Four-Year Program (MD)

Admission Requirements

Candidates for admission to the Boston University School of Medicine must apply through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). Information and application materials are available at the AAMC website. Candidates may apply between June 1 and November 1.

Applicants are expected to earn a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university that is located and accredited in the US or Canada. Applicants who have earned their bachelor’s degree from an institution that is not an accredited US or Canadian institution, but who completed a minimum of two (2) years in such an institution, including all of the prerequisites, may be considered to be eligible and should bring the details of their record to the attention of the Committee on Admissions.

Applicants currently enrolled in a professional or graduate school program must be in the terminal year of the degree program to be considered for admission to the first-year class and all applicants are expected to complete any academic program in which they are enrolled at any time during the application process. Due to the retention of the current student body, BU School of Medicine does not have any slots available for advanced standing in the second- or third-year classes. Additionally, individuals who have previously matriculated at another medical school are not eligible to apply.

We encourage all applicants to follow their own interests, whether in the arts or the sciences, and to acquire a broad range of experience in the humanities as well as in the behavioral and social sciences during their college years. In addition, coursework in mathematics (particularly statistics), biochemistry, and social and behavioral sciences (psychology, sociology, anthropology) are important. As a guideline, students typically take two semesters each of English, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, mathematics, and social sciences. Applicants are advised to refrain from modifying their undergraduate course selections in an effort to anticipate subject matter that will be studied in medical school. Because schools and applicants differ from one another, our “requirements” are flexible. Students are required to demonstrate competence in certain subject areas, but there are multiple ways applicants can do this.

Example of one way applicants might demonstrate competency:

  • One year of English composition or other writing-intensive course
  • One year of humanities
  • One year of biological science, with lab
  • One year of physics
  • Two years of chemistry, such as:
    • Two semesters of chemistry with lab + two semesters of organic chemistry with lab + one semester of biochemistry
    • Two semesters of chemistry with lab + one semester of organic chemistry with lab + one semester of biochemistry
    • One semester of chemistry with lab + two semesters of organic chemistry with lab + one semester of biochemistry

We generally prefer that applicants take courses at a four-year undergraduate institution rather than utilize advanced placement credits. We discourage the use of online courses for any foundational science coursework unless in-person classes were not offered due to the pandemic. Courses taken outside the primary undergraduate school will be considered as a part of the comprehensive review of the application. If an applicant has placed out of a required college-level course, we will also accept another course in that discipline at the same or higher level.

All applicants must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Applicants are encouraged to take the MCAT in the spring of the year of application and to have most of the basic science requirements completed at the time of application. Applicants who have not taken the MCAT by September of the calendar year of application cannot be considered for admission, and MCAT scores can be considered only if the test was taken within four years of the anticipated matriculation date.

All applicants are also required to take the CASPer test and should contact Altus Assessments directly for test dates, registration, and other relevant information. Applicants should take the test by October of the calendar year of application.

Early Decision Plan

Some applicants may wish to apply under the Early Decision Plan. This plan is intended for applicants whose credentials are outstanding in every respect, and who can articulate a clear rationale for selecting BUSM as their first-choice medical school. Under this plan, applicants must file applications between June 1 and August 2. Applicants may apply only to Boston University School of Medicine and agree to attend, if accepted. Applicants interested in an Early Decision application should speak with the associate dean of admissions prior to submitting the application. All Early Decision applicants will be notified that they are accepted, deferred, or rejected on or before October 1, at which time they will be free to apply to other schools if they have not been accepted to BUSM.

Selection Factors

The Committee on Admissions is deeply committed to a comprehensive, holistic review process, which is based in the mission, vision, and values of the School of Medicine. The committee evaluates the academic record, letters of recommendations, and involvement in college and community activities, as well as less tangible qualities of personality, character, and life experience. All factors are considered in the broader context of the applicant’s overall life experience. A personal interview, offered at the discretion of the Committee on Admissions, is an integral part of the admissions process.

