Stanford Medical School: Requirements & Statistics in 2020

Stanford Medical School requirements, admissions statistics and proven strategies to get in fast. Updated in 2020

Updated: July 1, 2020

With admission rates of 1.19%, no wonder students seek advice on how to get into Stanford Medical School. Stanford School of Medicine is one of the most competitive programs among medical schools in California and in the world. Its innovative curriculum, ground-breaking research, and world-renowned instructors and graduates add to the prestige of this prominent institution. Each year, Stanford Medical School looks to admit exceptional scholars, researchers, and professionals into their program. With the help of this blog, you will learn exactly how to get into Stanford Medical School.

Here's What We'll Cover:

Mission Statement

Available Programs

Academic Curriculum

Application Timeline

Admissions Statistics and Eligibility

Recommended Courses

Tuition and Debt

Funding Opportunities

Selection Factors

Interview Formats for MD and MD PhD Applicants

Acceptance and Waitlist Information

Contact information

FAQs

Mission Statement

To be a premier research-intensive medical school that improves health through leadership, diversity, and a collaborative approach to discovery and innovation in patient care, education, and research.

Available Programs

MD

Stanford’s MD Discovery Curriculum provides students with a choice to complete their pre-clerkship work in either two or three years. This allows for more flexibility for students to pursue and explore various facets of the medical profession. The MD program emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach, combining basic science and clinical instructions throughout the curriculum. Students may begin clinical clerkships in May of their second year.

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MD/PhD

This combined program trains students for careers in academic investigative medicine. The joint training includes the same curriculum as each program separately. However, the MD/PhD program will take less time to complete than each degree on its own. On average, this MD/PhD program takes seven to eight years to finish. Students may apply at the time of the MD program applications and current MD students may also apply for this joint program. Applicants will be asked to provide additional application components. Matriculated students will combine preclinical coursework with a two-year apprentice-style lab experience enhanced with physician-scientist oriented career development. Applicants that are not selected for the MD/PhD interview process are automatically rerouted to the Medical School Admissions to be considered for the MD-only program. Decisions about admissions to MD are made independently. Check out our blog on MD-PhD programs to find out about additional requirements, and how to create excellent MD PhD essays.

MD/Berg Scholars Program

Stanford came up with a new training system to address students’ decreasing interest in the career of physician-scientists. The new MD/Berg Scholars Program shortens the training period to six years without compromising the quality of education of physician-scientists. Medical education is combined with lab or informatics-based training, while the 6th year combines MD and an MS in Biomedical Investigation degree. This training focuses on individualized career development of MD-only physician-scientists by placing them in research groups headed by leading faculty members. Students receive full funding in 4-6 years.

MD/MBA

This 5-year joint program combines medical and business training. Students must be admitted to Stanford Graduate School of Business at the time of their admission to Stanford Medical School or after they begin the MD program.

MD/MPH

In collaboration with UC Berkley, Stanford allows its students to pursue their Master of Public Health degree while also pursuing their MD. This dual degree is open to MD students participating in the Scholarly Concentration Community Health program. Students must apply to UC Berkley and all the coursework is carried out on the UC Berkley campus.

PhD/MSM

This combined program trains Stanford PhD students to be better equipped for translational research and application of new scientific discoveries to ensure medical progress. Recently admitted and current Stanford PhD students may apply for the Master of Science Medicine program. This is an excellent choice for students who are committed to research, but not interested in becoming clinicians.

MD/MS Degrees

Students can combine their MD program with Master of Science programs, including Health Policy, Epidemiology, Biomedical Informatics, Biomedical Investigation, and Biomechanical Engineering.

MD/MPP Degree

After completing one year in the MD program, students can apply for a joint MD/MPP (Master of Public Policy) degree. To do that, they must acquire permission from the School of Medicine. Students must dedicate two full years of continuous study to the MD program and then one continuous year of study to the completion of the MPP curriculum.

