How to Get Into Stanford Medical School: A Comprehensive Guide

October 10, 2023


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 8/10/22

If you’re wondering how to get into the Stanford University School of Medicine, read on for admissions statistics, requirements, and more!

Every year, Stanford draws thousands of applicants looking to study medicine under the warm California sun. What could be better than doing your homework just a train ride away from the Golden Gate Bridge, the Redwood Forest, and the beach? 

Located between San Francisco and San Jose, Stanford is one of the country’s most prestigious medical schools. The school prides itself on its commitment to diversity leadership in medical research. If you’re ready to start your medical school journey, we’ll outline how to get into Stanford Medical School. 

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Stanford Medicine Programs

Students at Stanford can specialize in their degrees in various ways. Do you want to spend your career in medicine and public policy? Consider the joint MD/ MPP degree. Do you want to work in healthcare administration? Look towards the joint MD/MBA program. 

No matter your career objectives, Stanford's programs offer students opportunities to personalize their experiences. 

Stanford offers numerous dual degree programs, including: 

Table outlining Stanford Medical School Programs


Stanford also offers departmental dual degrees through the School of Education and the Program in Environment and Resources. If you want to be a doctor who also serves in local government, or a researcher who teaches community classes, Stanford can help prepare you for various career paths. 

Stanford Medical School Admissions Statistics & Process

Stanford emphasizes their holistic application process, meaning the admissions committee considers all elements before making a decision. They aim to consider each applicant’s circumstances and experiences through each review. This process recognizes that not all students have had the same work or educational opportunities.

Stanford Med Application Process

The first step of the application process is to complete the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application. The AMCAS application opens in May.

The second step is to submit the Stanford Supplemental Application, which consists of an application fee and personal essays. The AAMC offers a fee assistance program for those who cannot afford application fees. The third step is interviews, which occur on a rolling basis from September through March. 

Final decisions are released between January and March. Stanford allows students to defer enrollment for up to two years.

Stanford Medical School Acceptance Rate

As one of the top medical schools in the country, it’s no surprise that Stanford’s admission rate is low. In a recent admissions cycle, Stanford School of Medicine’s acceptance rate was 1.4%. 

While this number is low, don’t be discouraged. A stellar, well-edited application always boosts your chances of admission.

Stanford Med School Average MCAT Score

Stanford is relatively tight-lipped about its class profile data. Although there’s no information posted about the Stanford medical school average MCAT score, the median score is 519

If your score is lower than this, don’t let it dissuade you. Stanford’s holistic admissions process means you can still show your strengths in other aspects of your application. However, achieving an MCAT score higher than 519 makes you a more competitive applicant. 

Stanford accepts multiple MCAT scores but doesn’t combine them to increase your cumulative score. 


Stanford Medical School Requirements

Before you apply, it’s crucial to meet all Stanford med school requirements. We use the word “requirements” here loosely; besides a valid MCAT score and a bachelor’s degree, there are no coursework or extracurricular prerequisites at Stanford medical school. 

However, following the school’s recommendations and pursuing varied extracurriculars to differentiate your profile is important. 

Recommended Coursework

Recommended coursework to get into Stanford medical school

There are no Stanford med school requirements for coursework; however, there are recommendations. To be a more competitive candidate, it’s worth following these course suggestions. Stanford recommends that students have a strong foundation in the following areas: 

Table showing areas of study that Stanford recommends students to have a strong foundation.

Source: Stanford School of Medicine

Evaluate your academic record and ensure it demonstrates your mastery of these concepts. 

Extracurricular Activities 

Extracurriculars are a great way to display your qualities and add differentiation to your profile. No experience can be discounted, as it might reveal communication development, leadership, or a unique passion. Stanford seeks students “with demonstrated excellence and accomplishments in their chosen field of study.” 

As you consider your experience, consider how your activities emphasize your qualities and what you’ve done to prepare for medical school. 


Stanford is a world-class research institution and seeks students who can hold their own once on campus. They encourage independent research projects and look for students who show passion and curiosity. Students can participate in everything from COVID-19 research to clinical trials on various conditions. 

To prepare for Stanford’s research-intensive program, you can participate in summer research programs for undergraduates or connect with professors at your school and ask about opportunities. Many study abroad programs also offer research opportunities if you’re considering a gap year. 