In recent years, approximately one of every four individuals applying to United States medical schools through AMCAS has included Boston University School of Medicine on their list of schools. For the entering Class of 2021, more than 10,000 applications were received for approximately 125 four-year MD seats in the entering class of 150 students.

Students in the entering Class of 2021 had the following characteristics: The mean undergraduate GPA was 3.65 and the mean overall MCAT score was in the 95th percentile of the national examinee pool. The group was 60% women, 16% underrepresented minorities, 84% spoke at least one language other than English, and they represented 30 states and 16 countries of origin.

Students in Postbaccalaureate or Graduate Programs

Many students apply to medical school after postgraduate study or the completion of premedical requirements in a postbaccalaureate program. Students who are enrolled in graduate programs may apply in the terminal year of the graduate program for which they were originally accepted into graduate school. Applicants must complete all degree requirements of any program in which they were enrolled at the time of application. Students in postbaccalaureate programs are urged to request a letter of recommendation from the Premedical Advisory Committee of the undergraduate college, or, if more appropriate, from the college or university where they are pursuing postbaccalaureate studies. A final transcript or other evidence of completion of degree requirements will be required prior to matriculation.

International Students

International students are considered eligible for admission if they have completed their undergraduate education in an institution accredited in, and located in, the US or Canada. On occasion, exceptionally well-prepared applicants who have completed a minimum of two years of such study may be considered if the two years include all the prerequisite courses.

Degree Requirements

Every candidate for the degree of Doctor of Medicine at Boston University must be at least 21 years of age and of good moral character. They must have fulfilled all of the requirements for admission to the school; give evidence of having been enrolled in an accredited medical school for at least four full academic years, two of which must have been spent in the regular third- and fourth-year courses at Boston University School of Medicine; and have discharged all financial obligations to Boston University.

The degree of Doctor of Medicine is awarded on recommendation of the faculty and may be granted cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude in recognition of outstanding academic achievement.

BUSM Curriculum

The BUSM curriculum offers students the opportunity to study medicine in a flexible, supportive environment that stimulates critical inquiry and provides a sound base of knowledge in the biological, social, and behavioral sciences. The dual degree programs (MD-PhD, MD-MPH, MD-MBA, MD-MACI, MD-JD) provide students individualized medical education options for diverse careers. Over the last several years we have restructured the academic program to expand early clinical experiences; reduce lecture hours and expand small group exercises, laboratory sessions, and problem-based seminars; integrate the sciences basic to the study of medicine; and expand flexibility and elective time throughout the program.

The Medical Education Program Objectives (MEPOs) define the competencies a BUSM graduate must acquire.

The BUSM graduate will be able to:

