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, but early application is strongly recommended.

Applicants are expected to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college of arts and sciences or engineering. Occasionally a candidate of unusual ability is accepted after only three years of undergraduate education if he or she has satisfactorily completed all of the prerequisites and the minimum entrance requirements of 90 semester hours. To be considered for acceptance to the program, the following courses are required:

  • English Composition or Literature (1 year)
  • Humanities (one year)
  • Biology (one year) with Lab
  • General Chemistry (one year) with Lab
  • Organic Chemistry (one year) with Lab or Organic Chemistry with Lab (one semester) and Biochemistry (one semester)
  • Physics (one year)

All prerequisites must be completed before a student can matriculate at BUSM. The Committee on Admissions generally prefers that applicants complete the required courses at a four-year undergraduate institution accredited in, and located in, the United States or Canada. If an applicant’s academic record does not meet this expectation, the applicant is asked to explain the circumstances. If an applicant has placed out of a required college-level course, we accept another course at a higher level in the same discipline.

A course in college-level mathematics is recommended but not required; many students find that a course in statistics is more helpful than the traditional calculus course. The biology and chemistry courses should include laboratory exercises. Applicants currently enrolled in a professional or graduate school must be in the terminal year of the degree program to be considered for admission to the first-year class. We do not accept applications from individuals who have previously matriculated at another medical school and we do not accept applications for transfer. Applicants are urged to acquire a broad experience in the humanities, as well as in the behavioral and social sciences during their college years, but they should follow their own interests whether in the arts or in the sciences. It is not recommended that applicants try to anticipate subjects that will be required in medical school.

Throughout a student’s four years at Boston University School of Medicine beginning with the Introduction to Clinical Medicine and followed by various clerkships, students travel to BUSM-affiliated clinical sites. A car is not required, but many students find it is convenient to have personal transportation, particularly for the third and fourth years.

The Diversity & Multicultural Affairs office has a variety of programs and resources to support diversity and cultural sensitivity among students and faculty. These programs are described in more detail at the Diversity & Multicultural Affairs website. All applications are processed in the Admissions office.

All applicants must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and should communicate directly with the Association of American Medical Colleges for information concerning these examinations. 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. While we do our best to give equal consideration to all applications that are completed prior to our published deadlines, we have a very large applicant pool and early applications may be more likely to receive a favorable review.

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 and director 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, college 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 his or her list of schools. For the entering Class of 2017, almost 11,000 applications were received for approximately 127 four-year MD seats in the entering class of 173 students.

Students in the entering Class of 2017 had the following characteristics: The mean undergraduate GPA was 3.71 and the mean overall MCAT score was in the 94th percentile of the national examinee pool. The group was 52% women, 18% underrepresented minorities, 92% spoke at least one language other than English, and they represented 26 states and 16 countries of origin.

Students in Post-Baccalaureate or Graduate Programs

Many students apply to medical school after post-graduate study or the completion of premedical requirements in a post-baccalaureate 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 post-baccalaureate 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 post-baccalaureate 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. He or she 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.

BU CARES defines the competencies a BUSM graduate must acquire and are linked to the ACGME competencies (in parentheses). The BUSM graduate:

  • Behaves in a caring, compassionate, and sensitive manner toward patients and colleagues of all cultures and backgrounds (Patient Care; Professionalism)
  • Uses the science of normal and abnormal states of health to prevent disease, to recognize and diagnose illness, and to provide an appropriate level of care (Medical Knowledge; Patient Care)
  • Communicates with colleagues and patients to ensure effective interprofessional medical care (Interpersonal and Communication Skills; Patient Care)
  • Acts in accordance with the highest ethical standards of medical practice (Professionalism)
  • Reviews and critically appraises biomedical literature and evidence for the purpose of ongoing improvement of the practice of medicine (Practice-based Learning and Improvement; Medical Knowledge)
  • Exhibits commitment and aptitude for lifelong learning and continuing improvement (Practice-based Learning)
  • Supports optimal patient care through identifying and using resources of the health care system (Systems-based Practice; Patient Care)


In addition to the sciences, the foundational science curriculum in years 1 and 2 contains two yearlong complementary courses—Integrated Problems (IP), a case-based small-group problem-solving course integrating science knowledge with clinical applications, and Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM), which teaches interviewing and physical diagnosis skills in small groups, online modules, and patient encounters. In Integrated Problems, students in small groups use case-based discussion to develop and integrate their knowledge in the biological and social sciences. The Introduction to Clinical Medicine course provides a mentored early clinical experience, creating an opportunity for students to develop communication and examination skills that are fundamental to effective clinical practice. These two programs provide a bridge between the basic science instruction of the first two years and the clinical clerkships of the third and fourth years.

