The degree programs typically offered by many medical schools in the U.S. include: Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.), while many medical schools also offer physician assistant and medical research programs. U.S. allopathic and osteopathic medical schools are accredited by the American Osteopathic Association's Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), respectively.
In 2011, the AAMC and the AACOM recognized 134 accredited MD-granting medical schools and 26 accredited DO-granting schools in the United States.
Most medical schools in the U.S. require applicants to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) - a standardized medical exam administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
Students who are preparing to apply to allopathic, osteopathic, podiatric, and veterinary medicine schools should sit for the MCAT.
Exam scores are based on Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Verbal Reasoning, as well as a Writing Sample.
Common medical school myths
If you’re considering applying to medical school, you might have already come across a myth – or few – along the way. Don’t believe everything you hear or read about the process of applying to medical school. Instead, refer to reputable sources to get the real facts. Some of the most common myths associated with medical school applications currently include:
Medical schools will only accept applicants who have a lot of extracurricular activities and significant clinical experience.
False. While medical schools often require applicants to demonstrate some clinical experience, they don't expect prospective students to be experts upon admission. With regard to extracurricular activities, it’s better to demonstrate a solid commitment to a few activities over a longer period of time, rather than many different activities over a short period of time.
While medical school applications require an essay or statement of purpose, admission is based on MCAT scores and previous course grades.
False. There’s no denying that a high MCAT score and strong grades are vital to any medical school application. However, in a competitive setting where many applicants are likely to have high test scores and grades, a statement of purpose or entrance essay can truly set an applicant apart from the rest. Take the time to write a polished essay about your experiences and aspirations – it can make all the difference in the end.
Not knowing the answer to a question during your application interview can cost you admission into medical school.
False. While admissions interviewers have been known to ask questions that stump interviewees, the purpose of such questions is usually to assess how an applicant handles him or herself under pressure (rather than to test actual knowledge of the answer). Prepare yourself for an interview by anticipating various types of questions you might be asked; however, if you are faced with a “stumper” question, it’s acceptable to say that you do not know the answer to the question, but are happy to research it and get back to the interviewers – which you should, in turn, follow up on.
Thinking of medical school?
Learn more about some of the top medical schools in the U.S.