AAMC: Michigan’s 35 Answers

Check out U-M Medical School's responses to the AAMC's "Selecting a Medical School: 35 Questions I Wish I Had Asked."

1. Are there any special programs for which this medical school is noted?

We take a holistic approach to medical education, from our admissions process through residency match. This means that all aspects about becoming a doctor — including compassionate patient care, thorough scientific and clinical understanding of anatomical systems, collaboration with peers and mentors, working within a variety of health systems, and a comprehensive review of healthcare policies and procedures — are covered within the four years of our program.

Some of our curriculum highlights include:

M-Home: a learning community of support across all four years. 
Paths of Excellence: choose from Global Health & Disparities, Ethics, Health Policy, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Medical Humanities and Scientific Discovery, with more to come. 
Leadership Program: develop the skills to lead meaningful change no matter where you serve. 

2. Please tell me more about the integrated curriculum.

Michigan medical students learn material in ways that are similar to how they will use it as physicians: scientific foundational knowledge merged with clinical application.

Our curriculum is presented in organ-based sequences, integrating biomedical sciences, clinical sciences, social/behavioral sciences and patient care skills. This lays the foundation for students to develop more individualized plans based upon personal interests and professional development.

In addition to teaching the scientific principles of health and disease, the curriculum emphasizes patient communication, the influence of cultural and social issues on health, and how all of these come together in a variety of healthcare settings.

3. What modalities are used for student lectures?

Students can choose to attend some lectures in person or view them online. Students regularly share their lecture notes with their peers and from one class to another through a student-managed wiki.  

The entirety of curriculum resources is online for students in the Canvas course management system.  

Students and faculty also can interface with the curriculum through iSeek, the School’s search engine, which presents search results of documents and lecture videos organized by related topics.   

4. What are the opportunities for research? What are the policies for taking time off for research opportunities?

There are numerous opportunities to get involved in a wide range of research experiences at the University of Michigan Medical School, which is currently ranked among the top NIH-funded schools in the country. In the Branches curriculum of the 3rd and 4th years, students have the flexibility to pursue individual research projects with faculty mentors that align with their area of interest and career goals. Some students choose to take part in the Scientific Discovery Path of Excellence. Other students (not in the MD/PhD program) request a leave of absence for research if they have been admitted to a degree-granting program such as the Master of Science in Clinical ResearchAll requests are reviewed and granted by the Associate Dean for Medical Student Education.

5. How do students get assistance if an academic need arises?

Through M-Home, every student has direct access to our learning specialist who works with students to identify a wide spectrum of learning challenges and then develops targeted learning support plans to maximize students’ capabilities. There are many additional resources available on the greater University campus to help students with specific learning disabilities that our learning specialist can identify and expedite connection with as needed.  

6. Is there flexibility in the coursework (the number of electives) and the timing of the courses (accelerating, decelerating, and time off) during the pre-clinical and clinical years?

Our curriculum is divided into two main phases: Trunks and Branches. In both phases, scientific and clinical learning is integrated, which is different than the traditional pre-clinical and clinical years model. Flexibility increases as the student progresses through the program, with maximum flexibility in the Branches phase, where students can choose to accelerate at their own pace as competencies are met. 

Additional flexibility in the curriculum can sometimes be arranged on a case-by-case basis in response to personal crisis or unusual and compelling circumstances. The student’s assigned staff counselor is always available to provide student support and explore possible accommodations and/or flexibility at any stage in the curriculum.

7. Are standardized tests used such as the NBME shelf exams?

NBME shelf exams are used in six out of eight required clerkships. All students must take and pass USMLE Step 1 before entering the Branches, and all students must take and pass USMLE Step 2 CK and CS prior to graduation.

8. Has this medical school, or any of its clinical departments, been on probation or had its accreditation revoked?


9. How do students from this medical school perform on the National Board Examinations? How does the school assist students who do not pass?

During their four years of training at the University of Michigan Medical School, students take three national board exams on their way to licensure.

  • USMLE Step 1: Required to pass before beginning the Branches.
  • USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge: Required to pass prior to graduation.
  • USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills: Required to pass prior to graduation.

