Medical School Application Guide


Harvard University


Harvard University




Students can apply to the New Pathway Programme and the Health Sciences and Technology Programme (HST) offered by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It is a 4-year programme. The New Pathway Programme has a strong focus on small group tutorial sessions, problem based learning and the patient-doctor relationship. The HST programme is in some ways more academically rigorous and is oriented more toward students who want to pursue a career in biomedical research.




International students are eligible to apply.


Degree Requirements


Applicants must have at least three years of undergraduate work and at least one year of study spent in either the USA or Canada. A bachelor’s degree is also required before matriculation. No preference is given to a specific major.


Course requirements


One year of Biology with lab experience, two years of Chemistry with lab experience (which may include Biochemistry and/or Organic Chemistry), one year of Physics, one year of Calculus and some Non Science courses with expository writing. Students applying to the HST programme are required to have a Calculus course that includes differential equations, and linear algebra. These applicants should also be comfortable with Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. A year of Calculus based Physics is also required. Harvard has also launched a new list of course requirements that will become mandatory in 2016. In the new requirements, the laboratory components of the science courses are not obligatory. However, interdisciplinary courses that breakdown the barriers among, demonstrate complementary concepts of, and highlight collective wisdom in, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics are valued. The premedical Chemistry curriculum should focus on more Biologically relevant areas of General and Organic Chemistry. Biochemistry competency will also be expected and so is a semester in Statistics. Also, Computational Skills/Mathematics, Analytical and Writing Skills, as well as Language (foreign Language not required but beneficial) are all considered important. Also, courses in Literature, Languages, the Arts, Humanities, and the Social Sciences (e.g., Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, and Ethics) are encouraged.


At least 16 hours should be completed in these areas. In addition, familiarity with computers is necessary. Honors courses and research are encouraged, because they permit a student to explore an area of knowledge in depth and provide a scholarly experience that will facilitate a lifelong habit of self-education. The rationale behind the new pre-medical requirements are addressed in more detail in the following documents: Dienstag JL. Relevance and rigor in pre-medical education. N Engl J Med 2008; 359:221-4.


We encourage everyone considering applying to Harvard medical school to read this paper to understand better what the admissions committee is expecting of theapplicants. Note that required courses do not need to be completed at the time of application, but only at the time of matriculation.


A Level and GCSE Requirements


There is no minimum GPA requirement. The average GPA for the 2014 class was 3.8. Academic excellence is expected.


MCAT requirement


All applicants must write the MCAT. There is no minimum MCAT requirement. The average MCAT score for the 2014 entering was VR - 11; PS - 12.41; BS - 12.67. MCATs must have been taken within the last 3 years.


Selection Formula


All aspects of the file are reviewed prior to inviting students for interview including grades, MCAT scores, applicant’s essay, the letters of recommendation, employment, life experiences and experience in the health field, including research and community work. The HST programme is particularly interested in students who show potential for research in their career. Harvard looks for evidence of

  • integrity
  • maturity
  • concern for others
  • leadership potential
  • aptitude for working with people.


Application Documents


All applicants receive the Harvard supplemental application after submitting their AMCAS application. In the past, students who are re-applying, students who have already graduated and students applying to the HST or dual-degree programmes have been required to submit additional essays. The secondary application for 2012-2013 includeS the following:


If you have already graduated, briefly (4000 characters max) summarize your activities since graduation. If there is an important aspect of your personal background or identity, not addressed elsewhere in the application, that you would like to share with the Committee, we invite you to do so here. Many applicants will not need to answer this question. Examples might include

  • significant challenges in access to education,
  • unusual socioeconomic factors,
  • identification with a minority culture,
  • religion,
  • race,
  • ethnicity,
  • sexual orientation OR gender identity. Briefly explain how such factors have influenced your motivation for a career in medicine.(4000 character maximum) 


In the 2012-2013 application cycle, applicants to the HST programme are asked to write the following:


The HST MD programme draws on the combined resources of Harvard University and MIT to provide a distinct preclinical education tailored to preparing students for a career as a physician-scientist. The coursework in the HST programme has an emphasis on quantitative and analytic approaches, centered on mechanisms critical for understanding diseases and therapies. Please explain how your prior experiences, including research, have prepared you for this challenging opportunity. In lieu of identifying specific HST faculty or research opportunities, please focus on your particular experiences, interests and aspirations. Please limit your comments to the equivalent of one page of single spaced text with a font size of 10 or 12.


