The George Washington University Medical School is one of the oldest medical schools in the US and has world-class research and training facilities throughout its urban-based campus in Washington DC. The GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) receives almost 17,000 medical school applications every year but admitted about 200 applicants in a recent application cycle. The medical school acceptance rates for both in-state and out-of-state applicants are very competitive, but this article will lay out the steps you need to take to increase your chances of getting accepted.
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“The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences is dedicated to improving the health of our local, national, and global communities by:
- Educating a diverse workforce of tomorrow’s leaders in medicine, science, and health sciences.
- Healing through innovative and compassionate care.
- Advancing biomedical, translational, and health services delivery research with an emphasis on multidisciplinary collaboration.
- Promoting a culture of excellence through inclusion, service, and advocacy.
As a globally recognized academic medical center, GW embraces the challenge of eliminating health disparities and transforming health care to enrich and improve the lives of those we serve.”
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The school’s global reputation has propelled it to become a magnet for international medical graduates and non-traditional medical school applicants but also international students, who can apply to the medical school via a special program for foreign applicants.
Overall Acceptance Rate: 1.0%
In-State Acceptance Rate: 6.0%
Out-of-State Acceptance Rate: 1.09%
Average MCAT of Incoming Students: 512
Average GPA of Incoming Students: 3.7
Preference for master’s or PhD: No
Experience of Accepted Applicants:
GW has several eligibility requirements, but they are standard medical school requirements revolving around your MCAT, GPA, medicine-related work or volunteer experience, and non-academic achievements. The school also recommends, but does not require, that students take the AAMC PREview situational judgment test, which it claims will give the admissions committee a picture of your pre-professional competencies to become a doctor.
Being located in the heart of Washington DC, the school has an international character and does not have any preference for in-state or out-of-state applicants, so it is a very out-of-state friendly medical school. In fact, it admits more out-of-state applicants than residents of Washington DC and Virginia. The school is also among the most Canadian friendly US medical schools, as Canadian citizens are allowed to apply to the regular MD program as if they were US citizens, and coursework completed at Canadian universities or colleges is accepted.
The school has also shifted to a competency-based assessment of your pre-medical coursework. This means that applicants are not required to complete a certain number of credits in typical, pre-med, upper-level science courses to apply to the medical school. Instead, it only recommends that students complete this coursework to give the admissions committee an idea of your proficiency in these fundamental courses reflected in your official transcripts and GPA.
International students are also welcome to apply, but through the specific MD Program for International Students. All applicants to the MD Program for International Students must be F-1 visa holders and have completed a bachelor’s degree at an accredited college or university in the US or Canada – coursework completed at foreign schools must be certified by an accrediting agency.
MCAT and GPA
The school requires that students submit MCAT scores from the most recent version of the test. It does not accept MCAT scores from the “old” version of MCAT, which was used up until 2015. The school does not have a specific MCAT cut-off that students need to apply but states that any score below 492 is non-competitive (123 for each section of the MCAT). But, as with all other medical schools, a high MCAT score (preferably 500 and higher) is a good guarantor of your application’s success.
The median MCAT score of the latest incoming class was around 511, so that should give you some idea of the importance of your score. Like with the MCAT, there is no specific medical school GPA requirement to apply, but the SMHS suggests that students have at least a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. The average GPA score of a recent incoming class was 3.7, but the school looks at all aspects of your application. Since it uses a competency-based system, the school takes your entire academic history into consideration to evaluate your competency in science-based subjects.
Coursework and Undergrad
The SMHS requires that all students have completed a bachelor’s degree by the time they apply. The degree must be from an accredited US or Canadian college or university, but their degree does not have to be in a science- or medicine-related subject. The school also accepts coursework completed online or at a community college. Only 60% of matriculants had a science degree or major, which should be encouraging if you are not sure how to get into medical school without a science background.
Prerequisites and Recommended Courses
The GW SMHS does not have a strict set of medical school prerequisites, and it recognizes other factors in a candidate’s application that are as important as completed coursework. For example, the school lists a set of subjects that all applicants should be familiar with to guarantee their success in medical school.
The recommended subjects are:
Again, applicants do not have to have completed any of these subjects prior to enrolling in the medical school, but they must have completed them before starting classes. The recommended courses are a window into the GW SMHS medical school curriculum and let any prospective applicants understand what will be expected from them if they are accepted.
AMCAS Work and Activities
All applicants to the GW SMHS must send their primary application via the AMCAS service, which has other application requirements, like the AMCAS Work and Experiences and AMCAS Most Meaningful Experiences sections, where you detail a specific number of experiences that have helped you prepare for a career in medicine. You must also fulfill other aspects of the application, like submitting a personal statement, uploading your letters of recommendation, and completing secondary essays, if you are invited to submit a secondary application.
