While there are many subjective and qualitative factors that contribute to an effective medical school application, the objective, quantitative factors play a significant role both in your acceptance and in how you should choose where you apply.
You can’t underestimate the importance of these medical school admission rates and stats. They sometimes constitute numerical screening tools and determine who gets secondary applications. And they should influence you when you choose the programs to apply to.
The most important medical school applicant stats are:
The most important medical school admissions stats are:
Accepted has compiled the data on acceptance rates for U.S. medical schools included in the U.S. News 2023-2024 rankings. In this table, you can see the overall acceptance rates plus acceptance rates for in-state and out-of-state and whether those ratios are none, negligible, modest, material, or huge. We have also included U.S. News rankings for research and primary, as well as median MCAT scores and median undergraduate GPA. Click the column names to sort!
Medical school acceptance rates for the class that entered in 2022 at schools ranked by U.S. News ranged from a low of 1.14% at Emory University to a high of 15.85% at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. However, since most med school applicants apply to multiple medical schools, if you look at the applicant pool as a whole the picture is not quite as bleak. Per AAMC for the class that matriculated in 2021, 62,443 applicants submitted 1,099,486 applications and in the end 22,666 matriculated at an allopathic medical school. Bottom line: 36.3% of applicants who applied to allopathic medical schools matriculated.
That 36.3% is certainly a lot more encouraging than the 1.14% - 15.85% acceptance rates at individual programs, and it doesn’t include applicants who opted to go to osteopathic medical schools. At the same time, that 36.3%, still means that the majority of applicants don’t get accepted to MD programs in any given year, and you want to maximize your chances.
Ideally you want to apply mostly to programs that you want to attend and that are somewhat likely to accept you. “Somewhat likely to accept you” means that your stats are close to or above the median. You don't want to apply solely to the easiest medical schools to get into without considering if you actually want to attend that school. Yes, you can apply to a couple of dream schools where you are less competitive, and you should apply to a few schools where your stats are above average and where you would also be happy to attend.
Keep in mind as you apply that medians are medians because applicants are accepted with GPAs and MCATs that are below the median. However, the further away your scores are below the median, the less likely you are to be accepted, especially if both your GPA and MCAT are weak.
Keep also in mind the impact of in-state vs. out-of-state acceptance rates as you choose your target schools. Many medical schools associated with public universities have significant preferences for in-state residents. They frequently also charge lower tuition to in-state residents. Those two facts, if applicable in your state, suggest that you should apply to your in-state school(s) in addition to any out-of-state schools that appeal to you.
Your undergraduate GPA reflects your academic performance in college and over time. Since a foundational element of admissions is that past behavior predicts future behavior, that number is really important.
Schools want to know that you know how to perform in a demanding academic environment, particularly in the sciences. Your GPA tells them how you’ve performed in the past and also reflects how you’ve performed relative to your peers.
The median GPA in the table above is a median. As we said above about the MCAT, people are accepted with GPAs below the median as well above the median. To gain a fuller understanding of the GPA range at a given school you can check:
While the median GPA provided here is a good initial check when assessing the competitiveness of your GPAs, make sure that you don’t stop there; look into the larger range of GPAs as you assess your competitiveness at particular schools.
Also consider the trend in your overall GPA, your science GPA, your postbac grades (if relevant), and extenuating circumstances that may make your GPA look shinier than it is at first glance.
Where does your GPA fall relative to the median GPA at your target medical schools?
If your GPA is at or above the median GPAs for your target schools, great!
If it’s significantly below the median or if both your GPA and MCAT are below the median, then you’ll want to explore the following free resources:
The MCAT allows medical schools to compare students using a common measure. Grading standards vary among schools, among professors, and among TAs. There is an element of subjectivity to the grading system.
The MCAT is something all medical school applicants – whether applying to allopathic or osteopathic schools – have in common. And it’s scoring is consistent.
MCAT scores also correlate somewhat to performance on the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK exams (see here for details). Medical schools want to know that if they admit you, you will not only be likely to handle the workload at medical school, but also likely to pass these critical exams.
Other factors to consider when evaluating your MCAT:
Where does your MCAT score fall relative to the median score at your target medical schools?
If you have an MCAT that you are satisfied with, fantastic! Check it off your to-do list. If you are not satisfied with your MCAT, here are additional resources for you:
Medical Schools with the Highest Median MCAT Scores
|School||Median MCAT Score|
|University of Pennsylvania (Perelman), University of Chicago (Pritzker) Medical, Columbia University (Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons), New York University (Grossman), Yale University, Johns Hopkins University||
|Washington University in St. Louis, Harvard Medical School, Mayo Clinic School of Medicine (Alix), Vanderbilt University||521|
|Duke University School of Medicine, Cornell University (Weill), Northwestern University (Feinberg), University of Virginia||520|
Medical Schools with the Lowest Median MCAT Scores
|School||Median MCAT Score|
|Lincoln Memorial University (DeBusk)||
|Oklahoma State University, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine||
|Marian U. College of Osteopathic Medicine, Marshall University (Edwards), William Carey U. College of Osteopathic Medicine||504|
Clearly there’s a significant range in median MCAT scores at different schools. Not only that, but some applicants are admitted with MCAT scores below the median.
