Special Guidance for Applicants
Changes to Our Interview Process, including new VITA requirement:
Given the need to conduct interviews safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering our 24 Hours in Blue interview experience virtually. You can review an overview of the schedule here.
To further allow applicants to showcase their personal and professional characteristics, and to enhance our holistic review process, we are also requiring all interviewees complete the AAMC’s Video Interview Tool for Admissions (VITA). Read more about our VITA requirement.
The University of Michigan Medical School continues to encourage all applicants to apply as early as possible, even if your MCAT test date was cancelled on or before March 27, 2020 as a result of COVID-19, as our rolling interview notifications and admissions policy is still in effect. We will accept and evaluate applications without MCAT scores. We will base our interview decisions on a holistic review of the entire application, however a final admissions decision will not be made without an MCAT score on file.
GPA is only one factor used in assessing an applicant’s file. The University of Michigan Medical School has always accepted a limited number of pass/fail grades, however due to unforeseen challenges and restrictions many applicants have faced due to COVID-19, we are willing to more liberally accept pass/fail grades for courses taken in 2020 and 2021.
We recognize many applicants have been required to switch to online learning due to COVID-19. The University of Michigan Medical School has a long standing policy of holistically reviewing how applicants have chosen to meet our core competencies. We look for demonstrated academic strength and rigor in several key areas, which can be met through traditional or online coursework, as well as other extracurricular activities. Please see below for more details.
Our Admissions committee supports the AAMC stance on the importance of holistic review of applicants in the cases of those who have been arrested during peaceful protests.
Our position is that there is more than one path to medical school.
All applicants to the University of Michigan Medical School are expected to demonstrate a strong foundation of knowledge across core scientific subjects, as well as the inter/intrapersonal skills needed by physicians to thrive in an ever-changing health care landscape.
We admit individuals who not only have the potential to excel academically, but also possess personal attributes and competencies that align with our mission and values.
Ours is: “To transform health through bold and innovative education, discovery and service.”
Please review a few frequently asked questions, and then let us know if we can answer any remaining ones by phone or email, or during one of our chats. You may also be curious to see our most recent Class Profile.
Good grades and strong test scores? That’s a given. The human side of a candidate counts, too.
Dr. Steven Gay talks about his role, our curriculum, his life in and out of the office and clinic, and his amazing insights on what makes an excellent med school candidate.
We know it's important to see the place where you could spend four or more years learning to become a doctor. Check out this virtual gallery showcasing some of our key facilities at Michigan Medicine.
Each University of Michigan Medical School applicant must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States. We also welcome applicants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status,
- Have completed at least 90 hours of college course work, of which 60 must be from an accredited U.S. or Canadian based institution, and
- Have taken the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) - see exception in COVID-19 guidance.
- Have taken the CASPer Test (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics), also known as a Situational Judgment Test. Read more about this new requirement in our Pre-Application FAQs.
Attributes of the Successful Candidate
The University of Michigan Medical School holistically evaluates candidates for admission across a range of attributes necessary for successful development into a compassionate, skilled physician serving the needs of a diverse and changing population. These attributes include:
- Academic Excellence: The curriculum at the University of Michigan Medical School is academically rigorous and requires that the applicants demonstrate prior ability to perform well in a challenging academic setting. Candidates should apply creative/critical thinking to develop solutions and generate information; rapidly absorb and comprehend new information; organize available information into a meaningful description of a problem's complexities; and deliberate among viable options to reach a well-founded conclusion. The undergraduate grade point average and the Medical College Admissions Test scores are only a part of the measures that are used to assess the applicant's ability. Other factors which are used in the evaluation may include the quality of the undergraduate institution, the rigor of the course load, steadily improving grades and an evaluation of activities that can contribute to critical thinking and decision making.
- Altruism: The devotion to the needs of others can be assessed through review of the applicant’s activities, as well as responses to interview questions about the applicant’s goals and desires for a life of providing patient care.
- Written and Verbal Communication: Potential physicians should demonstrate to the Admissions Committee an ability to communicate effectively. The personal statement, letters of recommendation and the interviews provide opportunities to assess effective communication skills.
- Desire to Learn: Every effort will be made during the admissions process to assess the applicant’s passion for learning and dedication to the practice of medicine. Assessment of a desire to learn will include, but is not limited to, evidence of exploring a diverse group of academic interests. Assessment of dedication to medicine will include, but is not limited to, assessment of the application materials for documented interest in medicine, focused questioning in the interview and the applicant’s knowledge of current medical issues.
