The University of Minnesota Medical School (UNM) is one of only two medical schools in Minnesota, but also, one of the most prestigious medical schools in the US. The school has played host to many important firsts in medical history, such as; the first successful open-heart surgery; the first successful pancreas, intestinal and bone morrow transplants; as well as being the birthplace of oncology as a field of medicine. The school also consistently ranks high as one of the best institutions for Native Americans to train as doctors in primary and secondary care fields. This article will detail other interesting facts about the school, its admissions process and ways that you can get in.
Do you have something to add to our Medical School Spotlight? Contact us at info [at] bemoacademicconsulting.com?
>>Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here.<<
“The Mission of the University of Minnesota Medical School is to be a leader in enhancing the health of people through the education of skilled, compassionate and socially responsible physicians. With two campuses serving diverse populations in rural and urban Minnesota, the Medical School is dedicated to preeminent primary care medicine, exemplary specialty care and innovative research.
In addition to the overall Mission, the Duluth campus has a unique focus on rural and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) health and family medicine with a mission to be a national leader in improving healthcare access and outcomes in rural Minnesota and AI/AN communities. This is done by educating medical students dedicated to serving rural Minnesota and AI/AN communities, fostering excellence in research, emphasizing the training of physicians in family medicine, creating strong partnerships locally, regionally, nationally and internationally and working in diverse, innovative, interdisciplinary, and inter-professional teams.”
Looking to succeed on the MCAT without a science background? Watch this video:
The two branches of the school’s mission statement reflect the two campuses that make up the medical school, the Twin Cities and Duluth campus. The Twin Cities campus is where the original medical school was founded, but the Duluth campus was built specifically to accommodate the new focus on Native American and rural medicine. Students can choose to attend either campus, but the combined MD/PhD program is only offered at the Twin Cities campus.
Overall Acceptance Rate: 4.5%
In-State Acceptance Rate: 20%
Out-of-State Acceptance Rate: 0.9%
Average MCAT of Incoming Students: 511 (Twin Cities)/506 (Duluth)
Average GPA of Incoming Students: 3.7 (Twin Cities)/3.71
Preference for master’s or PhD: No
Experience of Accepted Medical School Applicants
The U of M is a state school so it shows a preference for residents of Minnesota when reviewing medical school applications. But the school does regularly admit out-of-state applicants and also accepts Canadian applicants who are either US citizens or have permanent residency, so it is not the most out-of-state friendly medical school but non-Michigan residents do have a chance of getting in. Canadian degrees are recognized along with US degrees so the U of M is more a Canadian-friendly US medical school than it is for Americans from out of state.
International students are not eligible to apply. The U of M requires all applicants to be US citizens or permanent residents. However, applicants from Michigan and other parts of the US who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status can apply to the medical school if they meet with all of the other admission requirements. One exception for international students is the MD/PhD program that does accept applicants on a F-1 or other temporary visa.
Minimum MCAT to Apply: 495
UMN is not among the medical schools that don’t require MCAT and, in fact, has a minimum MCAT score that all applicants must meet to be eligible. The school does not have a minimum medical school GPA requirement, but the average GPA for the last incoming class of students was 3.7. The school will accept any MCAT score no older than three years and look at your entire history to evaluate your progress over every attempt.
Coursework and Undergrad
All applicants to the UMN must complete a bachelor’s degree to apply, but there are exceptions. The school is willing to consider applications on a case-by-case basis, meaning that the school uses a holistic review process and considers many factors when reviewing an application, such as extracurriculars for medical school and sh. For example, the school requires all applicants to complete seven prerequisite courses to apply and students who have successfully met those requirements may be admitted if they do not hold a full bachelor’s degree.
Prerequisites and Recommended Courses
The UMN has a list of seven medical school prerequisites that all applicants must successfully complete to be considered. The school does not require a specific grade for completing the courses, but it strongly recommends and prefers a letter grade over a pass/fail grade. The prerequisites involve general subjects (biology, chemistry, etc.) but there are also spaces open for any specialization within a field. For example, the school requires two any-level science courses and two upper-level science courses, but students are free to make up those requisites with a course in any subject from zoology, botany, pharmacology or physics.
