The Saint Louis University School of Medicine (SLU-SOM) is a private institution with a grounding in the Jesuit tradition of Cura Personalis (caring for the whole person). This philosophy has guided the SLU-SOM through its almost 200-year history, which includes several important medical firsts and a Nobel Prize win for a faculty member. The school has ties to the Jesuits, but is secular, and has high medical school acceptance rates for all types of applicants from Canadian and international students to out-of-state and DACA applicants. This article will showcase some other highlights of the SLU-SOM, while giving you sample essays and interview answers to help make your medical school application stand out.
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“The mission of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine is the pursuit of excellence in education, research, clinical care and community engagement through professional development, collaboration and social justice.”
“Humanistic medicine” is a term the school uses often to describe its approach to medical education. It expects its students to have a broad knowledge of humanistic, socially-conscious issues and themes as much as they know about anatomy or biochemistry, and makes it part of the medical school requirements to have at least 18 credits of a humanities-based writing course.
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Overall Acceptance Rate: 2.4%
In-State Acceptance Rate: 13.7%
Out-of-State Acceptance Rate: 1.7%
Average MCAT of Incoming Students: 510
Average GPA of Incoming Students: 3.86
Preference for master’s or PhD: No
Experience of Accepted Medical School Applicants
The SLU-SOM has very open eligibility and accepts every type of applicant, regardless of background or origin. Out-of-state applicants are welcome and the school regularly receives more applications from out-of-state candidates than Missouri residents, so it is an out-of-state friendly school.
Canadian applicants are considered international, but if they received a bachelor’s or graduate degree in North America, they do not need to satisfy any other requirements other than demonstrating they have the financial resources to complete four years of medical school. International applicants are welcome but must complete one year of upper-level science work at a US or Canadian university to be eligible, if they do not already have a degree from North America.
MCAT and GPA
The SLU-SOM has neither a minimum MCAT or medical school GPA requirement and has taken steps to apply a holistic approach to reviewing all medical school applications. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school will accept any course work completed during spring of 2020, both online or in-person courses. It will also accept pass/fail grades for those courses.
Students must submit their most recent MCAT scores but any test scores no older than three years. If applicants have taken the MCAT multiple times, the school will view your entire history but only consider the highest score. The Admissions Committee will also view your entire academic history, including undergraduate, post-bac and graduate courses, when considering your GPA.
AAMC PREview Test
The SLU-SOM requires all applicants to submit scores from their most recent AAMC PREview exam, so it would ideal to study how to prepare for the AAMC PREview if you have not already taken it, by reading up on AAMC PREview questions and answers. The school believes the purpose of the test – to gauge an applicant’s pre-professional competency in non-cognitive areas (empathy, social skills, ethics) – fits perfectly with its overall mission to train and graduate humanistic doctors. Applicants may submit AAMC PREview scores from the previous year of the application cycle, but if they scores are older than one year, they will not be accepted.
Coursework and Undergrad
The school recommends that applicants have completed a bachelor’s degree in any major before applying, but for non-traditional medical school applicants and others, it will accept up to 90 credits of a four-year degree. It also has no preference for the major, and gives equal consideration to a humanities or other non-science degree, as it does to a biology or chemistry degree, so there is hope for someone thinking how to get into medical school without a science background.
The school shows preference for students with a graduate degree, although it is not a requirement, if you are thinking “do you need a master’s or PhD to apply to medical school”. But the degree must be completed by either the application cycle or before the applicant enters medical school. Graduate students with more years left to complete their degree must withdraw to apply.
Prerequisites and Recommended Courses
The SLU-SOM has a conventional set of medical school prerequisites but also accepts a wide-range of substitutes for non-traditional students. Advanced placement courses can be counted toward satisfying the prerequisites (except for biology and chemistry) and a maximum of 50% of the prerequisites can be completed with community college courses. Business, finance, or any science courses will not be counted toward the humanities component.
- 8 full credits of general biology or zoology
- 8 full credits general chemistry
- 8 full credits of organic chemistry
- 8 full credits of physics
- 6 full credits of English
- 12 full credits in either behavioral science of humanities
The list of recommended courses for the SLU-SOM includes:
- Molecular biology
- Cellular biology
AMCAS Work and Activities
The school participates in the AMCAS application service and all applicants must complete the primary AMCAS application online. Among the components of the AMCAS application are the AMCAS Work and Activities and AMCAS Most Meaningful Experiences sections where applicants are given space to detail their involvement in several areas (medical and non-medical service or volunteer work, academic accomplishments, artistic feats, etc.) that demonstrate their alignment with the school’s values and core principles.
Applicants have 15 spaces to list their work and activities and 700 characters to describe each work or activity. They can designate up to three of these as their most meaningful, which then means they are given more characters to expand on why it is the most meaningful as it pertains to their to become a doctor.
