Medical School Admissions & The Roles Of Undergraduate GPA & MCAT Scores

Updated: May 26, 2020

Click through and read the dialogue from any graduate school admissions online forum—Grad Café, SDNm etc.—and you’ll quickly notice Medical School applicants’ palpable anticipatory anxiety. Their concern is not entirely misplaced, however, given the legendarily low acceptance rates at top programs . Taking a closer look, the following lists acceptance rates for the top 126-ranked programs in the US:

Medical School Institution (Acceptance Rate)

New York University--Long Island (1.3%)

Florida State University (2.2%)

University of Arizona--Tucson ( (2.3%)

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (Carilion) (2.3%)

Stanford University (2.3%)

Mayo Clinic School of Medicine (Alix) (2.4%)

University of California--Los Angeles (Geffen) (2.4%)

New York University (Grossman) (2.5%)

Howard University (2.5%)

West Virginia University (2.8%)

Brown University (Alpert) (2.8%)

George Washington University (2.9%)

Georgetown University (2.9%)

Loyola University Chicago (Stritch) (2.9%)

Wake Forest University (3.0%)

University of California--Davis (3.1%)

Harvard University (3.3%)

Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (3.4%)

Columbia University (3.5%)

University of Colorado (3.7%)

University of California--San Francisco (3.8%)

University of California--San Diego (3.8%)

Quinnipiac University (3.8%)

Dartmouth College (Geisel) (3.9%)

Duke University (4.0%)

Oregon Health and Science University (4.0%)

Emory University (4.0%)

California University of Science and Medicine (4.0%)

University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill (4.0%)

University of California--Irvine (4.0%)

Wright State University (Moonshot) (4.1%)

University of Washington (4.1%)

University of Miami (Miller) (4.3%)

Albert Einstein College of Medicine (4.3%)

Florida Atlantic University (Schmidt) (4.3%)

University of Chicago (Pritzker) (4.3%)

University of Pennsylvania (Perelman) (4.4%)

University of Pittsburgh (4.5%)

Rush University (4.5%)

University of Southern California (Keck) (4.6%)

Tufts University (4.6%)

University of Missouri (4.7%)

University of Utah (4.7%)

Thomas Jefferson University (Kimmel) (4.7%)

Virginia Commonwealth University (4.8%)

Baylor College of Medicine (4.9%)

University of Hawaii--Manoa (Burns) (4.9%)

Temple University (Katz) (4.9%)

University of Minnesota (4.9%)

University of Michigan--Ann Arbor (5.0%)

Cornell University (Weill) (5.1%)

University of Florida (5.1%)

New York Medical College (5.2%)

Vanderbilt University (5.3%)

University of Central Florida (5.3%)

Marshall University (Edwards) (5.3%)

Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School--New Brunswick (5.4%)

University of California--Riverside (5.5%)

Yale University (5.5%)

University of Wisconsin--Madison (5.5%)

Wayne State University (5.6%)

University of Rochester (5.7%)

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (5.7%)

Ohio State University (5.7%)

University of Toledo (5.7%)

Johns Hopkins University (6.0%)

University of Alabama--Birmingham (6.0%)

East Tennessee State University (Quillen) (6.3%)

University of Vermont (Larner) (6.4%)

Nova Southeastern University Patel College of Allopathic Medicine (6.4%)

Eastern Virginia Medical School (6.4%)

Northwestern University (Feinberg) (6.4%)

Boston University (6.5%)

Western University of Health Sciences (6.5%)

University of South Carolina (6.6%)

University of Maryland (6.6%)

University of Connecticut (6.6%)

University of New Mexico (6.6%)

Florida International University (Wertheim) (6.8%)

Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (6.9%)

Drexel University (6.9%)

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (7.0%)

Rutgers New Jersey Medical School--Newark (7.0%)

Case Western Reserve University (7.0%)

University of Texas Health Science Center--San Antonio (7.1%)

University of Iowa (Carver) (7.1%)

University of Pikeville (7.5%)

University of South Florida (7.5%)

Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (7.6%)

Saint Louis University (7.7%)

Touro University California 2 (7.7%)

University of Oklahoma (7.7%)

University of Nevada--Reno (7.8%)

Hofstra University (7.9%)

University of Louisville (7.9%)

University of Kansas Medical Center (8.0%)

West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (8.1%)

Washington University in St. Louis (8.2%)

Stony Brook University--SUNY (8.2%)

Indiana University--Indianapolis (8.6%)

University of Massachusetts--Worcester (8.6%)

Ohio University (8.7%)

University of Cincinnati (8.9%)

Oklahoma State University (9.3%)

University at Buffalo--SUNY (Jacobs) (9.5%)

Texas A&M University (9.6%)

William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine (9.7%)

University of Nebraska Medical Center (10.1%)

SUNY Upstate Medical University (10.3%)

University of Illinois (10.3%)

Augusta University (10.6%)

University of Kentucky (11.3%)

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (11.6%)

University of North Texas Health Science Center (11.7%)

University of Virginia (11.7%)

University of Tennessee Health Science Center (12.1%)

East Carolina University (Brody) (12.4%)

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (12.4%)

University of Missouri--Kansas City (13.5%)

University of New England (14.7%)

Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (15.2%)

Medical University of South Carolina (15.5%)

Nova Southeastern University Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine (Patel) (16.1%)

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (16.5%)

Lincoln Memorial University (DeBusk) (25.3%)

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center--Shreveport (27.1%)

This table makes clear that Medical School admissions are incredibly competitive, with an aggregate acceptance rate of 6.7% (SD = 4.0%); 68% of the top 126 US programs have acceptance rates between 2.7% and 10.7%. Despite the seemingly universally low admissions prospects shown, comparing data from either edge shows more variation than first appears. For the 10 most competitive programs, the M acceptance rate = 2.3%; For the 10 least competitive, M acceptance rate = 16.9%. In short, while all programs are competitive, achieving an offer of admission from this list’s utmost so is ~7.5 times more difficult than for the least selective institutions.

As an important side note, given these statistics are for the top 126 programs only according to US News & World Report; they don’t reflect the full range of acceptance rates. On this point, the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine and Central University of the Caribbean accept 28.7% and 44.0% of applicants, respectively.

Maybe the next-most-common question raised by prospective medical students is, “what MCAT score and GPA do I need to get in?” The following table's frequency data provides a more nuanced look at how undergraduate GPA and MCAT scores interact to influence admissions chances.

As shown, GPA and MCAT scores are both vitally important predictors. Regarding cutoffs, GPAs > 3.40 and MCATs > 506 (i.e., 73rd percentile) appear to be put applicants in strong footing on the aggregate. This cutoff is congruent with data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, showing that, in 2017, average MCAT score of matriculating applicants (M = 508.7) was about seven points higher than just applicants overall (M = 501.8).

As a final note, the fact that prospective students submit a very high number of applications (M = 16) is one facet of the medical school admissions that tends to obscure data about aggregate acceptance rates. Taking 2017 again, 21,030 of the 53,042 prospective students received an offer of admission, equating to approximately 40%. However, these ~ 21,000 applicants submitted a total of 816,000 applications. This data indicates that while a GPA > 3.40 and MCAT > 506 place a prospective student on solid ground, submitting a high number of applications (> 15) optimizes one’s chances of being rewarded for those achieving those numbers.

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