The seven prerequisite courses include:
- One semester of biology w/lab work
- One semester of chemistry w/lab work (general or organic chemistry)
- One semester each of two any-level science courses (biology, zoology, genetics, physics, chemistry)
- One semester each of two upper-level science courses (biology, zoology, genetics, physics, chemistry)
- One semester of an upper-level humanities or social science course (anthropology, psychology, philosophy, theology, women’s studies)
The list of recommended courses includes:
- Foreign language
AMCAS Work and Activities
An applicant’s experiences and level of service or community involvement plays a big role in how the UNM Admissions Committee judges applications. Applicants with low GPA or MCAT have been admitted on the basis of their outstanding non-academic medical experiences or because they were enrolled in a post-bac program for medical school, or both, so accumulating the right experiences is one way how to get into medical school with a low GPA.
The school does have a preference for Minnesota residents, and almost 90% of all students admitted to the Twin Cities campus were in-state applicants. But out-of-state residents fared better applying to the Duluth campus as almost 20% of that class were from out-of-state compared to only 12% at the Twin Cities campus. Still, all applicants must begin their application process by submitting an application via the AMCAS online portal.
This service is where students are able to elaborate further on their preparations for medical school by completing the AMCAS Work and Activities and AMCAS Most Meaningful Experiences sections. These two sections give applicants up to 15 spaces (Work and Activities) to list important instances of where they embody the important characteristics of a potential future physician such as leadership, or commitment to serving the underserved.
Sample AMCAS Work and Activities Entry
As a member of the Theta Chi fraternity at Michigan State University, I was involved in organizing multiple philanthropy events that raised over $20,000 for local charities. During the planning process, I observed some members discussing unethical ways to cut costs and maximize profits. I spoke up and reminded them of our fraternity's values and the importance of acting with integrity. As a result, we made the decision to pursue ethical options and achieved even greater success than anticipated. This experience taught me the importance of holding oneself and others accountable to personal integrity, even in high-pressure situations.
The medical school personal statement is a mandatory part of applying to all medical schools in the US regardless of whether it is DO vs. MD schools. The statement is essential to letting Admissions Committee members know and understand your true motivations for wanting to become a doctor. The Personal Comments essay, which is what the AMCAS personal statement is known as, is limited to only 5300 characters and must expound on themes such as why do you want to be a doctor and what steps you have taken since then to assure your success.
Want to learn how to get into med school with a low MCAT? Check out this infographic:
The school only sends secondary applications to applicants with a minimum MCAT score of 495. Applicants who meet that requirement are sent a link to the school’s proprietary applicant portal where the materials and instructions needed to complete the secondary application are posted. The medical school secondary application is always important, but it is doubly important for applicants to the UNM since it is here where students indicate which of the two campuses they prefer.
But that’s not all. Applicants also indicate on their secondary application their interest in any of the school’s five different pathways that span varied aspects of medicine from rural and indigenous health to LGBQIA+ and refugee health. This is important because students who indicate interest in any of these pathways must write medical school secondary essays detailing why, while students who do not have interest in the pathways must write a 1500-character essay using one of ten different medical school secondary essay prompts the school publishes every year.
These are a few of the sample regular prompts and some for the pathways:
Regular MD Program Prompts
- Our physicians pride themselves on giving outstanding care to patients, while looking for better and more equitable ways to do so. As you think about being a future physician and advocate for patients, describe a time when you advocated for someone or something. What did you learn from this situation?
- Describe a time when you experienced an obstacle, challenge or failure. How did it affect you? What did you learn?
- Describe a time when you personally experienced, observed, or acted with explicit bias. What did you learn about yourself and the experience?
