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Downtown Philadelphia, where Perelman School of Medicine is located.
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How to Get Into Perelman School of Medicine: An Applicant’s Guide

November 21, 2021
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Part 1. IntroductionPart 2. Programs: What Perelman School of Medicine OffersPart 3. Admission Process: What You Will NeedPart 4. Transcripts and Required Coursework for Perelman School of MedicinePart 5. MCAT Scores: How Important Is It?Part 6. Letters of RecommendationPart 7. Work Experiences: What Should They Demonstrate?Part 8. Secondary Application: EssaysPart 9. Interview Process at Perelman School of MedicinePart 10. Acceptance Statistics for Perelman School of MedicinePart 11. Tuition & Scholarships for Perelman School of MedicinePart 12. Perelman School of Medicine Application Timeline


You’re interested in getting into the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and you’re in the right place. Perelman School of Medicine, also known as Penn Medicine, is one of the oldest medical schools in the United States. And getting into it is a challenge.

Some of the most important medical advancements have spawned from Perelman School of Medicine or were developed by a Penn Medicine alumni. These achievements have placed the Perelman School of Medicine in the top three medical schools in the country.  

Many prospective students are trying to be a part of the Penn Medicine community. But the Ivy League medical school has set high standards for applicants. With low acceptance rates, there is even more pressure to make your application the one to beat. 

However, this article will show you how to get into Perelman School of Medicine and provide everything you need to become an unbeatable candidate.

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Programs: What Perelman School of Medicine Offers

Every medical school offers diverse programs, and the Perelman School of Medicine is no different. Most of Perelman’s programs are focused on dual concentrations, so there are multiple ways to achieve your medical degree.

The general MD program at Perelman School of Medicine is one of the oldest programs in the United States. It developed the first teaching hospital in the country. Its high standards make it the most challenging program to enter. 

The MD/Ph.D. program is known as the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). This program centers around students researching the biomedical sciences to provide knowledge and betterment for humanity. 

With this program, you will receive an MD and a Ph.D. through intensive training. Approximately 80% of students who complete the MSTP become physician-scientists in academic medicine, research institutes, or industry.

The MD/JD program allows students to integrate medicine with training in the legal world. The Perelman School of Medicine is one of the only medical schools in the United States that offers this joint program. 

This program’s admission process is different and more intense than the others mentioned; you will have to apply to both the Perelman School of Medicine and Penn Law JD program. 

Students apply for the JD program within their first year of medical school. The deadline is early March. Students who choose the MD/JD program usually complete both degrees within six years. 

The MD/Master’s program allows you to obtain an MD and a Master’s degree in another concentration. When applying to this program at the Perelman School of Medicine, you will need to notify admissions of your intent to pursue a dual degree. There are several options available:

Students who pursue this program will need to follow the regulations and policies of both the Perelman School of Medicine and the Masters of Bioethics program.

Students will enroll in the Health Care Management major at Wharton School alongside Perelman School of Medicine.

The goal is to help medical students navigate the ever-changing regulations in the medical field. Students will apply to the Perelman School of Medicine and the Master in Law program.

This program enables graduates to have a successful career as independent academic clinical investigators.

The program’s primary goal is to train investigators in health services and policy research. Students who complete this program are suited for careers in academia, non-profit organizations, and health policy.

The MD/MSME program is suited for students interested in pursuing bioethics academically rather than socially.

The MD/MSTR program aims to produce junior translational researchers knowledgeable about the complex issues of conducting sound translational research.

Each combination of programs will center around different aspects of the medical field. So you will want to make sure you find a degree combination that fits your goals at Perelman School of Medicine.

With every program offered at Perelman School of Medicine, you have a chance to earn certificates in specialized concentrations. Some certifications offered include Clinical Neuroscience and Research.

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Perelman Admissions Process: What You Will Need

Whether you choose to pursue a dual-degree program or just the MD program, you will still need to apply through the Perelman School of Medicine through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). 

Penn Medicine recommends applying as early as possible and submitting all AMCAS medical school application materials on time. Once verified through AMCAS, you will have to complete a supplemental application. 

A complete medical school application will consist of the following:

Be aware that there is no transfer admissions program at the Perelman School of Medicine. Once you have the required materials, your application will be ready to submit. 

Remember — you have only one chance to apply each year, so make sure you have everything ready in advance. Failure to provide any of the materials listed will delay your application review or get your application rejected.  

