The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is one of the top medical schools in the United States and the world. Rich in tradition, this institution is also at the forefront of medical innovation and research. In this blog, you will learn its admissions statistics, eligibility, available programs, and strategies that will help you get in!
“Our mission is to advance knowledge and improve health through research, patient care, and the education of trainees in an inclusive culture that embraces diversity, fosters innovation, critical thinking, supports lifelong learning and sustains our legacy of excellence.”
Number of Matriculants: 150
Overall success rate: 2.28%
In-state success rate: 5.25%
Out-of-state success rate: 2%
Average MCAT: 521
Average GPA: 3.92
Perelman School of Medicine welcomes in- and out-of-state applicants from anywhere in the United States. Although Perelman is one of the Canadian friendly US medical schools and Canadian are considered in the same applicant pool as US citizens, UPenn has limited funding for non-US citizens, so be aware that you may need to look for external funding before attending this school. International students are welcome to apply but must complete at least 12 months of science education in the US before applying. International students are also ineligible for federal or internal financial aid programs. Applicants who received their education from an accredited Canadian institution are exempt from the required additional year of study in the US, so they may apply directly.
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Perelman is the first medical school and home to the first teaching hospital in the United States. The school prides itself on traditions of academic excellence and scientific discovery. As one of the Ivy League medical schools, UPenn's MD program is famous for a very selective admissions process.
UPenn has an integrated admissions process and the MD-PhD program works closely with the MD admissions committee and the graduate groups to make joint decisions about admission. Offers of admission typically go out in March. As one of the top MD-PhD programs in the country, the competition is fierce. Offers of admission come with full funding which consists of tuition, health insurance, most fees, and a stipend.
MD/Master of Bioethics (MBE)
This combined, interdisciplinary program provides students with broad exposure to the full range of topics and issues in contemporary bioethics. This program is designed for mid-career and senior health care professionals, including lawyers, physicians, nurses, social workers, etc. Students already enrolled at UPenn graduate or professional degree programs, such as an MD, are welcome to apply. Post-baccalaureate students with special interest in the field who plan further studies in law, medicine, humanities, or social sciences, are also encouraged to apply. This degree is not sufficient training for job placement.
MD/Master of Business Administration (MBA)
The MD/MBA program is designed for medical students interested in combining the study of medicine with training in managerial, financial, and technical expertise in the medical field. The majority of students who matriculate in the MD/MBA program enroll in the Health Care Management major at the Wharton School at UPenn, but you can look into pursuing other majors for this combined degree. Matriculation into the MD/MBA program obligates the student to follow all regulations and policies of the Perelman School of Medicine and of the Wharton School.
MD/Master in Law (ML), Health Law Track
The combined program is designed for Perelman medical and PhD students, post-doctoral researchers, and residents in the Penn Health system who are interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of health law and legal principles. The admissions process for the MD/ML program is competitive. Perelman medical students may apply to the ML program during their first, second or third year.
MD/Master of Public Health (MPH)
The MD/Master of Public Health (MD/MPH) program is designed for Perelman medical students interested in studying medicine with a special focus on population or community health. As a Perelman medical student, you may apply to the MPH program during your first, second or third year. However, Public Health Scholarships are only considered in the third year of medical school and are awarded to rising 4th year students. If you are a medical student at another institution, you may apply for the MPH program directly, but the admissions, curriculum and financial information will be different from the procedures for Perelman’s students.
MD/Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology (MSCE)
The MD/MSCE degree program is designed for Perelman medical students interested in academic careers in clinical research. The goal of the program is to train individuals for successful careers as independent academic clinical investigators. You must apply to both the MD and MSCE programs separately.
MD/Master of Science in Health Policy Research (MSHP)
This combined program trains students to examine the structures, functions and outcomes of health services delivered to individuals and populations and the impact of and implications for policies governing the delivery of these services. Students may only apply to the combined MD/MSHP degree after admission and matriculation in the Perelman School of Medicine. Medical students at other institutions are not eligible to apply.