- Our families and communities tend to shape our individual worlds and perceptions. Think about the communities that you are an active part of, whether it be a cultural group, family, religious group, neighborhood, etc. Describe the world that you are most comfortable in and how it has shaped who you are. How will this impact your future as a physician and the patients you will serve?
- The University of Minnesota Medical School is committed to building an anti-racist community. Please share your reflections on, experiences with, and greatest lessons learned about systemic racism. (Consider this country's history, racism, racial injustice, anti-black racism, and the impact of the murder of Mr. George Floyd on the Minnesota/Twin Cities community).
Indigenous Health Pathway
What do you view as the greatest healthcare needs in Indigenous communities? Describe your future practice and how you will help fill these needs as a future physician.
Rural Health Pathway
Tell us how you define the term "rural community" as it applies to Minnesota.
Urban Communities Pathway
The University of Minnesota Medical School trains a culturally aware workforce qualified to meet the needs of the diverse populations we serve. Tell us why you are interested in engaging and/or working with urban underserved communities, and describe any experiences you have had serving underserved communities.
The University of Minnesota Medical School is committed to dismantling the health disparities affecting Minnesota’s 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. Describe your experiences engaging and/or working with 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and explain why 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive health care is important.
Immigrant/Refugee/Global Health Pathway
The University of Minnesota Medical School strives to have our community better reflect the broad identities of our state. Describe your interest and/or experience engaging or working with refugee, immigrant, and global health communities. How do their experiences differ from the traditionally underserved and how will your experience prepare you to serve our refugee, immigrant, and global populations?
Sample Essay for Prompt #5
The first night after George Floyd was murdered, I felt like the sun would never rise again in this country. I walked around my neighborhood in Minneapolis not sure of what to do next. The scene was chaotic, with people running, shouting, and crying. Tear gas filled the air, and the sound of gunfire echoed through the streets. Fires burned in buildings, and looting was rampant.
All of it – the fires, looting, tear gas - was the consequence of someone’s rage and I wondered how I would express my rage. Would I throw a rock at the police barricades? Would I set fire to a building for revenge for all the other Black men murdered by the police? I had never broken a law in my life, but that night the law had neither credibility nor authority.
I walked toward the police line believing something would show me the way. Then, a protestor fell in front of me, bleeding from his head. I knelt down, took off my jacket and put it to his wound. I led him toward the park where a small team of medics was treating people. After that night, I volunteered as a medic at every Black Lives Matter march giving out basic first aid.
When I saw my community in flames, I didn’t want that to be part of George Floyd’s legacy. I want to be a doctor because I want his impact to be something positive and life-changing. His death was tragic and unnecessary, but it was through him that my mission of becoming a doctor came into focus.
The UNM asks all applicants to submit a minimum and maximum of three medical school recommendation letters. But the school allows for various types of letters to be submitted and by various sources. A pre-medical advisory committee letter is acceptable, and even, recommended, but it will only count as one letter toward the three-letter requirement.
Applicants may also submit a letter packet containing a cover letter, and committee letter, but, again, it must contain a total of three evaluative letters to be accepted. Students can also submit three individual letters from three different writers. The school prefers that applicants ask former faculty, science or otherwise, to write letters, but, as an accommodation to non-traditional medical school applicants, it also accepts letters written by former and current employers or research and volunteer supervisors. Letters from friends and family are not acceptable.
The school screens all primary and secondary applications twice to ensure that candidates invited for an interview meet all or some of the school’s core competencies for medical students, which are based on the AAMC’s Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students. Students who fit the profile of ideal candidates are emailed interview invitations beginning in September and continuing until March.
The interview process is different for each campus. The Twin Cities campus is one of the medical schools that use MMI, but the TC campus also adds a one-on-one interview before the MMI section. The MMI portion consists of six 8-minute stations with four minutes break between stations. Students read the scenario assigned to each station and discuss their answer with the station’s interviewer.
