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Pre-medical (often referred to as pre-med) is an educational track that undergraduate students in the United States pursue prior to becoming medical students. It involves activities that prepare a student for medical school, such as pre-med coursework, volunteer activities, clinical experience, research, and the application process. Some pre-med programs providing broad preparation are referred to as pre-professional and may simultaneously prepare students for entry into a variety of first professional degree or graduate school programs that require similar prerequisites (such as medical, veterinary, or pharmacy schools).
The pre-med track typically lasts four years, as you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to apply to medical school. That being said, some students choose to enroll in accelerated BS/MD combined degree programs that allow them to finish their pre-med courses in three years. For detailed information on navigating the pre-med track, you can also check out this infolearners.
What Are the Pre-Med Course Requirements?
Undergraduate course requirements vary from one medical school to the next, but generally include the following:
- Biology – 2 semesters with lab
- Physics – 2 semesters with lab
- General chemistry – 2 semesters with lab
- Organic chemistry – 2 semesters with lab
- Biochemistry – 1 semester
- English – 2 semesters
- Math – 2 semesters
Many schools also require statistics, psychology, and writing.
Your undergraduate university will likely have advisors who will help make sure that you complete your pre-med requirements on time. You may also want to review the requirements at various medical schools so that you know what you are up against. For example, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine M.D. Program requires the following:
- College biology with laboratory, one year (8 semester hours)
- General college chemistry with laboratory, one year (8 semester hours)
- Organic chemistry with laboratory, one semester (4 semester hours)
- Biochemistry, three or four semester hours (Lab is not required.)
- 24 semester hours in areas of humanities (English, History, Classics, Foreign Language, Philosophy, Arts, etc.), social science (Sociology, Economics, Political Science, Anthropology, etc.), and behavioral science (Psychology, etc.). Must include two writing-intensive courses.
- Calculus and/or statistics, one year (6-8 semester hours)
- General college physics with laboratory, one year (8 semester hours)
Recommended Pre-Med Courses
Many courses are not requirements for applying to medical school but are valuable for pre-med students to take. Students who take these recommended pre-med courses will be more appealing to medical school admissions and will likely have an easier time in medical school (in the long term, these courses also make for more well-rounded physicians).
For example, in addition to the requirements above, Hopkins recommends taking four semester hours in the principles of genetics and at least one semester of statistics or epidemiology. Generally, recommended courses for pre-med students include:
- Public Health
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
Pre Medical Courses
Before people apply to medical school, they typically engage in the undergraduate pursuits that are most likely to prepare them for the intensity of those programs. Pre-med coursework can put students on the path to further study and, ultimately, to careers in the medical field.
After completing a college degree, a student may wish to pursue a graduate degree. The first level of such study is called a master. Students can earn this title after completing approximately two years of study when taking a full load of credits.
Bachelor in Pre-Medicine
University of Tampa College of Natural and Health SciencesTampa, USAStudents who are interested in going to medical school typically major in biology, chemistry or biochemistry. These majors include most of the required courses for entrance into medical programs and will help prepare students for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). However, other degrees can also prepare students for health professions; thus students are encouraged to major in the field where they excel and should consult the pre-health professions advisor about course work
How to Choose a Pre-Med Major
The designation pre-med comes with opportunities as well as constraints. On the one hand, it isn’t a major in its own right—so you get to choose any subject that you love to study as a major, while still pursuing your dream of becoming a doctor. On the other hand, a pre-med track does require you to complete a certain set of core classes so that you’ll qualify to apply to medical school—and those classes can leave little time for other pursuits. To make the best possible decision, you’ll need to understand your options and be ready to overcome any related obstacles.
Knowing Your Pre-Med Major Options
Choosing a college major as a pre-med can be very intimidating—especially because there are so many options, and the stakes feel high (they are!). While a great many pre-meds choose biology (or a related science) as their major, there is nothing wrong with selecting something further afield, such as English or a foreign language. As medical schools increasingly seek well-rounded applicants, humanities majors are becoming more common. Regardless of what you choose, you will probably have two advisors: one from the pre-professional office to help you with pre-med course selection, and one specifically for your major. You can—and should—ask them to help you plan your coursework so you’ll be well positioned for the medical school admissions process.
