Here at International Medical Aid, we talk a lot about getting into medical school. It’s one of the main things we do as part of our pre-med advising and med school admissions consulting. Today, instead of discussing a medical school, we’re delving into a specific kind of medical school program.
Has your child wanted to be a doctor since they were little? Have you ever wondered if they could skip all the medical school applications? Have you thought of how great it would be if they could get right into medical school out of high school?
Well, it turns out, a medical school program like that does exist. It’s known as a BS/MD program, and selective schools across the country offer this program. Baylor, Brown, Drexel, and George Washington are just a few.
Enrolling in a BS/MD program isn’t for everyone, but it is for some students. In this article, primarily written for parents, we’re going to discuss everything there is to know about BS/MD programs.
All About BS/MD Programs
- What is a BS/MD program
- Is a BS/MD program right for my child?
- How hard is it to get into a BS/MD program?
- How much does a BS/MD program cost?
- Are there BS/DO programs?
The Key Steps to Getting Into a BS/MD Program
- Extracurricular Activities
- Supplemental Essays (with Samples!)
- Common Interview Questions
- The CASPer Exam from Altus Suite
Applying to a BS/MD Program
- Application Timeline
- Choosing the Right Program
There’s a lot to cover. So, let’s dive in, shall we?
All About BS/MD Programs
What is a BS/MD program?
A BS/MD program is specifically designed for a student who knows that they want to study medicine. It’s a direct medical program. This means that, immediately after earning their bachelor’s degree, your child will start their MD education without going through a separate admissions process. They won’t have to go through the regular application process that most MD candidates go through.
This might sound great. It will save you and your child a lot of time and anxiety! But it’s very difficult to get into a BS/MD program. Acceptance rates range anywhere from one percent to 10 percent, which is on par with most Ivy League schools.
So, how do BS/MD programs work? A BS/MD program is formed when an undergraduate school and a medical school form a partnership. Some of these partnerships are kept in-house, meaning that the university has a medical school that partners with other colleges with the university. Other universities partner with an outside medical school to make this partnership a reality. This partnership gives your child simultaneous acceptance to both schools.
Now, while getting accepted into a BS/MD program saves your child from going through yet another admissions process, it’s not like a dual-degree program that condenses their education into five years. Most BS/MD programs take eight years to complete. You’ll find the occasional exception. But the fastest possible time frame to complete a BS/MD program is six years. You won’t find a shorter program because there’s a lot to cover, and a program can only cover so much material at once.
The curriculum for most BS/MD programs requires pre-med science courses during your child’s undergraduate education. Some schools allow undergrads to pick any major, as long as they complete pre-med requirements. Other schools require a science-related undergrad major to prepare students for the rigor of medical school and to keep them focused on their long-term goals. If your child wants to be a Humanities major before going to medical school, they’ll need to apply to BS/MD programs that allow that.
Is a BS/MD program right for my child?
The answer to this question will be different for every student. In this section, we’ll discuss all the factors you and your child will need to consider.
Avoiding the MCAT
If you’re selective enough, you can find BS/MD programs that don’t require your child to take the MCAT. The MCAT is required for 99.99% of all medical schools. The stress is almost completely unavoidable. Your child’s score on this test matters. So, avoiding it is a big deal. But keep in mind that avoiding the MCAT is a sweet enough deal to make those programs extremely competitive.
No Separate Application Process
Instead of having a separate application for medical school, the secondary essays and interview are rolled into the undergraduate admissions process. This means that your child will interview for medical school at the same time as they apply for their undergraduate education. Now, a high school senior doesn’t have the same maturity level as a twenty-something nearing the end of their degree. For this reason, the essay requirements aren’t quite as rigorous. If your child needs help putting pen to paper, reach out to us. We help students with their medical school essays every day. It’s part of our pre-med advising.