  • Establish and maintain medical knowledge necessary for the care of patients (Medical Knowledge)
    • MK.1: Describe the normal development, structure, and function of the human body.
    • MK.2: Recognize that a health condition may exist by differentiating normal physiology from pathophysiologic processes.
    • MK.3: Describe the risk factors, structural and functional changes, and consequences of biopsychosocial pathology.
    • MK.4: Select, justify, and interpret diagnostic tests and imaging.
    • MK.5: Develop a management plan, incorporating risks and benefits, based on the mechanistic understanding of disease pathogenesis.
    • MK.6: Articulate the pathophysiologic and pharmacologic rationales for the chosen therapy and expected outcomes.
    • MK.7: Apply established and emerging principles of science to care for patients and promote health across populations.
    • MK.8: Demonstrate knowledge of the biological, psychological, sociological, and behavioral changes in patients that are caused by or secondary to health inequities.
  • Demonstrate clinical skills and diagnostic reasoning needed for patient care (Clinical Skills & Diagnostic Reasoning)
    • CSDR.1: Gather complete and hypothesis-driven histories from patients, families, and electronic health records in an organized manner.
    • CSDR.2: Conduct complete and hypothesis-driven physical exams interpreting abnormalities while maintaining patient comfort.
    • CSDR.3: Develop and justify the differential diagnosis for clinical presentations by using disease and/or condition prevalence, pathophysiology, and pertinent positive and negative clinical findings.
    • CSDR.4: Develop a management plan and provide an appropriate rationale.
    • CSDR.5: Deliver an organized, clear, and focused oral presentation.
    • CSDR.6: Document patient encounters accurately, efficiently, and promptly including independent authorship for reporting of information, assessment, and plan.
    • CSDR.7: Perform common procedures safely and correctly, including participating in informed consent, following universal precautions and sterile technique while attending to patient comfort.
    • CSDR.8: Utilize electronic decision support tools and point-of-care resources to use the best available evidence to support and justify clinical reasoning.
    • CSDR.9: Recognize explicit and implicit biases that can lead to diagnostic error and use mitigation strategies to reduce the impact of cognitive biases on decision-making.
  • Effectively communicate with patients, families, colleagues, and interprofessional team members (Communication)
    • C.1: Demonstrate the use of effective communication skills, patient-centered frameworks, and behavioral change techniques to achieve preventative, diagnostic, and therapeutic goals with patients.
    • C.2: Clearly articulate the assessment, diagnostic rationale, and plan to patients and their caregivers.
    • C.3: Effectively counsel and educate patients and their families.
    • C.4: Communicate effectively with colleagues within one’s profession and team, consultants, and other health professionals.
    • C.5: Communicate one’s role and responsibilities clearly to other health professionals.
    • C.6: Demonstrate appropriate use of digital technology, including the EMR and telehealth, to effectively communicate and optimize decision-making and treatment with patients, families, and healthcare systems.
    • C.7: Practice inclusive and culturally responsive spoken and written communication that helps patients, families, and healthcare teams ensure equitable patient care.
    • C.8: Communicate information with patients, families, community members, and health team members with attention to health literacy, avoiding medical jargon and discipline-specific terminology.
    • C.9: Communicate effectively with peers and in small groups demonstrating effective teaching and listening skills.
  • Practice relationship-centered care to build therapeutic alliances with patients and caregivers (Patient-Centered Care)
    • PCC.1: Demonstrate sensitivity, honesty, compassion, and responsiveness to a diverse patient population, including but not limited to diversity in gender, age, culture, race, religion, disabilities, and sexual orientation.
    • PCC.2: Demonstrate humanism, compassion, empathy, integrity, and respect for patients and caregivers.
    • PCC.3: Demonstrate a commitment to ethical principles pertaining to autonomy, confidentiality, justice, equity, and informed consent.
    • PCC.4: Show responsiveness and accountability to patient needs that supersedes self-interest.
    • PCC.5: Explore patient and family understanding of well-being, illness, concerns, values, and goals in order to develop goal-concordant treatment plans across settings of care.
  • Exhibit skills necessary for personal and professional development needed for the practice of medicine (Personal and Professional Development)
    • PPD.1: Recognize the need for additional help or supervision and seek it accordingly.
    • PPD.2: Demonstrate trustworthiness that makes colleagues feel secure when responsible for the care of patients.
    • PPD.3: Demonstrate awareness of one’s own emotions, attitudes, and resilience/wellness strategies for managing stressors and uncertainty inherent to the practice of medicine.
  • Exhibit commitment and aptitude for life-long learning and continuing improvement (Life-long Learning)
    • LL.1: Identify strengths, deficiencies, and limits in one’s knowledge and expertise.
    • LL.2: Develop goals and strategies to improve performance.
    • LL.3: Develop and answer questions based on personal learning needs.
    • LL.4: Actively seek feedback and opportunities to improve one’s knowledge and skills.
    • LL.5: Locate, appraise, and assimilate evidence from scientific studies related to patients’ health.
    • LL.6: Actively identify, analyze, and implement new knowledge, guidelines, standards, technologies, or services that have been demonstrated to improve patient outcomes.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of healthcare delivery and systems needed to provide optimal care to patients and populations (Health Systems)
    • HS.1: Identify the many factors that influence health including structural and social determinants, disease prevention, and disability in the population.
    • HS.2: Apply principles of epidemiological sciences to the identification of health problems, risk factors, treatment strategies, resources, and disease prevention/health promotion efforts for patients and populations.
    • HS.3: Demonstrate respect for the unique cultures, values, roles/responsibilities, and expertise of the interprofessional team and the impact these factors can have on health outcomes.
    • HS.4: Work with the interprofessional team to coordinate patient care across healthcare systems and address the needs of patients.
    • HS.5: Participate in continuous improvement in a clinical setting, utilizing a systematic and team-oriented approach to improve the quality and value of care for patients and populations.
    • HS.6: Initiate safety interventions aimed at reducing patient harm.
    • HS.7: Incorporate considerations of cost awareness and risk-benefit analysis in patient and/or population-based care.
    • HS.8: Integrate preventive interventions into the comprehensive healthcare of individuals.
    • HS.9: Explain how different healthcare systems, programs, and community organizations affect the health of neighborhoods and communities.
  • Exhibit commitment to promoting and advancing health equity for all patients (Health Equity)
    • HE.1: Define health equity and describe the individual and population level differences in health outcomes and disease burden due to inequities in healthcare.
    • HE.2: Comprehend the historical and current drivers of structural vulnerability, racism, sexism, oppression, and historical marginalization and how they create health inequity.
    • HE.3: Explain how one’s own identity, lived experiences, privileges, and biases influences their perspectives of colleagues, patients, and clinical decision-making.
    • HE.4: Comprehend and identify the impact of healthcare inequities through medical decision-making tools, interpreting medical literature and reviewing scientific research.
    • HE.5: Identify factors needed to advocate for a more diverse and equitable healthcare environment at a local, community, and systems-based level.