Sample AMCAS Work and Activities Entry
Name: University of Missouri
Hours: 25 hours/per week
Most Meaningful: Yes
During my undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri, I was honored to receive the Chancellor's Essay Award for my piece analyzing Kant's moral imperative in relation to medicine. In my essay, I argued that ethics and morality in medicine stem from recognizing the intrinsic value of every human being. I used examples from my work at a local hospital, where I saw firsthand how treating patients as whole persons, not just as medical cases, led to better outcomes. My essay was published in the university's Journal of Ethics, and winning the award inspired me to pursue a career in medicine, where I can continue to uphold these values and provide compassionate care to all patients.
The medical school personal statement is one more way, besides the Work and Activities section, for the Admissions Committee to get to you know better. The Personal Comments essay, as the AMCAS personal statement is known, gives applicants 5300 characters to describe themselves in a personal way that explains why they want to become a doctor, important aspects of their path to medical school, such as preparation and steps taken and any future goals they may have.
Medical school secondary essays are one part of the supplemental application that the SLU-SOM sends to all applicants. Along with writing the essays, applicants must include their letters of recommendation, a passport-style photograph, and a $100 application fee (students can apply for a fee waiver). The school will send all applicants login information for its own applicant portal, where students can then complete the supplemental application by writing an essay responding to any one of these medical school secondary essay prompts:
Saint Louis University School of Medicine Prompts
- Will you be a full-time student for the 2021 - 2022 academic year? If no, please describe your current activities... (max 1,000 characters)
- Were there any significant disruptions in your academic, volunteer, work, or personal life related to COVID-19 that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee? If you wish, you may also add any comment you desire regarding access to letters of recommendation or MCAT challenges you encountered. (max 1,000 characters)
- What does social justice mean to you? (max 1,000 characters)
- Describe briefly any experiences and/or skills that have made you more sensitive or appreciative of other cultures or the human condition. (max 1,000 characters)
- Do you wish to inclu de any comments, other than your AMCAS personal statement, to the Admissions Committee? (Yes or No - if yes, max 1,000 characters)
Sample Essay for Prompt #3
Social justice refers to the fair and just distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. Scholars such as John Rawls have argued that a just society should aim to ensure that inequalities benefit the least advantaged members. However, one area of social injustice in the US that personally motivates me to become a doctor is the unequal access to healthcare. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2021, 11.4% of the US population remained uninsured. As a result, many individuals and families have limited access to preventative care, treatment, and medications. For example, my aunt, who lives in a rural area of Alabama, was diagnosed with breast cancer but struggled to access quality medical care due to her lack of insurance. Witnessing the disparities in healthcare firsthand has motivated me to become a doctor so that I can help to address these inequities and work towards a more just healthcare system.
The SLU-SOM accepts only three medical school recommendation letters, and it prefers that at least one of those letters be written by a college/university professor. However, applicants can also submit a pre-medical advisory committee letter, which will fulfill the three-letter requirement, but they can add two more letters if they want from a relevant source such as a shadowed physician or research or volunteer supervisor. The school also suggests that that applicants submit letters from any clinical or volunteer experiences that have lasted many years as an ideal letter to include in your three-letter packet.
The school will only notify select candidates for an interview after they have submitted their complete application (primary and secondary). Previously, interviews were held on-campus at the Health Sciences Center, but the pandemic has changed that and interviews are now held virtually. There is only one interview, as the SLU-SOM is not among the medical schools that use MMI. The interview is a one-on-one format where interviewers will ask common medical school interview questions such as “why should we choose you?” and “why do you want to be a doctor?”
Sample Interview Questions
- “How was transitioning from undergrad your Masters program?”
- “Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a challenge?”
- “Why do you want to study medicine in the US?”
Sample Interview Answer to Question #3
As a Nigerian, I have always admired the US healthcare system and its innovative medical research. I have a personal connection to the US as my father completed his postgraduate education in the US and my sister currently lives in the US. After researching medical schools in the US, I have found that the Saint Louis University School of Medicine aligns with my goals and values as a future physician. The school has a long history of training exceptional physicians and has a commitment to service and social justice that resonates with me. I was impressed by the school's research in neuroscience, cancer biology, and vaccine development, and I hope to contribute to these efforts. The faculty's diverse research interests, such as Dr. Jane McHowat's research on cardiovascular disease and Dr. Emira Galic's research on diabetes, show the school's commitment to advancing medical knowledge and improving patient care. Ultimately, I believe that studying at Saint Louis University School of Medicine will provide me with the education and resources necessary to become a competent and compassionate physician.
Wondering what you can ask your interviewers?
