How to Get into Harvard Medical School

August 17

Table of Contents

Many pre-med students view Harvard as their dream medical school. Although extremely challenging, applying to Harvard Medical School is worth the effort. The curriculum is cutting-edge and will prepare you unlike any other for a future in medicine, despite the GPA and MCAT score standards, which may seem unachievable.

Harvard Medical School (HMS) provides the best educational opportunities to its students. It is not surprising that HMS is among the top-ranked in primary care by U.S. News & World Report

Although it is undoubtedly challenging, getting into Harvard Medical School is not impossible. If you want to know how to get into Harvard Medical School, this article is here to guide you. We have prepared a comprehensive list of everything you might need to get into one of the most renowned educational institutions in the world.

Why Harvard Medical School? 

The med school of Harvard, Harvard Medical School (HMS), is in Boston, Massachusetts' Longwood Med District. HMS is one of the nation's oldest medical schools. It was established in 1782

In contrast to most other top medical schools, Harvard Medical School has direct affiliations with several teaching hospitals in the Boston area. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston Children's Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, The Baker Center for Children and Families, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital are a few of the affiliated teaching hospitals and research institutions. 

For its MD program, HMS has made several curriculum changes. A three-part curriculum featuring a principle clinical experience (PCE), a classroom-based pre-clerkship phase, and a post-PCE phase has been maintained by HMS in recent decades.

Programs Offered at Harvard Medical School

Students interested in pursuing a typical medical degree at Harvard Medical School have two options for entry. The first choice is known as Pathways. "Health Sciences and Technology" (HST) is the name given to the second strategy.

Let us examine each aspect of admission to Harvard Medical School separately.


This more conventional route enables students to acquire fundamental basic and population sciences knowledge and early clinical practice. 

Students develop their pathways through advanced science courses, faculty-mentored research projects, and electives. Many Harvard Medical School applicants choose Pathways.

Pathways emphasize active learning and earlier clinic entry, including classes alongside Harvard School of Dental Medicine students.

Pre-clerkship Phase
Students learn the fundamentals of medicine, including anatomy, histology, biochemistry, and molecular and cellular biology, during the pre-clerkship phase.

Principal Clinical Experience (PCE) Phase
Students participate in a 12-month clinical study program during the principal clinical experience (PCE) phase. Clinical rotations lasting 4 to 12 weeks are part of PCE.

Post-PCE Phase
Following their clinical rotations, Pathways students are exposed to material that will aid them in comprehending their clinical experience more thoroughly through advanced courses, electives, and research projects.

Health Sciences and Technology (HST)

A cooperative venture between Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Health Sciences, and Technology is a curriculum that emphasizes clinical skills, solid scientific training, and research experiences. 

Through classes that include Ph.D. students from MIT, the HST track aims to teach physician-scientists focusing on quantitative understanding and the fundamental physiology of biological processes.

Pre-clerkship Phase
Before their core clinical year, HST students have two years of coursework to complete.

Principal Clinical Experience (PCE) Phase
This exposure to clinical practice lasts for a whole year. The majority of PCE is made up of four to twelve-week-long clerkship rotations that take place at a single hospital site.

Post-PCE Phase
This two-month clerkship is designed to integrate the clinical competencies you acquired throughout your research project during the second and third years of medical school and the Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM) course.

Combined Degrees 

Doctor of Medicine / Doctor of Philosophy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) works with MIT and Harvard Medical School to offer this program. The Medical Scientist Training Program prepares physician-scientists for clinical care and laboratory research. The program aims to " train the next generation of premier and diverse physician-scientist leaders."

The MD/Ph.D. program's primary objective is to teach physicians from all medical specialties in research disciplines spanning "translational and basic sciences to bioengineering to the social sciences."

Doctor of Medicine / Master of Academic Discipline

Five years are required to finish this dual degree. After your third year, you will take a vacation from the medical school program to complete the 36 credits required for the Master of Academic Discipline program. The Master of Biomedical Informatics and Master of Bioethics degree programs offer this option.

Doctor of Medicine / Master of Business Administration

To create this degree, Harvard University combines the coursework from the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Medical School. Through this collaborative curriculum, doctors will receive training in both health and business, preparing them to assume leadership positions in the medical industry. Doctors can better explain treatment options to their patients by putting a focus on finances.

Doctor of Medicine / Master of Medical Science

The MD program at Harvard is combined with a Master of Medical Science degree program. The MMSc component is also completed after the third year in this dual-degree option. The MMSc degree requires 56 credits to be completed.

Thirty-two of those 56 credits are part of the requirement for mentored research. This study may be relevant to clinical research, providing healthcare globally, immunology, and medical instruction.