On a basic level, check to see if your local medical schools prefer in-state residents. Most medical schools associated with public universities and some private med schools that receive funding from states have strong preferences for in-state residents as evidenced by in-state acceptance rates that are at least double the out-of-state acceptance rates. Schools where the in-state acceptance rate is four times (or more) higher than the out-of-state rate have a “Huge” difference. Chances of out-of-state applicants being accepted are very low when the gap is that big.
Obviously if you live in a state where the medical school has a strong preference for in-state residents as evidenced by its in-state acceptance rate being double, triple, quadruple, or more than the out-of-state acceptance rate, and if your stats are even close to your local medical school’s class profile, you want to apply to your in-state school. In addition to a higher statistical chance of acceptance, if accepted you may pay lower tuition as an in-state resident. You may also benefit from being closer to home and your support network.
Conversely, if you live in a state with only one or perhaps no medical schools or in a state that has many more med school applicants than its med schools can accept (like California), you will need to consider out-of-state programs. In addition to applying to your local in-state schools, you must apply out of state to maximize the chances that you are accepted somewhere to study medicine. To enhance your chances of acceptance, you want to select primarily those out-of-state schools where there is no or negligible difference in acceptance rates between in-state and out-of-state applicants and where you are competitive.
On our chart, you can either sort the index by the Out-of-State Acceptance Rate, the Ratio of In-State to Out-of-State Acceptance Rates, or the In-State Advantage. If you choose the latter, also select the down arrow so that those with the least difference will be at the top.
You will quickly realize that those schools with the least preference for in-state students tend to be among the most selective overall.
|Overall Acceptance Rate||In-State Acceptance Rate||
Out-of-State Acceptance Rate
|University of Washington||WA||4.51%||20.66%||0.71%|
|University of Hawaii--Manoa (Burns)||HI||3.72%||35.27%||0.74%|
|University of Nevada--Reno||NV||5.84%||21.20%||0.85%|
|Oregon Health and Science University||OR||3.84%||27.60%||1.28%|
|Oklahoma State University||OK||5.85%||45.41%||1.56%|
|University of Kentucky||KY||7.19%||40.21%||1.59%|
|University of Oklahoma||OK||10.48%||51.32%||1.70%|
|University of Missouri - Columbia School of Medicine||MO||6.31%||25.04%||1.71%|
|Marshall University (Edwards)||WV||6.16%||56.95%||1.81%|
|University of New Mexico||NM||8.78%||45.73%||1.84%|
|University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences||AR||15.85%||55.59%||2.00%|
|University of South Carolina||SC||6.69%||34.64%||2.11%|
|University of Alabama--Birmingham||AL||5.77%||31.63%||2.23%|
|University of Tennessee Health Science Center||TN||9.47%||30.08%||2.28%|
|University of Louisville||KY||5.78%||36.35%||2.30%|
|West Virginia University||WV||3.77%||40.00%||2.47%|
|University of Connecticut||CT||5.41%||26.91%||2.56%|
|University of Wisconsin--Madison||WI||5.09%||21.02%||2.79%|
|Medical University of South Carolina||SC||15.74%||39.70%||3.09%|
If you live in a state with no or few medical schools and without a regional program like WWAMI for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho, you must look out of state for medical education. You might find these programs more welcoming.
|Overall Acceptance Rate||Out-of-State Acceptance Rate|
|William Carey U. College of Osteopathic Medicine||MS||19.09%||18.12%|
|Northeast Ohio Medical University||OH||6.71%||13.55%|
|Nova SE U. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine||FL||14.59%||11.65%|
|West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine||WV||-||9.98%|
|University of Virginia||VA||10.03%||8.82%|
Some of you are probably thinking: these programs are really hard to get into! You’re right. That’s why we also recommend that you apply to 20-25 programs and don’t stop with these top or bottom five. Look at both tools as well as the other resources we provided.
Finally, don’t go it alone. Consider getting professional help to guide you as you attempt to take the next step towards the professional career of your dreams.
Yes, medical school admission stats are serious business. Evaluating your stats vis-a-vis your target schools’ stats and keeping in mind in-state vs. out-of-state acceptance rates is a first step in choosing the most appropriate schools for you. And those are the medical schools where you are most likely to get accepted.
Choosing those “most appropriate” medical schools to apply to can save you lots of time, money, and heartache. You need to evaluate all the stats discussed here as well as the qualitative factors that go into a successful medical school application to apply effectively.
If you’d like help in choosing those programs, advice on mitigating weaknesses, or guidance in presenting your best self in primary and secondary applications and interviews, check out Accepted’s outstanding Medical School Admission Consulting Services.
The Selectivity Index® is calculated based on statistics and data found in the U.S. News rankings released in March 2023 using the median MCAT Score, median undergraduate GPA and acceptance rate for each school’s program entrants.
The Selectivity Index for each school is calculated as follows:
1. First, calculate the Selectivity Score which equals: (MCAT Score) x (GPA) x (1 – Acceptance rate)
2. The Selectivity Index = 100 x Selectivity Score / (the highest Selectivity Score)
The Selectivity Index is not provided for Western University of Health Sciences due to unavailability of data. For Touro University of CA and CA University of Science and Medicine, the average MCAT shown on the school’s website was used for the median MCAT score.
If you have suggestions for improvement or feedback, please email SI@accepted.com.
To work with an admissions expert on creating a successful med school application, click here.