At least theoretically, all of the options for major fields of study at your school are available to you. That said, most pre-meds tend to opt for a relatively narrow range of majors.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), more than half of medical school applicants, as well as matriculants, major in the biological sciences. This makes sense: In biology and related fields, there’s likely to be a high degree of overlap between the requirements for your major and your requirements as a pre-med. Plus, there’s a good chance you want to be a doctor because you already have a keen interest in biological sciences. So it’s totally reasonable that you’d want to devote most of your coursework to your area of greatest interest.
Keep in mind, too, that even within the biological sciences, you’ve got a number of options besides biology. Many universities offer a variety of science majors such as neuroscience, physiology, medical science, microbiology, zoology, and biotechnology. Any of these will likely have significant applicability to your medical school pursuits—so feel free to pursue your passions!
Because the biological sciences place a heavy emphasis on, well, biology , you’ll also want to ensure that you take classes outside of your major. Having an entirely science-based curriculum can lead to burnout. Plus, taking non-science courses will give you training in other disciplinary modes of thinking. Often, non-science courses can serve the double function of fulfilling your core course requirements—while also broadening your studies.
You might also want to consider picking up a non-science minor. This can offer a way to make your application stand out while also allowing you to focus primarily on the area most applicable to medical school. Spanish is an excellent option for a minor. Many undergraduate service opportunities include volunteering or working in Spanish-speaking countries, so this can be a great way to obtain a meaningful clinical experience. In addition, knowing Spanish will likely be useful in your future practice.
A sizeable number of medical school hopefuls major in the physical sciences. Like biological sciences, these offer training that is often directly applicable to medical school curricula. Completing the coursework for a major in physics, chemistry, or a related field will also enable you to fulfill many of your major and pre-med requirements at once. Also like a major in biology, it will serve you better if it’s accompanied by non-science classes—or even a non-science minor field of study.
Math and Statistics
While math and statistics majors make up a small percentage of medical school applicants and matriculants (less than one percent), as a group they have the highest mean overall MCAT score and mean GPA. While some major requirements are likely to overlap with your pre-med requirements—and while the mode of thinking you’ll hone as a math or stats major will certainly prepare you for many of the rigors of medical school—you will likely need to use a considerable number of your electives to fulfill your pre-med requirements.
About ten percent of medical school matriculants come from social sciences majors. Some of these, like economics, may have requirements that overlap somewhat with your pre-med curriculum. Others, like anthropology, political science, or sociology, are likely to overlap just a little (if at all)—so you will likely need to use your electives to ensure that you complete all of your pre-med requirements. Choosing a natural sciences minor may offer a great way to ensure that you’re getting higher-level science courses onto your transcript.
A little less than four percent of medical school matriculants come from humanities majors. Majoring in a humanities subject such as modern or classical languages, literature, or philosophy will certainly set you apart from other medical school applicants. But note that you will have to plan your coursework strategically to ensure that you fulfill all of your major and pre-med requirements. If you opt to major in the humanities, make sure you take some higher-level science courses because medical school admissions committees will look for those on your transcript.
In addition, consider picking up a natural sciences minor. This offers an easy way to ensure you can fit higher-level science courses into your schedule. Biology or chemistry would be a great choice. You’ll also want to ensure that you regularly communicate with your pre-med advisor about your course load. Your advisor will help you stay on track with medical school requirements and make sure you properly plan which courses to take before you sit for the MCAT.
Understanding Your Requirements
All pre-med students have certain core science classes they need to take. (The AAMC published a list of requirements for each medical school in the country.) These always include biology, chemistry (general and organic), biochemistry, and physics, and often include math/statistics, psychology, and sociology. If you’re a natural sciences major, these will likely already be included in the requirements for your major. If you opt for a humanities or other non-overlapping major, you’ll need to ensure they can be fit into your schedule without overloading. A convenient way to fit everything into your schedule is to take courses during J-term (January term), the summer, or Maymester.
