Harvard Medical School Requirements

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 but it is not impossible.

Here are some universal components to a strong medical school application regardless of where you apply.

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.

Does this seem harsh?

You may think so but are you considering the perspective of the admissions committee. 

HMS will receive over 6,700 applications for only 165 spots in the incoming class. AdComs are going to need a fast way to sort applicants to find the most qualified applicants and using a computer is the fastest way to do so.

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 and my undergraduate college of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) said it best...

"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 everyone who will get accepted to Harvard Medical school will have exceeded the Harvard Medical School requirements by leaps and bounds so your numbers are what get you in the door.

This is why you cannot apply thinking since there is no minimum MCAT score or GPA that anyone can apply. It just will not happen if you are not a competitive applicant.

Harvard Medical School Requirements - Courses for Admission

Now that you know you absolutely need to have 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.

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

For Biology, AP credits cannot satisfy this requirement.

Things get interesting concerning the Chemistry/Biochem requirements because in total 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 will be allowed to use AP credits to satisfy the chemistry component of HMS admission requirements but it is expected you will then take upper division chemistry courses. 

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 all over your medical licensing exams and when you take biochem in medical school your professors will teach it as though you've already taken the class. Plus, when you take biochem before medical school you can devote your time to studying harder subjects and merely just have to brush up on your biochem from a past course.

For Physics you can use AP credits and it will count towards one semester and it will be expected that you take an upper division physics course.

Math is a bit interesting as well. 

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 choosing 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 many of my peers took our premed courses at Harvard Summer School because it was "easier".

Apparently, word got back to the administration 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 pushing the limit somewhat because you really don't need that many and again, who is going to have the time to read that many letters too?

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 with your LORs without proper consideration for the medical aspect of medicine. Out of all the programs I have reviewed rarely have I seen an instance of no mention of any letters from physicians. 

What Major Will Get Me Into Harvard Medical School?

Harvard Medical School requirements do not identify a particular 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 endeavors but who have also taken the required coursework that will allow them to handle the rigors of a medical school curriculum.

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

I recommend that 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 go on to medical school for a variety of reasons.

You want to be able 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 that there are only so many ways to slice and dice your numbers so the admissions committee is going to need additional cues 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."

Obviously, you need to have the stats as well.

On the same hand, applicants have lost out on gaining admission to medical school due to the quality of their personal statement so this writing 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

What if I told you there's a proven strategy for blowing past the Harvard Medical School requirements which will put you ahead of the competition and immediately on the radar of the admissions committee!

Facts!

This is is the absolute truth.

Have you ever wondered why some applicants seem to get all the offers of admission 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 therefore, becomes so obvious what you are bringing to the table that it is a no-brainer decision for the admissions committee to say yes on 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 who have witnessed me explaining the "process" that they are going to embark on months to years before applying to medical school are shocked, in awe 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. 

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Harvard Medical School Requirements


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