It is the mission of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health's Admissions Committee to select a diverse class of medical students who have demonstrated essential academic, personal and professional attributes that will allow them to succeed as clinicians, scientists, educators and leaders to meet the health care needs of Wisconsin and beyond.
All decisions concerning who is accepted to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health are made solely by the Admissions Committee. All decisions by the committee are final. Admissions office staff serve only in non-voting roles. Our admissions policy does not allow the dean or anyone else to select an applicant for acceptance.
All Wisconsin resident and non-resident applicants are evaluated by the same criteria but in different applicant pools. Highly qualified and well-prepared applicants from throughout the United States are encouraged to apply. About 70 percent of positions for new students go to Wisconsin residents. Statistically, only 1 in 40 applicants are selected for acceptance from the non-resident applicant pool. (Residency is not considered for the MD-PhD program.)
Qualities we look for in a medical student
The Admissions Committee strives to select a class in which all members have:
- An understanding of the responsibilities of a physician and the demonstrated motivation and commitment to spend their lives in that career
- The personal characteristics that will allow them to be caring and compassionate physicians
- The intelligence and past academic performance which predicts success in medical school so that they can learn the knowledge necessary to be effective doctors
- The life experiences and maturity to provide empathetic care while maintaining their own emotional well-being
The Admissions Committee performs a holistic review of all applicants by which balanced consideration is given to the multiple ways in which applicants may prepare for and demonstrate suitability as medical students and future physicians. Applicants are evaluated in the entirety of their background, personal qualities, academic preparation and life experiences.
Applicants are evaluated in the entirety of their background, personal qualities, academic preparation and life experiences.
For example, your GPA is not considered in a formula to determine acceptance. Rather it is viewed from many perspectives. For example:
- Did you come from an educationally disadvantaged background that did not allow you to be as prepared for college as other students?
- How competitive was your undergraduate school? Did you take more difficult classes?
- Does your GPA correlate with your MCAT score? Is there an increasing grade trend as you matured and took more difficult courses?
- Did you take post-baccalaureate or graduate classes?
- Did you have to work to support yourself while going to school?
- How well did you balance academic performance with your other activities?
- If you have an episode of lower grades do you tell us why, and how you matured from the experience?
Your MCAT, activities, life experiences, and medical exposure are viewed in the same manner.
There are many personal characteristics of successful physicians that the committee views positively, and they actively seek examples of these in your essay, interview, activities and letters of recommendation. The list includes integrity, self-discipline, altruism, communication skills, motivation, reliability and leadership.
Among these qualities, the committee pays close attention to maturity and evidence of effective coping strategies when challenging situations have occurred. Medical school by itself is demanding, and it is important to the committee to know that you can balance other life events while maintaining focus on your education.
The committee favors applications that are more than simply a list of what you have achieved. They want to know what you have learned and who you have become because of your accomplishments.
Our commitment to diversity
The Admissions Committee seeks a diverse student body. It is in the interests of both enriching the educational environment for all students and in better meeting the future medical, social and scientific needs of society, that the committee makes a special effort to select a class whose members represent a broad range of life experiences, backgrounds and interests.
The UW School of Medicine and Public Health's definition of diversity encompasses differences of:
- Race and ethnicity
- Gender and gender identity or expression
- Sexual orientation
- Socioeconomic status
- First-generation learners
- Non-traditional educational experiences
- Character traits
- Learning styles
- All physical abilities
- Individuals born and raised in rural areas
- Those from groups traditionally underrepresented in medicine
Finally, the Admissions Committee recognizes that each applicant is unique. Providing a well-polished and professional application that still lets the committee know what is distinctive about you may be to your benefit. Frequently, the applicant who can effectively communicate what makes him or her special is the applicant who is accepted.