Our students do very well on the USMLE exams, usually around half a standard deviation better than the U.S. average. 

Students who do not pass the USMLE Step exams are supported by experts in the Office of Medical Student Education in developing a revised study plan and working toward taking the exam again.

10. How are students evaluated academically? How are clinical evaluations performed?

Our system of assessing a medical student’s progress includes both cognitive and non-cognitive components. In each phase of the program, the student’s ability is assessed through observation, clinical skills examinations, and tests of knowledge and clinical reasoning skills. Professional characteristics essential to the practice of medicine are also considered in the evaluation process.

During the science and clinical foundation courses, students are assessed via frequent quizzes (weekly in M1 year) and exams at the end of each sequence. Additionally, students receive narrative feedback on performance and areas to develop from their small group faculty facilitators, in addition to other sequences where faculty-student interaction occurs (e.g. anatomy).

During clinical segments, students are assessed on eight competencies: 

  1. Medical knowledge
  2. Patient care
  3. Communication
  4. Professionalism
  5. Practice-based learning and improvement
  6. Systems-bases practice
  7. Leadership & teamwork
  8. Critical thinking & discovery

Assessments are given at regular intervals and include comments from faculty and residents with whom the student worked.

Grading Scheme

Basic Science Trunk/M1: Satisfactory/Fail

Clinical Trunk/M2:

  • Phase I = Satisfactory/Fail
  • Phase II = Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail and Competency-based assessments 

Branches/M3 & M4: Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail and Competency-based assessments  

11. Is there a formal mechanism in place for students to evaluate their professors and attending physicians? What changes have been made recently as a result of this feedback?

Our program evaluation starts with student input. Students are regularly asked to review instructors, courses, sequences and clinical experiences using an online evaluation system. These evaluations are then compiled to produce anonymous reports that are reviewed regularly by instructors, curriculum leaders and education deans.

To ensure that a student-centered interpretation of the evaluation results remains paramount, the reports are also analyzed by small student groups who summarize their findings during annual review meetings with directors and the assistant dean for educational research and quality improvement. It is a collaborative effort to ensure continuous quality improvement for all of the sequences, courses, and clinical experiences.

Students are invited to focus group lunches with faculty and curriculum leaders in order to provide additional venues for discussing and evaluating the curriculum. All students have an opportunity to participate.

Our students also complete a questionnaire upon graduation. All of this data tells us how our students responded to the curriculum, and their feedback is used continuously to drive curricular change.

We believe that robust, student-driven curriculum review is critical for our ongoing processes of curriculum development and improvement.


12. What kind of academic, personal, financial, and career counseling is available to students? Are these services also offered to their spouses and dependents/children?

A variety of counseling support services are offered to our medical students through M-Home, where they will connect with a house director, faculty coaches, counselors, learning specialist and peers from all classes. The integration of support within the Houses over the entire curriculum allows for the enhancement of student wellness during periods of stress that naturally happen. Additional multiple mental health services exist for one-on-one confidential services. For more information, check out the University's health and wellness resources.

In addition to the resources available through M-Home, there is financial aid guidance and residency and career development through the Office of Medical Student Education, and many resources available through our Health Equity and Inclusion Office. Counseling services are not formally available to spouses and dependents/children, however our counselors are always willing to provide guidance and referrals to our students with families.

13. Is there a mentor/advisor system? Who are the advisors — faculty members, other students, or both?

There are a broad range of access points to mentoring and advising activities at the University of Michigan Medical School. Students establish rich professional relationships primarily via M-Home, as well as through departmental shadowing, faculty career advisors, medical school alumni (who host regular informational dinners for students), and many other student organizations, all of which have faculty oversight.

14. How diverse is the student body? Are there support services or organizations for ethnic/cultural minorities, LGBT students, and women?

Diversity matters at Michigan, and it is valued in all its forms. Our student body reflects this position with many active student groups on campus that represent the full spectrum of people who enroll in our program. Our Office of Health Equity and Inclusion also supports and organizes a host of activities for the professional development of medical students from various backgrounds. We seek to provide a welcoming, accepting, and inclusive learning environment for all of our students.

15. Tell me about the library and extracurricular facilities (i.e., housing and athletic/recreational facilities). Is designated study space available?

