Medical School Acceptance Rates By Major in 2020

Updated: July 1, 2020

What are the best pre med majors? Do some look better to the admissions committees than others? Are there certain majors that will increase your chances of admission? In this blog, we'll answer these common questions and go over medical school acceptance rates by major to help you decide which major is the best for you.

Medical school acceptance rates by major

Average GPA and MCAT score of applicants vs matriculants by major

Which pre med major has the highest chance of acceptance?

Which pre med majors look the best to admissions committees?

What is the best pre med major?

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Medical school acceptance rates by major

1. Physical sciences applicants: 4,937

Matriculants: 2,355

Acceptance rate: 47.7%

2. Math and statistics applicants: 344

Matriculants: 163

Acceptance rate: 47.3%

3. Humanities applicants:1,678

Matriculants: 780

Acceptance rate: 46.4%

4. Biological science applicants: 30,693

Matriculants: 12,484

Acceptance rate: 40.6%

5. Social sciences applicants: 5,001

Matriculants: 1,995

Acceptance rate: 39.8%

6. Other applicants: 8,754

Matriculants: 3,371

Acceptance rate: 38.5%

7. Specialized health sciences applicants: 1,964

Matriculants: 721

Acceptance rate: 36.7%

Average GPA and MCAT score of applicants vs matriculants by major 

Which pre med major has the highest chance of acceptance?

As demonstrated by the medical school acceptance rates by major section, acceptance rates vary between 36.7% - 47.7%. Specialized health sciences majors have the lowest acceptance rate while physical science majors have the highest acceptance rate. Biological science majors are the most popular in terms of both applicants and matriculants, however, the acceptance rate of these individuals falls somewhere in the middle of the majors. Interestingly, math and statistics majors are the least common, with only 344 applicants, however, they have the second-highest acceptance rate of 47.3%.

Specialized health science majors also have the lowest applicant and matriculant MCAT score, which may be part of the reason why those with this major have the lowest acceptance rate. Matriculants with math and statistics, physical science and humanities majors scored the highest on the MCAT, with scores of 514.8, 513.1 and 512.9 respectively. The average accepted GPA between majors is close across the board with math and statistics and physical sciences majors tied with a 3.61. Social science majors have the lowest mean GPA of 3.52. It's important to remember that the GPA and MCAT scores mentioned above refer to the mean scores of accepted students. If you choose to major in the physical sciences it doesn't mean that you have an advantage and are guaranteed admission. Similarly, if you major in the specialized health sciences, it doesn't mean that you're at a disadvantage and won't get accepted. You are an individual, with individual scores and experiences. Regardless of your major, you'll be a competitive applicant if all areas of your application stand out, including your grades, test scores, extracurriculars for medical school, primary essays, and medical school secondary essays. Make sure to read over some medical school personal statement examples to get some inspiration to write your own outstanding statement. If your school requires its applicants to submit CASPer test scores, make sure to use CASPer sample questions to get ready for the test. 

Which pre med majors look the best to admissions committees?

There is a common misconception that biological sciences are the best majors to pick to get accepted into medical school. This could be in part, due to the popularity of studying biological sciences. Of the approximate 53,000 applicants that applied to US medical schools last year, 58% majored in biological sciences. Despite the buzz around biological sciences, the truth is that admissions committees are not interested in which pre-med major you choose. If biological sciences are of interest to you then great, but if not, don't feel pressured into choosing your major based on what you think the admissions committee is looking for. Admissions committees are interested in applicants that have completed the prerequisites for medical school, have strong grades and test scores, and can demonstrate dedication towards a career in medicine. While you can still get into medical school with a low GPA, make sure you're aware of medical school GPA requirements as your GPA and MCAT score will hold a lot of weight in the admissions process, far more than any major you pick, so those are areas that you should really focus on. Our blog will tell you what is a good MCAT score so you know what you should be aiming for. Be sure to use our medical school chance predictor to determine how your stats compare with the average accepted stats at your favorite medical schools.

Some students believe that they should major in biological sciences because they think admissions committees favor these individuals. However, according to data from the AAMC, students with majors outside of the natural sciences have comparable rates of acceptance. In fact, humanities majors have the third-highest acceptance rate of all the pre-med major categories represented, even higher than biological sciences majors. A study published in the Medical Education journal found that medical students with humanities and social sciences backgrounds performed better in communication and interpersonal skills (CIS) tests than those with natural science backgrounds, suggesting these individuals may be better at interacting with patients. The desire to have a diverse medical class with varied educational backgrounds is becoming more and more popular across medical school admissions. The addition of the Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior section in the new MCAT also lends to the fact that admissions have changed to become more inclusive. So it's important to remember that not only is there no requirement when it comes to which major you choose for medical school, there is also no preference.

What is the best pre med major?

As previously discussed, many different majors are represented in medical school, what's important is that you pick your major based on your interests. If you enjoy doing an activity, you're a lot more likely to continue the activity, give it your best shot, and in turn, perform well. The same goes for your pre-med courses. If you love chemistry, you're likely going to invest the time and effort required to perform well in chemistry-related courses. You want to ensure that whatever major you choose will keep you engaged and motivated during your undergrad studies. It's not about choosing what you think the admissions committee wants you to choose, it's about choosing what you want to do and maximizing your strengths. Now, it's also important to consider your strengths when choosing a pre-med major. If you love anthropology but you're not very good at it, it's probably not a good idea to pick this as your major. Remember, the admissions committee won't be giving out any extra points for choosing certain majors or difficult courses.

Regardless of whether you choose a science or non-science major, be sure that you take the prerequisites courses, which will vary depending on the school. Some schools only require math and natural science courses, while others will also require social sciences and humanities courses. Either way, these courses will be essential for admission, and will also be important during your preparation for the MCAT. Check out our challenging MCAT CARS practice blog to help you prepare. Refer to our medical school acceptance rates blog for admission statistics at every US medical school so you can work on maximizing your GPA and MCAT score in advance to ensure you will be a competitive applicant.

What is the best pre-med major? Check out our video below for an in-depth look:


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