MD/JD

A combined degree in medicine and law is not for the faint of heart. Although overlapping classes can be used to reduce seven years of study into six, both programs are intensely challenging. Completion of this combined program results in immersion of medicine, law, and biosciences, credibility in all three fields, and countless professional opportunities. This program may be especially useful for students seeking to work in health law, health policy, biotechnology, or bioethics. You must apply to and be admitted by both MD and JD programs separately. After admission, both schools plan a schedule to make the joint program viable for the student. 

Academic Curriculum

Stanford is proud of its freshly designed MD Discovery Curriculum. This improved approach to medical study allows MD students to complete their programs at a more personalized pace. Stanford allows its students to complete all their pre-clerkship requirements in two or three years depending on the student’s preference. However, all students must complete the same courses during the first year. Students who are allowed to complete pre-clerkship courses in three years pursue independent research, dual degrees, or other endeavors beneficial to their development as a future physician. Students must ask for permission from the program to finish their pre-clerkship work in three years. Currently, the traditional two-year pre-clerkship option is taken by the majority of students.

The Discovery Curriculum also introduced some completely new, as well as restructured courses, into the pre-clerkship program. These courses expose students to earlier clinical experience and education in pharmacology, strengthen core concepts, and promote a deeper understanding of advanced topics. This new curriculum preserves some of the old components. Students can still choose whether they take the USMLE Step 1 exam immediately following completion of the pre-clerkship curriculum or in the first clinical year. There have been virtually no changes made to the clerkship curriculum. Clerkship curriculum continues to consist of rotations through core clinical specialties with evaluations at the conclusion of each rotation.

Grading system

Pass/Fail is used for pre-clerkship courses and non-required clerkships. You can earn “Pass with Distinction” in required clerkships.

Application Timeline

This is the general timeline of the Stanford Medical School application process. Make sure you check the exact medical school application timelines on their website or in the AAMC portal.

May: Primary application is available on AMCAS

July - November: AMCAS applications are received and Stanford Supplemental Application invitations are sent

Mid - October : AMCAS application deadline

Early November: Deadline for submitting Stanford supplemental application and all application materials

July - February: Applications are reviewed and invitations to interview are sent

January - March: Offers of admission are sent on three release dates

January - July: Applicants submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and other financial need applications if applicable

April: Second Look event for accepted candidates

End of April: Deadline for all applicants to accept a single offer of MD admission to any institution

August: Orientation begins for the entering class

Late August: First week of classes

Admissions Statistics and Eligibility

Eligibility

Stanford welcomes applicants from all over the world. Their applicants include US citizens, permanent US residents with a valid visa, individuals who’ve been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services at the time of application, and undocumented students. International students are welcome, however, they must have at least one year of academic experience at a college or university in the US, Canada, or the United Kingdom before applying to Stanford Medical School.

Students must have a Bachelor’s degree at the time of matriculation. The MCAT is required. Students’ MCAT must be written within four years before matriculation year.

Recommended Courses

Stanford Medicine does not have specific course prerequisites, since course content differs significantly among institutions. Stanford Medicine recommends students to prepare for the study of medicine by taking appropriate science and non-science courses. The applicants must demonstrate having knowledge and experience in:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Mathematics
  • Laboratory or Field Experiments
  • Behavioral and Social Sciences
  • Communication
  • Fluency in a foreign language is highly recommended

Although Stanford Medical School does not have specific prerequisites, Stanford’s undergraduate advising recommends having the following minimum to prepare for medical school

  • 2 years of chemistry with lab (including exposure to general chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and biochemistry)
  • 1 year of biology with lab
  • 1 year of physics with lab

Tuition and Debt

Tuition and fees for in-state and out-of-state students: $61,328

Total cost of attendance: $99,895 per year

Students receiving financial aid: 81%

Average graduating debt at SMS: $97,058

National average graduating debt at public medical schools: $175,607

National average graduating debt at private medical schools: $184,892

Funding Opportunities

Stanford Medical School offers different types of financial aid to its students.