Transcripts and Required Coursework for Perelman School of Medicine

The Perelman School of Medicine stresses that students must have a broad span of knowledge in the sciences. The admissions committee will be reviewing the coursework and cumulative achievement of knowledge and skills required to become a physician. 

Before applying, all applicants must have a BS or BA from an accredited university in the United States or Canada. 

Suppose you have received an undergraduate degree from a foreign institution. In that case, you must complete one year of science coursework at a university within the United States before applying to the Perelman School of Medicine. 

Penn Medicine’s requirement for courses includes the following:

Applicants should be able to deliver oral presentations and demonstrate strong interpersonal skills. Speaking other languages is also helpful; however, Penn Medicine recommends English as the primary language.

However, they want prospective students to understand biological principles, such as basic molecular and cellular functions and basic biological concepts all living organisms share.

Competencies in chemistry include understanding the molecular basis of life, thermodynamics, acid-base balance, and chemical equilibria principles.

Similarly, math courses like statistics and algebra are also mandatory. Your application should show math and science prowess.

This understanding can come from various courses in history, ethics, anthropology, psychology, and more. 

While it doesn’t seem like a lot, this list of necessary coursework requires multiple classes within each subject. Your undergraduate work should demonstrate rigorous science preparation. 

Majors of Admitted Students 

The graph below shows what undergraduate majors Perelman’s admitted students pursued before enrolling: 

Your MCAT Score: How Important Is It?

Your coursework will show the admissions committee at Perelman School of Medicine you studied the necessary material. But the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) Exam will be the time to demonstrate your knowledge. 

The MCAT is a multiple-choice exam medical school admissions offices use to assess applicants’ skills before medical school. The Perelman School of Medicine’s average MCAT score is 521. 

Applicants are required to take the MCAT within three years of applying to Perelman School of Medicine. The MCAT is your chance to prove your understanding of the fundamental principles and skills required for medical school.

Letters of Recommendation for Perelman

The next most important item to include in your application to Perelman School of Medicine is your letters of recommendation. Adding letters of recommendation is a buffer to your application because the admissions committee gets a better understanding of who you are as a person. 

All letters of recommendation are submitted through the AMCAS. Applicants must provide at least three letters. But you cannot submit more than 10 total through the AMCAS Letter Writer Application

All letters of recommendation must be signed and written on official stationery. 

If your letters of recommendation come from faculty members, they must be from someone who knows you well. One letter must come from a science faculty member with whom you have taken a class. 

If letters of recommendation come from a composite or committee, they may submit individual letters or a letter packet. A helpful trick with letters of recommendation is to give the writers a short synopsis highlighting key moments when working with or learning from them. 

This will remind them of some characteristics about you that they will translate in their letter. You should ask for your recommendation letters as soon as possible to ensure they are complete before the application deadline. After all, writers need ample time to write nice things about you!

Work Experiences: What Should They Demonstrate?

The work experience you compile prior to medical school is a significant indicator of your character and skills. You want to demonstrate abilities that are translatable into the medical field and show your passion for medicine. 

You will expand on your work experience in your personal statement, so your work experience can be framed like a resume. Research experience is almost essential when applying to the Perelman School of Medicine. Last year, over 97% of entering students had research experience.

While you don’t have to participate in several research projects, you will want to include one or two high-quality research projects. If you don’t have research experience but would like to gain some, you can look for research opportunities at local universities or colleges near you.

Medical shadowing is another work experience you must have in your arsenal. While it is not technically mandatory to shadow a physician, admissions committees highly recommend shadowing experience. 

Approximately 83% of Perelman’s students had shadowing and clinical research experience. This gives the admissions committee a better understanding of your passion for medicine and the experience that led you to pursue medical school. 

When deciding on what work experience to bolster your application, you must consider the experience’s quality rather than the quantity. 

Perelman School of Medicine’s admissions committee will look more favorably on an applicant with a few high-quality experiences listed than one with many experiences that do not demonstrate their abilities. 

Be aware that you do not have to go into too much detail with your work experiences. You will have a chance to do so later when you submit your secondary application.

What you need to know to get into Perelman School of Medicine

Perelman Secondary Application: Essays

While your personal statement is part of Perelman’s initial application process, your medical school secondary essays are essential to the secondary application. 

You will complete the essays after you have passed the first round of the review process. The writing prompts help the admissions committee determine whether you are serious about medical school and whether you are a good fit for Penn Medicine. 

Here are a few examples of the previous essay prompts from the Perelman School of Medicine:

As you can see, the prompts are fairly general, so you will have more freedom to discuss your interests and motivations. 