Essentials of Public Health is a recently expanded course that covers epidemiology/biostatistics, health policy, quality improvement, population health, practice transformation, evidence-based care, patient-centered medical homes, ethics, and health law. Faculty from the Department of Family Medicine have partnered with their colleagues throughout the institution, including the urban network of community health centers and the network of professionals providing clinical care at the hospital, to give a broad perspective on clinical innovation and population health in this course.

First year

The emphasis is on normal structure and function (anatomy and physiology). The majority of the first-year curriculum is delivered as an integrated Principles Integrating Sciences and Medicine (PrISM) curriculum, including the following modules:

  • Molecules to Cells
  • Cells to Tissues
  • Body Structure
  • Neuroscience
  • Genomic Medicine & Immunology
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Respiratory System
  • Renal System
  • Gastrointestinal System & Nutrition
  • Endocrine & Reproductive Systems

In addition to the PrISM curriculum, students are also required to take:

  • Essentials of Public Health
  • Human Behavior in Medicine
  • Integrated Problems
  • Introduction to Clinical Medicine 1A (Fall)
  • Introduction to Clinical Medicine 1B (Spring)

Second year

The focus shifts to abnormalities in structure and function (pathology and pathophysiology). The majority of the second-year material is delivered as an integrated Disease & Therapy (DRx) curriculum, including the following modules:

  • Foundations
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Cardiovascular
  • Pulmonary
  • Rheumatology
  • Renal
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry
  • Endocrinology/Nutrition
  • Reproduction
  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Dermatology

In addition to the DRx curriculum, students are also required to take:

  • Integrated Problems II
  • Introduction to Clinical Medicine II

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 in medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, family medicine, neurology, and psychiatry. 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, and one selective (ambulatory medicine or a surgical subspecialty). The third and fourth years combined include a minimum of 24 weeks of elective time with opportunities to pursue clinical and basic science research, 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 research 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 the Academies mission of professionalism, ethics, and humanitarian values.

The Outreach Van Project

The Outreach Van Project (OVP) at Boston University Medical Center (BUMC) provides health care 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.

CommonWell Fellows Program

The CommonWell Fellows program is a service learning program for professional school students at Boston University, designed to teach future leaders about how socioeconomic status defines health, and how they can use their professional skills and position to help improve community health. Students participate in a speaker series, 20 hours of community service in a Boston organization, and the opportunity to research and present on a topic related to the group’s mission. By the end of the program, Fellows will be better informed about how socioeconomic status affects health, how interdisciplinary organizations work towards improving the lives of the underprivileged, and the roles that professionals play in their efforts. Fellows will have developed relationships with community leaders, advocates, and other students interested in this mission.

Project TRUST

Medical students participate at the Center for HIV/AIDS Care at BMC that offers free, confidential, rapid HIV and Hepatitis C testing and counseling as well as risk reduction services.

The Sharewood Project

This is a free health care organization, run by medical students and physicians. It offers free care to the medically underserved populations of greater Boston. Sharewood also acts as a gateway for people without health insurance to enter the health care system by directing them towards primary care services within the community.

Project MED HEALTH (Helping Educate Adolescents to Live Tomorrow Healthy)

Project MED HEALTH is a program created and organized by the students at BUSM, with the goal of educating children in the Boston Public Schools about health issues. Medical students go into schools to lead interactive workshops on nutrition, fitness, safety, puberty, and reproduction.

CCHERS Program

Medical students choose placement in community health centers from the start of their BUSM experience. They are encouraged to participate in a range of activities at a designated health center and are placed there for all relevant ambulatory experiences.

FaMeS (Family Medicine Student Track)

The FaMeS program provides support and early clinical experience to students at BUSM who are interested in primary care. Students have the opportunity to participate in many extracurricular experiences that promote learning and community service.

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 is also used as a tool to give medical students 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.

The Other Side of the Bed at Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System

This program is designed to give students a paid opportunity to participate directly and intensively in the care of veteran patients during the summer after their first year of medical school. Accepted students are hired for the summer as health technicians at the VA Boston Healthcare System. Students undergo four days of intensive orientation and training to learn skills and responsibilities of a health tech on a nursing unit. They are assigned to a nurse mentor on the unit of their choice at the West Roxbury Campus (medical, surgical, spinal cord injury, medical intensive care, coronary care, surgical intensive care, progressive care, or emergency). During their two-month service, medical student-health techs engage in direct patient care, and learn a multitude of skills such as patient assessment, determination of vital signs, patient hygiene and feeding, reposition and wound care, placement and monitoring of catheters, IV lines and feeding tubes, suctioning and respiratory care and care of tracheostomies, blood drawing, and recording of EKGs. Students attend weekly lectures about a wide array of practical topics such as how to talk to dying patients, physician-nurse collaboration, and patient safety. Upon completion of this program, students will increase their comfort level in direct patient care, learn valuable skills that are not taught directly in medical school, and gain an increased appreciation of the important role that nurses play as part of a multidisciplinary health care team.