MD/Master of Science in Medical Ethics (MSME)
The MD/MSME program is designed to provide rigorous methodological and conceptual training in bioethics for medical students who aim to become academic bioethicists. This program admits strong applicants with outstanding academic records, interest in the humanities in medicine/bioethics, and a demonstrated passion for the subject matter.
MD/Master of Science in Translational Research (MSTR)
This combined program is designed to provide Perelman medical students with in-depth instruction in the fundamental skills, methodology, and principles necessary to be a well-trained translational investigator. Students may only apply to the combined MD/MSTR program after admission and matriculation in the Perelman School of Medicine. Medical students at other institutions are not eligible to apply.
MD/Juris Doctor (JD)
The MD/JD program is designed for Perelman medical students interested in combining the study of medicine with training in the legal field. UPenn boasts top-ranked schools in both law and medicine. Matriculation into the MD/JD program obligates you to follow all regulations and policies of the Perelman Medical School and of the Penn Law School. Students admitted to the MD/JD program typically complete both degrees in six years.
Perelman’s MD curriculum consists of 6 modules. Module 1 Core Principles takes place between August and December of first year. Students learn basic science and clinical medicine with an emphasis on core concepts. There’s an emphasis on body structure in anatomy interfaced with radiology, diagnostics, ultrasound, and physical exam findings. Learning takes place in small group sessions and team activities using a pass/fail grading system. Elective seminars are offered in global health, community services, medical Spanish, and bioethics. Students have time and flexibility of using three afternoons a week in any way that fits their interests, such as working at one of the school’s community clinics, attending classes outside of medicine, pursuing independent research, playing sports, continuing hobbies, or relaxation.
Modules 2 Integrative Systems and Disease take place between January of first year and December of second year. The curriculum is designed in blocks to integrate basic science and clinical medicine concepts related to an organ system:
- Normal development
- Normal processes
- Abnormal processes
- Therapeutics and disease management
- Epidemiology and evidence-based medicine
- Prevention and nutrition
Additionally, the anatomy portion of the curriculum emphasizes clinical correlations for organ systems and is taught by clinical faculty. The curriculum also stresses the differential diagnosis and therapeutics for each organ system. As with Module 1, learning takes place in small group sessions and team activities with a pass/fail grading systems. Students will continue to have three afternoons unscheduled per week and electives. The students will have an opportunity to schedule monthly career seminars with faculty and advisors to help them explore various career opportunities.
Module 3 Technology and Practice of Medicine takes place between August of the first year and December of the second year, two days per week. Students are trained to develop clinical and management skills necessary for working with and evaluating patients, including clinical decision making, taking histories and performing physical exams, understanding system-based practice and health care systems, developing differential diagnosis, and establishing relationships with patients across all cultures and genders. The training takes place in hospitals, outpatient practices and community sites, seminars, workshops, during case discussions, with standardized patients. Students will also be assigned to chronically ill patients through the LEAPP program to learn effects of disease on family and quality of life issues.
Module 4 Required Clinical Clerkships takes place between January of second year and December of third year. The clerkships emphasize management of acute and chronic illnesses across all age groups in both inpatient and ambulatory settings. All clerkships include clinical therapeutics, medical genetics, patient safety, and interprofessional team-based practices. Computerized simulation mannequins and standardized patients are used in addition to patients for clinical skills, procedures, and physical exams. There are five major teaching hospitals located within walk distance of the school. Weekly didactics reinforce evidence-based concepts underlying clinical disease in each clerkship. The students are graded using Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail classifications.
