The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health recognizes applicants are facing unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please be assured that our staff and admissions committee members understand the issues that you are facing and will adjust our assessment of applications and applicants as needed. Our primary concern is the safety of all applicants.

Here are some of the anticipated changes to our requirements for the 2020 and 2021 application cycles.

Pass/fail coursework

We recognize that COVID-19 has disrupted academic plans across the country and will make allowances to ensure that applications are considered without prejudice. The UW School of Medicine and Public Health will accept pass/fail (or equivalent) grades for coursework completed during the duration of the pandemic.

However, to give us the best sense of your comparative academic preparation, we encourage as much coursework as possible be taken on a graded basis (vs. pass/fail). This is especially true for our prerequisites and all biology, chemistry, physics and math (BCPM) courses.

Online coursework and labs

Online courses taken at accredited institutions are acceptable for our specified course prerequisites and general degree requirements. We would prefer lab courses to be taken in-person (rather than virtual) but will accept online courses including online lab courses taken in the spring and summer terms of 2020.

Letters of recommendation

Our requirements for the type and number of letters of recommendation are unchanged. However, we recognize that the course of study changes resulting from COVID-19 may impact the depth of applicants’ interactions with typical recommenders and that the specificity of comments may be less or have a different tenor because of lower number of in-person contact hours.


Although some MCAT test dates have been suspended, we understand that the test administrators are working hard to provide additional testing opportunities. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and encourage applicants to check the MCAT website frequently for updates. At this time, we will accept MCAT scores taken through Sept. 30, 2020 for the 2021 cycle.

Medical exposure/experiences/public service

Due to self-quarantine, social distancing, and other virus mitigation policies; it may be more difficult for applicants to accumulate significant preparatory experiences such as volunteering, shadowing, and other opportunities for medical exposure. To address this, we recommend consulting your pre-health advising center if you are still in college. You may want to research volunteer opportunities in your local community. Check with organizations you have volunteered with in the past to see if you can assist in previous roles. Consider online opportunities, like tutoring or mentoring. Take an online class, listen to podcasts, or read articles and books about public health, bioethics, or another health-related topic that interests you.