In the United States, Medical degrees are considered secondary degrees, meaning you can’t enroll in medical school directly without a bachelor’s. US medical students have to study for at least 8 years before calling themselves a full-fledged doctor. Let’s look at the requirements all high-school and college students need before they enter medical school.

The General Admission Requirements for Medical School

A student interested in medical school has to have excellent marks in high school before applying for college. You’ll need to have a degree in the science field to be considered, but some schools require extra humanities courses.

In general, you’ll have to follow this timeline to enter medical school:

• High school diploma

• Undergraduate degree, preferably at an Ivy League college, in the field of science.

• Achieve a GPA of 3.5 or higher

• Extracurriculars

• Letter of recommendation

• High TOEFL language score

• A high MCAT score

Every medical school will have their own requirements, including the minimum score needed on the MCAT for consideration. For example, the University of Mississippi School of Medicine has a 38.6% success rate, the highest in the country. However, it’s better to have higher test scores to get a seat at a school that will give you the best training and job prospects.

What is the MCAT?

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is what you need to pass to enter medical school. It’s one of the hardest tests you’ll take and requires seven and a half hours of complete concentration. Plenty of students will use study guides to pass this test, like the Kaplan or Princeton MCAT courses, with the Kaplan test prep ranking higher than the latter.

Nearly 1 in 4 students retake the MCAT every year, so you must create a study schedule and commit to some serious preparation time. The average score is usually between 505-515, which is near the highest score of 528. If you manage to reach a score in the 520 range, you’re basically guaranteed medical school entry.

GPA and Science Course Grades

A high GPA will get you into any accredited college, but medical schools are more interested in what courses contribute to your high GPA than the number itself. For example, if you have a 3.8 GPA but your science courses combined only come to a 3.2 GPA, that’s a red flag to the admissions committee. It tells them you won’t be able to handle medical school.

Some medical schools will have a different benchmark for GPA requirements. It’s impossible to determine the GPA number that will guarantee acceptance because schools will factor other requirements into their decision. However, a higher GPA will make it more likely you’ll become accepted.

Other Requirements


Start volunteering in high school and continue into college. A physician should possess a selfless dedication for helping others, so you need to demonstrate that serving others is your top priority. Don’t just volunteer anywhere: look for places that work with the public. You should also show interest in the activity, so it’s easier to stay in one location. Admissions want to see that you’re reliable and don’t jump from multiple positions.

Letter of Recommendation

All medical schools require a letter of recommendation because it gives admissions an insight into who you are and what you value. You should have at least three recommendations from various sources, including your professors, supervisors, and volunteer coordinators. Lab supervisors and physicians you shadow under are the perfect people to ask because they overlook your daily projects. Only ask mentors that you’ve formed a strong bond with, or you may receive a lack-luster recommendation that won’t benefit your application.

TOEFL Language Score

The TOEFL language test determines your proficiency in the English language. To become a doctor, you must have advanced level knowledge in reading, listening, speaking, and writing to be considered for medical school. The test is simple if you’re a proficient English speaker, but those that aren’t may require extra practice.