How to Get into Columbia University Medical School

August 17

Table of Contents

Columbia Medical School is one of the most renowned and prestigious medical schools in New York and an Ivy League institution. Even today, its medical programs are very competitive.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia Medical School, or the Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC), is "one of the most celebrated and oldest academic medical institutions in the country." 

This highly regarded institution is a fantastic choice when applying to medical schools because it is committed to offering the best, most egalitarian care possible. 

If you want to know how to get into Columbia Medical School, this article is for you. We have gathered every pertinent information you may need to get admitted into this prestigious medical school.

Why Columbia Medical School?

The Columbia Medical School was the first medical school to award the M.D. degree in the American colonies. It has a history spanning more than 250 years. Washington Heights, Manhattan, is home to the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, which houses the medical school of the same name.

In 2017, the school's name was changed to Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. It was once known as the Columbia College Medical Department.

The idea that medical education is university education is the foundation for Columbia Medical School. Three Nobel Prizes have been awarded to Vagelos College, and there are now 21 graduates who are members of the National Academy of Sciences and 49 who are members of the National Academy of Medicine.

In addition to caring for patients, from those who can select any doctor worldwide to the most vulnerable residents of our neighborhoods, Columbia Medical School also conducts basic, population-based, and physician-scientist research to advance human health.

The Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons is consistently rated as one of the top medical schools in the nation. It is one of the medical schools in the country with the most research activity.

Programs Offered in Columbia Medical School

The Columbia Medical School offers the following five medical programs:

Doctor of Medicine Program 

In collaboration with Bassett Healthcare in upstate New York, this program splits the typical 4-year Columbia Medical School MD curriculum between locations. The program aims to assist in addressing the doctor shortage in rural areas. 

Before spending 18 months at the New York campus, students begin their orientation in Cooperstown. 

Students transfer to the Cooperstown site in January of their second year of the program, where they take part in inpatient blocks and gain longitudinal experience. The fourth year of the curriculum includes three rotations in New York City.

3-Year Ph.D. to MD Program

Only students with a Ph.D. in biology or a related field from a recognized institution in the United States or Canada are eligible for this program, and candidates must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States. 

The 3-year Ph.D. to MD program is designed for students devoted to a career in a medical specialty like internal medicine, pediatrics, neurology, psychiatry, or pathology and who want to undertake biomedical research as a physician-scientist.

The curriculum comprises preclinical courses (16 months) and a significant clinical year (17 months). 

The standard MD curriculum requirement for a research project is not required. The dual MD/Ph.D. program's medical curriculum is identical to its Ph.D. counterpart.

MD Doctorate of Medicine 

The Columbia Medical School Phd.-to-MD program and the combined MD-Ph.D. program offer the same medical training curriculum. Students who want to pursue a career in medicine and biomedical research should enroll in this program.

By April 30 of the year they enroll in Columbia Medical School, all candidates for the three-year PhD-to-MD program must have defended their theses. Candidates should have a history of conducting significant basic science research.

It is necessary to have done significant undergraduate research in biology, chemistry, physics, computational biology, math, epidemiology, or engineering. 

The coursework for the first phase of the MD program is completed in Years 1 and 2; the Ph.D. phase begins in Years 3 through 5, and the remaining MD curriculum is completed in Years 6 and 7.

MD-OMFS Residency Program

Only graduates with a dental degree from an accredited United States or Canadian institution are eligible for this program. It is accessible to American citizens, lawful permanent residents, and J-1 visa holders.

Before applying, candidates must have passed Parts 1 and 2 of the National Dental Board Examination

Passing the NBME CBSE, or National Board of Medical Examiners Clinical Basic Science Exam, is also necessary. The preference for candidates with research experience is to have completed Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery externships while in dentistry school.

Please note that if you apply to any non-standard MD programs and are unsuccessful in getting an interview, you will be immediately added to the pool of applicants for regular MD programs.

