Advanced Degrees: Medicine

Many high school students display an intense interest in medicine at a young age. These students generally decide on a pre-med major long before they fill out their college applications. Students who are 100% committed to pursuing a medical career may wish to consider pursuing an advanced medical degree. Advanced medical degree programs generally allow students to combine their undergraduate and medical school experiences in order to obtain both a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree in less time than it would take to obtain each degree separately.

Programs which combine undergraduate work and medical school are available at numerous schools throughout the country. Each program is unique, and you will need to research your individual school to confirm the various requirements and recommendations, but there are some general trends among these accelerated degree programs:

  • They usually take 6-7 years to complete, although some may take the full 8 years
  • They are generally offered at larger schools with both a medical school and an undergraduate school of arts and sciences, though some may be offered as part of a “partnership program” between an unaffiliated medical school and undergraduate college
  • They are usually highly competitive, accepting only Ivy-caliber students regardless of the competitiveness of regular admission at the college
Combined BA/BS and MD Programs
Pros Cons
  • Often allow students to avoid the stress of MCAT preparation and medical school applications
  • Generally faster than completing each degree separately
  • Often less expensive than completing each degree separately
  • Usually allow students to pursue any undergraduate major, which allows greater flexibility
  • Incredibly intellectually demanding
  • Students often feel that they have missed out on a real college experience
  • May still need high MCAT scores or may need to maintain a minimum GPA
  • Requires absolute 100% commitment to medicine
  • High caliber students may actually be better off with a separate program which would allow them to attend a more prestigious medical school

A sampling of some of the available advanced degree programs for undergraduate and medical school:

  • The University of Pittsburg: According to U.S. News and World Report, the University of Pittsburg is the highest ranked medical school that offers a joint BS/MD program. Interested students should indicate “pre-med” or “bioengineering study” on undergraduate admission applications in order to apply to the medical school’s “Guaranteed Admit” program. Students will then apply to the medical school during their junior year of college. Admission requirements include:
    • Combined Critical Reading and Math SAT score of 1450+
    • 2 letters of recommendation
    • Separate application essay
    • Community service
    • Excellent academic record
    • Maintain a minimum 3.75 GPA throughout undergraduate studies
    • Seek medical research opportunities
    • MCAT scores are not needed
    • UC San Diego School of Medicine: San Diego’s Medical Scholar Program is an advanced degree program open only to California residents. The program admits only 12 high school seniors each year. Applicants must have a high school GPA of 4.0 or above and a minimum SAT score of 2250. All students who meet these criteria will be invited to apply to the program. High school applicants will need to demonstrate strong extracurricular achievement in community service and leadership, provide 2 letters of recommendation, and write a 400 word essay in addition to their regular admissions essay. To maintain eligibility while in college, students must:
      • Complete their major requirements within 3 years (students may major in any field)
      • Maintain a 3.5 GPA
      • Complete the required pre-med courses including 2 years of chemistry, 1 year of biology, 1 year of physics, and 1 year of calculus, statistics, or computer science
      • Northwestern University: The Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME) is unique in that it offers the flexibility that most accelerated degree programs lack. Not only can students select any undergraduate major, they are also offered the opportunity to take time off between undergraduate school and medical school – time which may be used to travel, volunteer, intern, or gain other valuable experiences. Interested students must submit an application request by December 1 of their senior year; those qualified will be sent an HPME application. There are many requirements for HPME as it is an incredibly competitive program. The high school requirements include:
        • 4 years of math, including 1 year of calculus
        • 1 year each of chemistry, biology, and physics
        • 4 years of English
        • 2 years of a foreign language (3-4 years preferred)
        • SAT Reasoning Test (average scores of accepted students: Reading 752, Math 781, Writing 758)
        • SAT II Subject Tests:
          • Math 2 (average score: 779)
          • Chemistry (average score: 763)
          • Brown University: Brown’s Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) is an incredibly competitive program designed to offer enrichment rather than acceleration. The program takes 8 years to complete – roughly the same amount of time as it would take to complete each degree separately – but it allows students to pursue their interests in other areas while preparing for their careers as physicians. The program also offers the Flex Plan which allows students to extend the program by 1 to 2 years in order to pursue an additional graduate degree such as a master’s or a PhD. Admission is highly selective – only about 5% of PLME applicants are accepted each year, and only about half of those accepted meet the requirements to matriculate to medical school. Admission requirements and recommendations include:
            • 4 years of English with an emphasis on writing
            • 3 years of college preparatory math
            • 3 years of foreign language
            • 2 years of lab science above the freshman level
            • 2 years of history
            • High SAT I scores (Average scores: Reading 729, Math 743, Writing 743)
            • Any 2 SAT II Subject Tests including 1 science (Physics, Chemistry, or Biology)
            • Average class rank of accepted students: Top 2%
            • 100% of accepted students ranked in the top 10% of their graduating class

There are many other accelerated or combined medical degree options available. If you are interested in such programs, we strongly suggest that you research the individual schools that you wish to apply to because the programs, recommendations, and requirements differ greatly from school to school. Some schools with similar programs to the ones above include the State University of New York at Stony Brook, UCLA, Boston University, and George Washington University. Regardless of which program you hope to apply to, the general recommendations and requirements include:

  • Very high GPA and SAT scores
  • Often need to apply to both undergraduate school and medical school simultaneously
  • Many require SAT II Subject Tests in writing, science, and/or math
  • Some programs require that students take the MCAT before matriculating to medical school, but many do not
  • High class rank
  • Recommendation letters
  • Separate admissions essays
  • At least one interview
  • Demonstrate a significant interest in medicine

Join us next week when we discuss other accelerated and dual degree programs.

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