As one of the top universities in the world, the University of Michigan campus is rich with resources for medical school students: 

Study Support

The Taubman Health Sciences Library provides access to thousands of medical and scientific journal online and onsite. It also includes a private, customized medical student lounge, 17 technology-rich small group classrooms, two inter-professional education and training classrooms, an expansive computing cluster, several large and small study zones, an entire floor dedicated to clinical skills learning and assessment, and a large commons area for community gathering, food, and exhibits.

Range of Recreation

With more than a dozen of indoor/outdoor recreational facilities, students can work out on their own or join a team and make new friends. 

Housing Help

Ann Arbor is home to more than 45,000 students, which means there are a lot of housing options to fit a wide range of budgets. Many med school students find housing in the "White Coat Area," a neighborhood close to the med campus with many rental options. Get more information on Housing.

16. Are students required to have a laptop?

Yes, laptop computers are required at the University of Michigan Medical School. 

17. What type of clinical sites — ambulatory, private preceptors, private hospitals, rural settings, international — are available or required for clerkships? Does this school allow for students to do rotations at other institutions or internationally?

There are many clinical settings and patient resources available to our medical students. In addition to the University of Michigan Health System, several hospitals, private medical groups and community agencies located in southeastern Michigan provide our students with exposure to a diverse population. Arrangements for rotations at other institutions, at home or abroad, are considered on a case-by-case basis. Students are encouraged to do international rotations in their fourth year, facilitated by Global REACH.

18. Is a car necessary for clinical rotations? Is parking a problem?

For clinical rotations on the U-M medical campus, parking is limited to paid permits (for certain eligible rotations) and metered spots. Many of our students live within walking or biking distance of the campus or take public transportation, which is readily available.

For off-site clinical rotations, a car is necessary but parking is typically not a problem. 

19. What is the current tuition and fees? Is this expected to increase yearly? If so, at what rate?

Read more about current tuition and fees →

Students can expect yearly tuition increases (historically 2 percent to 5 percent), the rate of which will depend on several factors.

Every admitted student is eligible for a merit scholarship. We award a combination of grants and scholarships to about 60% of all students. Find a more detailed budget guideline → 

20. Are there stable levels of federal financial aid and substantial amounts of university/medical school endowment aid available to students?

Yes! Federal financial aid is available, and we do not expect any major changes in the level of availability of these loans. We also have a good share of endowment aid that is available.

21. Are there students who have an "unmet need" factor in their budget? If so, how do these students come up with the extra funds?

Any unmet needs are by student choice. Students have the ability to borrow up to their full budget through different loan programs, however many students do not choose this option. 

22. Are spouses and dependents/children covered in a student's budget?

Spouses are not covered in a student’s budget, and only in certain circumstances are expenses for dependents/children included. 

23. Are there services/staff available to assist students with budgeting and financial planning?

Yes! We have a Medical School Financial Aid Office dedicated to helping all eligible students understand all financial options available to them. Find detailed info about the services available through our Financial Aid Office.

24. Does this school provide guidance to its students and to its graduates/alumni, on debt management?

Our Financial Aid Office is available to help students throughout the medical school program.

25. What medical school committees (e.g., curriculum committee) have student representation?

Nearly every aspect of our medical school involves student input, as we believe that student representation is essential to moving our institution forward. Our students serve on committees for the curriculum (e.g., Curriculum Strategic Planning, Curriculum Policy Committee, Components I-IV Committees, Academic Review Boards, and Curriculum Evaluation Committees), budget, marketing and public relations, Dean’s office, and more. We depend on our medical students to be candid about their experiences at Michigan, and there is a place for everyone at our table.

26. Are students involved in (required or voluntary) community service?

The University has long had important roots in our local community and there is plenty of opportunity for direct experiences on a voluntary basis.

We have affiliations with local community health centers as well as a number of safety net organizations in Ann Arbor, the Ypsilanti area, and urban Detroit.

Many of our student groups sponsor service projects as part of their regular activities, and there is a student-run free weekly clinic for uninsured patients in the Pinckney area with opportunities for all M1 and M2 students to participate. 