The Duluth campus does not use MMI, so students applying to that campus do not need to read any MMI practice questions. Instead, Duluth uses a more traditional interview format with students having two one-on-one interviews with members of the Admissions Committee. Regardless of the campus, all interviews are held virtually.
Sample Non-MMI Interview Questions
- Healthcare costs are rising rapidly. What are your thoughts? What possible solutions are there?
- Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Sample Answer to Question #1
As healthcare costs continue to rise, it's clear that the current system is unsustainable. We need to explore more affordable options, such as preventative care and telemedicine, and focus on reducing administrative costs. Additionally, increasing access to healthcare in underserved areas, such as rural communities in places like Minnesota and surrounding states, can improve overall health outcomes and decrease the burden on emergency care.
Acceptance and Waitlist Information
The Admissions Committee meets again after the interview stage to re-assess every application and make a determination on whether to admit, deny or waitlist. The UMN has a tiered waitlist and each campus has its own medical school waitlist. Applicants who are waitlisted will be told by the Admissions Committee what tier they are in for both campuses.
The lists will remain active until all the positions in the upcoming class are filled but you can only add important information about your application by asking first in writing or if the school requests it. Applicants who are rejected are encouraged to reapply but are advised to review an Applicant Self-Assessment Guide to make sure they have taken an honest look at their chances for reapplying.
Primary AMCAS Application Deadline: October 1
Secondary Application Deadline: October 15
The UMN uses a rolling admission system to notify applicants of all important application steps and it also uses rolling admissions to send out final decisions. As such, applicants are encouraged to submit both their primary and secondary well before the official deadlines if they want to receive word earlier. The school takes about three weeks to screen primary applications, but it only takes about three business days for the Duluth campus to send out a secondary application.
Tuition and Debt
In-State Tuition: $41,919
Out-of-State Tuition: $62,805
Average Yearly Cost-of-Living Expenses: $29,578
Average Debt of Graduating Students: $171,791
The UMN offers up to 300 different medical school scholarships to current and incoming students as part of its effort to create a more diverse and inclusive medical school. Each campus awards between 10 and 15 students a scholarship based on several factors ranging from financial need and merit to service commitments and academic excellence. All students are screened for their eligibility when they matriculate, but they must also complete and submit a FAFSA form to be considered for any of the institutional scholarships to school offers to either pay for medical school tuition or medical school housing.
Residency Match Rates
The UMN Medical school had a 95% match rate for its most recent class that consisted of 221 graduates. This result is in keeping with other high match rates from previous years giving the school the right to claim to be one of the medical school with the best match rates. Given the school’s particular mission to serve in rural and indigenous communities, it is no surprise that near-half of graduates opted for a primary care specialty (47.9%). From among these graduates, the top two specialties were also in primary care, as 46 students chose an internal medicine residency, while in a close second, 39 students opted for a family medicine residency.
Review of Available Programs
1. Four-Year MD Program
UMN recently overhauled its curriculum so that it could be used at both campuses, while also giving students more time in between courses to pursue independent learning projects or take a break from school. The new curriculum also encourages more asynchronous learning, as students can view lectures in foundational courses such as anatomy and other subjects online or download them to watch on their own time.
However, the curriculum retains its systems-based approach and introduces students to human anatomy and health in 9 separate blocks, all focused on a different system in the body. Running alongside the Foundational courses is the Clinical Skills longitudinal phase that gives students hands-on training in basic doctoring skills through interactions with standardized patients and use of high-fidelity simulation models.
If a student has chosen to enroll in one of the five unique tracks the school offers, then around 10-20% of the first year will involve classes in those subjects. However, only two tracks begin from the start of medical school – Indigenous and Rural Health – as acceptance into these tracks is based on acceptance into the medical school.
The other three tracks – 2SLGBTQIA+, Immigrant/Refugee/Global, and Urban Community – are open to students after they have entered medical school and they have to apply for them independently. But students should be aware that choosing one track does not mean their education will be limited to only that community. The school claims that every track contains elements germane to all five groups so students can interact with various perspectives and issues.