Students can also submit up to 6 letters of recommendation, including at least two letters from science professors with whom they have taken classes and one from a non-science professor. Students also need to submit letters from all of their research supervisors. Those who have graduated and worked are advised to submit a letter from their place of employment. Pre-medical advisory committee packets count as one letter toward the 6 letter maximum.


The Interview


There is a mandatory interview held at the medical school for both programmes. Applicants invited to interview for the NP or HST programme meet one-on-one with members of the admissions committee. HST applicants also interview with a faculty member and student together. Students applying for the MD/PhD programme have additional interviews. The interviewers usually have access to the applicant’s AMCAS essay and HST essay prior to the interview. Some of the questions that have been asked include

  • Is there anything that you have heard that makes you think less of Harvard?
  • What is the overarching theme to your activities?
  • Where do you see yourself in 10/15/20 years?
  • If you had a chance to make your case to the admissions committee, what would you say to convince them that they should accept you?
  • Have you experienced failure, no matter how hard you tried? How did you deal with it?


Applicants who have done research often get a chance to talk about their research project in great detail.


International Applicants


Foreign students should supplement their education with at least one year of college or university training in the US or Canada if they have completed academic work outside the US or Canada. Foreign students who do not have a baccalaureate or advanced degree from an institution in the United States or Canada are rarely accepted for admission. International applicants should make every effort to take the majority of required courses at an accredited college or university in the United States or Canada.


Application deadline


AMCAS deadline is 15th October and supplemental applications must be submitted by October 22nd. AMCAS must also receive letters of recommendation by this date.


Application cost


The secondary application fee is $100. The fee is waived for students who received an AMCAS fee waiver.




$52,100 per year in tuition fees. Approximately 70% of students receive financial assistance every year.


Additional information


Students can only apply to the Harvard medical school twice. You can apply to the HST programme and the New Pathway programme simultaneously. Students may also apply to the MD/PhD programme and the Medical Scientist Training Programme. Details on these programmes are found on Harvard’s website. Another important fact in applying to Harvard is that unlike many US schools, it does not have a rolling admission policy.


Competition Ratios


For the August 2014 entry class, there were 6,614 completed applications received. Every year, there are approximately 800-1000 students interviewed for the 135 places in the New Pathway Programme and the 30 places available in the HST programme. In the class entering in Fall 2014, students were selected from 66 undergraduate institutions, 33 states and 15 foreign countries.


Dual degree programmes


There is an MD-PhD programme available. Students undertake the PhD component after completing the 2nd year of the MD programme. Applicants must complete the standard course requirements for consideration by Harvard Medical School and meet the minimum requirements for admission into the graduate programmes in their area of interest. The best candidates usually complete advanced coursework in Science and Mathematics and have had substantial research experience.

Harvard also offers the following combined degrees:

  • MD-MPH (Master of Public Health)
  • MD-MPP (Master of Public Policy)
  • MD-MBA (Master of Business Administration).


Other degrees can be combined with the M.D. degree, in consultation with HMS academic advisors. More information can be found on their website:




Accepted students who would like to apply for deferral must write to the Faculty Associate Dean for Admissions stating their reason for requesting deferral and their proposed plans for the duration of the deferral. If approved, the deferral is typically granted for one year, though they are routinely renewed for students involved in multi-year fellowship programmes. The Committee on Admissions is generally supportive of proposals that provide for participation in intellectually rewarding opportunities and service programmes during the time of deferral from
HMS. Requests to continue in activities already in progress at the time of application are generally denied.




Office of the Committee on Admissions

Harvard Medical School

25 Shattuck Street

Boston, Massachusetts, USA 02115

Tel: +1 617 432 1550


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