- Integrity and Ethics: Honesty, integrity and ethics are essential in both the medical education process and eventual practice of medicine. Applicants should be able to articulate an understanding of the importance of ethical behavior, honesty and professionalism in medicine. Dishonesty on the application form or in the interview as well as information provided in the letters of evaluation will be considered in assessing integrity.
- Leadership: Applicants will be assessed on their ability to question and challenge the status quo, communicate positive qualities of an effective leader, exhibit these qualities in action and effectively exert appropriate influence over others.
- Reliability and Dependability: Potential physicians should consistently fulfill obligations in a timely and satisfactory manner and take responsibility for personal actions and performance. Regardless of the situation, they will do everything possible to make sure that their performance is steady and strong, unstopped by obstacles, pressures, and demands that would justifiably derail others. They can be counted on to give their best effort under all circumstances. They keep their commitments and work with others to help them keep theirs. They demonstrate the ability to keep their word under all circumstances.
- Resilience and Adaptability: Applicants will be assessed for their demonstration of tolerance for stressful or changing situations, whether they adapt effectively, remain persistent—even under difficult situations and recover from setbacks.
- Social/Interpersonal Skills and Teamwork: We strive to find future physicians with the ability to work collaboratively, set a positive tone, are neither passive nor dominate the situation, resolve and diffuse conflict, listen to and incorporates others’ perspectives, accept shared responsibility—especially when the outcome is not ideal, and make decisions that reflect the best interest of all involved.
- Competency: We strive to enroll students capable of accumulating the scientific knowledge, the diagnostic acumen, the technical skills and the interpersonal skills required for the competent care of patients. Assessment of competency will include intellectual, technical, cultural and communication competency. All applicants must attest that they have read the medical school technical standards.
The above attributes will be used to evaluate our students not only at the time of application but throughout their medical school careers.
Letters of Recommendation
We require a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation (or one committee letter that includes multiple letters) up to a maximum of 6 letters. Your recommenders can be any individuals who can objectively assess your personal qualities such as integrity and ethics; reliability and dependability; social, interpersonal and teamwork skills; resilience and adaptability; altruism; and a desire to learn.
We have no specific requirements regarding how you select these individuals. However, if you choose to include someone from your academic experiences, we strongly recommend an experienced faculty member (Associate Professor or Professor) rather than a graduate student instructor (GSI). ALL letters of recommendation must be submitted via the AMCAS Letter Service. During the application process, there will be a section asking for your Letter of Evaluation information. Please consult the AMCAS instructions for additional details and be sure to review the AAMC’s new Letters of Evaluation Guidelines. Do NOT send any letters directly to the University of Michigan Medical School.
- We require a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation (or one committee letter that includes multiple letters) up to a maximum of 6 letters.
- Letters of recommendation may come from any individuals you believe can objectively assess your personal qualities.
- ALL letters need to be submitted using the AMCAS letter service.
- Do NOT send any letters directly to the University of Michigan Medical School.
All applicants will receive a Secondary Application, regardless of whether they have an MCAT score or not. Please note that the secondary application fee is waived for those approved for the AAMC-Fee Assistance Program.
We recommend keeping the following in mind when completing your Secondary Applications:
- Write essays about who you are, not what you think Admissions wants to hear.
- Communicate clearly about what you have found in your life to help you become the person you want to be.
- Know the school’s mission. Ours is: “To transform health through bold and innovative education, discovery and service.”
- Know the medical school’s vision for its graduates. Read ours.
2020 M.D. Secondary Application Essay Prompts
We understand this is a particularly stressful time for applicants so we have published our Secondary essay prompts early this cycle to allow more time for reflection. To ensure applicants have plenty of opportunity to share their unique stories and to enhance our holistic review as we shift to virtual interviews, we have also added two additional questions.
Comment on how you hope to impact medicine in the future. If examples are needed, feel free to refer to our eight Paths of Excellence. Do not exceed 1500 characters (about 250 words).
At the University of Michigan Medical School, we are committed to building a superb educational community with students of diverse talents, experiences, opinions, and backgrounds. What would you as an individual bring to our medical school community? Do not exceed 1500 characters (about 250 words).
Tell us something you are passionate about and why. Do not exceed 1500 characters (about 250 words).
