feinberg school of medicine requirements

Last Updated on December 22, 2022

feinberg school of medicine

Prospective students are encouraged to pursue a balanced education with a major in an area of interest. No preferences is given to those who have majored in the sciences over those who have pursued the humanities. We strive to recruit a student body with broad academic interests and encourage applications from students who have majored outside the traditional premedical disciplines of biology and chemistry, including the other sciences, engineering, the humanities and social sciences.

The equivalent of 90 semester hours or 135 quarter hours of undergraduate and/or graduate-level coursework completed at an accredited U.S. or Canadian college or university located in the United States or Canada is required for entrance to the MD program. A bachelor’s degree is required prior to matriculation; this requirement is waived for Northwestern undergraduates enrolled in a dual-degree program where the degree is granted upon completion of the first year of medical school.

At least yearlong courses in biology, physics, general (inorganic) chemistry and organic chemistry are required. We also recommend courses in statistics, writing and social sciences. In addition, students are expected to have clinical exposure and research experience. The admissions committee evaluates all coursework completed prior to application, including postbaccalaureate and graduate studies.

Biology(Two Semesters/Three Quarters-Lecture and Lab)
Physics(Two Semesters/Three quarters-Lecture and Lab)
Inorganic Chemistry (or equivalent)(Two Semesters/Three Quarters-Lecture and Lab)
Organic Chemistry (or equivalent)*(Two Semesters/Three Quarters-Lecture and Lab)
*It would be acceptable to have one semester/two quarters of organic chemistry plus one semester/one quarter of biochemistry, with associated labs.
Highly Recommended
English Composition
Additional coursework in genetics, public health, the humanities, and the social sciences (e.g., psychology, sociology, ethics)

AP Coursework

Science AP courses for which an applicant has received course credit at their undergraduate degree-granting institution will be considered as fulfilling the pre-medical science course requirements. Applicants should keep in mind, however, that the committee will expect to see advanced level undergraduate courses in the science disciplines for which the AP credit was awarded.


Is there an age limit on coursework?

There is no age limit on coursework completed, so you would not have to retake courses prior to applying. However, if a student has taken the pre-med coursework quite a while ago, they may want to retake the courses, perhaps through a postbaccalaureate program, in order to prepare for the MCAT and medical school.

Can I complete coursework after submitting my application?

We recommend that the required pre-med coursework be completed by the time of application, or as early in the application season as possible. This coursework must be completed prior to entering medical school.

Is community college coursework accepted?

Though coursework completed at a junior or community college would be considered, we strongly recommend that the required pre-med courses be completed at a four-year college or university, as this should make your application more competitive.

Are online courses and labs accepted?

Taking an online course from an accredited U.S. or Canadian university or college is acceptable, though to make your application the most competitive, we recommend that the required pre-med courses, especially Organic Chemistry and Inorganic Chemistry, be standard classroom/lab courses. We do not accept online lab courses.

Special Note: Curricular adjustments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic may require students to complete courses and labs online, rather than in-person, which will be acceptable. We recommend students consult with their pre-med adviser, if applicable, on adjustments affecting their pre-med coursework.

Are Pass/Fail pre-med courses accepted?

In general, it is not our preference to see pass/fail coursework for our pre-med requirements, however we do understand that curricular adjustments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic may require students to take pass/fail courses, which is acceptable. We recommend students consult with their pre-med adviser, if applicable, on adjustments affecting their pre-med coursework.

Are summer courses accepted?

A summer course is acceptable if it covers the equivalent of a yearlong course. Please note that the degree of difficulty of the school and the courses taken, as well as the breadth of the academic program and the life experiences of the individual, are considered by the Committee on Admissions.

Special Note: We do not advise that students complete a required pre-med course over the summer unless a grade will be given for the course and it covers the equivalent of a yearlong course. It is acceptable to take other courses online and as Pass/Fail or Credit/No Credit during the summer.

How much research and clinical experience is required prior to entering medical school?

We strongly recommend that applicants have research and clinical experience (i.e., working or volunteering in a hospital or clinic setting). There is no required amount of research or clinical experience, however a robust exploration of medicine allows for more meaningful exposure to your future chosen profession of medicine. The average amount of volunteer and clinical experience is 200-300 hours, but there is a wide range overall.

Do you consider virtual volunteering, shadowing and/or virtual research programs completed during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, our Committee on Admissions understands that access to in-person opportunities may be limited during the pandemic and all experiences (including virtual ones) will be considered thoughtfully in the holistic review process. Please refer to the COVID-19 FAQs page for further information.

American Medical College Application Service

All Feinberg applicants are required to submit an American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application electronically. The AMCAS application should be submitted no earlier than June 1 and no later than 12 midnight (EDT) Nov. 1, 2021, for 2022 matriculation. Visit the AMCAS section of the American Association of Medical Colleges site for submission details.

