Is it possible to go from high school to medical school? Considering how long it takes to become a doctor, many young premeds want to find the shortest, most direct path to their medical career. Believe it or not, there are many different types of programs that don’t necessarily require you to complete a bachelor’s degree or sit for the MCAT before applying to medical school. However, the shortest programs are not among the easiest medical schools to get into. In this article we will walk you through a series of alternative paths to medical school.


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Article Contents
9 min read

Is It Possible to Go Straight from High School to Medical School? High School to Medical School: BS/MD Programs High School to Medical School: Accelerated Programs High School to Medical School: Early Assurance Programs High School to Medical School: International Schools Tips for High School Students Who Are Considering Med School Conclusion & FAQs

Is It Possible to Go Straight from High School to Medical School?

The short answer is: no. Medical schools don’t accept students straight out of high school into a medical school curriculum without at least some prior education. The traditional journey from high school to medical school and becoming a doctor can take over a decade, but most MDs and DOs agree its well worth it.

“From high school to practicing as an attending [took] 11 years … Absolutely [I would go through it all again to become a doctor]; medicine is certainly a calling and I’ve never stopped feeling that call.” – Dr. Justin Stacer, DO

 

Medical degrees in the US are considered second entry degrees, which means that you have to complete an undergraduate degree before applying to medical school. You will certainly not be able to skip your years in college, but you do have a few additional options. There are many alternative paths to a career in medicine than can shorten your timeline. Some of them involve skipping a couple of years of your undergraduate education, others assure you a spot in medical school without having to go through the stress of the admissions process, and you can even broaden your horizons by considering studying abroad.

Below, we’ll explore some of the options available to students who want to go from high school to medical school as directly as possible.

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High School to Medical School: BS/MD Programs 

Some medical schools partner up with undergraduate institutions to create BS/MD programs. Direct medical programs combine admissions to a bachelor’s degree in science and a medical degree into one. Some of these programs offer students the freedom to choose whatever majors and classes they want, while others only offer specific options.

Being admitted to a BS/MD program doesn’t mean you won’t have to work as hard as if you followed the traditional path. You will need to complete certain medical school prerequisites and maintain certain GPA requirements to become eligible for a spot in the medical school program after your premed years.

How many years is medical school? Most BS/MD programs take 8 years to complete, which is equivalent to completing a bachelor’s and medical school in the traditional way. Although they are rare and require students to complete the program at an unusually fast pace, some of them can even be completed in 6 or 7 years.

The advantage that this kind of program offers is that you don't have to worry about going through the process of applying to several medical schools. This can save applicants a lot of time, money, and stress. Another big plus of BS/MD programs is that they are usually small and allow students to forge valuable connections with their professors and students, creating a more intimate learning environment.

A significant disadvantage of pursuing such a program could be that making such a lifelong decision at 17 or 18 is not easy. Our motivations and goals change with experience, and what we want at a certain point in our lives might change as we grow older and start exploring our interests and abilities more in depth.

Even if you are 100% sure that you want to study medicine, which you have to be if you want to apply to a BS/MD program, you might change your mind about the school that you want to attend or find out other curriculums that suit your inclinations much better.

“Pros [of BS/MD programs] would be assurance towards education into medicine. The cons are that many young individuals, especially those of high school age eventually discover that clinical medicine is not necessarily what they want to do career wise. These programs do not severely limit future prospects but they do narrow the exposure students may obtain versus a more traditional undergraduate and then graduate route.” – Dr. Tony Huynh, DO

 

High School to Medical School: Accelerated Programs 

While there are no medical schools that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, not all schools require you to completely finish your bachelor’s degree before applying.

Some examples include prominent medical schools in Canada. For example, the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University requires completing a minimum of 15 full courses or 30 half courses (or a combination) of undergraduate university course work, not necessarily the full degree. You can also be eligible if you completed the requirements of an undergraduate degree in less than 3 years by the application deadline.