Regardless of your major, make sure you meet with your major and pre-med advisor at least once per semester to confirm that you are on the right path to graduate. Always keep both informed of any changes you make to your schedule. Working with both of them will help make your course selection smoother and medical school application process easier. You can also speak to upperclassmen who have gone through the application cycle. They can often offer new insights and tips for what to take—and when to take it.
Thinking Like a Medical School Admissions Committee
While your choice of major might feel like a significant decision—and it is—keep in mind that your major is not the most important factor in an admissions decision. Course selection, GPA, and MCAT scores figure much more importantly. Just because you may have chosen a very challenging major does not mean the admissions committee will cut you some slack in any of these other areas.
More specifically for GPA, medical schools will take an average of your grades from your biology, chemistry, physics, and math (BCPM) classes. To increases your BCPM GPA, you can take some “easier” science classes in a particular minor, or even as electives.
Deciding on the Pre-Med Track
What if you’re not sure you want to be a doctor? Should you still get on the pre-med track? There is nothing wrong with going into college unsure of your specific career goals. With that said, applying to medical school requires a lot of advance planning. If you’re uncertain, get on the track early anyway; it’s easier to get off than it is to join later on. (If you decide much later to become a doctor, you may need to pursue a time-consuming and costly—but still doable— post-baccalaureate program as a non-traditional medical school applicant.) We advise taking introductory science courses, along with classes in a few subjects you think you might want to study, during your first year. This will give you some time to figure out what you truly want to do, and it’ll ensure you’re on track with your pre-med coursework should you decide to continue with it.
Selecting an undergraduate school is the first essential step any student will make on the path to becoming a physician. If you are a pre-med aspirant, you’ll want to give yourself the best opportunities and support networks in college and beyond. Applying to medical school is a grueling process, so you’ll need to be prepared.
Here, we’ll talk about what actually makes a school good for pre-meds before getting into the good stuff: the list of best pre-med schools.
What the best pre-med schools offer
The best pre-med schools generally offer a four-year undergraduate program and prepare you for pursuing medicine. There are no official majors offered by even the best colleges for pre-med. Students have the option of majoring in subjects of their choice at the best pre-med schools.
International students must complete their pre-med in the USA to be eligible to apply to a medical school in the USA.
The study program at the best colleges for pre-med generally comprise:
- One year of general chemistry with lab
- One year of organic chemistry with lab
- One year of biology with lab
- One year of physics with lab
- One semester or more of math (calculus and statistics)
- One year of English
- Courses necessary for MCAT preparation
MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) scores are mandatory to apply to pre-med schools. Your scores will reflect your aptitude in different subject areas.
These are just the basic requirements to apply to medical school. To enhance your profile and chances of being accepted at the best medical schools, you must take more classes to meet the requirements of your chosen major. To support your intent and interest in pursuing medicine, you must include classes in genetics, public health, microbiology, human physiology, psychology, sociology, and more.
Best Pre-med Schools
The best pre-med schools are those that offer superlative study programs, are selective with admissions, are financially viable and ensures students have a memorable student life on campus.
Considering their reputation and the quality education offered at the best colleges for pre-med, the Admission Requirements are:
- A good GPA of 3.0 or more
- Strong competence in science
- Proof of your desire to become a physician by way of having experience of working with patients by perhaps volunteering at a hospital
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal Statement
- High School Transcripts
- Good TOEFL scores
Besides this, each of the best pre-med schools’ admission requirements may negligibly vary.
Every year, thousands of individuals apply to medical schools across the U.S. While the majority are American citizens or permanent residents, international students also apply.
The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that in 2014 almost 2,000 international applicants sought admission to U.S. medical schools and 409 secured acceptances.
All things considered, these numbers are encouraging and should give international applicants hope that they can attend medical school in the U.S. However, the admissions process is difficult and requires careful planning.
Here are four steps to follow to help you succeed in gaining admission to a U.S. medical school.
Know where to apply: Not all U.S. medical schools accept international students. According to 2014 AAMC data, 62 medical schools stated they would accept international students’ applications.
Before you apply, make sure you have reviewed the admissions requirements for each school. Identify the institutions that accept international applicants and find out their requirements.