Institutional aid

Internal grants and bursaries are very limited and therefore are awarded to students with the most need. Stanford does not offer merit-based scholarships. These loans are meant to ease the burden of costs for students and families that cannot afford to fund their medical education. It is Stanford’s policy that students and their families (including spouses, if married) are responsible for financing their education. When you apply for this type of loan, you and your family will be asked to present your income tax in order to verify your need.

Stanford loan

Stanford University loans are subsidized private loans that are offered by the university. They are granted to students with limited financial resources. Your eligibility will be determined by the financial aid office. You can defer your payments up to eight years during residency and fellowship periods.

Federal loans

Only eligible US citizens and permanent residents can apply for federal loans. They will be granted to students based on need. There are two types of federal direct loans:

1. Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

2. Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan

You must apply and process your request for federal loans through the MD Financial Aid Office. Stanford Medical School requires loan recipients to complete loan counseling each year a loan is taken.

External Funding Resources

Stanford encourages its students to seek out external funding. The Financial Aid Office provides SU students with a list of the types of funding opportunities as they become available.

Stanford Medical Scholars Research Program

This program provides opportunities for students to carry out independent research in any area of the medical field. It is designed to inspire appreciation and proficiency for the investigative scholarly process. This may include study design, hands-on collection of data, interpretation of results, and presentation of findings and accomplishments in verbal and written form. In order to meet completion requirements, the students must present their research orally.

This funding program supports medical students’ research both locally and off-site. Students must carry out research in an academic setting under the direction of faculty at the school, in hospitals or clinics. MD students enrolled at Stanford are eligible to apply. MD students who have a PhD prior to matriculation may apply to this program only if their research is substantially different from their previous doctoral research projects.

Students who are pursuing a dual degree (MD/MDA, MD/MPH, MD/MS and others) may not apply when they “step out” to pursue the second portion of their degree. Since the student is no longer paying tuition to the School of Medicine for that period of study, they should seek financial support from the department in which they are currently studying. The students become eligible for this funding program once they “step back” into the MD program. MD/PhD students are not eligible to apply to this funding program.

Types of MedScholars Proposals:

Discovery Grants: for research in summer after first year only. Normally 100% of students’ time.

Research Fellowships: for substantial projects in step-out years or with split curriculum. Normally students spend 3 to 4 continuous quarters on this project, while committing 100% of their time.

Innovation Grants: for research in other configurations that suit the project and student schedules.

Students must apply online through a special application system.

Completion requirements:

1. It is recommended that students present their research at the annual Stanford Medical Student Research Symposium. Another regional, national, or international conference or colloquium also fulfills the requirement.

2. A written report must be submitted no later than 6 months after the last quarter of funding. It must be submitted online in manuscript format, including hypothesis, methods, results, bibliography with an emphasis on results. This does not need to be an extensive academic paper if the advisor agrees that substantial work has been completed. A publication can be the final report if the student made significant contributions to it.

3. Your report must also be submitted via MS Online. It will go through a similar process as your initial funding application with approval by the faculty advisor and mentor letter of summary.

Get some more tips on how to get into Stanford Medical School from our video:


Selection Factors

MCAT and GPA

Getting into Stanford Medical School is no easy task. Last year, the school received 7506 applications! Only 480 were invited for an interview – only a 6.4% success rate and only 90 students were admitted (1.19%). Last year’s matriculants represented 24 states and 4 countries. Although Stanford Medicine does not have a list of precise science medical school prerequisites and do not expect their applicants to have a science degree, 82% of last year's matriculants were science and math majors. As previously mentioned, the average accepted GPA is 3.89, while the average accepted MCAT score is 519. Even for exceptional students, these are exceedingly difficult heights to achieve. Your application must be outstanding.

Since your undergraduate performance is the most valuable indication of your academic abilities, your GPA average is particularly important. Some schools will consider applicants with a lower GPA than their average cut-off, but Stanford Medical School will not. Due to high applicant volumes, Stanford's admission committee are constantly looking for ways to weed out candidates – this means your GPA score must meet their expectations. If your GPA average is lower than 3.89, work hard to raise it. You can re-enroll into courses in which you performed poorly or try to do extra credit assignments to raise your existing grade. Another strategy is to take courses in disciplines you like and in which you excel.