The medical school personal statement is a standard component of every medical school application, regardless of whether you are applying for an MD vs. DO. The requirements of the letter are set by the AMCAS application service, which is the service that handles all allopathic medical school applications in the US (AACOMAS is the DO school equivalent).
A personal statement should reflect on the question, “why do you want to become a doctor?”, and include all of the major life experiences that led you to choose a career in medicine. As you reveal your motivations for wanting to become a doctor, the admissions committee will get a more authentic picture of who you are and what is motivating you to pursue a career in medicine.
The school asks students to complete and submit a secondary application directly to the Committee on Admissions, after they submit a primary application. Students who submit a primary application via AMCAS will be notified by the school directly to submit a secondary application, but you can also submit one without being invited. GW SMHS does not screen candidates based only on their primary application, so you can submit your secondary application independent of their decision.
A secondary medical school application often consists of submitting secondary essays, responding to a set of prompts that are different for each school. They are designed to further examine your motivations, experiences, and opinions on what being a doctor means to you and how you will contribute positively to the profession. The GW SMHS asks students about several topics, and each prompt comes with its own content and writing requirements (word count, format, etc.)
Some of the prompts the school uses include:
- What is your specific interest in the MD Program at GW? What opportunities would you take advantage of as a student here? Why? (1750 characters)
- What makes you a unique individual? What challenges have you faced? How will these factors help you contribute to the diversity of the student body at GW? (750 characters)
- Describe how current issues regarding advocacy and social justice have impacted your motivation for medical school? (500 characters)
GW SMHS requires that students submit medical school recommendation letters with their primary AMCAS application. Students only need to submit two letters, depending on the source, but they can submit a maximum of four. The requirements for the two mandatory letters are:
- One letter from a pre-medical or pre-health committee
- A minimum of three letters from professional, academic, or personal sources, but one letter must be from a science faculty member with experience teaching you.
The school uses a closed file interview format, which means interviewers do not have any information about you before the interview. For the time being, the school only conducts interviews online, but that could change for other application cycles. The interviews take place between August and March of the application cycle.
Students are chosen for an interview based on the strength of their primary and secondary applications. The interviews last between 25 and 30 minutes, and students are asked a variety of medical school interview questions like “tell me about yourself” and “why should we choose you?”. Many students read the school’s mission statement, review their primary and secondary applications, and prepare with mock interviews so that they are more relaxed when the actual interview occurs.
Other interview questions applicants have been asked in the past include:
- “Why did you want to go into medicine?”
- “What are some ways that the health care system can be changed to help your community?”
- “What are some characteristics you believe a good physician should possess?”
Acceptance and Waitlist Information
After the interview portion of the application process, the school reviews all files related to an application and submits them for final consideration to the Committee on Admissions. The school uses a rolling admissions policy, so students who submitted first will get their acceptances or refusals first.
The school will send applicants a letter of acceptance or regret, or tell you that you have an alternate status, which is similar to a medical school waitlist. The school does not offer much information on how to get off a medical school waitlist, only that applicants with alternate status are often offered seats every year; it does not say how many or where alternate status applicants are on the waiting list (first- or second-tier).
Students who are alternate status can continue to update their application file via AMCAS to keep the school up to date on any improved academic grades or non-academic achievements. Alternate status applicants are also advised specifically by the school on how to keep their spot on the list, but they should let the Committee on Admissions know they still intend to attend the medical school.
Primary AMCAS Application Deadline: November 15th
Secondary Application Deadline: December 15th
The school does not take into consideration when a student’s application is submitted, but you are encouraged to apply as soon as possible if you want to receive an answer quickly. But even if students submit early, that does not mean they will receive a prompt response. The school receives thousands of applications each year, and it tells applicants that they may wait several weeks before hearing from the school.
Tuition and Debt
In-State and Out-of-State Tuition (one year): $64,460
Annual Health Insurance Costs (in-state and out-of-state): $2,470
Average Yearly Cost-of-Living Expenses (in-state and out-of-state): $57,505
Average Student Debt of Graduating Students: $199,836
GW SMHS gives students several funding opportunities involving internal and external scholarships, federal student loans (75% of all enrolled students use financial aid), and private loans to pay tuition and cover their living expenses while studying. The school has a long list of both internal and external scholarships, some of which have eligibility and application requirements, while others do not.