How to Get into Columbia University Medical School

Every year, Columbia Medical School receives over 7,000 complete applications for the (about) 100 openings in its entering class. 

For your reference, the requirements and essential details for applying to Columbia Medical School are shown below:

Columbia Medical School Acceptance Rate

The Columbia Medical School acceptance rate is somewhat frightening. Only 1.95% of candidates were accepted in the most recent admissions cycle. 

Therefore, prospective students must put in extra effort to obtain one of the few openings in this esteemed program. 

Therefore, if you are wondering how difficult it is to get into Columbia Medical School, the simple answer is that it is pretty tricky but manageable with the correct grades, perseverance, and outstanding secondary essays.

Columbia Medical School Coursework Requirements

To apply to Columbia Medical School, you must fulfill the requirements listed below: 

  • Completed three full academic years in an accredited American or Canadian college. Premedical training at a US college for at least a year is necessary.
  • Biology for one year, including labs
  • Physics for one year, including labs
  • Chemistry for one year, including labs
  • One year of lab-based organic chemistry
  • One year of rigorous English/writing instruction

All prerequisites must be finished within ten years of the application date, with biology completed within five years. 

Earning Advanced Placement credits in biology, chemistry, or English is also an extra year of college. Prerequisites are not accepted from online courses.

To be competitive, you should earn A's and B's in your science classes, emphasizing A's. 

Any grade in a course lower than a "C" must be made up with higher rates or retaken. You may take a few elective courses with a "Pass/Fail" rating, but you must explain any "Fail" grades on your record.

Columbia Medical School GPA Statistics

The remarkable 3.49 median GPA for those accepted applicants ranged from 2.98 to 4.0. Therefore, you still have a chance to be admitted even if your grades fall short of the average GPA. Make sure you score highly on the MCAT and produce excellent secondary essays.

Columbia Medical School MCAT Statistics

Once more, there is a substantial disparity between the MCAT scores of admitted candidates. Columbia Medical School claims they have accepted applicants with MCAT scores as low as 508 and as high as 528 despite the typical score being 522.

The MCAT application process can be difficult and unpleasant to start, regardless. To make sure you are well prepared for the test, it is crucial to establish a thorough study routine and cultivate effective study techniques.

Columbia Medical School Tuition and Scholarships

In-state and out-of-state students must pay USD 70,884 each year in tuition for medical school. The overall cost per year, including additional required fees, is USD 108,499.

Students can be evaluated for financial aid after being accepted into the program and paying the USD 1,000 non-refundable matriculation deposit.  

Grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study programs are available from federal, state, institution, and commercial sources. Merit, financial need, enrollment status, and funding availability are considered when awarding financial help.

Columbia Medical School Application Timeline

Columbia Medical School does not use the rolling admissions system. Instead, all judgments are made after the interview, and all decision letters are distributed in early March.

When submitting your application to Columbia Medical School, you must also submit an AMCAS and a secondary application. Although you will not be charged for the secondary application if you receive a waiver for the AMCAS fee, the amount is USD 175 and is not refundable.

The cycle below outlines Columbia Medical School's application deadlines:

  • May 2, 2023: AMCAS application starts
  • May 30, 2023: AMCAS application must be submitted
  • July - October 2023: Secondary applications are sent to all applicants and applications are processed
  • August 2023 - January 2024: Interview invitations are sent
  • October 15, 2023: AMCAS application due date
  • October 22, 2023: Secondary application due date 
  • October 29, 2023: Deadline for supporting required documents
  • March 2024: Admission offers are sent, and the waitlist starts
  • April 15, 2024: Admitted students should withdraw from all except for three schools
  • April 30, 2024: Admitted students should withdraw from all except for one school
  • May 2023–August 2023: Waitlist applicants are reviewed


This application timeline may vary from year to year. To make sure, visit the Columbia Medical School Application Overview. 

Columbia Medical School Extracurricular Activities

Learn more about the extracurricular activities you should join for medical school and how many volunteer hours you should put in to get ready for medical school. 

