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1. Pick a College or Post-Baccalaureate Program

The first thing you should do is find a decent four-year university with an active premedical program. Talk to the premedical advisor at this school as soon as you can. This person will help you identify any missing requirements and guide you through the admissions process. You should also reference a book or two on how to get into medical school.

If you already have an undergraduate degree, and are only missing the medical school prerequisites, you may want to consider a post-baccalaureate program. These programs vary in length (from 12 to 24 months) and admissions requirements.

A third choice is to take these courses at a community or junior college. While community colleges are important institutions, they have a different mission than the typical university, and classes might not be as rigorous as they would be at the university level. Taking your premed courses at a community college may be a reasonable alternative if you have a good GPA, you've already earned A's in science courses at a 4-year college, and you have access to a premed committee through a prior school you attended. But if you have something to prove academically, or if you've never demonstrated that you can get A's in science courses at the university level, then this may not be the best choice.

Reference books on Applying to Medical school

  • Medical School Companion, Mary Ross-Dolen, M.D., et al, Princeton Review.

A helpful outline on what to expect during each year of medical school and residency. This book gives a realistic perspective of what will be expected of medical students and what is needed to survive the rigors required to become a doctor.

MSAR’s printed guidebook includes abridged profiles (approximately 2 pages long) of each medical school in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada. Also includes applicant statistics for each school. Other features listed here.

Post-Baccalaureate Programs

Postbac programs for first-time applicants and reapplicants
Application Due: Applications re-open in January 2012 for the 2012-2013 application cycle
Where: UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Riverside, UC San Diego and UC San Francisco (

2. Prerequisites

Most every medical school requires a baccalaureate degree in any major along with the following prerequisites. You can obtain the specifics directly from the schools you are interested in or from the MSAR.

  • One year of General Biology with lab.
  • One year of General Chemistry with lab.
  • One year of Organic Chemistry with lab.
  • One year of Physics with lab (does not need to be calculus-based).
  • One year of English (66% of all schools).
  • College Math and/or Calculus (32% of all schools).
  • Humanities Electives (17% of all schools) .

Your Major

If you never completed your undergraduate degree, you'll need to do this before starting medical school. However, you do not have to major in Biology or some other area of science. In fact, students with nonscience majors have a higher acceptance rate than science majors. You shouldn't read too much into this, other than the fact that admissions committees are willing to accept nonscience applicants without prejudice.

Review Courses

You may need to take additional courses before applying to medical school. This may be to fulfill missing medical school requirements, to improve your grade point average, or to prepare for the MCAT. Some medical schools will require you to take additional science courses if it has been at least five years since you completed your prerequisites.

Letters of Recommendation

If your undergraduate institution has a premedical committee, you can have a composite letter sent by them. Otherwise, most medical schools require individual letters of recommendation from two science and one nonscience professor. Make sure you select faculty who have experience doing this and who know the proper way to write a strong letter of recommendation (many do not know how to do this). You should be planning for this from day one. Get to know your instructors by going to their office hours. Talk to them about their courses and let them know of your plans to be a physician. If you have a positive relationship with your teachers, it will be much easier come up with strong letters of recommendation.

Exposure to Clinical Medicine

It is important to have some meaningful exposure to clinical medicine. You should have enough exposure to convince yourself that this is what you really want to do, and so that you are able to talk confidently about your experiences if asked during your interviews.