Requirements for Medical Schools in the US: Complete Guide

This is the most comprehensive and accurate information that can be found on the internet regarding the admission requirements and statistics for each medical school in America. Every year 25% of applications to medical schools are rejected because not all the requirements are met.

The admission requirements are similar between the different medical schools and are categorized here in the priority of what an applicant must submit to be considered:


  1. Minimum number of years of undergraduate study required
  2. Pre-requisite courses
  3. GPA
  4. Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)


  • CASPer Test
  • Medical Shadowing
  • Letter of References
  • Personal Essay
  • Interview

Each medical school in America has different requirements within each of the above categories.

This blog post compares and contrasts the dental school admission requirements for all 66 dental schools in America in one place to help you determine which school is the best fit for you. It will also help guide your undergraduate studies by helping you to figure out which courses you should be taking.

Those interested in seeing the medical school requirements for Canadian Universities click on this link.

Academic Requirements

Prerequisite Courses

In the US, medical school applicants must have completed between 3-4 years of undergraduate study by the proposed year of entry into their programs. During those years, applicants must also meet certain prerequisite course requirements which vary in both the course selection and study length.

Prerequisite courses are an essential aspect of the medical school application process. These courses are typically required by medical schools in order to ensure that applicants have a strong foundation in the sciences and math necessary to succeed in medical school.

The most common prerequisite courses are:

  • Biology: 2 semesters (with lab)
  • Chemistry: 2 semesters (with lab)
  • Physics: 2 semesters (with lab)
  • Math: 1 semester
  • English: 2 semesters

It is important to note that some schools may require additional coursework, such as Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, or specific math courses like Statistics or Calculus. Additionally, some schools may allow for substitutions, such as allowing Biochemistry to be taken in place of one of the chemistry courses. This information can typically be found on the school’s website or in their application materials.

Please note there is a difference between required and recommended coursework. If your application is missing required courses, the admissions committee will not even review your file. However, if you do not take some recommended courses, your application will still be considered. We strongly encourage you to take as many of the recommended courses as possible, as they will help to ensure that you fit the profile of a successful matriculant as much as possible.

It is also important to keep in mind that completing prerequisite courses is not only necessary for medical school, but are also essential courses for doing well on the MCAT. The MCAT is a comprehensive test that covers a range of subjects, including biology, chemistry, physics, and math, so it is important to have a strong foundation in these areas before taking the test.

Years of Study and GPA Requirements

GPA, or Grade Point Average, is a numerical representation of a student’s average academic performance over a set period of time, usually calculated over 4 years of undergraduate study. In the context of medical school admission, a high GPA is an important factor that is taken into consideration by admissions committees.

Medical schools typically have minimum GPA requirements, which vary depending on the school and program. The average GPA of accepted medical school applicants is approximately 3.75 (with a range of 3.46-3.95, depending on the school) on a scale of 4.0.

If you’re looking for tricks to improve your undergraduate grades check out our post on the top study habits to get maximum grades in minimum time!

MCAT Requirements

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized exam that is required for admission to most medical schools in the United States and Canada. It tests a prospective medical student’s knowledge in four areas: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. The MCAT is typically taken in the spring or summer of the year in which the student plans to apply to medical school.

A good score on the MCAT is considered to be a score of 508 or higher, though the average score for accepted medical school applicants is 512 (with a range of 499-522, depending on the school).

It is important to note that the MCAT is a very challenging exam and requires extensive preparation. Many students choose to take a prep course or study on their own using study materials provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the organization responsible for administering the MCAT. The AAMC recommends that students begin preparing for the MCAT at least three to six months in advance of the test date.

Non-Academic Requirements

CASPer Test

The CASPer test is a computer-based assessment used by some medical schools as part of their admissions process. It’s an online questionnaire composed of 12 scenario-based questions that require you to think on your feet and demonstrate the characteristics and qualities necessary for success in medicine, such as ethical decision-making, professional behaviour and collaboration skills.

The CASPer test is designed to simulate real-life situations similar to tasks that medical students might face. Each question contains several short video clips lasting one to two minutes depicting a patient case or ethical dilemma before asking you to select the most appropriate response from four options. This assessment aims to measure your non-cognitive skills, such as empathy, collaboration, professionalism and communication ability, which are essential for success in the medical field.

For those looking to prepare for the CASPer, check out our 5 best free CASPer prep resource list and free CASPer practice questions.


