The DoctorPremed Blog

The hardest part of medical school is getting in. Let me show you how to successfully get into medical school so that you actually become a DOCTOR!

Harvard Medical School Requirements

applying to medical school medical school medical school acceptance premed May 28, 2020

Here are the Harvard Medical School requirements you'll have to not only meet but exceed if you want to have a fighting chance of getting into the top ranked medical school in the world. 

I cannot say this enough but statistically over 60% of first time applicants to medical school are REJECTED!

If you're trying to get into Harvard Medical School (HMS) then it's going to be even harder. You have to remember that it's nearly every premed's parent's dream to have their son/daughter attend Harvard Medical School. 

I'm going to share what you need to know specifically for meeting the Harvard Medical School requirements and if you do then you'll also be in a very good position to get into any medical school of your choosing as Harvard is one of the toughest medical schools to gain admission into. 

Harvard Cares About Your "Stats"

There are two factors that are weighed the most in any admissions decision:

  1. MCAT score
  2. Grade Point Average

Your MCAT score is weighed the most in any admissions decision.

Next would be your GPA.

How the process works is that medical schools use computers to screen applicants based on their MCAT and GPA. If you do not meet their minimum cutoff values then your application is automatically denied.

This may sound harsh to you but I bet you are only looking at admissions from your personal perspective. 

Here's what the admissions committee has to contend with.

HMS will receive over 6,800 applications for only 165 spots in the incoming first year medical school class. Obviously, AdComs cannot possibly screen all those applications manually so they will use a computer to sort out the most qualified applicants who will then actually have their application reviewed by a human.

HMS and Minimum MCAT & GPA

The Harvard Medical School requirements officially state they do not have a minimum MCAT score or GPA required of applicants.

But I can tell you they expect you to show academic excellence in these areas.

When you're trying to get into a top-notch program such as Harvard they follow a policy that you will find across many Ivy League institutions. My undergraduate college of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) is a perfect example of this, when they said...

"We do not offer merit based financial aid or scholarships because everyone who we admit is deserving of such..."

What this statement means is that virtually everyone who gets accepted into Harvard Medical school will have exceeded the minimum Harvard Medical School requirements by leaps and bounds and it all starts with your numbers.

This is why despite the school not having a minimum MCAT score or GPA anyone can apply and successfully get admitted. Where you're a medical school of this caliber the admissions committee already knows you will have out of this world stats and how you distinguish yourself in other parts of your application will determine if you get admitted to Harvard Medical School. 

Harvard Medical School Requirements - Courses for Admission

Now that you know you need excellent stats it's time to turn your attention to what courses are apart of the Harvard Medical School requirements:

Biology: 1 year with lab

Chemistry/Biochem: 2 years with lab

Physics: 1 year, lab experience desired but not required

Math: 1 year, including one semester each of calculus and statistics

Writing: 1 year, writing intensive courses are preferred

These are the minimums in the coursework you will have to complete as apart of your Harvard Medical School requirements. I should note that it is preferred that these courses be taken in person and not online. 

Let's dive into the specifics of what the committee expects for this coursework.

For Biology, you cannot use AP credits to satisfy this requirement.

Things get interesting with the Chemistry/Biochem requirements because you have to take two years of these courses or the equivalent of four courses which may include:

  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry

Ironically, you can use AP credits to satisfy the chemistry component of HMS admission requirements but then you should take upper division chemistry courses too. 

Pro Tip: Even if you aren't planning on attending a medical school that requires biochemistry I would highly recommend you take it before starting medical school. 

You are going to see biochem on your medical licensing exams. Plus, during biochemistry in medical school your professors will teach biochem as though you've already taken the class. Lastly, when you take biochem before medical school it will allow you to devote more time studying the harder subjects where you can just brush-up/review biochemistry to prepare for the test.

For Physics you can use AP credits to count towards one semester but it doesn't mean you get to walk free. Harvard will want you to then take an upper division physics course.

The Math requirement isn't straightforward either.

A score of 4 or 5 on the AP or BC exam will satisfy the one semester of calculus requirement, however, AP credits cannot be used to satisfy the statistics component of Harvard Medical School requirements. 

HMS has a strong preference that you take Biostatistics if given the option between that and Statistics.

Are you confused by the Writing requirement for Harvard Medical School?

They just want to see you have experience in communicating your thoughts and ideas in written form. The best way to satisfy this Harvard Medical School requirement is through courses that have a strong focus on writing including those found within the Humanities or Social Sciences departments.

However, you cannot use AP credits to get out of the Writing requirement.

Degree Requirements for Harvard Medical School

The Harvard Medical School requirements state you must complete at least three years of college work and have a baccalaureate degree before you matriculate.

Also it is highly encouraged that you complete most or all of your coursework at your primary college/university.

Quick story...

While an undergrad at Northwestern University many of my peers took our premed courses at Harvard Summer School because it was "easier".

