Requirements for Medical School

Most medical/dental/veterinarian schools have the following common requirements for admission. Be aware that some individual schools have additional requirements so if you have a particular interest in a school, check. In addition to the information on our website, the American Association of Medical Colleges provides a wealth of information for aspiring physicians.

Applicants need to have completed all of the courses before application, with rare exception. Many science majors will find that the science requirements are fulfilled as they complete their major course requirements, though the purpose of these requirements is to encourage students to consider any major.

  • Chemistry - Four semesters (Atoms and Molecules (General Chemistry I), Organic Chemistry I & II, Equilibrium and Reactivity (General Chemistry II)).
  • Biology - Two semesters (Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology (Biol 161), Introduction to the Functional Biology of Multicellular Organisms (Biol 162).
  • Biochemistry - One semester (taken in either the chemistry or biology departments)
  • Physics - Two semesters (Introduction to Physics I & II. The lab is included with each course.)
  • Calculus- One semester (e.g., Calculus I or II)
  • Statistics - One semester (taken in either the student's major - e.g., psychology, sociology, economics, biology, mathematics, or MATH 220 Statistics)
  • English - Two semesters (any English department course and an additional AP or literature course taught in English is usually acceptable)
  • Psychology - One semester (Introduction to Psychology)
  • Sociology - One semester (The Sociological Perspective)

In addition, the MCAT includes a "Critical Analysis and Reasoning" section which requires students to understand and apply information in reading passages from a variety of disciplines, including ethics, philosophy, and social sciences, but does not assume specific knowledge of these disciplines. Students may consider taking a course in ethics to fulfill their philosophy requirement.

A note about knowledge competencies: The Association of American Medical Colleges describes requirements as "competencies" rather than specific courses. However, medical schools expect these competencies will normally be met by taking traditional courses. This competency approach does leave open the possibility of an applicant meeting competencies outside of normal courses. For example, a biological psychology class might meet the psychology competency (rather than a traditional introductory psychology course). Or, an applicant might acquire the competency in biochemistry by working in a professional laboratory. However, in these cases, the applicant will have to document how she or he met the competency in concrete ways — for example, by submitting a syllabus or detailed letter.

General Advice

Early Admissions for Second-Year Students 

There are some opportunities for students to apply to medical school in the second year of college. Students may consider the FlexMed program at Icahn Medical School at Mount Sinai and early admission programs at University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and SUNY Upstate Medical University. Applying to medical school is a very difficult decision for a second-year student to make, so any student considering this option should meet with the associate health professions advisor (or the health professions advisor) to discuss these programs.

A Note for International Students 

Unfortunately, it is very difficult for a non-permanent U.S. resident to gain entry into a U.S. medical school. Only 0.6% of matriculating medical students had a legal residency outside the U.S, and overall, only about 10% of international applicants gained acceptance to a U.S. medical school.

These barriers are the product of three basic facts. First, international students are ineligible for federal financial aid and so those requiring aid must rely on a medical school's internal resources, and very few schools can afford this. The few medical schools that accept international students usually require students place in escrow one to four years of tuition and fees before starting medical school. In addition, since medical training involves working in clinics (often in the first month of medical school), work visas may be required, and they are difficult to obtain. Finally, with so many U.S. applicants and so few medical school and residency spots, foreign residents are at a serious disadvantage.