The Clinical Immersion phase follows the year-and-a-half-long Foundations phase, which is the school’s clinical training module. Students disperse to several training sites and hospitals in and around Greater Minnesota, Duluth and the Twin Cities to perform their clinical rotations that cover all of the major specialties from pediatrics and OB/GYN to neurology and family medicine.
2. Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD)
The MD/PhD program at UMN offers interested students a chance to earn both degrees in about eight years. The program receives funding from the National Institutes of Health, and was one of the first dual-degree programs to receive NIH funding, which provides funding to over 44 different MD/PhD programs around the country. Applicants accepted into the program complete their first two years of medical school, take the USMLE Step 1 exam and complete a single clinical rotation before beginning the graduate phase.
Students then take between three or four years to complete the PhD degree requirements in any of the 12 unique specializations offered including Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics. The graduate years also see students receive guidance and mentorship from PhD advisers to help conceive, present and defend a dissertation at the end of their three or four years. Afterward, students return to the medical school and complete their core rotations and any remaining degree requirements to graduate with both degrees.
This dual-degree is a perfect complement to medical school, especially for students interested in the scale and breadth of public health, which encompasses several different disciplines and specializations. Students can apply for this degree program after they’ve entered medical school and must be in good academic standing to be considered. The schedule is similar to the MD/PhD degree program, in that students complete the first two years of medical school, take the USMLE Step 2 CK exam and then enter the School of Public Health.
4. MD/MS in Biomedical Engineering
This dual-degree program is offered through the UMN Institue for Engineering in Medicine and Science and allows medical students interested in bio-engineering a chance to earn degrees in both fields. The program is open to all medical students in their second year but any interested students must hold a bachelor’s degree in a field of engineering or physical science. The degree program lasts for five years and students can apply 12 medical school credits toward completing of the MS degree.
This is another five-year, dual-degree program that buttresses the medical school curriculum with an education in business administration, leadership training and financial management. The degree is offered in a different schedule than the other dual-degree programs. Enrolled students (students can apply in their second or third year) take a year off after the third year to begin the master’s courses, but another year is added to the curriculum so students complete the 52 credit requirements of the MBA at the same time they finish medical school.
This program is designed for medical students interested in the potential of combining medicine and data science to help patients. Alone, the Master of Health Informatics portion of this degree can take anywhere between one to one and a half years to complete, but medical students enrolled in the program must complete it within a year, in addition to the four years of medical school.
Campus and Faculty
As mentioned, the UMN has two campuses, one in Duluth and the other in the Twin Cities. Both campuses have several important buildings that serve as centers for learning and research in medicine. The Duluth campus is the most recent addition to the medical school so it has more modern facilities and is also the home of the school’s famed Center of American Indian and Minority Health, which has been in operation since the school opened.
The Duluth campus also houses state-of-the-art training and research facilities and houses a simulation center, clinical skills center, and anatomy lab. The main medical school building also includes classrooms, a library, and administrative offices. Duluth also features the Integrated Biosciences building, which houses research labs and facilities for genetics, cell biology, and microbiology.
The Twin Cities campus is the historic center of the medical school with the Phillips Wangensteen Building serving as its main teaching and administrative center. The building was constructed pre-WWII but has undergone several modernizing renovations and also includes simulation and research labs. The Mayo Memorial Building is another important building for medical students as it is the home to the Department of Surgery.