1. Adopt-a-Doc Scholarship
This scholarship was started with a gift from a GW SMHS alumnus and rewards first year medical students with full tuition to cover all four years of the program. Students must submit a CV and one-page responses to a series of questions:
- What activities/events have you engaged with since becoming a GW medical student and what have you accomplished in being part of these activities?
- What do you consider to be your highest leadership achievement so far?
- What academic, community, professional, or other activity are you most proud of?
- What are your long-range goals in medicine? Do you have an interest in a specific specialty (primary care, neurology, orthopaedics, etc.)?
Financial need is also considered, so you must also fill out the FAFSA application and submit it along with your application. It is only via the information you give on FAFSA that the scholarship committee will see whether you need financial assistance.
2. Henry and Mary Amster and the Louise Greenberg Amster Scholarship Endowment in Medicine
This endowment is given to medical students (in any year of study) who demonstrate an interest in the Jewish community and are leaders of Jewish student groups within the university.
3. Eleanor and Michael Burda Scholarship Fund
This fund is awarded to two medical students (one male and one female) to cover medical school tuition. Preference is given to students who are the children of US postal workers or members of the American Postal Workers Union or the National Association of Letter Carriers. If there are no students who meet these criteria, then students from Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia are given preference, as well as students who are the children of former employees of Burda and Associates.
4. Eugene B. Casey Scholarship Fund
This scholarship is awarded to medical students who demonstrate financial need. The amount awarded is intended to cover tuition for four years and other living expenses like room and board while students are enrolled in the MD program.
5. Joseph Collins Foundation Scholarships
This prize is awarded to medical students who have an interest in primary care medicine, mainly the fields of neurology and psychiatry. Interest in becoming a general practitioner is also a requirement. Students must demonstrate financial need and have an excellent academic record. Students with a proven interest in the performing, fine, or literary arts are preferred.
6. Tauber Scholarship
The Tauber Scholarship provides full tuition for four years to first year medical students who qualify. However, the eligibility requirements are very specific, as the Tauber Scholarships Committee considers applications only from the direct descendants (grandchild or great-grandchild) of US service members who fought in the European theater of WWII.
Students must submit a one- or two-page PDF that details their family member’s participation in the war, along with any official, verifying documents of their participation. The exact amount of the scholarship is determined by the committee, but it will be automatically renewed every year without the need to apply again.
Residency Match Rates
According to the most recent data, GW SMHS successfully matched 97% of its graduates to residency programs throughout the country. The two most popular destinations for graduates were New York City and Washington DC, as the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and George Washington Hospital both received the same number of graduates: 10.
The most popular residencies for graduating classes were in primary care, as graduates opted for either an internal medicine residency or a family medicine residency. Orthopedic surgery and anesthesiology were also among the most popular programs, as they received the second greatest number of graduates. International medical graduates were also successfully matched, but their match rate (90.9%) was lower than for the school’s MD program graduates (93.7%).
According to the World Directory of Schools, all graduates from the GW SMHS will have their degrees recognized by the regulatory authorities in Canada. The GW SMHS regularly admits Canadian students as US citizens, but Canadian students returning to practice in Canada must still pass their MCCQE Part 1 licensing exams.
Review of Available Programs
1. MD Program
The school has revamped its medical school curriculum to incorporate new teaching methods and approaches that depend on more than just lecturer-student modalities. It has also taken steps to ensure student success by giving each incoming student an iPad as well as providing students with more opportunities for professional development.
The curriculum now integrates several different thematic elements (like ethics, teamwork, and diversity) into its Fundamentals of Medicine introductory courses for first year students. The entire four years of the program are divided into three blocks: Fundamentals of Medicine; Fundamentals of Clinical Practice; Transition to Advanced Clinical Practice.
In the final two years of study, students apply their learning through two phases of clinical rotations (required and electives). Students learn and practice clinical skills during this phase while learning more about patient interaction and how to choose a medical specialty, as they will enter residency training upon graduation.
2. Early Decision Program
GW SMHS has articulation agreements with ten different universities, giving undergraduate students from these universities preference if they apply to the medical school. Students in their sophomore year of an undergraduate program at the participating universities can apply for the EDP if they maintain a GPA of 3.7 or higher and complete all required coursework with a grade above C.
Selected students will interview with the Committee on Admissions and be given provisional acceptance to the medical school as they complete their undergraduate studies. During this time, students must also maintain their good academic standing, including maintaining a 3.6 GPA and scoring well on the MCAT; otherwise, their acceptance offer will be withdrawn.
3. MD/MPH – MD/Certificate in Public Health
Students interested in health care policy and public health can apply to this dual-degree program offered in conjunction with GW Milken Institute School of Public Health. Students can either take the five-year route of completing an MD with a Master of Public Health degree or choose the four-year MD degree with 12 credits taken in the final year to earn a Certificate of Public Health.