Module 5 Electives, Selectives, and Scholarly Pursuit takes place in the final 16 months of your medical school education. A required 4-week sub-internship allows increased responsibility for patient care in general medicine, general pediatrics, emergency medicine, or family medicine. Students are also required to take four advanced Penn electives for 16 weeks. Two other electives are also taken for 8 weeks which can include away US approved electives. Scholarly activity with a faculty member for a minimum of 12 weeks that requires students to design and undertake a research project in the lab, clinic, or community and present their work in a formal paper. Students earning either an MD/PhD or dual degree (MD/MS) or doing year out research fulfill the requirement. Students are exposed to Frontiers in Medical Sciences program; 4 weeks that include seminars, lasting one or two weeks, each emphasizing "translational medicine" and bioethics. There is also a discipline-based "boot camp" in the final month of medical school to prepare for transition into residency. There are twenty-four weeks of flexible and open time to customize your educational experience, career goals, and personal life. USMLE Step 1, 2CK, 2CS are taken during Module 5. Students are graded using Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail classifications.
Module 6 Professionalism and Humanism takes place between august of first year and May of fourth year and is incorporated throughout the entire 4-year curriculum. Students are exposed to structured experiences to promote humanism, multiculturalism, professionalism, the cultivation of medical collegiality and the doctor-patient relationship. Students will also have the opportunity to shadow in the clinical setting throughout the entire four years.
Earliest date AMCAS application can be submitted: May 28
Application review begins in mid-August
Early decision program applicants notified by: September 30 in the year of application
Interview invitations are sent by early September
AMCAS application deadline: December 1
Secondary application can be submitted starting: July. $100 secondary application fee.
Secondary application deadline: December 1
Acceptance notices sent starting: March 1 in year of entrance
Applicants have until April 30 to respond to an offer.
Latest acceptance notice sent by mid-July.
All applicants must have a BS or BA degree from a college or university in the United States or Canada before matriculation. The Perelman School of Medicine does not set any strict medical school prerequisites for its applicants. Your undergraduate degree can be completed in a discipline of your choice, but you’re encouraged to pursue courses that would cultivate your knowledge and skills needed to become a physician.
Biology: you must be familiar with basic biological principles, including diversity of life, life cycles and metabolic processes, the structure of life and nucleic acid structures, the basic molecular and cellular structure and function, and other important biological principles.
Chemistry: You must have understanding of the molecular basis of life; principles of chemical equilibria and thermodynamics; acid base balance; ionization and redox reactions; the structure of molecules and experimental methods and the molecular architecture of organic compounds; and the quantitative and qualitative aspects of reaction rates, binding constants and reaction mechanisms.
Physics and Mathematics: Since physics provide the conceptual framework for quantitative biology and biomedical sciences, you need to demonstrate educational background in this scientific field. Having background in mathematics, statistics, and physics, is essential.
Behavioral Disciplines: To become a competent physician, you must consider societal forces that contribute to the delivery of health care and basic clinical and heath service research. A physician must strive to appreciate the social, cultural and behavioral factors that affect the forming of individuals, communities, and societies. This knowledge can come from a variety of courses in history, philosophy, ethics, anthropology, political science, economics, sociology and psychology.
Additionally, all applicants must demonstrate the knowledge of and fluency in the English language. Your educational background must show your ability to write clearly and correctly, organize and deliver oral presentations, as well as read and comprehend complex content. Speaking an additional language is encouraged as well. Don’t forget, if you are an international applicant, you must complete at least one year of science coursework at a college or university in the United States. Make sure to review some general medial school requirements before you apply.
Tuition and fees for in-state and out-of-state students: $65,343
Total cost of attendance: $91,759 per year
Students receiving financial aid: 86%
Average graduating debt at Perelman: $136,700
National average graduating debt at public medical schools: $175,607
National average graduating debt at private medical schools: $184,892
Perelman School of Medicine offers a variety of funding opportunities to its students. The schools has internal non-repayable financial assistance programs that can help you pay for your medical school tuition and other expenses. In establishing your financial aid package, consideration is given to:
1) the needs analysis
2) individual circumstances
3) prior indebtedness
4) the availability of funds.
These loan programs will also evaluate your credit history. If you have any doubt about your credit rating, you should request a copy of your credit report and reconcile problems prior to matriculation. If you cannot obtain a loan because of a negative credit rating, school funds cannot be awarded to replace the loan.
