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Fast Facts: Combined BS/MD Programs


Washington University in St. Louis is no longer offering their University Scholars Program in Medicine (USPM) due to budgetary restrictions.

Most students apply to medical school after they complete their undergraduate degrees. Others, who have dreamt of being a doctor their whole lives, are ready to commit to a medical program much earlier. If this sounds like you, it is worth researching the 80 or so institutions that offer a combined BS/MD program (or “direct medical program”). This competitive option allows undergraduates to proceed directly into medical school without having to go through a separate admissions process. Once accepted, students can obtain their Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree along with their MD in 7-8 years (depending on the program). Brown is the only Ivy League school to offer this “fast track” to an MD, in partnership with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.


Requirements: The exact requirements and features of these programs vary by school. While “Combined BS/MD Programs” accept high school applicants into the college and medical school at the same time, other programs, “Early Assurance Medical School Programs,” wait to formally admit a student to the medical school until sophomore or junior year. Either way, during the undergraduate portion of the program, students are expected to fulfill the standard pre-med requirements, and are sometimes limited in terms of the majors they can select. Students must also complete their undergraduate studies successfully while maintaining a minimum GPA (at Georgetown, for instance, the minimum GPA is 3.6).

The application materials for these programs can be quite intensive and require a number of secondary essays, similar to the standard med school application process. Brown, for instance, asks three required essay questions for seniors applying to their joint-degree program:

  1. Committing to a future career as a physician while in high school requires careful consideration and self-reflection. What values and experiences have led you to believe that becoming a doctor in medicine is the right fit for you? (250 words)
  2. Most people describe a career as a physician/doctor as a “profession”, beyond a job. Describe for us what “professionalism” and “the profession of a physician/doctor” mean to you. (250 words)
  3. How do you envision the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) helping you to meet your academic personal and professional goals as a person and as a physician of the future? (500 words)

Our senior counselors can help guide you through these essays and offer proven strategies as you craft a compelling application. Click here for more information about our Essay Guidance Package.

In addition to strong essays, you will need to demonstrate significant experience in the medical field such as shadowing a doctor, research and clinical experience, or related volunteer work in addition to high AP and subject test scores (especially in the sciences).

At the Northwestern University Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME), one of the best BS/MD programs, the acceptance rate hovers around 2% (19-23 students per incoming class). The average test scores from the 2018–2019 application season were:

SAT ERW: 762

SAT Math: 792

ACT Composite: 35

SAT Chemistry: 777

SAT Math Level 2: 790


Pros: Why should you pursue a joint degree program? If you’re 100% sure you want a career in medicine, this joint program allows you to skip the highly stressful med school application process and guarantees you a spot at a prestigious medical school. This saves significant time and money since you won’t need to visit schools for interviews later on. Additionally, most schools that offer this program don’t require their students to take the MCAT, which alleviates a significant source of stress.

Cons: College is often a time to explore a range of academic interests and take advantage of a flexible curriculum. By committing to a medical program so early, you are limiting your ability to take a diverse array of classes or change your career path. You are also no longer able to apply to some of the best medical schools in the nation (Harvard, Stanford, etc.) since you will have already committed elsewhere.



Who’s eligible? Middlebury College and Dartmouth College Students

Who’s eligible?  Georgetown undergraduates only. Must be in your fourth semester at Georgetown and completed 4 of 5 pre-med courses by the end of May (one of the four completed courses must be Organic Chemistry).

Who’s Eligible? Tufts University sophomores. Tufts also offers an early assurance program for their Maine Track program, which is focused on rural medicine. Students who are sophomores at Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, and all University of Maine campuses are eligible to apply.

Who’s Eligible? Undergraduates at Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Carleton College, Colgate University, CUNY Hunter, Hamilton College, Haverford College, Middlebury College, Swarthmore College, Williams College, and Xavier University of Louisiana. Students apply in May-June following sophomore year.

Who’s Eligible? Wake Forest undergraduates only. Note: EAP acceptance is conditional upon completing the MCAT with 509 or higher prior to matriculation.

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