Premedical Requirements and Selection Criteria

The Admissions Committee reviews your academic preparation for medical school as part of its holistic evaluation of your application.

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Premedical Requirements

Applicants to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university before starting the MD program. The degree may be earned in any discipline. In rare cases, admitted applicants who have not completed a bachelor’s degree but who have completed another degree (e.g., a PharmD) may begin the MD program without a bachelor’s degree.

All prerequisite courses must be completed prior to beginning the MD program at UW (i.e., the first day of class). Applicants may apply before completion of premedical requirements, but must finish any outstanding medical school requirements before starting the MD program. Courses that meet the general biology, general chemistry and physics prerequisites should be taught at a level required for students majoring in science or engineering.

  • General biology: 2 semesters, one of which must be with a lab
  • General chemistry: 2 semesters, both with lab
  • Organic chemistry: 1 semester
  • Biochemistry: 1 semester
  • Physics: 2 semesters, both with lab
  • Statistics or equivalent: 1 semester
    A basic course in statistics or the equivalent is required. The requirement may be satisfied through a wide variety of courses that includes statistics topics and/or experiences that include implementation of statistics by the applicant. Such courses and experiences must be documented and submitted to the MD Admissions Office for approval. Email to inquire whether a course or experience you have could satisfy this requirement.
  • Humanities/social sciences intensive writing requirement: 1 semester
    Strong skills in written communication are critical to the practice of medicine. The School of Medicine and Public Health therefore requires applicants to take an intensive writing course in a humanities or social science field to demonstrate these skills. Courses that meet this requirement satisfy the following criteria:
    • The course must be in a humanities or social sciences field (i.e., no “science writing” courses)
    • Courses where the majority of your grade was based on written work, and not tests, would be considered writing-intensive
    • AP courses and credits do not satisfy this requirement
    • Foreign language courses, group writing projects and creative writing courses do not satisfy this requirement
    • The School of Medicine and Public Health reserves the right to request a syllabus to determine whether the course meets this requirement

AP and CLEP Exams

AP and CLEP exams may satisfy our premedical requirements in general biology, general chemistry, physics and statistics, but your college or university transcripts must clearly state the course subject for which credit was granted.

Pass/Fail Coursework

UW will accept pass/fail (or equivalent) grades for coursework completed during the pandemic. However, to give the best sense of an applicant’s comparative academic preparation, UW encourages as much coursework as possible be taken on a graded basis (vs. pass/fail). This is especially true for premedical requirements and all biology, chemistry, physics, and math courses.

Selection Criteria

The following criteria are key considerations of the Admissions Committee.

Mission Alignment

UW School of Medicine and Public Health has a broad, multi-faceted mission aimed at advancing health and health equity through remarkable service to patients and communities, outstanding education and innovative research. The Admissions Committee seeks applicants whose aspirations are consistent with the school’s mission and who articulate how training at UW will further their goals. Strong applicants from throughout the United States are encouraged to apply to the MD program.

Personal Characteristics and Competencies

  • Throughout the process, applicants should convey personal characteristics that demonstrate their readiness and qualifications for medical school, residency and physician practice. UW looks for evidence that applicants have developed and demonstrated the AAMC’s Premed Competencies for Entering Medical Students. These competencies are often demonstrated through achievements and experiences, some of which include non-medical experiences or jobs that contributed to personal development and that helped foster strong work ethic
  • Opportunities or activities that develop leadership
  • Experience in laboratory, clinical, or public health research
  • Participation in student or community organizations
  • Awards, scholarships or other honors

In addition to experiences, essays, and letters; applicants are encouraged to take and submit a score for the AAMC’s PREview  professional readiness exam.

Wisconsin Residency

As a public institution, and consistent with the school’s mission and the Wisconsin Idea, the MD program focuses on training physicians to serve the health needs of Wisconsin. Therefore, approximately 70-75 percent of the student body in each class is comprised of Wisconsin residents, and non-resident admission is more competitive. For the MD-PhD program, residency is not a factor for admissions. Admission to the Wisconsin Academy of Rural Medicine (WARM) program is limited to applicants whose state of legal residence is Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois or Iowa.

Motivation to Study and Practice Medicine

Describe opportunities that have provided experiential knowledge of medical practice, such as volunteering or working in clinical, patient-facing contexts. Some examples include:

  • Working as a certified nursing assistant or emergency medical technician (EMT)
  • Physician shadowing
  • Volunteering in an assisted-living facility or a free clinic for underserved populations
  • Medical scribing

Academic Requirements

Applicants to UW must have the following academic minimums:

  • Cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and
  • An MCAT score of at least 500

To receive a secondary application, an applicant must meet these minimums with one exception: Applicants who do not have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, but who have completed at least 12 credits of post-baccalaureate coursework in natural sciences (i.e., biology, biochemistry, physiology) and earned at least a 3.0 GPA in that coursework, may still receive a secondary application.

Undergraduate Coursework and Degree

For otherwise eligible applicants, we accept coursework completed at non-U.S. institutions pending a foreign credential evaluation from a National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES)-approved service. In this case, we strongly recommend completing additional coursework at a U.S. college or university. This coursework should include at least two semesters of premedical courses to demonstrate your ability to perform well academically in a U.S. educational setting.

You must have completed a bachelor’s degree before beginning the MD program. The degree may be earned in any discipline. In rare cases, admitted applicants who have not completed a bachelor’s degree but who have completed another degree (e.g., a PharmD) may begin the MD program without a bachelor’s degree.

Due to our integrated curriculum, we are unable to accept transfer students. Applicants to our MD program must apply as first-year students.

Additional MCAT information

The Admissions Committee considers all MCAT scores earned by each applicant. An applicant needs only one MCAT score that meets the minimum in order to receive a secondary application.

Each year’s entering class must take the MCAT no later than Sept. 15 of the previous year and no earlier than Jan. 1, four years prior the matriculation year.

If you submit your AMCAS application before a pending MCAT score has been reported, you must indicate any future dates when you intend to take the MCAT. We will hold consideration of your application until the scores have been released to us. Once the Admissions Committee has reached a decision on your application, we will not consider any additional MCAT scores for the current application cycle. Please do not submit your application until you have decided whether you will retake the MCAT.