Less Stress Down the Road
Avoiding the MCAT isn’t guaranteed. Some BS/MD programs require the exam of all undergraduate students. For schools that require it, a minimum score is often required. While this can be stressful, your child can focus on studying for the exam and meeting that score requirement instead of trying to decide which medical schools to apply to. Stress will always be present when it comes to medical school, but it’s a lot less stressful.
Less of a Selection Criteria
While there are pros to BS/MD programs, there are also cons. Part of the excitement of college is deciding where to go. Touring campuses, exploring different towns and researching curricular options are all part of the excitement. Not every high school student is ready to commit to spending their entire education at one institution.
Some BS/MD programs will allow you to apply to outside medical schools. But other schools won’t. If accepted, you must attend that medical school unless you drop out (which doesn’t look good). Even if your child doesn’t mind committing to a single medical school, the selection is still slim. There aren’t that many schools that offer BS/MD programs.
Deciding Too Early
Like we said at the beginning of this article, your child might know they want to be a doctor. But what if they’re not 100% certain? Being good at science doesn’t guarantee that they want to be a doctor. And what happens if, partway through their bachelor’s degree, they change their mind and don’t want to attend medical school anymore?
BS/MD programs are for students who want to become doctors. If your child isn’t sure if they want to become a doctor, they’re better off applying to regular, undergraduate programs. There are way more options, and the admissions criteria aren’t nearly as strict.
If your child thinks they want to be a doctor but they lack the commitment, we recommend shadowing a doctor. Seeing a doctor in action will help them decide if medicine is right for them.
How hard is it to get into a BS/MD program?
So, exactly how hard it is to get into a BS/MD program? It’s hard. The acceptance rate for every BS/MD program is on par with the Ivy Leagues of America. Acceptance rates range from one to 10 percent. That means that 90-99% of students who apply to BS/MD programs don’t get in. To get in, you’ll need to be at the top of your game. That means your GPA should be as high as possible, your extracurriculars should show commitment and your application should be strong.
How much does a BS/MD program cost?
There is no single answer for how much a BS/MD program will cost. There are too many variables to consider. In-state tuition can save thousands, while the prestige of a private university can allure the straight-A student who wants to make a name for themselves.
If finances are tight, the Scholars for Medicine program at Stony Brook University only costs five grand if you’re an in-state resident. Some students might move to New York and establish residency there to get that tuition rate. However, living in New York is expensive, so that’s another factor to consider. Not every program in New York is that cheap, though. The Early Medical Scholars Program at the University of Rochester costs over $50,000 per year.
Our best advice is to check with Financial Aid. Every BS/MD program will come with a Financial Aid office that has the information you need. Some schools will be in your price range while others will be too expensive. But consider scholarships, grants and student loans before nixing a school because of the price tag. Many students can attend schools they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford because of financial aid.
Are there BS/DO programs?
Yes, there are! There aren’t as many BS/DO programs as there are BS/MD programs, but they are out there. The competition isn’t quite as fierce. Of course, your child will need to be interested in osteopathic medicine to consider applying to a BS/DO program. If allopathic medicine is their interest, then this wouldn’t be a good route for them to take.
If your child would be happy practicing any kind of medicine, but they don’t have the grades they want, a BS/DO program would be a good choice. Their chances of getting in are slightly higher. We recommend having at least a 3.5/4.0 GPA to apply to a BS/DO program.
The other reason to apply to a BS/DO program is if your child understands the difference between allopathic and osteopathic medicine, and wants to practice osteopathic medicine. In that case, they should be seeking out BS/DO programs.
The Key Steps to Getting Into a BS/MD Program
Now that we’ve looked at the details of BS/MD programs, let’s look at the key steps your child should take to get into one of these programs. Remember, it isn’t easy.
Extracurricular activities are very important for BS/MD programs. The admissions committees at the programs to which you apply will want to see dedication to the medical field. If your child applies with no volunteer or shadowing experience, that doesn’t show the necessary level of commitment.