Describe your experience in a leadership position, the challenges that presented themselves in that position and what you did to contribute to the success of the team or project. Do not exceed 1500 characters (about 250 words).
Please note you do not need to use the entire word count.
Advanced Standing & Transfers
Because of the integration of clinical content with basic sciences in our curriculum, there is no provision for advanced placement. The University of Michigan Medical School does not generally consider any transfer requests with the exception of very unique circumstances. Students who wish to be considered for transfer must have an established current academic relationship with the University of Michigan and should contact the Director of Admissions.
Prerequisites & Core Competencies
The University of Michigan Medical School will look positively upon individuals who have discovered personal areas of academic interest through their curricular and extracurricular activities and have worked to independently develop, refine and distinguish their experiences to improve and advance health care.
Since the many fields of medicine offer opportunities for those talented in both humanities and the sciences, students should allow personal interests and their passion to dictate their choice of an undergraduate major. We prefer you think of our prerequisites as competencies to develop and not as specific course requirements.
The purpose of our listed prerequisites is to identify individuals that can exhibit our core competencies. These involve demonstrated academic strength and rigor in the following areas:
- Biomedical and Social Sciences (including skills in Written and Verbal Communication)
- Statistical Analysis and Epidemiology
- Hypothesis Development and Investigation
- Analytical Thought and Problem-Solving Skills
Keep in mind that your choices to fulfill our prerequisites should demonstrate pursuit of these core competencies. More information about each competency can be found in the following four sections. These descriptions include real-world examples from admitted Michigan medical students.
The AAMC Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students also offers additional information.
Biomedical & Social Sciences
Intellectual engagement in the humanities (which may include coursework or research, for example) that emphasizes the written and verbal communication of ideas and concepts with an understanding of their historical and societal background and relevance. Understanding of ethical and analytical decision-making can be helpful. Courses offering a social science or philosophical context (such as philosophy, history, anthropology or psychology) can provide future doctors with insights that are crucial to the discharge of their professional responsibilities.
Intellectual engagement in the field of biology (which will include coursework and laboratory experience) that encompasses the core concepts of cell and developmental biology, molecular biology and genetics. These core concepts include:
- Nucleic acid/nucleosome structure and function including epigenetics (histone modification and DNA methylation)
- Cell structure, cell cycle, meiosis, and mitosis
- Genetic mutations, repair and recombination
- Regulation of gene expression in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells (transcription factors & mechanisms)
- RNA processing
- Protein translation
- DNA and RNA viruses - properties and generation, and use of viral vectors
- Foundations of signal transduction
Intellectual engagement in the field of chemistry (which will include coursework and laboratory experience) that encompasses core concepts of biochemistry and biologically applicable elements of inorganic and organic chemistry. These core concepts include:
- Acid/base chemistry
- Thermodynamics and chemical equilibrium
- Protein structure and function
- Enzymes: mechanisms, kinetics, inhibition, binding constants
- Bioenergetics and oxidative metabolism
- Carbohydrate metabolism
- Lipid metabolism
- Membranes and transport
Clear evidence of the ability to demonstrate knowledge of basic physical principles and their applications to the study and understanding of living systems is required. These core concepts include:
- Newtonian mechanics
- Fluid dynamics
- Basic thermodynamics
- Basic concepts of electrical circuits and electrostatics
- Diffusion and transport of mass and energy
The University of Michigan will not require dedicated coursework in physics.
Here are some examples of how our admitted students fulfilled these competencies outside of the classroom:
- Research experience at an institute and co-authored a paper with the findings
- Postbaccalaureate program
- Lab work in oncology
- Self-taught and created biochemistry curriculum
- Thesis work
- Designed and performed experiments in stem cell laboratories
- Founded a start-up that worked with a grassroots development organization
- Poster sessions and journal clubs
- Independent study and CLEP exams
Statistical Analysis & Epidemiology
Intellectual engagement in the field of statistics that encompasses the following core concepts:
- Descriptive statistics and inference
- Probability, populations and samples
- Statistical distributions
- Hypothesis testing
- Regressions and correlations
- Analysis of variance
- Types of observational and experimental studies
Here are some examples of how our admitted students fulfilled these competencies outside of the classroom:
- Collaborated on CDC-funded national project with frequent literature reviews
- Developed measures to track practice-based improvement in immunization rates
- Research assistant
- Supplemental education during gap year
- Studied global health care systems
- Summer internship with physician-led medical research organization
- Anthropological and social research projects
- Performed basic chi-squared tests on large volumes of health data at a leading university
Hypothesis Development & Investigation
A distinct experience in intellectual inquiry and participation in the independent discovery of new knowledge is strongly recommended but not required. We are looking for the ability to understand hypothesis development and to apply problem-solving techniques.