The type of research that impresses the admissions board most is that which has been conducted out of sincere interest, not just an attempt to brighten up an application. Research that you’re passionate about and intend to continue in the future serves you better than experiences undertaken to look good on paper. 

Patient Exposure

Working well with patients isn’t a skill that can be taught in the classroom. The ability to connect with patients and provide knowledge, comfort, and sympathy are valuable in the medical field. Students at Stanford get early clinical experience, making it all the more vital that you’re prepared for patient interactions. 

There are many ways to gain patient exposure, such as medical shadowing, working as a scribe, and volunteering at a hospital. Patient-centered experiences demonstrate your understanding of the medical profession and that you know how to maintain a professional but trusting relationship with patients.

Leadership Experience

Stanford is looking for independent, creative students who think critically. They want to admit students who demonstrate potential and hope to produce graduates who will be leaders in the medical field. Leadership experience can take on many forms: maybe you were a part of the student government in undergrad or created a fundraiser.

Leadership experience shows you can take the initiative to make positive change, giving you a leg up in the selection process. 

Recommendation Letters

Stanford asks for a minimum of three and a maximum of six recommendation letters. These letters allow the admissions committee to view you from a credible, third-party perspective. 

When thinking about who should write your letters, think of medical professionals or professors you have worked with closely who can speak about your: 

  • Medical knowledge
  • Ability to learn
  • Leadership skills
  • Positive character traits
  • Your strengths
  • What you can add to the medical field 

A supervisor in the medical field, academic advisor, professor, or volunteer coordinator are great sources. Ensure you give your contact plenty of time to write a thoughtful letter. 


AMCAS requires a personal statement from all medical school applicants. The AAMC considers this essay “an opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants.” Your personal statement should detail your personal motivations and passion for medicine.

The supplemental section of the Stanford application includes secondary prompts. Stanford sends secondary applications to eligible students after they’ve submitted their primaries. These prompts are typically broad and delve deeper into: 

  • Your career goals 
  • Experiences 
  • Passions 
  • Why you want to go to a particular medical school

Medical schools seek intelligent and experienced candidates who are thoughtful and effective communicators. We’ll outline each Stanford secondary essay prompt from a recent admissions cycle: 

1) “What do you see as the most likely practice scenario for your future medical career? Choose the single answer that best describes your career goals and clinical practice setting:

  • Academic Medicine (Clinical)
  • Academic Medicine (Physician Scientist)
  • Non-Academic Clinical Practice
  • Health Policy
  • Health Administration
  • Primary Care
  • Public Health/Community Health
  • Global Health

Why do you feel you are particularly suited for this practice scenario? What knowledge, skills and attitudes have you developed that have prepared you for this career path?” (1,000 characters)

For this prompt, you must select one of these areas that closest matches your career goals. Second, you must back up your selection with how you’ve prepared for your future career. Ensure you show your passion for your selected field and reference how an education from Stanford will help you thrive. 

2) “How will you take advantage of the Stanford Medicine Discovery Curriculum and scholarly concentration requirement to achieve your personal career goals?” (1,000 characters including spaces)

Demonstrating why Stanford and the Discovery Curriculum are right for you is a good jumping-off point for your essay. How will you use the unique opportunity to personalize your academic experience? You can think of this essay as the classic “Why us?” prompt. 

Ensure you understand the Discovery Curriculum’s goals and outcomes before writing your essay. 

3) “Describe in a short paragraph your educational and family background.” (600 characters)

Your answer should be concise here; you only have 600 characters to describe your background, so avoid flowery language and wordy sentences. 

4) “Please describe how you have uniquely contributed to a community with which you identify.” (1,000 characters)

Consider this essay an extension of the above diversity prompt. However, its purpose is different: after you identify the community you belong to, this is your opportunity to show leadership capability, community spirit, and compassion. 

5) “Please describe an experience/ situation when you advocated for someone else.” (1000 characters)

Stanford Medicine wants to know that you’ll stand up for your beliefs and help others when it counts. You can choose to write about a medical or non-medical anecdote here, as long as you demonstrate your character. 

6) “Please describe any lessons, hardships, challenges, or opportunities that resulted from the global COVID-19 pandemic. Include any impact on your medical school application preparation in the areas of academics, research, employment, volunteer service, and/or clinical experiences.” (1,000 characters including spaces)

Everyone’s life has been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Your job here is not to linger on missed opportunities or blunders but to be factual about actual hardships you faced without falling into an emotional, negative tone. 