AMCAS requires that all applicants submit an email address. Feinberg applicants are required to maintain their AMCAS-submitted email address for receipt of individual and group communications. Applicants are advised to remove any qualifiers or blocks on their email addresses. Applicants should notify both AMCAS and the Feinberg of changes to their email address or other contact information.

Deadline extensions for the AMCAS application are not available.

The Feinberg Committee on Admissions is not able to consider AMCAS applications submitted after Nov. 1, 2021. All supporting documents (including supplemental application and letters) must be submitted by Nov. 15, 2021.

Traditional MD Applicants

Your letters may be written by your college’s pre-medical/pre-health advisory committee, which may be presented as either a committee letter or letter packet. If your college does not have a pre-medical/pre-health advisory committee or other similar service, you may procure individual letters.

Letters of recommendation must be submitted by Nov. 15, 2021.

If you submit a committee letter or letter packet, that will be sufficient to meet Feinberg School of Medicine’s letters requirement; no additional letters need to be submitted at the time of your application.  

If you submit Individual Letters, you will need to submit a total of three separate letters to meet Feinberg’s letters requirement. At least one of these letters should come from a science faculty member who has taught you. The other two letters may come from a variety of sources, preferably faculty members (science or non-science) or a research supervisor, but may also include a long-term employer. 

  • Committee Letter: A letter authored by a pre-health committee or pre-health adviser and intended to represent your institution’s evaluation of you. A committee letter may or may not include additional letters written in support of your application. This is sometimes called a composite letter.
  • Letter Packet: A packet or set of letters assembled and distributed by your institution, often by the institution’s career center. A letter packet may include a cover sheet from your pre-health committee or adviser. However, unlike to a committee letter, a letter packet does not include an evaluative letter from your pre-health committee or adviser.
  • Individual Letter: A letter written by, and representing, a single letter author.

Nontraditional MD Applicants

Nontraditional applicants/students are generally defined as those who have taken two or more years off between undergraduate studies and matriculation to medical school. For these applicants, there are three options for meeting Feinberg’s letters requirements:

  • Option 1: Two letters by science faculty members and one letter by a non-science faculty member, a volunteer supervisor, or an employer.
  • Option 2: One letter by a science faculty member, one letter by a supervisor from research experience and one letter by a non-science faculty member, a volunteer supervisor, or an employer.  
  • Option 3: One letter by a supervisor from research experience and two letters from the following options: a non-science faculty member, a volunteer supervisor, or an employer.

Transmission of Letters

Feinberg School of Medicine accepts letters submitted through the AMCAS Letter Service.

Submission of Additional Letters

Do not send more than the required amount of letters (one committee letter or letter packet or three individual letters) prior to receiving an invitation to interview at Feinberg. Please note that additional recommendations (requested after a student is invited for interview) should be sent directly from the recommender either via AMCAS or e-mail (to [email protected]) for addition to one’s file.


What happens if my letters of recommendation are received by AMCAS after the deadline?

Your application will still be processed, but you will not receive any confirmation when your file becomes complete. We cannot guarantee that late letters will be included when your file is reviewed by the Committee on Admissions.

Supplemental Application

Once your AMCAS application has been submitted, verified and transmitted to our office (four to six weeks after it was submitted), we will send you an invitation to submit the Feinberg supplemental application, so please check your email frequently beginning at this time.  

In order to successfully receive the supplemental invitation email, please remove the spam filters from your email and include northwestern.edu among your approved senders. Gmail offers instructions on how to add approved senders to bypass the spam filter.

All applicants are invited via email to complete the supplemental application and pay the processing fee of $95 at the secure applicant website. 

The supplemental application must be submitted by Nov. 15, 2021.

Student Health Forms & Immunizations

Accepted students must provide proof of positive immunity prior to matriculation to the university. Incomplete health requirements will restrict participation in certain clinical activities. For further information, please review the Entrance Health Requirements for Medical Students.

Criminal Background Check

Criminal Background Checks are required by the State of Illinois. Illinois has joined a growing national trend in requiring background checks on students, employees and other persons having direct contact with patients. The objective of this program is to enhance patient health and safety, facilitate student access to affiliated clinical facilities and ensure eligibility for licensure. Feinberg reserves the right to rescind an offer of acceptance based on adverse information discovered during the criminal background check.

All accepted students’ criminal background checks will need to be completed no later than by July 1 of the matriculation year.

Learn more about the criminal background check process from the AAMC.

Drug Screening

All accepted Feinberg students will be required to undergo drug testing for commonly abused controlled substances prior to matriculation at Feinberg. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all students entrusted with the health, safety and welfare of patients operate in clinical settings with good judgment and ethical behavior. Substance abuse can impair a student’s capacity to safely function in such a setting. All of our clinical affiliates require that physicians, staff and students undergo drug screening. Because students begin interacting with patients during the first week of school, drug testing must be completed by July 1 prior to matriculation.