Highlights

PISCEs (Principles Integrating Science, Clinical Medicine, and Equity)

PISCEs is a longitudinal integrated course during the preclerkship phase of the curriculum that prepares students with the medical knowledge needed to care for patients. It integrates foundational science, pathophysiology, and disease management. The course is broken into three foundational modules followed by eight systems-based (e.g., cardiovascular, neuro/psych) modules. Woven into each of these modules are longitudinal threads that include oncology, infectious disease, anatomy, microbiology, pharmacology, and pathology, as well as the school’s health equity curricular themes. The last 10 weeks of the preclerkship curriculum, called the Integration Weeks, focus on integrated cases based on the BUSM Core patient presentations that deliberately revisit prior foundational, clinical, and social science content in patient cases to help students consolidate and integrate the material. The cases begin with a patient presenting to a clinic or ER and then evolve over the course of the week. The case patient’s signs, symptoms, labs, and imaging enable students to apply what they have learned in a clinical context to prepare them for how they will subsequently see clinical information and apply medical knowledge during their clinical clerkships. The cases will be based on real patient cases that represent the unique populations at our primary teaching hospital (Boston Medical Center), and will highlight knowledge and skills needed to address our curricular key themes and populations. Finally, students collaborate in small groups to solve clinical problems, simulating the clinical team in medical practice and review, as well as prepare for the USMLE Step 1 exam. The PISCEs curriculum uses multiple instructional design strategies to support active learning, peer learning, and team development.

Health Equity Key Themes

A primary outcome for the curriculum at BUSM is to train students as leaders in addressing health equity. It is a mission of both our medical school and medical center to serve marginalized and vulnerable patient populations. We integrate health equity content in multiple ways. The first is during the first week of each preclerkship academic year (two weeks total) called Health Equity weeks, which focus on knowledge and skills related to health equity. In addition, health equity objectives have been added into our PISCEs and Doctoring courses and are woven and integrated as described above. The LEADS curricula also incorporate advocacy skills, so students are prepared to address health equity.

Our Health Equity content includes poverty, social determinants of health, health equity, racism in medicine, behavioral medicine, and population health. The patient populations highlighted in diagnostic cases will include refugees and immigrants, gender and sexually diverse patients (LGBTQIA+), and Black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC). Diagnostic cases will also include patients with substance use disorder.

LEADS (Learn, Experience, Advocate, Discover, and Serve) weeks

Students explore an area of professional focus through the LEADS (Learn, Experience, Advocate, Discover, and Serve) curriculum. There are seven LEADS weeks in total, spread throughout the preclerkship curriculum. These weeks allow students to have time within the formal curriculum to immerse themselves in activities that allow for personal and professional development as well as service learning within the required curriculum.