7) Optional: “Please include anything else that will help us understand better how you may uniquely contribute to Stanford Medicine?” (1,000 characters, including spaces)

If there’s anything else you want the admissions committee to know, this is the space to share it. If you think you’ve covered all your bases, feel free to skip this one. Writing no essay at all is always preferable to writing an optional essay that doesn’t add anything new to your application. 

The secondary prompt lengths are generally 1000-2000 characters, which doesn’t leave much room for embellishment. Ensure you write concisely and communicate points efficiently. Writing multiple essay drafts will help get them to optimal final forms. Plus, it’s a good idea to have an expert read over your essays before submitting them.

Stanford Medical School Interview

Given Stanford’s holistic admission process, they’re looking for students who can communicate well through writing and in person. The interview is an excellent opportunity to display your interpersonal skills. 

Stanford uses the MMI, or multiple mini-interview format, which breaks down a larger interview into a series of stations and questions with different interviewers. These questions come in the format of:

  • Scenarios
  • Personal questions,
  • Policy questions that you must discuss how you would respond
  • Roleplay situations

Interview invitations start being sent out in August, and interviews occur on a rolling basis from September through March. 

About Stanford University School of Medicine

Stanford School of Medicine seeks students who will significantly contribute to the medical field through innovation and creativity. Dean Lloyd Minor said, “Stanford Medicine is dedicated to improving human health through discovery and care.”

To realize this mission, Stanford Medicine is committed to diversity and inclusion. “By creating a more inclusive Stanford Medicine community and working to eliminate health and educational inequalities everywhere, we act not only on the side of justice, we fulfill our vision of bringing hope and healing to all people around the world,” said Minor. 

Source: Stanford School of Medicine

Stanford might be the breath of fresh air you're looking for if you're not a fan of rigid curriculums. The school recently switched to an educational program called the Discovery Curriculum. This curriculum was created to allow flexibility and personalization. 

The school allows students to determine the pace at which they want to complete their education and joint degrees or specific concentrations. To support this curriculum, they use a flipped classroom model: students consume lectures outside the classroom. This leaves classroom time for discussion, problem-solving, and other interactive learning. 

A key feature of the curriculum is the required clinical clerkship, which can be completed in one year. Alternatively, you can mix classroom and hands-on experience to complete your clerkship in two years. There’s also a more competitive three-year option, which opens up more time for independent research or a dual degree. 

Stanford Medical School Tuition & Scholarships

Stanford’s MD tuition structure is broken into quarters. Assuming you enroll in three quarters per year, annual tuition (including the medical school research rate) is $76,200. Stanford offers financial aid and scholarship programs. The school doesn’t offer merit-based scholarships but does offer aid based on financial need. 

Stanford also has a unique scholarship: the Knight Hennesy Scholars program. This program gives participants full funding to attend Stanford Medicine leadership classes and academic seminars. It’s open to students applying to any of Stanford’s graduate programs. Eligible students receive

  • Stipends for travel to and from Stanford
  • A stipend for living and academic expenses such as school books and lab equipment
  • Possible additional funding for other academic experiences such as conferences

This is an excellent opportunity for enrichment and to lessen the burden of tuition.

Stanford School of Medicine FAQs

If you still have questions about getting into Stanford medical school, look no further than these FAQs! 

1. How Hard Is It to Get Into Stanford Medical School?

Stanford School of Medicine’s admissions statistics show an acceptance rate of just 1.4%. Based on that stat, getting into Stanford is challenging but certainly not impossible! 

2. Is Stanford Good for Medical School? 

Stanford Medicine is an excellent choice for many medical school hopefuls. Stanford is ranked as the #5 best school for research.

3. What GPA Do You Need to Get into Stanford Medical School?

While there is no Stanford School of Medicine GPA cutoff, the median GPA is 3.89. You should aim for a GPA of 3.9 or higher for your best chance of admission.

Securing a Spot at Stanford Med Is Easier With Inspira Education

Stanford seeks students who are creative, innovative, and passionate about improving the medical world. They value students who can place their individual experiences with patients and research in a larger world context. 

Stanford is a prestigious school, but you can put your best foot forward with a polished application. Putting time and effort into an authentic representation of your candidacy makes you a much more competitive applicant. 

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