Acceptance and Waitlist Information
The Admissions Committee spends almost the entire summer reviewing applications after interviews finish. The school begins sending out final decision beginning in mid-October and applicants will either be accepted, denied or placed on a medical school waitlist. The notification phase lasts up until the end of April, when all candidates should know the status of their application.
The SLU-SOM uses a ranked waitlist, so candidates are placed on different tiers based on their suitability for the school. Around 15 candidates are admitted to the school from the waitlist every year, but that figure changes every year. Rejected applicants can reapply but are discouraged to reapply after three unsuccessful attempts unless they have made crucial changes to their application, such as retake the MCAT or enroll in a post-bac program for medical school.
Primary AMCAS Application Deadline: November 1
Secondary Application Deadline: December 1
The school uses a rolling admissions process so applicants who submit their primary and secondary applications well-before the deadlines will be notified earlier of their status. The AMCAS application window opens in late May and application reviews begin in July so students are able to submit their applications between late summer and early fall if they want to find out if they will be invited for an interview.
Tuition and Debt
Tuition for First-Year Students: $61,980
Average Yearly Cost-of-Living Expenses: 21,848
Average Debt of Graduating Students: $175,500
The SLU-SOM offers accepted students several options for how to pay for medical school, including federal student loans, private loans, and medical school scholarships. The school has developed a private scholarship search engine for students to browse the many scholarship opportunities, both internal and external, available to help cover medical school tuition or medical school housing. The internal scholarships are open to all students who submit a FAFSA application, and students will be awarded scholarships based on several factors from financial need to their minority status.
1. Saint Louis University School of Medicine Fleur de Lis Scholarship
This scholarship is aimed at students who grew up within the city limits of St. Louis and who attended an area high school for at least three years. First-year students are eligible for this award but must maintain good academic standing to receive the prize every year. Eligibility requirements include a satisfactory GPA, MCAT, research projects, community service, and leadership ability.
2. Saint Louis University School of Medicine Magis Service Scholarship
This scholarship is open to any first-year students and is renewed automatically every year so long as the student remains in good academic and professional standing. The amount awarded is $30,000 and students must complete two 500-word essays describing their most meaningful experience performing an act of service. They must also submit a CV outlining their service commitments and describing what roles they had in each commitment.
3. Saint Louis University School of Medicine Cura Personalis Scholarship
Students who demonstrate financial need, have a proven record of exemplary volunteer service and have excelled academically are eligible for this prize that awards $30,000 to first-year incoming students. Applicants must also write two 500-words essays detailing any challenges they faced in their education and what their most meaningful service or volunteer experiences have been.
Residency Match Rates
The SLU-SOM has a successful history of matching all its graduates to their preferred program and SLU-SOM graduates are accepted in many prestigious medical schools and residency programs across the country. Many graduates also opted to stay in Missouri as many graduates took either a family medicine residency or an internal medicine residency, while other primary care specialties such as pediatrics, surgery and psychiatry were also popular choices.
Review of Available Programs
1. Four-Year MD Program
The four-year MD program at SLU-SOM has a standard division of pre-clinical and clinical years, but the school also adds up to four different longitudinal courses throughout the first two years aimed at training students in various fields from Healthcare Ethics to Clinical Diagnosis. As the school aims for its students to practice humanistic medicine, students are taught various approaches to doctoring and are expected to learn as much as about interpersonal and interprofessional skills, as they are about systems of the body.
The school introduces the normal states and functions of different systems of the body first, and then introduces the abnormal states in the second year. The first such systems include Brain and Behavior, Cardiovascular and Pulmonary. Interprofessional Experiences (IPE) are also introduced in the second semester, which takes students into various simulated environments where they can practice in a team-based setting how to perform important clinical tasks.
The introduction to the body’s systems lasts well into the second year, where students take a course on how to prepare for clinical rotations, which begin in the third year. Students must complete seven core clerkships spanning various specialties from family medicine, internal medicine and emergency medicine to psychiatry, and pediatrics. Throughout the clerkship phase, students continue taking didactic courses alongside their rotations to strengthen and reinforce their medical knowledge.
In the fourth year, students have more freedom to take medical school electives, as all students must complete 30 electives to graduate. Students can take electives in various categories from direct patient care electives to enrolling in international electives. They can also participate in research projects or become visiting students to complete a some of their clerkship training at another institution.
2. MD/PhD (Medical Scientist Training Program)
The SLU-SOM dual MD/PhD is aimed at creating physician/scientists and allows qualified students to pick from among four different fields including Biochemistry and Molecular Biology or Pharmacological and Physiological Science. But the school also offers a separate dual MD/PhD degree, but the specialization is in Health Outcomes research and has a separate admissions process and requirements.