The University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine is another good example of a school that only requires aspirants to complete a set number of credits to become eligible. Applicants must have completed a minimum of 90 credits, including 6 credits of English coursework. Even though no specific science courses are listed among the prerequisites, you must have a solid background in biology, chemistry and biochemistry, since it will be necessary for you to prepare for the MCAT anyway.

There is a possibility to complete your medical education in less than 8 years by enrolling in accelerated programs or 3-year medical schools. Accelerated programs usually last 6 or 7 years and involve moving on to medical school before completing your undergraduate degree.

While accelerated programs shorten how long it takes to become a doctor, there are some drawbacks to consider, our admissions experts say:

“While the medical curriculum remains the same, their undergraduate training is significantly shortened, which has an effect on the knowledge they come into medical school with … Similarly, there are 3-year medical programs where students’ final-year electives are truncated, and they are asked to select their specialty of training prior to having gone through all core rotations.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD

 

Want to learn more about QuARMS? Check out this infographic:

High School to Medical School: Early Assurance Programs

EAP allows high-achieving undergraduate students to apply and get accepted to medical school before completing their bachelor’s degree. Aspirants typically apply between the end of their second year and the beginning of their third year in college. Through Early Assurance Programs for Medical School, undergraduates can secure a seat in medical school well before graduation. It is important to mention that early assurance programs are not accelerated programs. You will still have to complete all of the requirements of your undergraduate program, before starting medical school.

Our admissions expert, Dr. Tony Huynh, DO, also advises that early assurance programs require a degree of commitment to the study of medicine, so decide carefully if this program is best for your goals.

“I did not personally go through an accelerated medical program or an early assurance program. However, I have worked with a few colleagues who have such experiences. I also know a few people who have dropped out of such programs … I would be very cautious in recommending them as it could limit prospects for those who discover they don’t necessarily want to pursue medicine during the undergraduate portion of the program.” – Dr. Tony Huynh, DO

 

The requirements for these programs often vary, but you must normally have completed at least 5 premed courses by the end of your second year, with an impressive academic performance (high overall and science GPA are also essential). After all, you will have to convince the admissions committee that you are ready to commit to a professional career in medicine much earlier than most of your peers.

FlexMed at the Icahn School of Medicine is a great example of an Early Assurance Program. You can apply at the end of your second year of your bachelor’s and, if you get selected, you will be granted a spot in the Icahn School of Medicine. With an acceptance rate of 6.25%, this is a very exclusive and competitive program. The application requirements include having a strong GPA of 3.5 or higher, being a full-time student in a postsecondary institution in the US or Canada, and being in the second year of any undergraduate major, regardless of whether you are a national or international student. 

Looking for more information on the FlexMed program? See this video:

High School to Medical School: International Schools 

Higher education varies greatly from one country to another. Medical schools may work very differently in countries outside North America, and many of them don’t require you to complete any sort of degree before pursuing your medical studies. In other words, if you are willing to relocate and study abroad, you can go straight from high school to medical school.

What’s more, many countries offer high-quality public education that allow you to complete medical school for free. There is literally a world of possibilities, but if the language barrier is a deal-breaker for you, there are many prestigious universities in the UK and Ireland that accept international students, such as Oxford University and University College Cork.

Tips for High School Students Who Are Considering Med School 

1. Decide if Medicine is the Right Choice for You

It often helps to think of the reasons why you want to become a doctor. The path towards becoming a successful doctor is long and hard, and while it is extremely rewarding, it is definitely not for everyone.

“I think [medicine is worth it]. I do not know any other career that I would find myself liking. The satisfaction you get from making a significant contribution in people’s lives, day in and day out, is unparalleled. It makes the journey worth it.” Dr. Neel Mistry, MD.