Having said that, we don’t recommend dabbling in everything just to show interest. That shows that your child’s interests are all over the place, or that they’re just volunteering for the sake of their application. Those aren’t the right reasons. The admissions committee might decide that it’s premature for them to be applying to a BS/MD program.
Instead, we recommend having them find their passion. Once they find what they love, they’ll be eager to volunteer. Consistently volunteering for an entire school year shows the dedication needed to get into a BS/MD program.
Are you stumped? Not sure where to get started? Look at your child’s interests and consider how medicine could be related. If your daughter loves spending time with her grandparents, have her volunteer at an assisted living center or a nursing home. She’ll be within her comfort zone while also branching out. You can also contact us. Our pre-med advising includes talking to parents about BS/MD programs.
Even though BS/MD programs allow your child to bypass the traditional application process, they still have to write the essays. But a high school senior will have more limited experience than a college senior. So, the essay questions will be geared toward a high school student.
Here are some examples of the types of questions you’ll be asked.
- Why our school?
With how selective and competitive BS/MD programs are, it’s important to research the schools to which you’re applying. After researching a school, you should have an idea of whether it would be a good fit. So, for this essay, discuss what the school is known for and how your interests make you a good fit. Talk about how the school can help you realize your dreams, but also how you can contribute to the school.
- Why medicine?
This might seem like a tricky question because of how simple and straightforward it appears to be. Your child might feel like they have to come up with a fancy answer to impress the admissions committee. But that’s not at all the case. Your child just needs to give an honest answer for why they want to study medicine. It could be the inspiration of a mentor in their life. It could be their love of all things biology. It could be a career path where they think they can thrive. There are a million different reasons they could give. None of them are wrong.
- Why osteopathic medicine? (for BS/DO applicants)
This is a question you’ll see for BS/DO programs. The admissions committee wants to make sure that your child understands the difference between osteopathic and allopathic medicine. The approaches between BS/MD and BS/DO programs are very different, so it’s an important distinction to make from the start.
- What experiences in high school have encouraged your desire to become a doctor?
This question seeks to explore how your child’s education has impacted them. Were they in a science club at school? Did they ace biology? Did they lead a group project? There are many ways to go about answering this question. We recommend picking a couple of different experiences and discussing them.
I’ve wanted to practice medicine since eighth grade when my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had taken all the right steps. She never missed a mammogram. She checked her for lumps every single day. And she followed dietary and exercise advice from her physicians. But she still got breast cancer, and there was no “answer” for why.
I want to practice medicine so that I can better understand “why” for myself. I doubt I’ll find the cure for cancer during my career as a doctor. But I believe that my understanding of medicine will help me cope with diagnoses like my grandmother’s.
Thankfully, Grandma beat breast cancer and has continued taking the same proactive approaches she always has. She always tells me, “If the cancer comes back, I’m ready to attack.” I want to attack cancer, too. That’s why I want to become a doctor.
This answer isn’t nearly as in-depth as some of the sample essays we’ve provided in our medical school guides. That’s because this is a high school student talking to an admissions committee. The student lacks the experience to go into more detail.
Why not go the traditional route and apply for medical school later on?
I know I want to be a doctor. I’ve known for several years now. It started with examining microscopic cells in ninth grade. I was fascinated by how cells interact, and what the result of those interactions are.
I went to a private school in high school, and I had the opportunity to go on a field trip to a doctor’s office. While there, they showed us how they tested mucus samples against different bacteria to see if a patient had, say, strep throat or RSV. That piqued my interest because it was so similar to what I had done in the lab. I realized that my fascination with the microscope could be applied in a real-world setting.
I’m applying to BS/MD programs and regular undergraduate programs because I want to get through the admissions process as quickly as possible. It would be incredible to know that I’m accepted into medical school when I begin my undergraduate studies. It would give me peace of mind and allow me to focus on studying Biology and learning about everything I can under the microscope.