Both MD/PhD programs take place in the middle of the four-year MD program, so students complete the first two years of medical school and then enter the graduate school. The entire program lasts anywhere between 7 to 9 years. Students can apply for the dual-degree program when they apply for the MD program, but they can also apply after they have been accepted into the MD program.
This dual-degree is offered in collaboration with the College of Public Health and Social Justice, and students can either indicate their interest on their primary application to medical school or after they have enrolled. Enrolled students complete their first three years of the medical degree first, and then take three-semesters to complete the Public Health degree requirements, which include completing up to 42 credits but students can apply only 6 credits from the MD program to fulfilling the graduate degree requirements.
This program is offered in conjunction with the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business and includes an international component, as students participate in a one-week business trip to learn more about foreign business practices and develop an understanding of the global pharmaceutical and medical industry. Students can indicate their interest on their primary application, but they can also apply after they have been accepted into the medical school. Students accepted into the program will complete the MBA after their third years, when they have completed all their core clerkships and taken the USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2 CK exams.
Campus and Faculty
The SLU-SOM and the entire Saint Louis University is centrally-located in downtown St. Louis and consists of many different facilities and buildings, such as any university campus located in a major city. The SOM has a dedicated section to the Southwest of the main campus – the university is split between a North and South campus – and the medical school shares this space with the many university hospitals and research centers located on the premises as well, such as the Saint Louis University Hospital, the Edward A. Doisy Research Center and the Saint Louis University Cancer Center.
Affiliated Teaching Hospitals
- SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital
- SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital
- The Missouri Regional Poison Center
- SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital
- Mercy Hospital St. Louis
- VA Saint Louis Health Care System - John Cochran Division
- St. Luke's Des Peres Hospital
- Mercy Hospital South
The SLU-SOM has over eleven different clinics on its campus that focus on specific medical fields such as diabetes, aging and dementia, heart health and mental health. But apart from the medical services it provides, the school is also involved in several important research projects, as it has an estimated research budget of almost $36 million. Some of the school’s most important research is in areas of:
- Emerging diseases
- Organ transplants
- Vaccine development
- Cardiac health
- Liver disorders
- Edward Adelbert Doisy, Professor and Chairman of Department of Biochemistry – Dr. Doisy was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1943 for his discovery of vitamin K along with German chemist Henrik Dam.
- Shannon Grabosch, PhD., Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomical Science and Education (CASE)
- Meadow Campbell, PhD., Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomical Science and Education (CASE)
- Erick Messias, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience
- Farzana Hoque, MD, Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine
Saint Louis University School of Medicine
1402 South Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63104
Office of Admissions
Caroline Building, Room 130
1402 South Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63104
email: [email protected]
1. What is the mission of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine?
The SLU-SOM has a noble mission to pursue excellence in various fields but with the ultimate goal of training and graduating compassionate, empathetic physicians in line with the school’s Jesuit tradition of humanistic medicine.
2. Do I need to take the MCAT and submit my scores?
The school does require all applicants submit their most recent MCAT score, but it does not have a minimum MCAT to apply or receive a secondary application. Scores must not be older than three years. The school also requires students to take the AAMC PREview exam, but they can submit scores from the previous year if they took it already.
3. What is the minimum GPA requirement?
The SLU-SOM does not have a minimum GPA requirement neither to apply nor to receive a secondary application.
4. What kind of degree do I need to get into SLU-SOM?
The school prefers that applicants have a full bachelor’s degree, but it will also accept students with at least 90 credits toward that degree. Students with a graduate degree are shown preference, but they must complete the degree before they matriculate if they are currently enrolled.
5. Are there prerequisite courses I have to take?
Yes, the school has a set of medical school prerequisites that have a familiar combination of biology, chemistry, and physics, but students must also complete up to 18 credits in an English or writing-intensive class, preferably in the humanities.
6. How can I apply to SLU-SOM?
The SLU-SOM participates in the AMCAS application service. All primary applications are submitted online. All applicants who have submitted a completed and verified AMCAS application are sent a secondary application.
7. How much does one year at SLU-SOM cost?
The SLU-SOM is a private institution so it does not receive state funding and charges the same tuition for in-state and out-of-state residents. One full year of medical school at the SLU-SOM costs $83,268, if students opt to remain living at home. One year of medical school for students housed on campus is $87,078.
8. Is it hard to get into SLU-SOM?
The SLU-SOM is a private institution so it does not have a residency requirement and does not have a preference for in-state residents. The school is still competitive and students must take the AAMC PREview to further demonstrate their non-academic competencies to become a doctor. If you have the right extracurriculars, such as clinical experience along with having a commitment to service and excellence, getting in should not be that hard.
To your success,
Your friends at BeMo
BeMo Academic Consulting
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