Doctor of Medicine / Master of Public Health

This dual degree is accessible in collaboration with Harvard Med School and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Students interested in preventative medicine or public health should pursue this degree, which follows the same timeframe as the other dual-degree programs.

Doctor of Medicine / Master of Public Policy

This choice is made possible by collaboration between Harvard Med School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. This is a fantastic option if you want to work in policy or design and develop public health programs.

Even though you can obtain an MPH independently, this dual degree will enable you to practice medicine while immersing yourself in public health-related topics. Many graduates work in federal, state, or local agencies, nonprofit groups, large service providers, or research facilities.

How to Get into Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School is frequently referred to as the top of the best, the cream of the crop. Here, bright students collaborate to advance science and advance global health.

Hence, thousands of applicants aim to make it into Harvard Medical School annually. For you to have a higher chance of getting into Harvard, here is everything you need to know.

Harvard Medical School Acceptance Rate

Due to the large number of applicants compared to the number of acceptances, the acceptance rate at Harvard Medical School is relatively low. Fewer applicants would increase the acceptance rate. That's not the case, though. The Harvard Medical School admissions process will always be quite competitive.

The class of 2026 was selected from 7,796 applicants, according to MSAR data. If only 164 students were admitted, the admission rate for Harvard Medical School would be 2.1%.

Harvard Medical School Coursework Requirements 

Before enrollment at Harvard, you must complete the following requirements:

  • Biology
    Molecular and cellular biology should be covered, and a year of lab work.

  • Chemistry
    Must cover biology, organic chemistry, and inorganic chemistry; two lab years.

  • Physics
    One lab year is preferred but not required.
    Note: HST applicants should complete additional calculus-based physics courses

  • Math
    One academic year, including statistics and calculus
    Note: Applicants for the HST should finish additional math courses in differential equations and linear algebra

  • Writing
    One year

Additionally, Harvard Medical School strongly encourages students to take courses in behavioral sciences like sociology or psychology. 

To have a competitive application, they also advise taking courses in literature, languages, the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Harvard Medical School GPA Statistics

Students at Harvard Medical School compete fiercely for grades and exam results. You must have nearly flawless statistics to be a competitive candidate, meaning that you must match or be extremely close to the statistics of matriculants.

The average GPA of those who were accepted was 3.90. Although challenging, this is not insurmountable. A poor GPA might sometimes still help you get into medical school, but Harvard is an exception to this norm. We are here to tell you to reconsider applying to Harvard Medical School with less-than-perfect grades.

Harvard Medical School MCAT Statistics  

The typical MCAT score of those who were accepted was 521. Since you may only reapply once, you must ensure that your initial application will be considered and evaluated favorably.

To make sure you are ready for the MCAT, take practice exams. Above all, wait until you consistently get good scores before taking the MCAT. You are unprepared to take the test if your results fluctuate between practice exams.

Finally, you must retake the MCAT if you have already taken it, but it has been a while since you took it. Harvard Medical School only accepts scores from the last three years.

Harvard Medical School Tuition and Scholarships

The cost of first-year tuition at Harvard Medical School for the 2023–2024 academic year is USD 69,300

The entire cost of attendance for the first year is USD 104,200 when fees, insurance, and housing expenses are considered.

Even though those figures may be high, Harvard Medical School also offers considerable financial aid that is among the best in the nation. Students in the class of 2022 graduated from Harvard Medical School with an average debt of USD 108,382, which is much less than the national average at both public (USD 179,679)

and private (USD 187,229) medical schools. Around 72% of Harvard Medical School students get financial aid annually.

For the fiscal year 2023, Harvard Medical School awarded an average of USD 60,730 in scholarships.

Harvard Medical School Application Timeline

Like other medical schools, Harvard Medical School uses the AMCAS application system. As a rule, the deadlines listed below should be followed. Before assembling your application, check the Harvard Medical School website for further information.

  • May 2, 2023: AMCAS application starts
  • May 30, 2023: AMCAS application should be submitted
  • Late June/early July 2023: HMS secondary application begins
  • September 2023 - January 2024: Interviews are conducted
  • October 15, 2023: AMCAS application due date
  • October 22, 2023: Secondary application due date
  • Early March 2024: Admissions decisions are sent out

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

Harvard Medical School Extracurricular Activities 

Harvard Medical School is no exception to the rule that extracurricular activities are crucial for admission to medical school. The majority of Harvard matriculants have voluntary and community service experience in the medical or clinical fields, according to MSAR.

Many Harvard first-year students have volunteer and community service experience outside the medical field. Most have shadowing experience, and almost everyone has lab and research experience. For this reason, you must have noteworthy experiences that show your efforts to firmly establish your intention to become a doctor and be admitted to Harvard Medical School.