The five-year track gives students a regular medical school education, but they begin taking a mix of on-campus or online classes in public health beginning in their third year. Students can apply 4 credits earned at the Milken SPH to their medical degree and vice-versa, while they must complete a total of 30 credits from the SPH to earn their master’s degree.
4. Post-Baccalaureate Linkage Programs
The GW SMHS has linkage agreements with thirteen different universities for students doing post-baccalaureate work at these schools to give them accelerated acceptance into the MD program. Students interested in pursuing this pathway to acceptance must have a 3.7 GPA and competitive standardized test scores (SAT or ACT). Students must also distinguish themselves academically and have strong MCAT scores after enrolling in their post-baccalaureate program.
5. Seven-Year Dual BA/MD
This BA/MD is open to high school students who have a strong commitment to learning and practicing medicine. High school students apply directly to the GW SMHS and submit their most recent SAT, which must be at or above 90% to be considered. Students are also asked to submit a personal statement outlining their motivations for pursuing a career in medicine.
If they qualify, selected students will be invited to an interview with the Committee on Admissions where they will learn more about the MD program, meet with current students, and receive mentoring from the Dean of MD Admissions.
If accepted into the seven-year program, students are expected to formulate a three-year study plan to help them finish their undergraduate degree, which is something the Dean and pre-med advisors help with. All applicants must keep and maintain a GPA of 3.6 throughout their undergraduate studies and must also meet the medical school requirements once they are ready to apply.
6. Eight-Year Dual BS/MD
This degree program is a collaboration between GW SMHS and St. Bonaventure University in New York that is open to qualified high school seniors. Students with competitive academic scores and other notable academic achievements can apply, but students who have performed volunteer work in a medical or clinical setting or who have any medicine-related work experience will be given preference.
Accepted students will complete their four-year Bachelor of Science degree at St. Bonaventure and then apply separately for the medical school. The requirements for students enrolled in this program are getting and maintaining a 3.6 GPA for the duration of their undergraduate studies, receiving a grade higher than C for all required coursework, and earning outstanding MCAT scores.
Curriculum of the MD Program
As stated above, the MD program at GW SMHS has undergone a complete review and introduced new elements to improve students’ learning and overall educational experience. The school has achieved this by instituting a systems-based approach that looks at each individual system of the body to introduce them to new students.
The core systems students learn about in their first year are:
Along with these core systems, students are also introduced to fundamentals of medical practice called the Populations, Patients, and Systems (PPS) curriculum, which includes courses on public health, health care policy, and various health care systems. These two tracks intertwine at several points, so students not only learn basic medical science, but also about health care delivery and what it means to be a professional, upstanding doctor.
In their clerkship years, students must perform a set number of clinical rotations. All students should know how to prepare for clinical rotations by their second year, as they will have to complete six different cohorts in a variety of standard medical specialties like primary care, surgery, and pediatrics.
The following are the required clerkship courses:
Students will also take what the school calls Intersessions, which are refresher courses in basic science and clinical skills so that they are better prepared to enter their rotations. The final year of medical school – the Transition to Advanced Clinical Practice – consists of 18 weeks of elective courses that students can complete however they want, but they must also complete the four required rotations at this level: Acting Internship, Emergency Medicine, Neuroscience, Anesthesiology.
Campus and Faculty
The GW SMHS campus is in an urban setting, right in the heart of Washington DC. The school is located in the Foggy Bottom section of the city near several important monuments like the White House and the National Mall. If you prefer an urban environment and enjoy being surrounded by history, then the GW SMHS is the ideal medical school for you.
On the other hand, if you want the feel of a traditional college town, you can always visit the school’s Mount Vernon campus, which is home to various academic and administrative buildings as well as recreational facilities, libraries, and more. The main medical school building where the administrative and other official offices are located is called Ross Hall. The entrance to the Foggy Bottom subway stop is located only a few feet from Ross Hall.
The latest addition to the medical school is the CLASS (Clinical Learning and Simulation Skills), which is a training facility that blends several methods from patient models and cadavers to high-fidelity robot simulators. Located in Ross Hall, the center features 17,000 square feet of classroom space, wet and dry labs, and more administrative offices.