Apparently, word got back to the administration at Northwestern about this tactic and now students majoring in the sciences/engineering cannot take these core classes at other institutions.

Luckily, for me I was a Political Science major so it did not matter where I completed my premedical coursework. Also, I think Northwestern instituted this policy because they didn't want to lose our tuition dollars to another college.

Letters of Recommendation for HMS

Your life as a premed student is much easier than mine.

Now, you have the opportunity to pick and choose which individual Letters of Recommendation (LOR) are sent to particular medical schools. Previously, all of your LORs were sent to each medical school.

The Harvard Medical School requirements allow upto six (6) LORs in support of your application for medical school. 

Personally, I believe this is a bit excessive because you really don't need that many and who is going to have the time to read that many letters?

Here are the LORs you need at a minimum for Harvard Medical School requirements:

At least two (2) from professors who have taught you in the sciences.

At least one (1) from a professor who has taught you and not in the sciences.

Letters from employers are not required unless you have been out of school and working, then a letter from your employer should be included.

Now my take on LORs is a bit different.

I think it is extremely important for applicants to have at least one LOR from a clinical or shadowing experience. You want to have someone who can vouch for your ability to potentially practice medicine. 

Harvard's medical school requirements focus primarily on the academic side concerning your LORs without proper consideration for the medical aspect of medicine. Out of all the programs I have reviewed it is unheard of not to require applicants to submit a Letter of Recommendation from a physician.

What Major Will Get Me Into Harvard Medical School?

Harvard Medical School requirements do not identify a particular college major that will be advantageous for students wishing to matriculate to their medical program.

The school is seeking students who have excelled in their chosen academic endeavor and have also taken the required coursework that will allow them to meet the rigors of a medical school curriculum.

This means you do not have to major in the sciences to improve your chances of medical school admission.

I recommend students major in whatever area they find most interesting and enjoyable regardless of their medical plans. Plus, when you enter college there are a number of factors to contend with and not everyone who starts out as premed will actually even apply to medical school.

You want to graduate from college with a degree you are proud of and that can serve you well for the rest of your life.

Northwestern University said it best (perhaps I'm biased though), "To pursue a premedical degree to the exclusion of everything else is to cheat yourself of a true undergraduate education at Northwestern University."

Keep that thought in mind when choosing your undergraduate major regardless of where you attend college.

How Do Students Actually Get into HMS?

Right off the bat, everyone applying to Harvard who has a realistic chance of admission is going to have stellar stats.

If you're the top medical school in the country you are going to have a very rigorous admissions process to ensure only the best applicants matriculate who are going to be able to make significant contributions to the field of medicine and carry on the rich traditions of the Crimson. 

What's a premed to do if everyone has a top MCAT score and nearly perfect GPA?

You're going to use your medical school personal statement as a means of distinguishing yourself and making the strongest case of:

  • Why You
  • Why Medicine

These are the two questions that every successful personal statement addresses in some way, shape or form.

You have to remember there are only so many ways to slice and dice your numbers so the admissions committee is going to need additional clues to determine your fitness to become a Harvard trained physician. 

Your medical school essay allows you to give the committee what they need to make an informed decision about you as a person and your potential for a career in medicine. This explains why your personal statement is the third most important component of your medical school application.

I truly believe if a student knows what they are doing it is entirely possible to "write one's way to medical school," as long as their starts are somewhat competitive.

On the same hand, applicants have lost out on gaining admission to medical school due to the poor quality of their personal statement so your medical school essay must be taken extremely seriously. 

There's a new trend that is putting students miles ahead of the competition for gaining admission to medical school. 

I'm going to let you in on the secret...

How to Become the Must Admit, No Brainer Acceptance

There's a proven strategy for blowing past the Harvard Medical School requirements which will put you ahead of the competition and on the radar of the admissions committee!

Have you ever wondered why some applicants seem to get all the acceptances while others hope to get just one medical school acceptance?

It all boils down to their strategy of preparing themselves to be the ideal candidate a medical school needs and wants to admit.

You do this by crafting your entire medical application into a composite story that makes the strongest case of what you are bringing to the medical school. It becomes so obvious what you are bringing to the table that it is a no-brainer decision for the admissions committee to say yes to your application.

I teach students how to make the most of their extracurricular activities along with what to put in their medical school personal statement so that they can blow the competition out the water and earn that coveted medical school acceptance letter.

Students and parents who have witnessed me explaining the "process" that they are going to embark on months before applying to medical school are shocked and amazed at how simple the process is yet at the same time angry no one has revealed these strategies to them.

If you want to beat the 60% REJECTION rate of first time applicants to medical school you have to position yourself differently from everyone else who is applying and I can show you exactly how to do so.

I encourage you to contact me and discover how I can help you make your medical school dreams a reality. 

Home › Harvard Medical School Requirements


Want Weekly Guidance to Help You Get Into Medical School?

Give me 10 minutes a week and I will teach you what took me 14 years to learn so that you successfully get into medical school and actually become a DOCTOR!