A Guide to Combined BS/MD Programs

Padya Paramita

A Guide to Combined BS/MD Programs 

You might have had your heart set on becoming a doctor your entire life. If you’ve already started pursuing extracurricular activities in the medical field such as shadowing doctors and volunteering at hospitals, you might be wondering if there are any options for you beyond just regular pre-med. This is where combined BS/MD programs come into play.

If you’re a strong student, have pushed yourself to earn high scores, and engaged in relevant extracurriculars, you might be a good fit for combined BS/MD programs. Moreover, if you’re passionate about medicine, know that this is the only career for you, and can’t wait to start your medical education, this is a good route to explore. But note that it is by no means easy. Very few lucky and talented students receive one of these valuable spots. So, you need to bring your A game. To help you navigate this path, I’ve outlined the options available for you, the application process, what admissions officers look for, as well as pros and cons of applying to combined BS/MD programs.

What Are Combined BS/MD Programs?

Combined BS/MD programs, as the name suggests, are dual-degree programs that allow students to receive their Bachelor’s degree and immediately join a medical school partnered with their undergraduate institution for their MD. When you’re accepted into college, you have an assured spot at the medical school as well! Some of these extremely competitive programs are accelerated - most likely on the undergraduate side - and students can finish their degree in 6 or 7 years rather than 8. Candidates have to fit the criteria for both the undergraduate school, as well as show potential as a future medical student, in order to qualify for these unique opportunities. 

Institutions such as Dartmouth College, Tulane University, and George Washington University also offer students the chance to apply to medical school once they’ve started college - usually within the first couple of years. Applicants to these early assurance programs as undergraduates have to take pre-assigned pre-med courses by their freshman or sophomore year and maintain a certain GPA at the time of their application. These programs might be better suited to you if you’re still unsure about your career options and want to determine how you fare in the academic environment of the college before you make such a big decision. 

Colleges and Medical Schools with Combined BS/MD Programs

The schools outlined in the table below offer combined BS/MD programs to qualified candidates. As you’ll see, many of these institutes have a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score that students must meet. Not all of these programs accept international students.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the combined BS/MD programs available around the country.

School Name Duration (Years) Minimum Requirements
Albany Medical College (partnerships with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Union College, and Siena College) 7-8 Exhibit motivation for a career in medicine; Minimum GPA of 3.50 or rank in top 10% of high school graduating class; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Augusta University -Medical College of Georgia 7 Minimum GPA of 3.50; Minimum SAT score of 1400, or ACT score of 32; Preference given to in-state candidates
Boston University School of Medicine 7 Must submit Chemistry and Math II subject test scores; Must meet course requirements (https://www.bu.edu/admissions/apply/first-year/accelerated-medical-requirements/); International students accepted
Brown University -Warren Alpert School of Medicine 8 Must submit SAT or ACT, two SAT subject tests recommended; Must meet course requirements (https://www.brown.edu/academics/medical/plme/information-prospective-students/admission); International students accepted
California Northstate University School of Medicine 6-7 Minimum GPA of 2.70; Minimum SAT score of 1130, or ACT score of 22; International students accepted
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine 8 Challenging high school course load; Impressive academic credentials - must rank high among most competitive applicants; International students accepted
City College of New York Brooklyn College - Downstate Medical Center 8 Minimum academic average of 90; Minimum SAT score of 1200; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Drexel University College of Medicine 8 Minimum GPA of 3.50; Minimum SAT score of 1420 or ACT score of 31; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Florida Atlantic University - Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine 7-8 Minimum GPA of 3.50; Minimum SAT score of 1200 or ACT score of 27; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Florida State University College of Medicine 7-8 Record of high academic ability; Must be a Florida resident
George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences 7 Record of high academic ability; 90th percentile on the SAT or ACT; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Hofstra North Shore - LIJ School of Medicine 8 Minimum GPA of 3.70 or top 10% of high school graduating class; Minimum SAT score of 1410 and ACT score of 32; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Indiana State University - Indiana University School of Medicine 8 Minimum GPA of 3.50; Minimum SAT score of 1200 or ACT score of 27; Must reside in rural Indiana
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine 7-8 Admitted students generally on top of their class; Must take Chemistry and Math II subject tests; Must meet course requirements (https://www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/sites/hpme/apply/entrance-requirements.html); International students accepted
Pennsylvania State - Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University 7 Rank in top 10% of high school graduating class; Minimum SAT score of 1470 or ACT score of 32; International students accepted
Rice University - Baylor College of Medicine 8 Rank in top 5% of high school graduating class or have a minimum GPA of 3.70; Minimum SAT score of 1430, or ACT score of 32; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences Newark - New Jersey Medical School 7 Rank in top 10% of high school graduating class; Minimum SAT score of 1400 or ACT score of 32; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Stony Brook University School of Medicine 8 Minimum academic average of 98; Minimum SAT score of 1490 or ACT score of 34; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
St. Louis University School of Medicine 8 Must not have any C’s in math or science; Minimum SAT score of 1360 or ACT score of 30; International students accepted
Temple University School of Medicine 8 Minimum GPA of 3.50; Courses in math and science all four years; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Medicine 8 Minimum GPA of 3.50; SAT or ACT score must be above the Texas average; Must be a Texas resident
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine 8 Rank in top 10% of high school graduating class; Minimum SAT score of 1360 or ACT score of 30; Must be a Texas resident
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine 8 Minimum SAT score of 1300 or ACT score of 29; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
University of Connecticut School of Medicine 8 Minimum GPA of 3.50; Minimum SAT score of 1350 or ACT score of 29; International students accepted
University of Illinois - Chicago School of Medicine 8 Minimum GPA of 3.50; Minimum SAT score of 1320 or ACT score of 28; Must be an Illinois resident
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine 6 Minimum GPA of 3.0; Minimum SAT score of 1420 or ACT score of 32; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
University of Nevada School of Medicine 8 Minimum GPA of 3.65 or top 10% of high school graduating class; Minimum SAT score of 1320 or ACT score of 28; Must be a Nevada resident
University of New Mexico School of Medicine 8 Minimum SAT score of 960 or ACT score of 20 (at least 22 in the Math section); Must be a New Mexico resident
University of Oklahoma School of Medicine 7-8 Minimum GPA of 3.75 or top 10% of high school graduating class; Minimum SAT score of 1390 or ACT score of 30; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine 8 Must obtain the highest GPA available at school; Minimum SAT score of 1490 or ACT score of 34; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
University of Rochester School of Medicine 8 Academically strong (average GPA of admitted applicants is 3.95); Test optional; International students accepted
University of South Alabama College of Medicine 8 Minimum GPA of 3.50; Minimum SAT score of 1260 (in-state) / 1260 (out-of-state) or ACT score of 27 (in-state) / 30 (out-of-state); Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
University of South Florida College of Medicine 7 GPA must be 4.0 weighted; Minimum SAT score of 1500 or ACT score of 35; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
University of Toledo School of Medicine 7-9 Minimum GPA of 3.50; Minimum SAT score of 1310 or ACT score of 28; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine 8 Minimum GPA of 3.50; Minimum SAT score of 1330 or ACT score of 29; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine 8 Must be academically strong; International students accepted
Wayne State University School of Medicine 8 Minimum GPA of 3.50; Minimum SAT score of 1310 or ACT score of 28; Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident

Unlike regular undergraduate admissions, combined BS/MD programs have certain standards they require students to meet in order to ensure that they can keep up with the strenuous nature of the courses. As you can tell from the table, these minimum scores vary based on the rigor of the institution.

Although all of these programs guarantee you a spot at the medical school each college has partnered with, admission into medical school once you’ve finished your undergraduate courses is contingent upon your performance in college and test score results. Some combined BS/MD programs require students to take the MCAT near the end of their undergraduate studies and have score cut-offs, and almost all of them have set a minimum undergraduate GPA that students must maintain in order to qualify for the medical school portion of the program. For example, at Wash U St. Louis, you have to score within the 98th percentile on the MCAT in order to be admitted to the medical school. Even though the students at Northwestern’s program don’t have to take the MCAT, they must have a cumulative GPA of 3.70 and a science GPA of 3.55 at the time of graduation from the undergraduate program in order to continue onto Feinberg. 

I cannot emphasize enough how competitive these programs are. If you’re a strong candidate in high school, you must keep up your grades once you’ve been accepted as well, and keep up the impressive work. 

The BS/MD Application Process

To be accepted into these programs, alongside fulfilling the usual personal statement and supplemental essay requirements, you typically also have to write essays specific to the accelerated program of your choice. For example, Rutgers asks for a 600-word essay addressing the following specific parts: 

  • Part I. Discuss why you are interested in pursuing a career in medicine. (150 words)
    • Points to consider:
      • What aspects of medicine most appeal to you?
      • What do you think are the most challenging facets of medicine?
      • What sparked your interest to pursue a career in medicine?
  • Part II. Describe your health-related volunteer experiences and the time devoted to them. (150 words) Provide supporting documentation in your portfolio from a supervisor, coordinator, etc.
  • Part III. Discuss what has attracted you to apply to the School of Arts & Sciences-Newark , apart from the BS/MD program. (150 words)
    • Points to consider:
      • What areas of our campus are you familiar with?
      • How would you get involved on our campus?
  • Part IV. Discuss why you are specifically interested in attending Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) over other medical schools. (150 words)
    • Points to consider:
      • What aspects of NJMS most appeal to you and why?
      • Describe the mission of NJMS and how it relates to your goals as a physician.

Clearly, the admissions officers want to determine whether you’re making a well-informed decision as opposed to applying randomly because you want to see what happens. 

Acceptance is no piece of cake. You have to be a strong fit for both the BS and the MD programs in order to be accepted into the joint one! So not only do you have to work on all the application components for the undergraduate portion, but you have to make sure your courses and extracurriculars reflect your interest in medicine. Brown’s PLME program took 94 students out of 2641 applicants (3.6% acceptance rate), while Case Western’s Pre-Professional Scholars Program in Medicine accepts only 15-20 applicants a year out of a couple thousand!