27. How active is the student council/government? Are there other active student organizations?

There are 60+ active student organizations on the med school campus, including the Medical School Student Council. The Student Council represents the student body to the administration as a whole and by class. They also plan fun events such as the Fall Ball. Find a complete listing and description of each of our student organizations. 

28. What is the student medical insurance coverage and what is the cost to students?

All medical students must enroll in the GradCare health care benefit plan administered by BCN (Blue Care Network) Service Company or provide attestation of health care coverage elsewhere. GradCare is a health plan only available to University of Michigan Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs), Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs), Graduate Student Research Assistants (GSRAs), benefit-eligible fellowship holders, and medical school students. It is a "modified" point-of-service health plan administered by Blue Care Network (BCN).

29. Is there an established protocol for dealing with student exposure to infectious diseases?

We teach our students that Universal Precautions (Body Substance Precautions) should be used during all patient care to prevent exposures. All hospitals, including those affiliated with our program, have a system for the immediate evaluation of exposure to body substances. Appropriate counseling, therapy and follow-up in the event of student exposure will be done on a case-by-case basis.

30. Does this school provide, or does the student pay for, vaccinations against Hepatitis B or prophylactic AZT treatment in case of a needle-stick or accident?

Prior to entering medical school, all incoming students are required to provide health and immunization records form that include vaccinations against Hepatitis B.  Any vaccinations or testing necessary to complete the required Health and Immunization Record Form is at the expense of the student.  

In the event of a needle-stick or accident, students are treated as employees and all procedures, care and treatment are covered by the Health System. 

31. Is disability insurance provided to cover exposure?

Our liability policy includes the following guidelines for determining if an activity is covered by our policy: Students who are working in a clinical setting for credit toward the M.D. degree; if a student is working with one of our faculty members and that faculty member is supervising the student; and if a student is involved in a mentoring or shadowing program (in which he or she spends time in a clinical setting as an observer) to enhance his or her education, outside the University of Michigan Hospital setting, and the program is an approved program through a student organization or clinical department.

Affected students are managed as employees according to State of Michigan regulations. In the event of an exposure to infectious and environmental hazards, at both U-M hospitals and the VA hospital, students are managed though Employee Health Services. Students are allowed to return to their activities as soon as can be safely done.

32. Is there a school honor code? Is there a grievance process/procedure? Are the students involved?

Yes, we have a Medical Student Honor Code. The Honor Council is comprised of eight students with two members from each class. Allegations of professional misconduct may be brought directly to the Honor Council by a Proctor, a faculty member, or a fellow medical student. Once a thorough review of the allegations is complete, the Honor Council submits a report to the Associate Dean for Medical Student Education who then determines if the case should be dropped or pursued.

33. May I see a list of residency programs to which this school's recent graduates were accepted?

Of course! We have searchable Match Lists on our website. 

We’re proud of our higher-than-average match satisfaction rate among our graduates. That, combined with our top 5 ranking from residency recruiters nationwide (U.S. News & World Report, Best Graduate Schools), goes to show our program is effective in making our students and the people who hire them very happy.

34. Does this school have strengths in the type of medicine (primary versus specialized care, urban versus rural practice environment, academic medicine versus private practice) that I will want to practice?

We are consistently ranked among the top research and primary care medical schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report, and enjoy an above-average match rate for our graduates. See our most recent match data

35. Would I be happy at this school for at least the next four years?

We want Michigan to be as good of a match for the students we admit as we believe they would be for our school. We invest a significant amount of time during the application process to make sure this happens.

Friendliness of students, staff and faculty is often cited as one of the top reasons why students choose to come to Michigan for medical school. We dedicate a lot of time and resources to support your wellbeing, and to provide a warm and inclusive environment where you feel you fit in. We find that students do better if they enjoy what they are doing and enjoy the people they are doing it with every day. We will help you connect with what matters to you most when you are here. You will have plenty of opportunity to get involved in a range of activities, including intramural sportsclubs and organizations, and studies in other schools or abroad.

When it comes down to making your final decision about where to go for med school, we realize it’s something you just know in your heart when it’s right.

For some added input, check out what our students say about various aspects of training at Michigan.