Complete academic requirements: Almost all U.S. medical schools recommend that applicants have a bachelor’s degree, and many require it. As an international applicant, you will be at a significant competitive disadvantage if you do not have a bachelor’s degree.
Undergraduate coursework in the U.S. will give you a stronger advantage. Keep in mind that the American Medical College Application Service will not accept foreign education transcripts, verify them or calculate a grade point average.
Because of this, almost all U.S. medical schools require international applicants to complete coursework in America before applying. Some require a year of U.S.-based coursework, while others ask that all medical school prerequisites be completed in the U.S.
Before applying to U.S. medical schools, try to complete one to two years of university-level education in the U.S. with a focus on prerequisites and upper-division biology courses. Make sure you take these courses at a four-year university and not a community college. A postbaccalaureate program or a graduate science program is also a good option and acceptable at many schools.
Gain clinical and service-based experience: American medical schools seek applicants who have developed an understanding of the medical profession by working in the clinical setting alongside physicians. They also look for applicants who have demonstrated a passion for service, especially to the underserved.
It is a good idea to get started on these experiences before moving to the U.S., but it is absolutely crucial to continue these activities in America before applying to medical school.
You want to show medical schools that you are familiar with the American health care system and the work culture in this country. You can achieve this by participating in clinical and community-service based activities. These experiences in America can also serve as a valuable way to improve your language skills, particularly in developing strong patient communication abilities, which are crucial to your success as a medical student.[
LEARN HOW TO develop strong clinical experiences for medical school. ]
Hone English proficiency for the MCAT: While your English proficiency will affect your medical school studies, it will also play a key role in how you perform on the MCAT, which requires strong critical reading skills.
For the MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills and the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior sections, you are expected to read, understand and analyze English text on a broad range of topics. Work hard to improve your language skills by taking courses in English writing and literature, reading books in English and expanding your communication skills.
Accomplishing these four tasks can seem daunting, but if you are set on training at a U.S. medical school, they are achievable.
Check Out The List of Best Pre-Med Schools
Harvard, Cambridge, MA
As per Harvard’s Office of Career Services estimation 17% of any one of its classes will apply to med school—that’s a huge selection of the student body! Pre-med applicants with a 3.5 GPA or higher had a 93% acceptance rate to med schools in 2013, whereas average acceptance rates that year were about 42%.
Harvard College provides a peer pre-med advising program in which students are assigned a pre-med tutor sophomore through senior year.
Harvard University houses the #1 ranked medical school in the US and also boasts extremely strong biological sciences departments. There are several affiliated teaching hospitals nearby, too which are great for both research and clinical experience.
Northwestern University, Chicago, USA
Northwestern University is a leading private research and teaching university with campuses in Qatar, and academic program facilities in Miami, Florida, Washington, D.C., and California. This is a highly regarded pre-med school that provides students with a comprehensive foundation in science. The curriculum and faculty ensure that students are well equipped for medical school.
The approximate annual cost of study at this pre-med school will be:
Tuition Fees – $54,120
Fees – $447
On-campus Room/Board $16,626
Total – $71,193
Need-based financial aid is available for international students at this pre-med school.
Duke University, North Carolina, USA
This is a private research university and considered one of the top medical schools in the USA. This pre-med school has a reputation of preparing pre-med students so well that 85% of their students get accepted into medical college. Undergraduate students can participate in research and gain hands-on experience in the science labs at the pre-med school.
The approximate annual cost of study at this pre-med school will be:
Tuition Fees – $43,518
Application Fee – $500
Technology Fee – $2,908
Books and other expenses – $3,693
Room/Board and Transportation – $22,858
Health Screen – $100
Background Check Fee – $75
First Year Fee (Lab) – $1,522
Student Health Fee – $1,128
Student Medical Insurance – $3,535
Loan Fees – $2,736
Miscellaneous Fees $475
Total – $126,566
Need-based or merit-based financial-aid is available for international students at this pre-med school only if you seek it while applying to the college. International transfer students aren’t eligible for any kind of aid.