With that being said, you must remember to answer the essay prompt fully. There is not much room to write, so make sure you are clear and concise while answering the prompt thoroughly.

Interview Process at Perelman School of Medicine

Medical school interviews are granted by invitation only, and they occur between September and January. The Office of Admissions will select the date and time for your one-on-one interviews. 

Your interview is your chance to show the committee that you are passionate about medicine and possess the knowledge and skills necessary to be a part of the UPenn community. 

It will be a single, standard interview rather than multiple mini-interviews. A graduate group will schedule interviews in conjunction with medical school interviews. You must interview to be offered admission at the Perelman School of Medicine.

Interviewers will ask questions relating to medical school and your application. You will want to be as clear and concise as possible because you will have a limited amount of time to answer each question.

The committee will determine final offers of admission to the Perelman School of Medicine after a comprehensive review of the potential candidate’s application.

If you are hesitant about the interview process or want to practice video interviews, we offer mock interviews to give you an idea of what to expect. 

Acceptance Statistics for Perelman School of Medicine

Perelman School of Medicine receives many applications, and the limited spots available make it one of the most competitive schools in the United States. So, let’s take a look at the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school admissions statistics. 

Perelman School of Medicine’s acceptance rate is 4%, which means that out of the thousands of applications received every year, no more than 150 students gain admittance. 

The low Upenn medical school acceptance rate may seem alarming, but one positive result of the low admittance is the higher faculty-to-student ratio.

Perelman School of Medicine has one of the highest faculty-student ratios at 4.3:1. Other top medical schools in the US, such as Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School, have a ratio of 4.8:1 and 13.1:1, respectively.

Tuition & Scholarships for Perelman School of Medicine

Medical school costs a lot of money. In fact, tuition alone for a full-time student at Perelman School of Medicine is $59,910. This amount does not include books, materials, or living expenses. 

Here is a breakdown of fees for Perelman School of Medicine and the average cost of one academic year:

While you can save money in certain areas, such as food and housing, you are looking at paying roughly $93,000 per year. However, before you have a heart attack, there are several medical school financial aid opportunities

Perelman School of Medicine’s financial aid opportunities include approximately 25 full-tuition scholarships per year. All students are eligible for these medical school scholarships

Selection criteria include outstanding academic performance and achievement and a broad range of intellectual interests. Other criteria include demonstrated leadership, commitment to interests other than academic work, and unique life experiences that contribute to a medical career. 

Student loans, grants, and scholarship opportunities outside of UPenn Medicine are also available to help ease the costs.

Perelman Residency Matches 

Residency training programs are essential. They will set you on the path toward your desired medical specialty. Graduates use the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) to find the appropriate residencies that match their career goals. 

The table below outlines which residency programs Perelman’s graduates pursued:

Getting Into Perelman School of Medicine: FAQ

Getting into Perelman isn’t easy. However, we’ve compiled several questions and answers that should help you understand how to get into Perelman school of medicine. 

1. Are There Different UPenn Med School Requirements for International Students? 

No. Perelman has the same admissions standards for all students. 

However, there are a few things that you must bear in mind. If you received a degree from a foreign institution, you must complete a year of science coursework at a US college or university before applying. This course must include biology, chemistry, and physics.

Additionally, international students are not able to apply for federal financial aid.

2. Does Perelman Med School Have an Early Decision Program? 

Yes! Perelman has a limited Early Decision Program.

This program is filled with extremely competitive applicants who meet admitted students’ average GPA and MCAT scores. The Perelman School of Medicine average MCAT score is 521.7, and the average GPA is 3.91. 

3. Does Perelman Have a Minimum GPA or MCAT Requirement? 

No. However, the average Perelman School of Medicine MCAT score is 521.7, and the average GPA is 3.91. 

While these are not required scores, they serve as good indicators of what you should aim for. UPenn’s acceptance rate is brutal. But getting a good MCAT score and GPA that exceeds this average will undoubtedly make you stand out.  

Getting Into Perelman School of Medicine

Applying to Perelman School of Medicine seems challenging, but by following this guide, you should have a strong understanding of what it takes to get accepted. 

The most important thing to remember is to meet all the UPenn medical school application requirements and deadlines. Ideally, you want all of your application materials submitted with time to spare. 

There are excellent resources available to you. Suppose you are looking for help with your application. In that case, we offer application consulting, so you can work one-on-one with an unbiased consultant who will provide feedback on enhancing your application. 

Take a deep breath. By starting early and using the right resources, you have a great chance of getting accepted at the Perelman School of Medicine. 

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