Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
The Perelman School of Medicine encourages students to obtain a broad education in the liberal arts, while undertaking preparation in the sciences that is appropriately rigorous.
Science courses should include laboratory experience, which enables students to become active participants in problem solving. Laboratories are also important for learning technical skills that are used in the diagnosis of clinical problems. Because the content of courses varies among different educational institutions, the following competencies and skills can be used as a guide in preparing for study in medical school.
Applicants must have competence in writing, speaking, and reading the English language; that is, they should have the ability:
- To write expository prose that is clearly organized and largely free of errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling;
- To present material orally with appropriate fluency; and
- To read and critically appraise general and technical writing.
The student should prepare for studying the human organism by gaining an understanding of the basic biological principles shared by all living organisms. The knowledge gained through this preparation should include:
- An appreciation of the diversity of life, including viruses, prokaryotes, plants and animals, and familiarity with the typical life cycles and metabolic activities of these organisms;
- An understanding of nucleic acid structure and how nucleic acids are utilized to store and transfer biological information; and
- An understanding of the basic structure and function of the eukaryotic cell, particularly of the role of subcellular organelles and chromosomes in metabolism and cell division.
Much of our understanding of the molecular basis of life is rooted in the principles of physical, inorganic, and organic chemistry. In order to acquire knowledge of chemistry adequate to maintain competence as a physician, students of the life sciences should:
- Understand the principles of chemical equilibria and thermodynamics, particularly in the area of acid-base balance, ionization in aqueous solutions and redox reactions;
- Be able to describe the structure of molecules and understand the basic experimental methods used to determine these structures. Emphasis should be placed on the molecular architecture of organic compounds because of their importance in the biological sciences; and
- Be familiar with the quantitative and qualitative aspects of reaction rates, binding constants, and reaction mechanisms, particularly in regard to enzyme catalysis.
Physics and Mathematics
Mathematics is the common language of all quantitative science. Physics provides the conceptual framework for quantitative biology and biomedical sciences. Students should have a firm foundation in mathematics and physical science on which the medical science taught in medical school can be based.
- Students should have facility with algebra and be able to develop equations from known physical and geometrical relationships. They should also be able to construct and interpret graphic representations of data and functions.
- Students should be familiar with the constants or units of physical measurement.
- Students should be familiar with basic Newtonian mechanics and the physical properties of the various matter states that are of biological relevance.
- Students should have basic knowledge of the principles of electricity and magnetism, particularly circuit diagrams and wave motion.
- Students should have firm grounding in basic statistics and probability—particularly in the testing of hypotheses.
Basic computer literacy is also strongly recommended because of the importance of computer science in many areas of medicine.
Those who wish to extend their background in the study of medicine may carry out additional work in accordance with their own interests and curiosity. Although no one can hope to study all disciplines relevant to a career in medicine, applicants should develop an appreciation of the basic social, cultural, and behavioral factors that influence both individuals and communities in their approach to health and disease. Those entering medical school may wish to seek an understanding of the societal forces which contribute to decisions about the delivery of health care and the basic, clinical, and health service research on which sound planning should be based. These issues may be explored through courses in such disciplines as history, philosophy, ethics, anthropology, political science, and economics, as well as through hospital, clinic, or community service experiences—particularly those that include work with disadvantaged groups.
Because those who become physicians take on special responsibilities as community leaders, applicants should acquire an education that leads to continuous, lifelong learning—not only in their professional field, but also in those things that will assure well-informed contributions to the wider society in which they live.
Applicants for admission must complete a course of study leading to a baccalaureate degree at an accredited college or university (in the US or Canada) prior to matriculation.
In evaluating the qualifications of applicants, the Committee on Admissions does not seek a uniform pattern of background or ability. Careers in medicine are open to students with diverse experience, interests, and personalities. The committee attempts to select candidates on the basis of their potential for service and leadership in whatever field they may choose to enter. Consideration is given to many factors, including cultural, athletic, service-oriented, and other extracurricular activities. Other factors being equal, preference is given to residents of Pennsylvania.
To provide the Perelman School of Medicine with a basis for evaluating and comparing applicants' performance and to increase the student's likelihood of success in medical school, those who receive degrees from foreign institutions are required to have completed one year of course work in the sciences at a college or university in the United States before an application for admission to the first year of medical school will be considered. In addition, nonpermanent residents of the United States are not eligible for federal or school financial aid programs.
Medical College Admission Test
Each applicant must take the Medical College Admission Test, which is authorized by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Information concerning this examination may be obtained from college advisors or from the www.aamc.org/mcat. All applicants for admission in the fall of 2015 are required to have taken the MCAT examination administered between January 2011 and September 2014.
Remember to update your AMCAS application with the latest date for your MCAT scores. Complete applications will be forwarded to the Committee on Admissions after the receipt of an applicants latest MCAT scores.
Page Updated: 07-Feb-2014