John Hopkins University, Maryland, USA
Founded in 1876, it is a private research university. Around 80% of pre-med students get accepted to medical college which is a reflection of how well the pre-med school prepares and advises its students. Pre-med students at JHU get a chance to participate in research and work as understudies to doctors at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute ensuring excellent internship and lab experience.
The approximate annual cost of study at this pre-med school will be:
Tuition Fees – $53,740
Books and other personal expenses – $3,401
Books and supplies – $1,240
On-campus expenses – $1,080
Total – $ 75,297
Need-based financial aid is available for international students. About 10% of international freshmen transfer students have received need-based aid. You can expect an average scholarship amount of about $25,000 at this pre-med school.
University of Pennsylvania, USA
This Ivy League private research university is well known for its medical school. It is considered one of the best pre-med schools in the USA. Approximately 76% of their undergraduates get accepted into medical school which is natural considering that it is one of the best colleges for pre-med. UPenn’s pre-med study program prepares students to do well in MCAT besides offering the best support for other pre-requisite courses to be accepted in a medical college.
The approximate annual cost of study at this pre-med school will be:
Tuition Fees – $59,910
General Fee – $3,320
School Technology Fee – $1,450
Clinical Fee – $608
Education Expenses (Books and Equipment, Health Insurance, and Transportation) – $3,916
Total – $91,704
Demonstrated need-based financial aid is available at this pre-med school for international students for eight semesters or four years by way of a grant-based package which ensures that you can study without incurring debt. You must, however, apply for financial aid at the time of seeking admission.
Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Stanford is a top-ranked medical school. Stanford provides a variety of extracurricular and research options to their undergraduate students.
Their Stanford Immersion in Medicine Series (SIMS) Program gives sophomores, juniors, and seniors the opportunity to shadow doctors at Stanford Hospital, Palo Alto VA Hospital, and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
This private research university is one of the best pre-med schools and is many a time called ‘Southern Ivy’ because of its superlative academic and social status. Located next to Emory Hospital and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers students the opportunity to take on internships there and enhance their chances of being accepted at medical college. Emory’s PreHealth Advising Services offers students advice, mentoring and counseling in preparation for medical school admissions to ensure that up to 93% of their students get accepted.
The approximate annual cost of study at this pre-med school will be:
Tuition Fees – $55,200
Fees – $798
Books and Supplies – $1,224
Transportation – $1,026
Personal – $1,524
Direct Loan Fee – $80
Total – $75,424
Need-based aid and merit-based scholarships are available for international students at this pre-med school.
Columbia, New York City, New York
As undergraduates, though, students are allocated a pre-med advisor and attend informational meetings sponsored by the Premedical Committee. Columbia’s appropriate NYC location also guarantees easy access to innumerable clinics and hospitals, giving you plenty of opportunities for clinical and research experience.
Also, Columbia provides pre-med students with a sample course curriculum to help them meet the minimum requirements for med school applications.
Washington University, Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Pre-health career coaches and advisors assist students with academic and vocational concerns, research, such as picking classes, job shadowing, and volunteering through a combination of individual and group meetings.
Besides that, there are also many pre-med student groups, including Alpha Epsilon Delta and the Student Health Consortium, which help you continue your pre-med education outside of the classroom.
Important Information for International Students Intending to Study Medicine
International students who perform well academically at Amherst College often have opportunities for further study in the U.S. For example, international students have graduated from Amherst and entered Ph.D. programs at U.S. universities with substantial scholarship support. However, there is one important exception for students interested in medical training leading to the M.D. degree.
It is very unusual for non-U.S. citizens and permanent residents to be accepted to medical school in the U.S. to train as medical doctors, even if those students have graduated with good records from a U.S. college or university. Only a few U.S. medical schools will consider applications from students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Among those medical schools that may consider international applicants, an even smaller number offer any scholarship aid. International students are not eligible for the government or non-government loans that most U.S. citizens and permanent residents use to finance their medical educations. When a U.S. medical school does accept an international applicant, the school often demands payment of up to four years of tuition before the student is allowed to begin; the cost can exceed $US 200,000.