Non-permanent residents of the United States are not eligible for federal or school financial aid programs. If you are not a US citizen or permanent resident, you must provide documentation certifying that you have the funds for the four-year cost of medical education prior to matriculation.
UPenn medical school awards approximately 25 full-tuition MD scholarships per year. All students accepted are considered for scholarly awards. Awards are made by a University Committee during mid-April. Selection criteria include: outstanding academic performance and achievement, a broad range of intellectual interests, demonstrated leadership, commitment to interests other than academic work, and unique life experiences that may contribute to a medical career.
It’s relatively easy to apply for need-based financial assistance (scholarship/grant) at Perelman. To establish your eligibility, they will use the financial information that you provide for yourself, your parent(s), and if applicable, your spouse. Applicants for financial aid are required to submit the following:
1. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Penn's institutional code #003378
2. CSS PROFILE Perelman's institutional code #2951
The following documents should be uploaded via College Board's Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC):
- parents' federal income tax return, all pages and schedules filed
- parents' W-2 Form(s)
- students' and spouses’ (if applicable) federal income tax return, all pages and schedules filed
- students' and spouses’ (if applicable) W-2 Form(s)
- student tax waiver (if needed)
- parent tax waiver (if needed)
You are strongly encouraged to submit the request by April 1st, but applications will continue to be accepted after this date. Due to limited University resources, Perelman will carefully consider each student's entire financial situation. Your financial aid application will not be evaluated unless the required parental/spousal information is provided. Even though all graduate students are considered “independent" under federal guidelines, Perelman still requires those documents to establish your eligibility. In order to fully evaluate the applicant’s total financial situation, in cases of divorced, separated, or unmarried parents, UPenn medical school requires information and tax returns for both custodial and biological parents. Perelman reserves the right to request additional information in order to perform their analysis.
Learn strategies that will help you get into Ivy League medical schools in our video:
GPA and MCAT
As a member of the Ivy League medical schools, it is not surprising that Perelman School of Medicine has a highly selective admissions process. First of all, you should note that UPenn’s GPA and MCAT thresholds are quite high – 521 MCAT score and 3.92 GPA. For your reference, only 69% of last year’s matriculants had science or math majors, compared to Stanford’s 82%. However, the science GPA of last year’s matriculants was no less than the overall GPA – 3.92. To be a competitive candidate, you should aim to meet or surpass the averages of last year’s matriculants. Your GPA demonstrates your readiness to take on the demanding MD curriculum. It is absolutely essential to meet medical school GPA requirements, as they demonstrate your dedication, hard work, and progress over time. If you’re worried about your academic achievements, learn how to get into medical school with a low GPA.
Your MCAT cannot be older than three years at the time of application. If you are getting ready to take the MCAT or if you’re re-writing the exam, make sure to have the correct study strategy. First of all, figure out your baseline by taking the MCAT diagnostic test. Your practice test results will reveal areas of knowledge you should brush up on. Create an MCAT study schedule that would include disciplines and topics you need to study, i.e. MCAT physics equations, MCAT biology questions, MCAT chemistry questions, MCAT psychology topics, and so on. Make sure to incorporate active MCAT CARS strategies and go over MCAT CARS passages for practice. If you’re struggling with your preparations, you can also look into getting an MCAT tutor.
Letters of Recommendation
Pay particular attention to your medical school recommendation letters for Perelman School of Medicine. A minimum of 3 and a maximum of 10 reference letters can be submitted to AMCAS. You are allowed to submit individual letters, but preference is given to committee letters or letter packets. So, your letters of recommendation filing options are:
1. Composite or committee letter: individual letter/letter packet from a pre-health advisor or career service office, with or without additional letters attached.
2. A minimum of three letters from faculty members who know you well; at least one must come from a science faculty member with whom you have taken courses.
All letters must be written on official letterhead and signed by the writer. You may submit up to 10 letters of recommendation through the AMCAS Letter Writer Application, but additional letters or personal updates to the application may be added at any time. You can personally upload any updates directly into the application using the online status page. Applicants who have previously applied to Perelman School of Medicine must resubmit reference letters.