Technical Standards

Applicants will be asked to evaluate themselves according to the technical standards established by the faculty before matriculation and at various points throughout the curriculum. These standards include observation and communication skills, reasoning abilities and motor skills necessary for the performance of laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures. 

Decisions on whether these standards are met will be adjudicated by the Executive Committee on Admissions. Appeals of such decisions will be reviewed by the Executive Committee on Admissions for applicants, or by the Student Promotions Committee for enrolled students.

Below are the technical standards the faculty deems necessary for a student to matriculate, remain in good standing and ultimately to achieve all the competencies necessary for graduation with the MD degree. The Feinberg School of Medicine therefore requires applicants to confirm their ability to comply with these standards, with or without reasonable accommodation, as a condition of admission to the MD program.


Students must be able to observe and interpret demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences. The student must be able to accurately determine and interpret physical findings in patients through the use of vision or hearing or the functional equivalent. The student must also be able to use touch perception or the functional equivalent to palpate and percuss during physical examinations.


Students must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with patients, families and colleagues to elicit information in both verbal and non-verbal forms. They must be able to obtain a medical history in a timely fashion and establish therapeutic relationships with patients. Students must be able to record information accurately and clearly and communicate effectively and efficiently with other healthcare professionals in a variety of patient settings.

Motor Skills

Students must be able to perform basic laboratory tests and physical examinations. The student must be able to adhere to universal precautions in performing these activities.

Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative & Quantitative Abilities

Students must be able to calculate, measure, reason, analyze and synthesize. The most critical skill required of physicians, problem solving, demands all of these abilities. Students must be able to participate and learn through a variety of modalities including but not limited to classroom instruction, small groups, team and collaborative activities.

Behavioral & Social Attributes

Students must demonstrate the ability to exercise good judgment, the timely completion of responsibilities related to the diagnosis and care of patients and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients and colleagues. Students must be able to work collaboratively in a healthcare team and function in stressful work environments such as hospitals and clinics. They must be able to demonstrate reasonable flexibility in adapting to changing work situations.


The Feinberg School of Medicine encourages application by qualified students with disabilities who meet these technical standards either with or without the use of reasonable accommodations. Information regarding disability accommodations may be obtained through Accessible NU and the Office of Student Programs & Career Development.   

Policy of Non-Discrimination

Northwestern University does not discriminate or permit discrimination by any member of its community against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship status, veteran status, genetic information, reproductive health decision making, or any other classification protected by law in matters of admissions, employment, housing, or services or in the educational programs or activities it operates. Harassment, whether verbal, physical, or visual, that is based on any of these characteristics is a form of discrimination. Further prohibited by law is discrimination against any employee and/or job applicant who chooses to inquire about, discuss, or disclose their own compensation or the compensation of another employee or applicant.

Northwestern University complies with federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination based on the protected categories listed above, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX requires educational institutions, such as Northwestern, to prohibit discrimination based on sex (including sexual harassment) in the University’s educational programs and activities, including in matters of employment and admissions. In addition, Northwestern provides reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants, students, and employees with disabilities and to individuals who are pregnant.

Any alleged violations of this policy or questions with respect to nondiscrimination or reasonable accommodations should be directed to Northwestern’s Office of Equity, 1800 Sherman Avenue, Suite 4-500, Evanston, Illinois 60208, 847-467-6165, [email protected].

Information on Title IX Sexual Harassment, including information on how to file a report or complaint, how Northwestern will respond, and the complaint resolution procedures and process, can be found in the Interim Policy on Title IX Sexual Harassment. Information other forms of sexual misconduct, discrimination or harassment, including information on how to file a report or complaint, how Northwestern will respond, and the complaint resolution procedures and process, can be found in the Policy on Institutional Equity. These policies are available on the Office of Equity’s website: www.northwestern.edu/equity.

Questions specific to sex discrimination (including sexual misconduct and sexual harassment) should be directed to Northwestern’s Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Equity, 1800 Sherman Avenue, Suite 4-500, Evanston, Illinois 60208, 847-467-6165, [email protected].

A person may also file a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regarding an alleged violation of Title IX by visiting www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html or calling 800-421-3481. Inquiries about the application of Title IX to Northwestern may be referred to Northwestern’s Title IX Coordinator, the United States Department of Education’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, or both.

Disabilities Statement

It is Northwestern University policy to ensure that no qualified student with a disability is denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination in any university program or activity. In response to a request made by a qualified student with a disability, the university will arrange, at no cost to the student, for the provision of educational auxiliary aids, including sign language interpreters, determined by the university to be necessary to afford such student the opportunity for full participation in university programs.

Any alleged violations of this policy or questions regarding the law with respect to nondiscrimination should be directed to the following:

Director of Equal Employment Opportunity, Affirmative Action & Disability Services
720 University Place
Evanston, IL 60208-1147

Office of the Provost
Rebecca Crown Center
633 Clark St.
Evanston, IL 60208-1101
[email protected]

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