It is important for international students considering attendance at Amherst or other U.S. colleges and universities to think carefully about the barriers to attending a U.S. medical school after graduation.
|Richard Aronson ’69, M.D.
|Professor of Physics
|Assistant Dean of Students
|Chair, Health Professions Committee
|Health Professions Advisor
|Amherst, MA 01002-5000
|Amherst, MA 01002-5000
Course Catalog: 2021-22
Amherst College Courses
- American Studies
- Anthropology and Sociology
- Architectural Studies
- Art and the History of Art
- Asian Languages and Civilizations
- Biochemistry and Biophysics
- Black Studies
- Computer Science
- Creative Writing
- Educational Studies
- Environmental Studies
- European Studies
- Film and Media Studies
- First Year Seminar
- Latinx and Latin American Studies
- Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought
- Mathematics and Statistics
- Mellon Seminar
- Physics and Astronomy
- Political Science
- Sexuality Wmn’s & Gndr Studies
- Theater and Dance
- Courses of Instruction
- 01- Bruss Seminar
- 02- Kenan Colloquium
- 03- Linguistics
- 04- Mellon Seminar
- 05- Physical Education
- 06- Premedical Studies
- 07- Teaching
- 08- Five College Dance
International Applicants to the Postbac Premed Program
Because we have so many international applicants express interest in attending Vander, we wanted to explain a bit how the American medical system works. This information is mainly for pre-med students who are in their baccalaureate studies abroad, and are not U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents.
The typical structure of American medical education is as follow: baccalaureate degree at any accredited institution, medical school, then residency training. During the baccalaureate degree phase, students may major in any subject they wish and take recommended courses to prepare them for medical school. They will next take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) exam and apply to a variety of allopathic medical schools that they can learn more about in the Association of American Medical Colleges‘ (AAMC) Medical Schools Admissions Requirements (MSAR) resource. Unfortunately, it is a competitive application process and not every qualified applicant matriculates to medical school. The typical four years of allopathic medical school leads to a M.D. degree, which is a general medical degree. In order to learn more about a specific area of medicine, and gain prescriptive and diagnostic rights, the M.D. completes residency training.
In the U.S., candidates to allopathic medical schools need to apply through a common application called the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). The AMCAS application traditionally opens at the beginning of May for candidates to submit their application in early June. Starting in July, the medical schools the candidate applied to will be able to access the AMCAS application and will determine which candidates will move forward in their school specific application process. Because AMCAS cannot verify international (excluding Canadian) transcripts, Vanderbilt requires candidates to send a copy of their international transcripts (see Official Transcripts section below) once their AMCAS application has been verified and sent to medical schools.
For U.S. medical schools, selected candidates will be invited to interview with the school. For Vanderbilt, interview season is typically from the beginning of September to the end of January. The final offers of acceptance are usually made at the end of February and we start class in mid-July. This year-long application process is the norm at all medical schools, but the specific dates may change, depending on the school.
All candidates to Vanderbilt, and most other medical schools will need to complete the MCAT during the initial part of the application process. It is encouraged to take the MCAT by late spring/early summer of the calendar year before the candidates wishes to matriculate to medical school.
Most medical schools, Vanderbilt included, participate in rolling admissions – reviewing applications in the order they are received. If a medical school lists their application deadline in AMCAS as October 31st, candidates who apply October 29th via AMCAS will most likely be too late in the admissions cycle to be considered for admission. Medical schools encourage applicants to apply at the beginning of the cycle.
Vanderbilt’s holistic admissions process holds all candidates to the same high standards; other than the step regarding international transcripts, we do not have additional requirements for international students. In our incoming class of 96 students, we have no cap on how many of these students are international.
The university or universities that you have attended must be fully accredited. In most cases, students who have attended universities exclusively outside the United States have chosen to supplement their studies with at least one year of course work at an accredited university in the United States. If you have taken your coursework at an international university where English is not the language of instruction, your application may benefit from taking additional science courses at an English-speaking university.
