As a natural extension of Collegiate Gateway’s work with high school students involved in three-year research programs as well as college students applying to medical school, we also help applicants gain admission to Baccalaureate/MD programs. These programs, for which students apply in high school, offer the chance to earn a Bachelor’s degree and a Doctor of Medicine in one go—and to apply only once for both programs, bypassing the regular medical school application process.
In this 3-part series, we provide a deep dive into how to succeed in applying to Baccalaureate/MD programs. In our first blog post, we provide an overview of these BA/BS/MD programs. Watch for our second blog post that includes case studies of a selection of baccalaureate/MD programs. Our third blog post will share our knowledge and experience regarding the characteristics of a successful baccalaureate/MD candidate.
Such programs range in length, from accelerated programs of six or seven years to standard-length programs of eight years (in which each degree takes four years to complete). Some take place at a single institution, while at others, students earn their Bachelor’s from one school and their MD from another.
These programs are among the most selective in the US and require top attributes and achievements along many dimensions. So what does it take to gain admittance to a BA/MD or BS/MD program?
Overview of Baccalaureate/MD Programs
First, let’s take a look at the features of Baccalaureate/MD programs. While there are about 150 MD-granting medical schools in the US, there are only a few dozen combined Baccalaureate/MD programs.
Application plans. Programs typically require students to apply by November or December of their senior year of high school, and notify students whether they’ve been admitted by around March or April. Some programs, like Brown University’s Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME), offer both Early Decision and Regular Decision application options; others, like Drexel University’s BA/BS+MD Early Assurance Program, have just one admissions deadline. Some programs, like Howard University’s BS/MD program, have students first apply to the university; once they’ve been admitted, they may be invited to apply separately to the Baccalaureate/MD program. Other programs, such as the Penn State-Jefferson Accelerated Premedical-Medical (PMM), allow students to apply to the Baccalaureate/MD program via their initial application.
Course requirements. Programs may require applicants to have taken prerequisite courses prior to enrolling, such as, at Howard, two or more years of foreign language, biology, chemistry, physics, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and pre-calculus. Some have minimum GPA requirements in order to apply, such as 3.7 on a 4.0 scale at Hofstra University’s 4+4 Program or a 4.0 weighted high school GPA at the University of South Florida’s 7-Year BS/MD Program. Some programs require applicants to take the SAT or ACT, while others do not. For those that do, there’s often a minimum required score for each. (At the University of Central Florida, for example, applicants must earn a 1500 on the SAT or a 34 on the ACT in order to be considered for admission to the Burnett Medical Scholars program.)
Interview requirements. Depending on the program, students may be invited to interview around January or February. Some programs ask students to take a Situational Judgment Test (SJT) like Casper prior to applying, or, in the case of Brown, submit a video portfolio. (Some others have students take an SJT test during the undergraduate portion of the program as a requirement of advancing on to medical school.)
Selectivity. These programs are highly selective, with very small class sizes. Brown University’s, for example, accepts about 50 applicants per year; in 2021-2022, more than 3,500 students applied, so the acceptance rate was 1.5%. Drexel University’s program accepts around 60 students; for fall 2022, 2,705 students applied, for an acceptance rate of 2.3%. (Only 811 of those 2,705 applicants, though, met the minimum GPA, SAT/ACT and deadline requirements to be eligible.) Case Western Reserve University’s Pre-Professional Scholars Program in Medicine accepts 15-20 students per year; George Washington University’s Seven-Year Dual BA/MD Program accepts around 10 out of 1,000-1,200 applicants, for an acceptance rate of around 1%. Rochester University describes its Early Medical Scholars (REMS) program as “the most competitive combined degree program at Rochester.”
Program length. Baccalaureate/MD programs range in length from six to eight years. In programs that last eight years—such as Case Western’s, Drexel’s, and Hofstra’s—each of the two degrees (the BA or BS, and the MD) takes the standard four years to complete that it would if students earned them separately rather than as part of a combined program.
Baccalaureate/MD breakdown. In shorter programs, the time devoted to each degree varies widely. The seven-year Penn State-Jefferson program, for example, entails three years of college at Penn State followed by four years of med school at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC) College of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. At the University of South Florida’s seven-year program, students spend three years working toward their BS at the Judy Genshaft Honors College at USF; complete one year of overlapping BS/MD study at the Morsani College of Medicine; and spend the following three years completing their medical degree. At Howard University’s six-year program, two years are devoted to the BS degree, and the following four years to the MD. At the six-year University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine’s BA/MD Program, students devote three-fourths of the first two years to their BA and one-fourth to their med school coursework. The following four years are devoted primarily to med school coursework, but a fraction of the time is still devoted to completing BA requirements.
