before applying. 

Low grades can alarm admissions officers, as it shows you’ve struggled with course content. Top schools tend to initially screen students based on their GPA, so you must meet the cutoff mark to be considered.

Admissions committees review your science GPA, non-science GPA, and cumulative GPA. 

Your science GPA consists of the grades obtained in courses like: 

  • Math
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology 
  • Related courses (organic chemistry, biochemistry, etc.) 

Even if your undergraduate major isn’t in the sciences, performing well in your science courses is still crucial. Christina Grabowski, the associate dean for admissions and enrollment with the School of Medicine at the University of Alabama—Birmingham, says they specifically look at science GPA. 

“Whether you're a psychology major or a business major or a biology major, we are going to look at how you did in science coursework specifically." Your science coursework is the most important part of academically preparing for medical school. 

Your non-science GPA consists of the grades you achieved in all other courses that don’t fall within the main science category. If you’re unsure which classes fall under which category, the AAMC has an AMCAS course classification guide that you can use to categorize your courses.

Medical School GPA Requirements For the Top 10 US Programs

There is no medical school GPA cutoff at any top 10 institution due to an emphasis on a holistic review process. However, analyzing the average, median, and lowest GPAs of admitted students can help you compare your stats. Ranked by U.S. News and Report, the top 10 medical schools in the USA are: 

Table outlining the average GPA nad lowest GPA of hte top 10 medical schools in the USA
Sources: Harvard Medical School, NYU Grossman, Columbia VP&S, John Hopkins Medicine, UCSF, Duke School of Medicine, Perelman, Inspira Advantage, Inspira Advantage, Yale SOM

Although these schools don’t have med school GPA cutoffs, other medical schools may have them. For example, the College of Medicine at Florida State University has a minimum GPA requirement of 3.3. The University of Arizona School of Medicine won’t send secondary applications to applicants with a GPA less than 3.0. 

The GPA you need for med school depends on where you’re applying. It’s best to always check MD program requirements before applying.

The Average GPA for Med School Achieved by Admitted Students

Top medical schools may use national averages as a baseline for their selections, but they vary by school and can be lower than the average matriculant GPA. It’s difficult but not impossible to get into a top medical school with a GPA of 3.0 or lower if the med school has no GPA requirement.  

Data from the AAMC shows that acing the MCAT ( a score above 517) and having a GPA between 2.8 and 2.99 results in a 46.7% chance of admission. The average applicant and matriculant GPA is 3.59. These averages are composed of the grades of over 62,000 applicants. 

However, the average GPA you need for medical school for admitted students depends on the school. For example, at top schools like Harvard and NYU Grossman, the average matriculant GPA is approximately 3.9. 

Graphic outlining that grade requirements vary between medical school

It’s essential to remember that students can be admitted without reaching that average applicant GPA. A strong grade point average is important, but it’s not the end of the world if your GPA falls short. Don’t be discouraged!

What’s the Average Science GPA for Medical School?

According to the AAMC, the average science GPA is 3.48. Science GPA is relatively lower than non-science GPA at 3.74. Undergraduate sciences courses can be challenging, which may explain the lower grade point average. 

To recap: 

Table showing the average science, non-science, and cumulative GPA of med school applicants in the USA
Source: AAMC

What is the Minimum GPA For Med School? 

The minimum GPA for medical school depends on the schools you want to apply to. As a general guideline, U.S. News suggests attaining an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.5. However, it would be best to check medical school GPA requirements or recommendations at every school on your list. 

If a med school you want to apply to doesn’t have an explicit cutoff, aim for at least the average grades of admitted students. 

How to Get Into Med School With a Low GPA

If you have a grade point average that’s below average, hope isn’t lost. Maybe you had to work multiple jobs, or your coursework was strenuous and demanding. Admissions officers will look at the circumstances surrounding any poor grades. Getting into med school with a low GPA is possible, especially with these expert tips. 

Retake Courses 

An upward trend is much more favorable in admissions committees' eyes than stagnant, low grades. If you still have time to retake courses that you did poorly in, especially science courses, retake them. Boosting your grades in science courses bodes well for your cumulative and science GPA.

Retaking classes won’t pull off miracles, but it can give your grades a minor yet significant boost. If you’re close to meeting a medical school’s GPA requirement, retaking classes are an excellent option. 

Commitment to Medicine Through Extracurricular Activities

You can demonstrate your fit through internships and time spent working in the medical field. Jobs or programs that allow you to spend time with physicians and healthcare workers should be highlighted in your application. Varied experiences like these can help elevate your application: 

Schools want to see why you’ve decided to become a physician and whether or not you know what a medical career entails. Emphasize leadership experiences: admissions officers actively search for these in your application. 

Mickey Foxwell, M.D., former associate dean for admissions at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, states: “Each applicant needs to be as sure as possible that this is what they want to do with their life. That motivation can be demonstrated through academic achievement and also through exposure to clinical medicine and community service." 

Even with a lower GPA, medical school acceptance is attainable with a list of varied, medical-related activities. Just ensure you meet any med school GPA requirements. 

Ace the MCAT 

Doing well on the MCAT is vital to your chances of acceptance with low grades. The probability of being admitted with a low GPA to med school drastically drops with a poor MCAT performance. If you can’t pursue methods of increasing your GPA, focus on achieving a high MCAT score. 

Spend adequate time preparing, and attempt to score high on your first try. You can retake the MCAT up to seven times, but a high score the first time shows you can handle a rigorous med school curriculum. If you retake the test, an upward trend is good: admissions officers will be pleased to see that. 

Enroll in a Post-Baccalaureate Program 

Another option is enrolling in a post-bacc program. These programs allow you to take (or retake) prerequisite courses before applying to medical school. Search for specific post-bacc programs designed to raise your undergraduate GPA. Your drive to raise your grades makes you a formidable candidate and can prepare you to transition into a medical career. 

Keep in mind that not all post-bacc programs are the same: for example, specialized master’s programs (SMPs) will not raise your undergraduate GPA. 

Seek Help While You’re in College

If your coursework is difficult and you’re falling behind, it might be a sign that you need to seek help. Many schools offer in-house tutoring and advisors to help struggling students by providing them individualized assistance. 

You may be paired with a senior student who’s passed the course for tutoring, get accommodations, or allow certain privileges, such as recording lectures. Ensure you seek out the resources available to you. 

You can form study groups by finding colleagues that share your courses and work together to understand and absorb course material. Your GPA doesn’t define you, but high grades can make your medical school journey easier.

Get the Grades to Get Into Med School 

Medical schools favor students with strong GPAs, but there is no explicit number that guarantees admission. An above-average GPA helps, but it doesn’t tell your full story. Your GPA measures your academic ability; some med schools have GPA requirements to ensure you can overcome the challenges of medical school. 

Your experiences, story, and letters of recommendation are also a major part of the admissions process. A low GPA may be forgiven with an excellent MCAT score, experience, and time spent working in the medical field. Remember, there is no magic GPA to get into medical school; spend time perfecting your application for the best chance of acceptance!

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