Shadowing is a type of experience that medical school applicants can gain to demonstrate their commitment to the field of medicine and to understand what a physician’s daily work entails. Shadowing can be done by observing a practicing physician in a clinical setting, such as a hospital, clinic, or private practice.

Most medical schools will either recommend or require applicants to have a certain number of hours of shadowing to get an idea of the field. In general, we recommend that competitive applicants have at least 100 hours of shadowing when applying.

Please note that many Universities have become lenient in shadowing requirements due to Covid. For more detailed information about the shadowing hours required, email each university.

Letters of Reference

Reference letters are also an important part of a successful medical school application. Asking professors, research supervisors, and employers to write you a letter of recommendation can be intimidating, but their input is invaluable in letting the admissions committee get to know you from another perspective.

Typically, three reference letters are required for your application, but the exact number and relationship to the applicant will be specific to each school you applied to. In general, reference letters come from:

  • Pre-Health Committee
  • Professors in the sciences
  • Lab Supervisors
  • Non-Science Faculty members
  • Doctors
  • Work Supervisors
  • Community Service Supervisors

When choosing your writers, choosing individuals who have seen your work and can speak confidently about your skills and accomplishments is important. It’s also important for these writers to have the capacity to explain how you may have overcome any obstacles or adversity that you faced. Admissions committees want to see that you did not give up when faced with challenges, and this is best stated by someone who saw first-hand how hardworking and resilient you were in difficult circumstances.

Your writers should be given plenty of time (at least two months) to prepare the letter, as well as all the necessary information they need on you, such as an updated CV containing job history, academic transcripts, proof of extracurricular activities and any awards or scholarships received. All these components are integral to your application package and help strengthen your candidacy.

Secondary Applications

The secondary application is completely unique to each medical school you apply to. It is typically composed of several essay questions and sometimes a multiple-choice questionnaire. It can be time consuming to complete and many schools have strict deadlines for submission which means it’s important to plan ahead.

The goal of the secondary application is to get a better understanding of who you are as a person and how your background will contribute to the medical field. When writing your essays, focus on qualities such as empathy, resilience and resourcefulness that you possess which will make you a great doctor. Use meaningful examples to illustrate these traits and how they can be applied in a medical setting.

Make sure you research each school thoroughly and tailor your responses accordingly so that your answers reflect why you want to become a doctor at that specific institution. Also look out for opportunities to stand out from other applicants by demonstrating distinctive skills or interests that are related to the medical field.

Final Admission Decisions

All medical schools in America will require an interview in their admission process, which is granted to the most qualified applicants. There are two main types of interviews, multi-mini interviews and traditional interviews. 

When preparing for an interview, you should research the school thoroughly and understand why you are interested in joining their program. You should also practice responding to common medical school interview questions such as “Why do you want to be a doctor?” or “What unique skills or strengths do you possess which will benefit the medical field?” Be sure to provide concrete examples that illustrate your passion and dedication for becoming a doctor.

During the interview, remember to be yourself and show your enthusiasm for medicine and learning. Be sure to come prepared with questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the medical field and how it relates to what they are teaching at their institution. Lastly, dress appropriately, maintain good body language and make eye contact throughout the conversation.

If you are looking for practice interview questions check our posts on both MMI Practice Questions and Standard Interview Practice Questions here.


What GPA do you need for admission to medical schools in America?

The lowest GPA admitted to a medical school in America ranges 3.00-3.69, depending on which school. To get in with a low GPA, the other aspects of the application must be exceptional. A competitive GPA for admission, which is the average GPA of admitted students, is between 3.50-4.00, depending on the school.

Is dental or medical school harder?

Both medical and dental schools are very competitive to get into. From the perspective of admission rates, medical school is harder to be admitted to than dental school. There are more medical schools than there are dental schools, but there are far more applicants to medical schools than there are to dental schools.

Is it hard to get into medical school in the US?

Medical schools in America are extremely competitive. Successful applicants must meet a significant number of requirements before even being considered, including prerequisite courses, GPA requirements, MCAT and CASPer testing, as well as interviews and personal statements.

How many years does it take to be a doctor?

Most medical schools in the USA are 4 years in length. However, doctors will still have to complete residency for the specific specialty they wish to go into. This typically takes 3-4 years on top of undergraduate medical education.

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