Degree and major requirements. Programs differ in whether they offer students a BA, a BS, or a choice between either type of Bachelor’s degree prior to the MD. In addition, while some programs—like Brown’s and Case Western’s—allow students to choose whatever college major they’d like, in others, specific majors are required. At Howard, for example, students must earn a BS in either biology or chemistry; at Drexel, they must major in biological sciences, chemistry, or biomedical engineering.
Course requirements. Major aside, programs often require Baccalaureate/MD students to take specific courses in college that prepare them to tackle medical school coursework. At Case Western, though students can choose any college major, they must complete a roster of courses in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics/statistics, and behavioral sciences. FAU students must complete a Special Topics in Medicine course in their first year and a specialized pre-health course (such as a medical internship) in their second or third year. UMKC mandates that students take specific courses during each semester of their enrollment. (Fall of year one, for example, means taking the medicine courses Medical Terminology, Learning Basic Medical Sciences, and Fundamentals of Medical Practice; the arts and sciences courses Functional Anatomy with Lab and General Chemistry I with Lab; and two General Education Requirements.) Drexel doesn’t mandate specific courses, but students must “complete a rigorous plan of study which includes at least 14 credits and two STEM courses each quarter.”
Requirements for Med School Matriculation (Once You Are in College)
The benefits of earning a Baccalaureate/MD degree include potentially spending less time total on the two degrees, and bypassing the regular medical school application process. As Case Western puts it, students are thus “relieved of much of the anxiety and uncertainty associated with pre-professional studies. Consequently, they feel free to undertake challenging courses of study and pursue a variety of interests as they prepare for professional studies.”
However, this doesn’t mean that once you’ve enrolled in a Baccalaureate/MD program, you’ll automatically advance to medical school! Programs have specific and often rigorous requirements that students must meet during the college portion of the degree in order to matriculate at medical school. And some programs, like USF’s, do require students to submit an application to their companion med school in the course of their undergraduate studies. This all makes sense, given the rigor of medical school education and the impressive transcripts, scores, and research/clinical experiences necessary to be admitted to these programs under normal circumstances.
MCAT requirements. Some programs, like Brown’s, Rochester’s, and the Union College Leadership in Medicine Program, don’t require Baccalaureate/MD students to take the MCAT at all in order to advance to medical school. Many, though, require it. Drexel mandates a minimum score of 513 (with a breakdown of 128 in each section except for Critical Analysis and Reasoning, which can be 127). Hofstra requires that students earn an MCAT score equivalent to the 80th percentile on their first sitting. Stony Brook’s Scholars for Medicine Program requires “a cumulative MCAT score comparable to the national average of medical school matriculates.” Other schools don’t require the MCAT, but mandate that if students do take it, they achieve a certain score. At Case Western, for example, students who opt to take the MCAT must achieve a score above the 94th percentile.
Minimum GPA requirements. Programs may also mandate that students maintain a certain GPA while completing the college portion of the combined degree. The Florida Atlantic University Schmidt College of Medicine Bachelor’s/MD Dual Degree Program, for example, requires that students maintain a 3.7 for both their cumulate undergraduate average GPA and their cumulative science GPA. At Hofstra, the minimum overall and science GPA requirements are 3.6. At Stony Brook, BA students must achieve a minimum GPA of 3.4 in order to advance to medical school.
Other requirements. Programs may have other demands as well, such as service or research requirements. At Drexel, undergrads must complete at least 100 hours of service as well as a six-month co-op in research, clinical, or health informatics; health law; or bioengineering. At FAU, students are required to amass a minimum of 50 hours of clinical experience per semester in years two and three; amass 50 hours of volunteer work per year throughout the undergraduate experience; complete laboratory research that culminates in an abstract for a poster or oral presentation; and serve in a leadership role during years two and three. USF students must complete at least 60 hours of medical observation and 60 hours of community service by the end of year two, and at least two semesters of research throughout their undergraduate years.
Interviews and recommendation letters. Students may be asked to interview, submit a Situational Judgment Test like Casper, and/or submit recommendation letters in order to advance on to medical school. At both UCF and USF, for example, students must provide two letters of recommendation from faculty as well as interview with the programs’ respective medical schools in order to matriculate.
For guidance on navigating the complexities of your college or medical school application process, feel free to contact us. As always, at Collegiate Gateway, we’re happy to help!