Affiliated Teaching Hospitals
- Anne Arundel Medical Center Annapolis, MD
- Children's National Health System, Washington, DC
- George Washington University Hospital, Washington, DC
- GW Medical Faculty Associates, Washington, DC
- Holy Cross Hospital of Silver Spring, Silver Spring, MD
- Inova Fairfax Hospital, Falls Church, VA
- Mary Washington Healthcare, Fredericksburg, VA
- Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute, Falls Church, VA
- Psychiatric Institute of Washington, Washington, DC
- Sinai Hospital, Baltimore, MD
- St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington, DC
- United Medical Center, Washington, DC
- Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Martinsburg, WV
- Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Washington DC
The school’s reputation for medical research is backed up by the many research facilities and centers that dot the Washington campus. The school explores all aspects of medical science and health care, but its five main research areas are:
- Cancer and molecular oncology
- Cardiovascular diseases and vascular biology
- Emerging infectious diseases
- Neurobehavioral sciences
- Public health and health services
With these interests in mind, the school operates several world-class research facilities, including:
- The Dr. Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen Cancer Research Center
- The GW Heart and Vascular Institute
- The McCormick Genomic and Proteomic Center
- The W.M. Keck Institute for Proteomics Technology and Applications
- The Rodham Institute
- The Washington Institute of Surgical Endoscopy
- The Ronald Reagan Institute of Emergency Medicine
- The GW Institute for Neuroscience
- The GW HIV/AIDS Institute
The school has been affiliated with the Nobel Prize three times in two disciplines, the most famous being Julius Axelrod, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1955. Dr. Axelrod was working at GW SMHS when he was awarded the prize for his discovery of how neurotransmitters regulate moods and emotions, which led directly to the development of anti-depressant drugs like Prozac.
Two other former faculty have won the Nobel Prize: Ferid Murad (Medicine) and Vincent du Vigneaud (Chemistry). Dr. Murad was awarded the prize in 1998 while a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at GW. Dr. Murad, along with his colleagues, discovered nitroglycerin’s natural property as a vasodilator, which led to the chemical being prescribed to treat certain heart conditions. Dr. Vigneaud was given the prize while also working at GW, but he was recognized for his work in classifying and eventually synthesizing peptide hormones.
George Washington University School of Medicine
The George Washington University
Office of MD Admissions
2300 I Street, N.W., Ross Hall 106
Washington, DC 20052-0011 USA
1. What is the mission of the George Washington University Medical School?
The mission of the George Washington University Medical school is to prepare the next generation of “physician-citizens.” They are committed as much to providing high-quality, professional health care and performing valuable scientific research as they are to advocating on behalf of patients for more fair and equitable access to health care.
2. Do I need to take the MCAT and submit my scores?
Yes, GW SMHS requires that all students submit their most recent MCAT scores. Scores from the “old” MCAT format are not accepted. The average MCAT of incoming students is 512, so you must make sure you know how to study for the MCAT since it is such a vital part of your application.
3. What is the minimum GPA requirement?
The school mentions that all applicants should have a GPA of at least 3.0 to be considered at all. Students with higher GPAs will be more competitive since the average cumulative GPA of a recent incoming class was 3.7. Other programs, like the Early Decision Program and joint-degree programs have different GPA requirements.
4. What kind of degree do I need to get into GW SMHS?
You need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university to be considered a competitive candidate. The school does not require applicants to have a graduate degree, but should you pursue a master’s or PhD, it will reflect well on you and make you an attractive candidate.
5. Are there prerequisite courses I have to take?
Yes, students must complete all the recommended courses the school sets forth before they matriculate, but they can also apply while they are completing the recommended courses. There are no specific credit requirements; instead, the school judges your competency in these subjects (biology, chemistry, physics, English) by looking at your grades and transcripts and any research or work-related experiences.
6. How can I apply to GW SMHS?
All applicants must submit their primary application via AMCAS. Students can either wait for an invitation to submit a secondary application or submit one regardless of whether the school invites them or not. The school makes a point of stating that it does not screen candidates based on their secondary application. After receiving your full (primary and secondary) application, the Committee on Admissions will decide whether to invite you for an interview or not.
7. How much does one year at GW SMHS cost?
The cost of one year of medical school at GW SMHS goes up every year, by a few hundred dollars. First year tuition is $65,840, while the last year costs $66,875. Living expenses, housing, and food costs also factor into your yearly expenses, which also fluctuate by year. The school estimates that one full year (tuition and all expenses included) costs $89,420.
8. Is it hard to get into GW SMHS?
Yes, it is extremely hard to get into GW SMHS, as it has an acceptance rate of just 1%. The elite, competitive nature of the school means that you must ensure all aspects of your application are outstanding, from your personal statements and secondary essays to your MCAT and GPA scores. If GW SMHS is your dream school, then you need to start early to impress the Committee on Admissions by gaining medicine- or research-related experiences, scoring high on your MCAT, maintaining a high GPA, and volunteering with various service-based organizations.
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