The kind of extracurriculars for medical school that you choose to pursue is a big indicator of your character and abilities. Before you apply to any medical school, you should research the activities and experiences their past matriculants had. This will inform what kind of experiences you should include in your own AMCAS Work and Activities section, and hint at what kind of experiences you should work on obtaining if your profile is still missing something. For example, if you’re interested in applying to Perelman School of Medicine, you should know that 97% of last year’s matriculants had research experience. Firstly, this indicates that research is highly valued by the admissions committee, secondly, this also means that you should work on gaining some quality research experiences if you have not done so already. You do not need to participate in several research projects – even one good research experience will be enough. If this is something you want to pursue, try looking for research positions on campus or other schools in your vicinity. When you apply to research positions, don’t forget to accompany your CV or job application with a strong research assistant cover letter.
Shadowing is an important requirement in American medical schools. Even though it’s indicated as a recommendation, you must have some quality shadowing experience to be a competitive candidate for any US medical school. 83% of Perelman’s matriculants had shadowing and clinical observation experience. So, when you are working to bolster your med school application, make sure you know how to ask to shadow a doctor and how many shadowing hours are required for medical school. Additionally, you should make sure that you have solid clinical experience when you’re looking to apply to Perelman. 89% of matriculants had medical and/or clinical community service experience, while 26% had medical and/or clinical paid employment. Remember, having these experiences demonstrates to the admissions committee that you have taken the appropriate steps to learn what it takes to work in the medical profession. And most importantly, prioritize quality rather than quantity when you choose to pursue clinical and shadowing experiences. The amount of time and effort you put into your experiences will outweigh their number. If you would like to learn how many volunteer hours for medical school you need, make sure to check out our blog.
While your AMCAS personal statement is an essential part of your primary application, medical school secondary essay prompts are generally focused on why you want to attend the particular institution to which you’re applying. Through secondary essays, schools learn whether you are genuinely interested in their school and whether you’re a good fit for their program. Some students find writing secondary essays more challenging, since you have less time and smaller character limit to express your interest in attending medical school and to showcase your candidacy. Secondaries are your opportunity to impress the admissions committee and convince them to invite you for an interview. At the Perelman School of Medicine, all verified applicants receive the invitation to complete the secondary essays, which means that you’ll be up against thousands of applicants. You must remember a very important rule when it comes to secondaries – make sure to answer the prompt. It is vital that you write a response that answers the question which the school is asking you. Your language must be clear and concise when you answer secondary prompts, since you will not have much space to express yourself. Typically, schools indicate the character limit, so make sure to pay attention. Here’s a sample secondary essay for one of Perelman’s prompts from last year:
Please explain your reasons for applying to the Perelman School of Medicine and limit your response to 1,000 characters.
At the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, researchers translate ground-breaking discoveries into medical therapies and physicians ensure patients’ well-being by applying the latest scientific advances. As an aspiring physician-investigator, I believe it is imperative to research the biology that underlies disease and treat the individuals who harbor it, with equal attention to both endeavors. As such, I see the Penn Medical Scientist Training Program as the ideal cynosure for my MD-PhD training. With cutting-edge research in the field of aging and resources such as the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT), I believe that I could make great strides towards becoming a leader in translational gerontology at the Perelman School of Medicine. Following in the footsteps of Penn scientists, such as Dr. Shelley Berger and Dr. Joseph Baur, I am convinced that there is truly no better place to fulfill my dream of becoming a physician-investigator.
Why is this answer good? The student gives a concrete answer as to why Perelman School of Medicine is his/her number one choice by bringing up their focus on research and patient-centered policies. The student also explains how he/she is a good fit for the MD-PhD program at this school. The answer is clear and concise with a lot of interesting, relevant information about the candidate.
Secondary Essay Prompts
1. Were there changes to your academic work and/or personal circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic that you would like to share with the committee? Y/N
If Y, please describe these changes during this time in 500 characters or less.