Applicants who have completed college or university coursework at an institution in a country other than the United States or Canada must obtain a complete course-by-course evaluation of the native transcripts, degrees, and other relevant documents. In all instances, the evaluating agency will require original, official documentation. Please note, the evaluating agency must send both the course-by-course report and copies of the native documents. If the agency does not provide copies of the documentation used to do the course-by-course evaluation, the applicant must submit their official documentation to Vanderbilt. Please do not send us a copy of your transcripts until your AMCAS application has been verified, since AMCAS cannot verify international (except Canadian) transcripts. We encourage the candidate to email our office to let us know they have sent their transcript(s) to us; please include the AAMC ID number in that email as it helps us match up transcripts and applications in a prompt manner.
Evaluating agencies include:
- World Education Services (WES)
- Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. (ECE)
- Josef Silny & Associates, Inc. (Josef Silny)
Official transcripts and course-by-course evaluation reports should be sent to the following address:
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Attn: MD Admissions
224 Eskind Biomedical Library and Learning Center
Nashville, TN 37240-7712
For further questions regarding prior degrees, please visit our University Registrar’s website.
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, like many American medical schools, requires applicants to have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution.
Because Vanderbilt has moved away from “prerequisites” and instead offers “recommendations”, we recommend international applicants ensure they have taken the proper foundational coursework for success. For most international candidates (not including Canadian applicants whos transcripts have been verified by AMCAS), it is recommended that they supplement their international coursework at an American university. This allows the admissions committee to feel confident in the candidate’s ability to thrive in medical school.
Applicants with foreign credentials equivalent to a bachelor’s degree from an American college or university may be admitted to the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program. U.S. medical schools, however, prefer applicants who received their undergraduate training, especially in the premedical sciences, from institutions of higher education in the United States. In many cases it may be necessary for international students to complete a bachelor’s degree in the United States before applying to medical school. All international students should be aware that they may need to repeat previous work in the sciences and that they must ordinarily complete at least one year of college English at Columbia.
Upon admission, international students who are not U.S. citizens must complete the Application for Visa Certificate. Please note that international students who must maintain an F1 Visa must register for a full-time course load of at least 12 points. You must maintain full-time status each semester that you are enrolled in the Program.
ALP Essay Exam
All admitted students whose first language is not English are required to take the ALP Essay Exam before registration, offered by the Columbia University American Language Program (ALP), even if they have taken the TOEFL prior to admission. The results of this placement examination will be used by the student’s academic advisor to determine the appropriate academic plan for the first semester. Students will be required to take additional English language courses if their scores on the placement examination are below level 10.
If you have a documented disability that will prevent you from taking the test under standard conditions, you may request testing accommodations from the Office of Disability Service
Please note that you must request testing accommodations at least two weeks before the exam date.
For more information, please contact ODS by calling 212‐854‐2388 (voice/TTY), or emailing [email protected].
Applying to Medical School
It is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for applicants to secure a place in a United States medical school if the applicant is not a permanent resident at the time of filing the medical school application.
Financing Medical School
The Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) guide notes that foreign applicants will not be eligible for any financial assistance for medical school and will be expected to provide a plan for how they plan to finance their tuition. It also notes that many countries impose severe restrictions on exportation of currency.
No federal financial aid is available for students who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States, neither for postbaccalaureate nor medical school costs.
Extracurriculars and Other Expectations
Vanderbilt expects all applicants to have strong extracurricular involvement. This includes medical exposure, community engagement, leadership, and research. In addition, we recommend that candidates also think about activities that will set them apart from other competitive applicants.
Vanderbilt also requires letters of evaluation. These letters must be written in English for our admissions committee to read.
If you need a student visa (F-1 or J-1), you must be able to document that you have the financial resources to pay for (at a minimum) one year’s expenses each year. For more information on visas necessary for studying at Vanderbilt, see International Student & Scholar Services.
Costs for International Medical Students
Vanderbilt does not have specific aid opportunities set aside for only international students; admitted candidates to VUSM are eligible for both merit and need based scholarships regardless of citizenship status. To be eligible for Federal loans, you need a permanent resident visa or an immigrant visa if you are not a U.S. Citizen. Because international students are not eligible for federal aid, VUSM recommends that applicants line up loan opportunities before making a commitment to attend a U.S. medical school. A helpful website is Financial Aid for International Students. International students can generally obtain a private alternative loan if a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident is willing to co-sign the loan.
International Students or Applicants with Foreign Credentials