As this practical clinical experience will be crucial evidence that you have placed yourself in the shoes of a physician, you must learn how to ask to watch a doctor and comprehend how many hours of shadowing are necessary for medical school. You must have research experience to indicate your passion for understanding the mechanisms behind disease and significant community and volunteer experiences to showcase your altruism.

All these activities will be listed in the AMCAS Work and Activities portion of your application, where your objective will be to demonstrate that you are not just interested in becoming a doctor but also have the maturity and emotional intelligence necessary to be the most incredible doctor possible. Your life experiences must generally follow a pattern. Your motivation to pursue a medical career should be unquestionable.

Harvard Medical School Research

Research is essential to students' educational experiences because Harvard Medical School supports innovation. Research experience is common among applicants. Therefore, yours needs to stick out. The selection committee favors comprehensive research initiatives above time commitment.

Therefore, research that is done really to advance medicine is more impressive. Experiences that you think will look good on paper do not always serve you as well as research that you are interested in and intend to continue.

Harvard Medical School Essays

The essays submitted by candidates play a significant role in deciding who will advance for an interview and admission at Harvard. 

Your personal statement for medical school and your secondary essays must be not simply decent but outstanding.

A professional medical school counselor should be consulted because there is no room for mistakes or an average application, and you must ensure your application showcases the finest possible version of yourself. 

Unlike several medical schools, Harvard Medical School provides secondary applications to all applicants, which must be returned with a USD 100 filing fee.

You will see that the secondary application due and the AMCAS deadline are both in the middle of October, which means that if you submit your primary application after the deadline, you will not be able to receive the secondary application in time to finish it.

Therefore, working on your primary and secondary applications as soon as possible is imperative.

Harvard Medical School Interviews 

Candidates are notified via email of available interview dates and all pertinent information on the interview process by the Office of the Committee on Admissions. 

Harvard Medical School only does video interviews currently. As you prepare for your HMS interview, be sure to go over our comprehensive video interview instructions.

Each candidate chosen for an interview will have two interviewers assigned to them. Typically, interviewers are medical faculty from an institution with a Harvard Medical School affiliation. Still, occasionally, a third, fourth, or fifth-year medical student who serves on the Committee on Admissions will conduct the interview.

There are no particular criteria that decide who you interview, aside from personal availability, and the interview is given equal weight regardless of whether the interviewer is faculty or a student. Each interviewer will provide a narrative summary of the candidate (usually 1-3 paragraphs) after the interview, elaborating on the discussion and the remainder of the application. 

Therefore, the interview is not the only factor considered. Your MCAT, GPA, essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities are all considered when evaluating your application. Each interviewer will give the applicant a single number overall score based on these elements.

Harvard Medical School Recommendation Letter 

Applications must be submitted through AMCAS and may include up to six (6) letters of recommendation. To fulfill the criterion, you must submit at least three letters. Two of the six must be written by professors of the sciences, and one must be written by a professor outside the sciences.

Candidates for the MD program and the MD-PhD program should submit letters from each research supervisor. If the additional notes are penned by research supervisors, you may exceed the six-letter limit. You should count a premedical advisory committee evaluation packet as one letter toward the six-letter maximum if you want to add extra letters of recommendation.

Although letters of recommendation from employers are not required by Harvard Medical School, you should ask them to do so if you have been working while not in school. Your materials will be processed if AMCAS received your letters of recommendation after the cutoff date. Still, no notification will be issued until your file is finished.

While the admission committee does assess incomplete files after the deadline of October and with the materials on hand, Harvard Medical School does not guarantee that late letters will be considered.

Summary Table: How to Get into Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School

Application System 


Acceptance Rate


Average GPA


Average MCAT Score



USD 69,300

Total Cost of Attendance

USD 104,200

Availability of Funding and Scholarships 


Additional FAQs – How to Get into Harvard Medical School

Does Harvard Medical School Follow the Rolling Admissions Policy?

Rolling admissions are not a practice at Harvard Medical School. The applicant's likelihood of being invited to an interview is unaffected by the day their application is submitted or completed.

Applications will be fully considered if all required materials are submitted by our final deadline.

Will All Applicants Receive a Secondary Application?

Applications are not pre-screened by Harvard Medical School. This implies that a secondary application will be sent to any applicant who submits an AMCAS application and selects Harvard Medical School.

How Many Shadowing Hours Are Necessary for Admission to Harvard Medical School?

You should strive for at least 100 shadowing hours for medical school applications, even if Harvard does not specifically indicate shadowing as a prerequisite.

How Long Do I Have to Reply to an Admissions Offer?
If accepted, you must choose the "Plan to Enroll" and the "Commit to Enroll" options on the Choose Your Medical School tool by April 30 and June 1, respectively.

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