During the first LEADS week in September of their first year, students are introduced to the LEADS areas of foci—which will include Biomedical Research, Gender and Sexual Diversity, Global and Refugee Health, Community Health, Homeless Health, Interprofessional Teamwork, Well-being and Integrated Health, Social Determinants of Health, Racism in Medicine, and Addiction Medicine—by the faculty lead in each area. Students will study the impact these topics have on patient care and the changes in health that have resulted from advocacy and relevant research. By January of the first year, students determine an area of focus and then enter these mentored LEADS foci. In the next six LEADS curricular weeks, students participate in both a structured didactic content learning the evidence, science, methods, and innovations. Students will also participate in experiential learning in places such as community organizations, clinics, health centers, or labs in their area of focus. A core curriculum for all students will also be woven throughout these six LEADS weeks, regardless of their area of focus. This core curriculum includes research, medical education and quality improvement methods, leadership and change management, and advocacy skills. In the fourth LEADS week, which precedes the summer break between first and second year, we will prepare students for opportunities to immerse themselves in their areas of focus during their summer break if they so choose. Students can choose to continue their LEADS projects during a four-week elective in third year and multiple electives in fourth year to complete a capstone with a scholarly product.

LEADS weeks also include PISCEs Integrated Cases. During the seven LEADS weeks, in addition to the LEADS focused work, students are also presented with several patient cases which emphasize foundational science concepts presented in prior weeks to help students reintegrate content from multiple systems previously presented. The cases: 1) present student with signs and symptoms that demonstrate how physiologic and anatomic processes lead to patient presentation, 2) present diseases that are multisystem and highlight multiple processes at once, 3) integrate clinical schema to emphasize the approach to developing a differential diagnosis based on patient presentation, and 4) introduce students to the BUSM Core, which are the 44 chief complaints and 15 health prevention/chronic diseases/other conditions we expect students to be able to clinically reason through before they graduate.

The curriculum described below applies to the four-year program.

First Year

The first-year curriculum includes:

  • Principles Integration Science, Clinical Medicine, and Equity (PISCEs)
    • Foundations 1—Molecules and Genes
    • Foundations 2—The Human Body: Tissues to Structure
    • Foundations 3—Disease, Defense and Drugs
    • Genomic Medicine
    • Cardiovascular
    • Pulmonary
    • Renal
    • Reproduction and Endocrinology
    • Hematology
  • Learn, Experience, Advocate, Discover, and Serve (LEADS)
  • Doctoring

Second Year

  • Principles Integration Science, Clinical Medicine, and Equity (PISCEs)
    • Neuro/Psychiatry
    • GI/Nutrition
    • Dermatology/Rheumatology/Musculoskeletal
    • Integrated Case-Based Weeks
  • LEADS
  • Doctoring
  • Consolidation and Preparation for Clerkships (CPC) Course

Third Year

This is the core clerkship year. Students complete their initial clinical rotations, participating in active ambulatory and inpatient practices on major teaching services:

  • Medicine—8 Weeks
  • Surgery—8 Weeks
  • Family Medicine—6 Weeks
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology—6 Weeks
  • Pediatrics—6 Weeks
  • Psychiatry—6 Weeks
  • Neurology—4 Weeks
  • Third-Year Elective (Radiology, Emergency Medicine)—4 Weeks
    • The Enrichment office also offers a limited number of research electives that are available to students during the third-year elective block.

Students work with house officers and attending physicians in the care of a broad range of patients and clinical conditions through a series of required and elective clinical blocks.

Fourth Year

In the fourth year, students complete advanced clinical rotations in geriatrics and home care, a sub-internship in the specialty of their choice, a back to the classroom course where foundational science concepts are revisited through a clinical lens, a boot camp for internship, and a minimum of 24 weeks of elective time with opportunities to pursue clinical and basic science research, teaching, as well as independent study programs.