Affiliated Teaching Hospitals
- University of Minnesota Medical Center
- Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC)
- Regions Hospital
- North Memorial Hospital
- Children Hospital of Minneapolis and St Paul
- Abbott Northwestern Hospital
- Minneapolis Veteran's Administration Hospital
- Center for Clinical Quality & Outcomes Discovery and Evaluation (C-QODE)
- Center for Genome Engineering (CGE)
- Center for Immunology (CFI)
- Center for Inflammation Science
- Center for Learning Health System Sciences (CLHSS)
- Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR)
- Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine (CPOM)
- Center for the Art of Medicine
- Center for Women’s Health Research
- Center of American Indian and Minority Health
- Duluth Global Health Research Institute (DGHRI)
- Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism (IDOM)
- Institute for Engineering in Medicine (IEM)
- Institute for Translational Neuroscience (ITN)
- Lillehei Heart Institute (LHI)
- Paul and Sheila Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center
- Program in Health Disparities Research (PHDR)
- Stem Cell Institute (SCI)
- Translational Center for Resuscitative Trauma Care
- UM Institute on Infectious Diseases (UMIID)
- Kathleen Annette (Alumni) MS ’82, MD ‘83 - first Ojibwe woman to earn a medical degree
- C. Walton Lillehei (Alumni) BS ‘39, MD ‘42, MS ‘51, PhD ‘51 - participated in the first successful open-heart surgery and invented the pacemaker.
- Russell M. Nelson (Alumni) PhD ‘51 - participated in the research that lead to the creation of the first heart-lung machine used in the first open-heart surgery.
- Norman Shumway (Alumni) Medical Resident – pioneer of heart transplant surgery and organ rejection, performed the first successful heart transplant.
- B.J. Kennedy (Alumni) MD ‘45 - the founder of oncology as a field of medicine and a pioneer in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers.
University of Minnesota Medical School
Twin Cities Campus
420 Delaware Street Se
Minneapolis, MN 55455
1035 University Drive
Duluth, MN 55812-3031
1. What is the mission of the University of Minnesota Medical School?
The mission of the UMN is two-fold, as its physical campus is divided in two. The first part of the mission deals with the traditional goals of any medical school such as training, education and research, but in the service of the people of Minnesota. The second part focuses on the school’s commitment to be a leader in serving the underserved medical needs of Native Americans in the state and throughout the country. But the school is also focused on health issues affecting various minority groups from members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to immigrants and refugees.
2. Do I need to take the MCAT and submit my scores?
UMN requires all applicants submit their most recent MCAT score (no older than three years). The school also has a MCAT minimum to receive a secondary application, which is 495.
3. What is the minimum GPA requirement?
The school does not have an official minimum GPA; it only has a minimum MCAT to receive a secondary application.
4. What kind of degree do I need to get into UMN?
The school requires all students to have a full bachelor’s degree from a US or Canadian school by the time they apply or when they matriculate.
5. Are there prerequisite courses I have to take?
The school lists seven core courses that students must take to apply but students are given the freedom to determine which exact courses fill the requirements. Students must take a semester of both biology and chemistry with lab work, but can take any science course to fulfill the remaining four requisites that call for completing two any-level science courses and two upper-level science courses.
6. How can I apply to UMN?
UMN participates in the AMCAS application service, so all primary applications are submitted online. Only applicants who meet the school’s minimum MCAT requirements are sent a secondary application, which requires applicants to complete the secondary essays and indicate which campus they prefer.
7. How much does one year at UMN cost?
UMN is a state school so tuition rates are different for Minnesota residents and non-residents. One full year of medical school for a Minnesota resident is $73,759, but a non-resident can expect to pay up to $93,925.
8. Is it hard to get into UMN?
UMN is divided into two campuses and it is easier for out-of-state students to get into the Duluth campus than the Twin Cities campus. The school has an obligation to admit Minnesota residents so it can be very competitive for out-of-state students to apply. But if you are interested in the many specialized tracks, or have a particular interest in rural or Indigenous medicine, then having the right experiences such as shadowing hours for medical school can help you get in.
To your success,
Your friends at BeMo
BeMo Academic Consulting
Want more free tips? Subscribe to our channels for more free and useful content!
Disclaimer: BeMo does not endorse or affiliate with any universities, colleges, or official test administrators. The content has been developed based on the most recent publicly available data provided from the official university website. However, you should always check the statistics/requirements with the official school website for the most up to date information. You are responsible for your own results.
Like our blog? Write for us! >>
Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!