We believe that research is not simply limited to bench research, but can also include inquiry in the fields of translational, clinical, laboratory and humanities research. It can be quantitative or qualitative, and not limited to the natural sciences.
Here are some examples of how our admitted students fulfilled these competencies outside of the classroom:
- Internship at an institute biology lab to conduct small research project that resulted in an improved protocol
- Submitted an abstract to a national foundation
- Collaborated with PhD and postdoctoral students
- Developed parameters for simulations as part of summer research project
- Designed experiments to examine drug resistance
- Conducted original research work for a capstone class
- Research technician in an Alzheimer’s disease lab
- Literary research project
Analytical Thought & Problem-Solving Skills
Analytical thought and problem-solving skills should be an integral and pervasive part of the majority of the curricular and extracurricular experiences.
- Internship with public health non-profit organization in another country
- Developed an app
- Wrote computer code to analyze research data
- Research fellowship
- Global health experience
- Volunteered with Child Life
- Staged trial runs with standards to perfect research techniques
- Language instructor and program administrator
Technical standards are the basic requirements every medical student needs to meet for admission, enrollment and graduation.
We recently updated our technical standards to be more inclusive for qualified candidates who may require specific accommodations. We evaluate and work with students on a case-by-case basis to be sure all technical standards can be reasonably met. Learn more about the thinking behind our standards.
The University of Michigan, as an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action. The University of Michigan is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions. Read more.
Information for DACA & International Applicants
The University of Michigan Medical School Admissions team strives to provide a welcoming and inclusive experience to all of our applicants. We have been committed to encouraging students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status to apply to our M.D. program since DACA’s inception in 2012. All of our admitted students have the opportunity to apply for institutional financial aid and have full access to the University’s many resources.
While the future of DACA is uncertain, our University is committed to pursuing a solution for both current and future students. Read a message from our leadership and learn about available campus resources for current students.
The Office of Admissions continues to encourage DACA students to apply to our M.D. program, beginning with a thorough review of all requirements outlined on this page.
After admission to our program, DACA students are eligible to apply for institutional financial aid. The University of Michigan Medical School has institutional funding that is open to DACA students. These financial aid sources include:
- Long-term University Loans
- Need-based institutional grants and
- Need-based or merit scholarships
Information collected on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to determine whether or not applicants qualify for institutional aid. DACA students are responsible for keeping their status current.
Please note that DACA students are not eligible for federal financial aid.
We are dedicated to working with DACA students on funding their medical education. For more information, please see our Financial Aid Office website or feel free to contact us directly at 734-763-4147 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn about the cost of attending the University of Michigan Medical School.
External Funding Resources
MALDEF’s (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) Scholarship Resource Guide includes scholarships for undocumented students, as well as the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. Rackham Graduate School also provides lists of funding opportunities for master’s and doctoral students from external sources and within the university.
As with all students, to qualify for in-state tuition, DACA students must meet the requirements determined by the University of Michigan Registrar's Office. All students unable to meet these requirements will be assessed non-resident tuition.
Student Legal Services. A full-service law office on campus that gives legal advice and counseling on a wide variety of legal subjects, including litigation as needed.
Office for Health Equity and Inclusion. Promotes a supportive and welcoming community for all learners on the medical school campus.
LANAMA. A University of Michigan Medical School student organization committed to increasing the enrollment and success of Latino/a and Native medical students through outreach and other service efforts.
First Generation Students. Resources, insight and inspiration for the thousands of first generation college students on the University of Michigan campus.
Background on DACA Status
In 2012, the federal government granted temporary relief from deportation for certain unauthorized immigrants who entered the United States as children, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). To date, more than 640,000 individuals have applied for DACA status, which confers lawful U.S. presence, a social security number, and work authorization, allowing for participation in medical residency training.
In October 2015, the U.S. Department of Education has released a Resource Guide Supporting Undocumented Youth: A Guide for Success in Secondary and Postsecondary Settings. Though still a small percentage of total applicants, the AAMC recorded an 8-fold increase in 2014 medical school applicants that identified a DACA status.
Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States. We also welcome applicants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.