Study Abroad and Research

Many students choose to spend some of this time at other institutions, either in the US or abroad in BUSM’s very active International Health program.

BUSM is a major research institution and students may return to research interests they have pursued in the past or try out research projects for the first time. Stipends are available for those rising second-year students who wish to undertake a summer research fellowship.

Service Learning

The curriculum offers a variety of extracurricular programs to expose medical students to community-based medicine and social advocacy groups. These programs provide a way for students to be involved in the community and to promote professionalism, ethics, and humanitarian values.

The Outreach Van Project

The Outreach Van Project (OVP) at Boston University Medical Campus (BUMC) provides healthcare to the medically underserved and homeless communities and provides opportunity for students to learn valuable skills in community outreach. Medical students volunteer to bring food/clothing and triage services to the homeless population in East Boston. This is a student-run project with administrative support and faculty mentorship through the Enrichment office.

Boston University Coalition for Adult Immunization (BUCAI)

Boston University Coalition for Adult Immunization (BUCAI) is designed primarily to provide seasonal influenza vaccines to the public on an annual basis, as well as provide the public with information on vaccinations. BUCAI provides medical students with immediate experience in working with medical professionals as well as the general public. BUCAI also allows medical students to learn skills surrounding patient inoculation and patient contact early in their medical training.

Boston University for Down Syndrome (BUDS)

The Boston University for Down Syndrome (BUDS) Group aims to improve medical student understanding of life with a developmental disability and the spectrum of associated long-term implications. BUDS offers educational talks and volunteer opportunities to work with individuals with developmental disabilities. By providing education and service learning opportunities, the group strives to prepare future physicians to provide compassionate care for individuals with developmental disabilities across all medical specialties and informed guidance for parents seeking counsel during diagnosis and development.

BU Student-Run Teen and Tot Service

The mission of BU Student-Run Teen and Tot Service is to establish a student-run health service for adolescent mothers and their children in order to increase patient access to the healthcare system, deliver education, and provide the necessary resources for this high-risk patient population. Furthermore, it aims to equip future health professionals with the knowledge and skills to provide patient-centered care to adolescent mothers and their children.

BUSM CALM (Cuddling Assists in Lowering Maternal and Infant Stress)

BUSM CALM strives to lower maternal and infant stress through non-pharmacologic care for newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) secondary to in utero opioid exposure. The program provides future clinicians with formative experiences in providing compassionate postpartum and neonatal support for vulnerable populations in both inpatient and nursery settings that will influence student understanding of non-pharmacological interventions and sensitive issues.

BUSM Service PRIDE

BUSM Service PRIDE provides an avenue for BUSM medical students to be a source of support for LGBTQIA+ youth in the Boston and Greater Boston community. Through its outreach and programs the group provides BUSM medical students with a chance to interact with LGBTQIA+ adolescents and better understand LGBTQIA+-specific and adolescent-specific issues.

Art SPACE: Supporting People And Creating Empowerment

Art SPACE believes that art can serve as a means of empowerment and medium for people to share their stories. Art SPACE provides the opportunity for people to engage in art making and experience its positive effects. Through this service-learning project, medical students will get a chance to work with vulnerable populations in a collaborative manner, creating art alongside each other as a means to connect and express themselves. This group provides opportunities for medical students to interact with vulnerable populations on common ground and learn how to relate to individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Fit4You

The mission of Fit4You is to enable pediatric patients to make lifestyle decisions that will benefit them now and well into the future. With this, Fit4You works to end the modern-day epidemic of childhood obesity, with a model that can be replicated in other health centers around the country. Furthermore, through working so closely with patients and their families, Fit4You aims to provide medical students with impactful and meaningful clinical experience early on in their healthcare careers.

Pediatric ED Evaluation for Risk of Substances (PEERS)

As a service-learning experience at the Boston University School of Medicine, PEERS provides first- and second-year medical students with the opportunity to learn and practice brief screening of risky behaviors (sexual behavior and substance use disorder) and motivational intervention in the pediatric Emergency Department. The group will additionally screen patients for social needs including housing, education/job services, food access, and more.