Your extracurricular activities will play a significant role in the AMCAS Work and Activities component of your med school application.

Here are the different extracurricular activities you can take part in:


Although it is not necessary, shadowing experience is highly advised. In recent years, many matriculants have already shadowed doctors before beginning the program. If you still lack shadowing experience, learn how to approach a doctor and request to be their patient.

Clinical Experience

According to recent data, most matriculants had prior volunteer experience in a healthcare or clinical context. In addition, some matriculants had previous paid work experience in a hospital or clinic.


At the time of entrance, many matriculants had previous experience in either lab work or research. Ensure that you have research experience before applying to Columbia Medical School.

Columbia Medical School Essays

Even if you have a lower GPA or poor MCAT score, you should still apply to Columbia Medical School because your secondary essays may increase your chances of getting accepted. Your captivating and convincing writing can compensate for any test-score deficiencies.

An introduction, a body containing two or three experiences, and a conclusion are required for the essay's structure to be scholarly. 

Before beginning to compose your statement, consider your former experiences, produce ideas, and choose only the most important ones to mention in your essay.

Choose your experiences carefully because they should show, not just tell, that you are prepared to enroll in a medical school

Include specific instances of the lessons you took from these experiences and the valuable abilities you picked up. Do not just list your experiences and hope the reader will grasp how important they were in helping you get into medical school. Instead, try to highlight the caliber of your experiences.

Admissions committees place significant importance on the ability to write concisely and clearly. Be aware that it may take weeks to register an excellent personal statement. Revising and editing your essay several times to verify its excellence is customary. 

Read examples of personal statements for medical school before creating your own to better understand the qualities the admissions committee seeks in candidates.

Columbia Medical School Interviews

The personal interview format is used at Columbia Medical School. Email invitations for interviews are distributed from August to January. 

Before your interview, you should become familiar with typical medical school interview questions, such as "Tell me about yourself" and "Why do you want to be a doctor?"

Selected individuals will be contacted for interviews after completing the lengthy application procedure. 

For the 2023 application season, a team of faculty members will interview candidates virtually. Prepare extensively for the interview, present yourself well, and try your best to remain composed.

The interview coordinator may occasionally change interview dates; if this is the case, submit an email to the admissions office.

Columbia Medical School Recommendation Letter

To be successful in the application procedure, you must also obtain outstanding letters of recommendation. 

At least two and up to seven letters of recommendation from instructors are required by the Columbia Medical School. A science professor, instructor, or research advisor must sign each of these letters.

Recommendation letters must be sent on business letterhead and include your AMCAS ID. The following standards apply: 
  • You must submit at least three letters of recommendation, but you may submit up to seven.
  • One letter must be from a professor, instructor, or research mentor in the sciences.
  • Letters from both individuals and premedical advisory groups are accepted.
  • Recommendation writers should know you well and understand your experiences and skills firsthand.

Summary Table: How to Get into Columbia Medical School

Columbia Medical School

Application System


Acceptance Rate


Average GPA


Average MCAT Score



USD 70,884

Total Cost of Attendance

USD 108,499

Availability of Funding and Scholarships


Additional FAQs – How to Get into Columbia Medical School

Does Columbia Medical School Require CASPer?

No. The CASPer or the CASPer Snapshot are not required by Columbia Medical School.

Is Columbia Medical School Tuition-Free?

No. Unless you are awarded the needs-based Vagelos Scholarship, which pays your tuition in full. 

Otherwise, you must budget USD 100,499 for tuition and other fees each academic year.

Does Columbia Medical School Accept Students Who Had Their Undergraduate Studies Abroad?

International graduates from universities outside the United States are infrequently accepted at Columbia Medical School. This is due to Columbia's claim that it is challenging to satisfactorily evaluate premedical education completed outside of North America.

Does Columbia Medical School Accept Transfer Students?

Unfortunately, Columbia Medical School does not accept transfer students.

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