Your MCAT score is also an important factor in your Stanford application. Generally, many schools will forgive a lower MCAT score if the GPA is impressive, and vice versa. In the case of Stanford Medical School, you must meet the average MCAT score to even be considered. If you did not score well on your MCAT exam, re-take it! You can take the MCAT exam up to three times in a single year and seven times in a lifetime. It is very common to re-take the test to increase your scores. Know when to start studying for the MCAT and make sure you prepare well! Use our MCAT CARS practice sample to see some of the hardest questions and how to answer them. Take as many practice tests as possible. Once you see that your score is consistently good, take the test. Important note: Stanford looks at MCAT scores from all the times you took the exam. They will combine all the scores of the sections to make your cumulative score higher.

Applicant Essays

Like most schools, Stanford Medicine puts a lot of value into the personal statement and secondary essays. Before reading personal statements, the admissions committee evaluates applicants based on numbers and grades: GPA, MCAT scores, coursework, and so on. A personal statement is an opportunity to share your journey. A statement simply saying that you want to be a physician will not do the trick. Your personal statement has to be well written and cohesive. Describe the process of how you made the decision to apply to Stanford Medical School. Include personal examples that demonstrate the steps you took to explore the medical field, how they affected your decision to apply, and how you see your future as a potential physician. You do not need to include the exact specialty you want to pursue but give some general thoughts on the direction you’d like to take. Make sure to read our blog to review some successful medical school personal statement examples. Applying to both Stanford and Harvard? Check out some Harvard Medical School personal statement examples.

Secondary Application Prompts

1) The Committee on Admissions regards the diversity (broadly defined) of an entering class as an important factor in serving the educational mission of the school. The Committee on Admissions strongly encourages you to share unique, personally important, and/or challenging factors in your background, such as the quality of your early educational environment, socioeconomic status, culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and life or work experiences. Please discuss how factors have influenced your goals and preparation for a career in medicine (2000 characters)

2) What do you see as the most likely practice scenario for your future medical career?

Choose the single answer that best describes your career goals and clinical practice setting:

  • Academic Medicine (Clinical)
  • Academic Medicine (Physician-Scientist)
  • Non-Academic Clinical Practice
  • Health Policy
  • Health Administration
  • Primary Care
  • Public Health/Community Health
  • Global Health

Please limit your answer to 1,000 characters including spaces. Why do you feel you are particularly suited for this practice scenario? What knowledge, skills, and attitudes have you developed that have prepared you for this career path? (1000 characters)

3) How will the Stanford curriculum, and specifically the requirement for a scholarly concentration, help your personal career goals? (1000 characters)

4) Please include anything else that will help us understand better how you may uniquely contribute to Stanford Medicine? (OPTIONAL)(1000 characters)

Recommendation Letters

Stanford accepts all three recommendation letter options: Committee Letter, Letter Packet, and Individual Letter. Stanford requests a minimum of three individual letters of recommendation. Six is the maximum number of letters accepted. All recommendation letters must be written on official letterhead and signed by the author or committee. Committee letters are not mandatory, but if submitted, only the individual letters will count towards the number of recommendations. A committee letter alone will not substitute individual recommendations. That is, if you submit a letter packet with a committee letter and two individual letters of recommendation, the requirement is not fulfilled!

All recommendation letters will be submitted through the online application system. You will be required to submit the names and contact information, including email addresses of your writers. Recommenders will receive instructions on how to proceed in their email. DO NOT send your letters through regular post or email. Learn all you need to know about medical school recommendation letters from our blog.

