What are the requirements for getting into medical school?
Successful applicants to medical schools have a grade point average of 3.5 or better.
For med schools (Allopathic [MD] and Osteopathic [DO]) it is the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This is offered twice a year in April and August. The dental schools require the DAT, which can be taken anytime at a Sylvan Learning Center. We recommend that this be taken before September, one-year prior to matriculation. The veterinary schools require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Optometry schools require the Optometry Admission Test (OAT).
The requirements for getting into med school are basically the same for all health professional schools; however some schools may have additional requirements or suggested courses. It is important that you also look at the requirements of the school(s) you are interested in applying to. The requirements are a year of a freshman major’s biology course, two years of chemistry (inorganic and organic) and a year of physics; all of these must be taken with a lab component. About 20% of the schools also require some calculus. Many UMass Lowell students choose biology because this major fulfills all of these requirements.
Patient care experience
Patient care experience is highly recommended, as it allows you to interact with practicing health professionals, ask questions, and figure out if the career is right for you. Additionally, your experiences will prove to the health professional school to which you are applying that you have some knowledge about your career choice and gives them a jumping-off point for discussion when they interview you.
Volunteer opportunities are available in a wide variety of clinical settings, including nursing homes, community clinics, long-term care facilities, the ER, or homeless shelters.
Other factors considered by medical school admissions
Admissions committees often consider employment, the number of hours you are employed during the school year, as well as extracurricular activities, community service, and leadership.
How many students get accepted to medical school?
UMass Lowell applicants are very successful. 70 - 100% of qualified students and alumni who apply are accepted to medical school each year. And acceptance rates to other health professions schools such as dental, optometry, PA, and nursing are even higher.
Of course, not every UMass Lowell student is accepted. Why? Acceptance into medical or any health professions school is dependent on all of the qualifications of the student applying. Students who are accepted to medical school have performed at a high level academically (usually at a 3.5 GPA or better), have done well on the MCATs (composite score usually about 30), have demonstrated a working knowledge of the health professions (by taking advantage of volunteer positions or shadowing opportunities), and demonstrate leadership and a commitment to service.
Strengthening your application
A strong application requires planning and preparation.
Most successful applicants, in addition to strong academic records, have had experience working in hospitals or in the health professions community. Many have held responsible positions outside of college: employment, service, volunteerism, leadership, and so forth. Remember, though, that nothing substitutes for a strong academic record.
What should I major in?
If you think majoring in the sciences is required for admission to postgraduate health professional schools, think again. In fact, students who apply from liberal arts majors (History, Philosophy, English, etc.) have a statistically better chance of acceptance than science majors (based on data collected from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC)). However, don't let your application to health professional schools dictate your choice of major. Postgraduate health programs are highly competitive, and since usually only half of those who apply get in, it's important to have a backup plan. Choose a major that will provide you with an alternative career choice should you not get into the health professional career of your choice.
Note to double majors:
If you are considering a second major make sure common sense prevails and that you are not overextending yourself academically. Lower grades could jeopardize your chances of acceptance into medical school.
Taking courses off campus
It is not recommended that you take courses off campus in order to complete the Pre-Med requirements. It has been our experience at UMass Lowell that students do their best on the MCAT when they pace their required Pre-Med courses over the course of a daytime semester. Courses at community colleges or summer/evening schools may not always prepare you as well as those at four-year institutions.
When should I apply to medical school?
Current admission policies have caused the development of a number of pathways:
- After the junior year for students with a 3.5-4.0 average, good MCAT scores (combined scores of 30 or better), evidence of a working knowledge of the profession and a commitment to service.
- After the senior year if the student has developed a competitive academic profile.
- After a student completes post-baccalaureate study to improve a weak academic profile.
- After a year or several years of "life experience," often as a career change.
There definitely appears to be preference for applicants with some "life experience."
What if I'm not ready to apply to by the time I graduate?
Don't worry- a lot of students decide not to apply right away. In fact, the average age of a matriculating medical school student is 26. We work with both undergraduates and alumni to provide advice and support during the preparation and application processes.
Many recent graduates have decided to pursue other interests before submitting their medical school applications. They have worked in the biomedical profession, taught school; work in a variety of service organizations both in and out of the country. The possibilities are endless and the experiences are invaluable.
Can I reapply to medical school if I have been rejected?
Yes! A very high percentage of our applicants who reapply are accepted to medical school. There are a lot of ways to improve an application to medical school. The statistics quoted above do not include a follow-up on rejected students who reapply. A good percentage of these are admitted after improving their applications.
Traditionally, students apply after completion of their junior year in college. However, many students wait until their senior year; some complete post-baccalaureate preparation for medical school; some complete master's degrees; some do not apply until later in their lives and careers.
The best time to apply is when you are ready and not sooner.
How can I afford medical school?
Prepare by entering postgraduate health professional school with as little debt as possible. After completing your program, the debt load can be $100,00-300,000 (sometimes even more). There are some steps you can take, however, to make school more affordable. For example, if you are pursuing a career as an MD, DO or DMD, you may consider a military scholarship- which covers tuition, fees, books, and includes a stipend- to ease the burden. The military will even assist you in getting a residency if you choose. In return, you must serve one year for each they have supported you. If you agree to serve in an underserved area (Indian reservation, urban area, or rural area) there are programs that not only will pay you a decent salary but also a significant yearly bonus ($20,000-30,000) to help pay down your debt.