What Admissions Officers Look For

You must present admissions officers at BS/MD programs with top-notch grades, scores, and extracurricular involvement. Since you want to pursue such an intensive field, you must convey your preparation by challenging yourself with the toughest courses such as AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP Calculus BC. Not to mention that you also need to perform well in these classes. As you can see from the minimum required GPA at a lot of these programs - 3.95 for University of Rochester, 3.7 for Rice-Baylor - the standards are very high. Even if the school hasn’t asked for SAT subject tests, getting a high score in Biology, Chemistry, and Math II would be an effective way of demonstrating your prowess. You should ask your science teachers for recommendation letters to continue highlighting your STEM abilities.

You also have to show a dedication to the field of medicine. Yes, you need hands-on medical experiences, but you also need to stand out because the programs are so competitive! You can’t just do the typical hospital volunteering and think you have it in the bag. Dedicate your time to the specific area in medicine which appeals to you. If you want to go into pediatrics, for example, your extracurriculars could revolve around working with children’s hospitals, organizing programming to raise awareness for pediatric cancer, finding work with a child psychologist – you get the idea. Alongside fulfilling the technicalities, you must also capture the personal traits it takes to become a doctor, such as empathy, patience, professionalism, humility, and compassion throughout your application.

Advice From a PLME Former Admissions Officer

When reading applications from students applying to combined BS/MD programs, admissions officers look for students who are not just strong medical students, but would also fit in within the community of the undergraduate institution. Your supplemental essays should highlight strong commitment towards the school, and showcase how your interests and personality align with what the school looks for in students. 

Schools usually assign a team of admissions officers specifically for reading student files for combined BS/MD programs. InGenius Prep’s Former Admissions Officer Mariama Adekomaya was one of the admissions officers on the team for the Program in Liberal Medical Education at Brown University. According to Mariama, “the PLME program looks for students who are strong in the STEM field and have demonstrated a clear interest in pursuing medicine. You have to demonstrate that you’ve thought about the idea of going to medical school and committing yourself to that.” 

She adds, “They also want to know that you’re able to handle a strong science education. The students who tend to do well in the program are students who’ve participated in well-known science competitions and have excelled, students who’ve had research experience. One piece about the PLME program is being able to show that you recognize that as a doctor or physician, you’re someone who’ll be able to need to work with the community and have that interest in working with people.”

So in order to impress readers at combined BS/MD programs, you need to convince the admissions officers that you’ve not just thought about your decision, but show that you’re an altruistic individual, and you’ve put yourself out there to gain the necessary practical experience.

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Download The Full Interview with Mariama Here!

 

Pros of Combined BS/MD Programs

  • Less stress as an undergraduate - Once you’ve been accepted into the BS/MD program of your choice, you don’t have to spend the majority of your time in college racking up on STEM extracurriculars for the sake of your medical school application. Plus, since you don’t have to check certain prerequisite course boxes, you may even find the time to fit in classes outside the sciences that you haven’t had much chance to explore previously. 
  • Availability of resources - Upon admission into one of the combined BS/MD programs, you have greater access to professors and research opportunities specific to the medical field. Depending on the program, you can observe physicians at work and volunteer at the hospital. As a BS/MD student, you can also make a stronger impression than your pre-med peers when applying for medical internships.
  • Cheaper Tuition - Since a lot of combined BS/MD programs are accelerated, they provide you with the chance to finish your undergraduate degree quicker. As a result, you spend less money on your education, and will be your way to earning a high income in a shorter amount of time. On a smaller scale, since you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars applying to medical schools, so you also save application money!

Cons of Combined BS/MD Programs

  • You might have committed too early - Since you’re still in high school, you’re not making as much of an informed decision as college students do when they decide to apply to medical school. While you might not change your mind, you could take a class in college that opens up new career options for you. If you’re not 100% positive about medical school, don’t take one of the very few BS/MD spots. 
  • Fewer options - Let’s face it, you have access to a relatively limited number of medical schools when you apply to BS/MD programs. By choosing this route, you would deny yourself the opportunity to go after other programs that may appeal to you. Your track within medicine might change and you could realize that your goals would thrive at a medical school different from your own. If you think you might regret it, don’t apply! 
  • You Might Not Make the MD Cut - It is often still very difficult to meet the thresholds for getting into the MD portion of BS/MDs! If your program requires you to take the MCAT and you don’t meet the threshold – such as scoring in the 94th percentile required by Case Western applicants – you won’t be accepted into the medical school. It can be devastating to enter college with the belief that you are all set and then find out it won’t work out. So don’t totally rely on these programs for your future.

Combined BS/MD programs are great for applicants who are confident in their decision to pursue a medical career. To get into the program of your choice, you must work hard in your courses as well as gain experience in medicine-related activities. Show admissions officers that you’re passionate about your career choice beyond what is just on paper. Good luck! 

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