Extracurriculars

Your extracurriculars are very important! The majority of Stanford MD students have participated in a variety of activities relating to medicine before matriculating to the MD program. This is the breakdown of last year’s matriculants’ activities:

Community service/volunteer: 83% of matriculants

Physician shadowing/clinical observation: 83% of matriculants

Medical/community service/volunteer: 92% of matriculants

Medical/clinical paid employment: 26% of matriculants

Research/lab: 99% of matriculants

Extracurriculars show that you have explored the practical and social aspects of the profession and that you have an idea of what being a physician will entail. However, you should remember that quality always trumps quantity. Rather than spreading your time over a multitude of endeavors, try to focus. For example, it is wonderful if you volunteer at the ER for a couple of hours each week, but this might not impress Stanford Medical School. Rather, look to volunteer at organizations or institutions where you can take on leadership roles and demonstrate a serious time commitment. Another great way to impress the admissions committee is to start your own program or project. Maybe you can arrange a mentorship program or organize a pre-med student colloquium. Your extracurriculars must show initiative and dedication to the betterment of humanity. If you want to know how to select the best extracurriculars for medical school, make sure to read our blog.

Interview Format for MD and MD/PhD Applicants

Stanford holds Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI). The interviews are facilitated in a specifically designed simulation floor. This layout allows smooth relocation of students from room to room. To get ready, you should prepare for the different types of MMI interview questions you might face. In addition, try going over our sample MMI questions and common medical school interview questions to get some practice!

Students invited for interviews are encouraged to take advantage of the informational sessions organized by Stanford Medical School students. Applicants will be provided with opportunities to engage with current students, partake in student-facilitated tours of the campus and social activities.

MSTP (MD/PhD) and MD interviews are conducted separately on two consecutive days. Your MSTP interview will include a meeting with the Program Director, who will discuss the unique structure and aspects of the Stanford program. You will also have formal interviews with faculty and advanced MSTP students. You will then again speak with Program Director to wrap up the visit. This is the time to ask any questions or make any comments about the program and the admissions process. You can also arrange to meet with Stanford faculty whose research represents your own plans for graduate work and who could serve as your thesis supervisors in the future. MSTP students will organize lunch and informal dinner for you on the day of your interview. This is optional but may provide a relaxed opportunity to meet and speak with your potential peers.

Acceptance and Waitlist Information

Stanford Medical School acceptance letters are sent out as early as January and as late as middle of May. Students who received an acceptance have up to two weeks to acknowledge receipt of the offer of admission through the electronic system. You can defer entrance requests. Every year Stanford Medicine does have a number of waitlist positions. The number varies annually. Generally, offers of admissions are sent out from the waitlist to acceptable candidates in late April until the class size is filled. Learn how to get off a medical school waitlist in our blog.

Contact information

Stanford admissions website

Stanford Medical School homepage

FAQs

1. What kind of undergraduate degree do I need to get into Stanford Medical School?

Stanford admits applicants from different disciplines to their MD program. Your Bachelor’s degree does not have to be in science. If you're interested, have a look at our blog for medical school acceptance rates by major. Online degrees will not be considered in the application process.

2. Does Stanford accept transfer students?

Stanford Medical School does not accept any transfer students.

3. Do I need to apply for financial aid every year?

Yes, you must apply for financial aid every year.

4. Are international students and undocumented student eligible for financial aid?

Yes, international and undocumented students are eligible for financial aid on the basis of financial need.

5. Can my letters of recommendation be submitted after my application?

The application deadline is final. An application is not complete until the required number of letters is received. If more than three letters are listed on the AMCAS application, at least three of those letters must be received by the deadline. If the minimum of three letters is not met, the application will be considered incomplete and may be withdrawn from consideration. So remember, at least three recommendation letters must be received with the rest of your application by 11:59 pm on the deadline.

Your GRE scores from ETS is the only component that may be submitted later than the rest of your application. Sometimes these scores take extra time to match. Stanford will process and review your application without ETS scores only if you have included self-reported GRE scores in your application.

6. Who is eligible to extend the pre-clerkship curriculum to three years?

Any medical student who has completed the first year can apply to split the pre-clerkship curriculum into three years. There are no additional academic requirements. Your request will be approved based on your proposal as to why you need to extend your studies. You will still be considered a full time student.

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