2. If you were offered an option to continue courses with a standard grading system or switch to Pass/Fail, and you chose Pass/Fail, please describe the reason(s) for your decision here. (500 Char)
3. Have you taken any online courses for credit? (not due to the COVID-19 pandemic)
4. Have you been nominated for or received an award from any state, regional or national organization?
5. Have you taken or are you planning to take time off between college graduation and medical school matriculation? If so, explain in 500 characters or less.
6. Have you participated in any global activities outside of the U.S. prior to submitting your AMCAS application? If so, explain in 1,000 characters or less.
7. Are there any special, unique, personal, or challenging aspects of your personal background or circumstances that you would like to share with the Committee on Admissions, not addressed elsewhere (siblings/relatives at Penn, applying as a couple, educational environment, culture, ethnicity, etc.)
Yes/No - Please explain and limit your response to 1,000 characters.
8. Have you or your family experienced economic hardships? Y/N, please explain and limit your response to 1,000 characters.
9. Have you been employed at the University of Pennsylvania Health System or Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and worked with a Penn faculty mentor? If yes, please indicate name, department, phone number of faculty, and start/end dates.
10. Please explain your reasons for applying to the Perelman School of Medicine and limit your response to 1,000 characters.
11. Anonymous sexual and gender identification questions for diversity data.
Interviews are granted by invitation only and take place between September and January. You will have one-on-one interviews with faculty and students, which will take place on select dates chosen by the office of admissions. MD-PhD interviews are schedules by graduate group in collaboration with medical school interviews. Interview day activities typically include orientation, meeting current students, financial aid discussion and curriculum interaction. Only students who have been interviewed will be considered for admission. The School of Medicine has a single admission date in March for both programs.
The Perelman School of Medicine starts sending out acceptance offers in early March. You will have until the end of April to respond to the offer. Students who accept their offer must pay a deposit of $100. Last year, the school sent out acceptance offers to 15 applicants on the waitlist. The waitlisted candidates undergo a competitive review by the Committee on Admissions before they are sent offers. The last acceptance offers are sent out by mid-July. If you want to learn how to get off a medical school waitlist, make sure to read our blog.
Admissions Email: [email protected]
1. What prerequisite courses do I have to take?
There are no specific prerequisites that you have to take to be eligible for admission, but you are encouraged to have educational background in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics.
2. Is there a minimum GPA and MCAT score?
Last year’s matriculants had the average GPA of 3.92 and average MCAT score of 521. You are strongly encouraged to have these averages to be considered a competitive candidate.
3. How old can my MCAT score be?
Your MCAT score must be no older than three years from the application date, not the matriculation date.
4. Does Perelman have an Early Decision Program (EDP)?
Yes, but it’s very limited in scope. Students must meet the average GPA and MCAT, provide CV and have valid reasons for matriculating into Perelman. You will be notified of the admission committee’s decision by the end of September in the year of application.
5. I have been out of school for a while. Are there alternatives to the letter of recommendation requirement for non-traditional applicant?
No, applicants must provide academic references, including one from a science discipline. If necessary, applicants may have to re-enroll in science coursework to refresh knowledge and obtain a letter.
6. Is there an expiration date for my coursework?
Your prerequisites should be no older than 5 years.
7. If I completed my education outside of the Untied States and Canada, can I still apply to Perelman?
If you received a bachelor's degree outside the United States or Canada, you must complete a full-time year of science (biology, chemistry and physics) coursework before applying.
8. Can I submit my secondary application before I submit my MCAT score?
You can submit your secondaries and fee payment prior to Perelman receiving your MCAT score. You are recommended to submit all additional materials while waiting for the score.
9. Can I be considered for both MD and MD-PhD?
You must select one program: MD or MD/PhD, and you can make changes to your decision until October 15. You cannot be considered for admissions into both programs. Remember, as part of your MD-PhD application, you must submit two additional essays: the significant research experience essay and the MD PhD Essay.
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