 

2. Talk to Other Doctors

A great way of becoming more familiar with the medical profession and understanding its implications is by talking to actual doctors. Are there any doctors in your family or in your neighborhood that you might be able to interview? Get in touch with them and express your interest to pursue a career in medicine. Prepare some questions in advance and don’t be afraid to express your concerns. Chances are they went through exactly the same as you before they finished high school, and they might be able to give you some valuable advice.

3. Consider Volunteering at your Local Hospital or Health Center

This will not only help you get a better sense of a day in the life of a physician, but it will also look amazing on your applications. Volunteering opportunities usually involve a lot of learning, and represent the chance for you to interact with real patients with real problems.

“The main question that the clinical experiences helped me answer was why medicine. Knowing this helped me to traverse the most difficult moments in medical school and reach my ultimate goal of becoming a doctor” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD.

 

Even if you end up deciding medicine is not the right career choice for you, helping people and making a difference in your community will be an experience that you will never forget. You can also consider pursuing a medical internship for high school students, which can give you a glimpse into a career in healthcare!

4. Take Science Courses

When the time finally comes for you to start sending your applications to medical schools, admission boards will be particularly interested in knowing how you performed in the sciences. You need to be able to prove that you have a strong background in math, biology, chemistry, and physics. However, it is not only about impressing the admissions committee, but also about finding out if you have what it takes to face the challenge of completing medical school, which will involve intensive dedication to those subjects.

Conclusion

If you dream of becoming a doctor but you are still in high school, it is the ideal time to start exploring your options and figure out how to go from high school to medical school. It is not too early to start tracing your path towards becoming a great health professional. Keep in mind that there is no need to hurry into medical school.

While it is true that accelerated programs and other alternatives can save you a lot of time and money, there are no shortcuts to obtaining a medical degree. There might be shorter paths, but that doesn’t mean they are any easier than traditional programs, so your motivations must be strong. If getting into medical school is really what you want, explore your options and work your way to the top! Remember, hard work always pays off, even if rewards come a little later than expected.

FAQs

1. How do I know if medical school is right for me?

Consider why you want to become a doctor. Are you doing it because you have a genuine desire to help others and devote yourself to medical science? Secondly, think of your aptitudes, interests and what being a doctor is really like. 

2. Is it possible to go to medical school straight from high school?

Technically no. However, some schools have partnered with undergraduate institutions to create so-called direct medical programs, which allow you to go straight to medical school after completing a bachelor’s in science. 

3. Do I need to complete a bachelor’s if I get into an EAP?

Yes. Early Assurance Programs don’t allow you to skip years as an undergraduate student, but only grant you a spot in medical school before you obtain your bachelor’s degree.

4. What is a BS/MD program?

A BS/MD program is a combined Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine degree program without any separate application process to medical school.

5. What are my chances of getting into medical school with a low GPA?

Each school has different requirements, and your chances will vary greatly. If your GPA is something that concerns you, you will have to work on the other aspects of your application to make it stand out.

6. What does MCAT mean?

MCAT stands for Medical College Admissions Test. It is designed to assess your problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles.

7. How long is an Accelerated program?

Accelerated programs are typically 6-7 years long.

8. What courses do I need to complete for medical school?

Every school has different prerequisites, but common courses include biology, chemistry, physics, math, English and humanities or social science courses.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting


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3 Comments

Archana Gidwani

Do you have any information on medical schools in Mexico?

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BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Archana! Thanks so much for your question! Is there something specific you are looking for with regard to medical schools in Mexico? Please let us know so we can see how we can help you.

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Line Touko

Can I transfer from one medical school to another?if yes how please ..I'm not an American citizen too

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BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Line! Thank you for your question. Most medical schools do not accept transfer students unfortunately. 

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Rand Moustafa

am a Doi student. Is the high school diploma average for me to enter the Faculty of Medicine? And if yes, what is less than the high school diploma for my entry to the medical school?

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BeMo Academic Consulting

Hi  Rand! Thanks for your comment. You need to complete college to go to medical school first. 

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