Last week I discussed combined BS/MD programs. Today I want to talk about what it takes to get into these extremely competitive programs. Just how competitive are combined BS/MD programs? In 2006 Brown University had 1974 applicants for their PLME program and accepted 79. The program at Rice University/Baylor had over 1,000 applications and only 14 were accepted. Finally, at the Caltech/UCSD program, only 8 were accepted out of 209 applicants.
Students with grades and test scores in the top 1% of students regularly fail to gain admission to these programs. So what does it take to get admitted to a BS/MD program?
Successful students will generally have be in the top 1% of their high school class while taking multiple AP or IB classes. To be competitive the student will also need to have SAT scores higher than 2100 and preferably, much higher.
Here are some examples from some top programs. In the Honors Program in Medical Education of Northwestern University, the average SAT score is 2291. That includes an average score of 752 Critical Reading, 781 Math and 758 Writing. The average score on the SAT Subject Test in Chemistry is 763 and the average Math Level 2 score is 779.
At the PLME program of Brown University students “were generally among the top one percent of their high school class. Students offered admission to the PLME for fall 2007 achieved an average score of 723 Critical Reading, 738 Mathematics, and 727 Writing on the SAT Reasoning Test.”
So, high grades and test scores are expected. But what other factors are considered in deciding who to admit to these programs? Brown gives you some guidance here:
“Applicants, however, are not judged solely on the basis of test scores. Qualities of personal distinction, motivation, maturity, character, and intellectual breadth markedly influence the admission process.”
Well, that sounds nice but what does it really mean? Most successful students will have participated in activities prior to their application that evidences a strong interest in becoming a doctor. Have you spent time shadowing a doctor? Might be something to consider.
The successful student will also need to convince the program that they have a good reason for wanting such a program. Although students entering these programs are not committed to attend medical school if they change their mind during college, the programs do not want to waste resources on students that are not likely to continue onto medical school. A commitment to a medical career as evidenced by your high school activities is one way to convince the programs that you are serious about a medical career.
Volunteer activities are also critical to having a successful application. But not all types of volunteer activities will impress the admissions committee. Your volunteer efforts, at least in part, should have some relationship to health care. Have you volunteered at a hospital or nursing home? Have you started a club, or been actively involved, in efforts to benefit people with a particular illness or disease?
Another factor that will help your application is participation in some type of research at a university. Many applicants to these programs have this experience so if you don’t you will be at a disadvantage.
Even if you do everything write there are still no guarantees of admissions to these programs. But the stronger your application, the greater your chance of admission. In the next few weeks I will be addressing some of the admission requirements for BS/MD programs, applying to these programs and the medical school interview generally required for most programs.
Want more information about BS/MD programs? Check out the Guide to BS/MD Programs.