This is another example of a great essay. The student displays confidence and a direct understanding of science. These two elements form a strong reason for why they want to get into a BS/MD program. This student is also very smart. He’s applying to BS/MD programs and regular programs because he knows how important a safety net is.
So, what will an admissions committee expect of a high school student? The essay should be high quality. It should be free from typos, sentence fragments and comma splices. It should demonstrate a solid understanding of the question being asked and should contain a complete answer.
If your child needs any help writing their essays, we can help. IMA offers pre-med advising and med school admissions consulting to help your child make their application as strong as possible. We offer both hourly consulting and tiered packages. Get started here.
Common Interview Questions
While not every undergraduate program requires students to interview to secure their spot in the program, most BS/MD programs do. You’re bypassing a separate admissions process down the road. Because of that, some of those requirements are combined with regular undergrad requirements. It requires more effort than some non-science undergraduate programs.
So, how do you prepare for an interview at sixteen or seventeen? Knowing the questions in advance is the first step. You might not know the exact questions you’ll be asked. But it’s like studying for the SAT or ACT. The more you study, the more familiar you become with the types of questions you’ll be asked. That studying prepares you by helping you anticipate what’s to come. There’s an element of uncertainty, but you’re as prepared as you can be.
Here are some of the interview questions you might be asked:
- Why do you want to become a doctor?
This question is another spin on the “Why medicine?” question. It can be approached similarly. Instead of focusing on why medicine interests you, focus on why you want to practice medicine for your career. Maybe you said that you were fascinated by how cancer cells metastasize. Now you can say that you want to become a doctor to keep those cancer cells from metastasizing. You want to learn a skillset and gain knowledge that will help you save lives.
- Describe the medical experiences you’ve had thus far.
These experiences could range from volunteer time at a nursing home to helping organize a blood drive. If there’s a medical aspect to anything you’ve been involved in, it’s fair game. Your child could talk about getting your COVID-19 vaccine as a high school student. They could describe what their experience was like and why they chose to be vaccinated. Your child could talk about donating blood with the Red Cross to help save other peoples’ lives. Everyday experiences can be turned into meaningful answers.
- Why are you applying to BS/MD programs? What interests you?
This question basically asks why your child isn’t going the traditional route–undergraduate studies first, thenapplying to medical school. An honest answer is all that’s needed. Applying to medical school later on might feel daunting; they want to get the whole process out of the way if they can. Or perhaps they know what they want to do for a living and it just makes sense to them to apply now. Whatever your child’s reason is, they just need to explain it.
- Tell us what specifically interests you about our program.
This is another one of those questions where knowledge of the program is essential. Before your interview, you should have researched the school you’re interviewing with; you should have detailed knowledge of what the program offers. If the program doesn’t have what you’re looking for, then it’s best to look at other schools.
- Why not go through the traditional medical school route?
This is a valid question. Application to a BS/MD program can almost seem like a special pass exempting your child from a ton of stress in four years.
At the same time, not all students should bypass the traditional route. Thousands of students successfully go through the traditional route and go on to become wonderful doctors. So, this is a question that deserves some thought. Having said that, don’t overthink it. If your child wants to apply to a BS/MD program, it won’t hurt them. Receiving a rejection letter is the worst that can happen.
The CASPer Exam from Altus Suite
Getting into a BS/MD program is mostly about your child’s grades, scores and extracurricular activities. But it’s not all about that. Who your child is and how they’ll work with others in a healthcare setting also matter. That’s where the CASPer exam from Altus Suite comes in.
CASPer is not the kind of test your child will study for. It’s more of an assessment. Your child will watch videos and have a limited amount of time to state how they would respond to the scenarios the videos present. Their time is limited so that their answers reflect what they would do in a real-life setting. Some, but not all, BS/MD programs require students to take the CASPer exam. It helps them gauge where your teenager is.
If your child is applying to one of the following schools, they’ll need to take CASPer.
- Drexel University
- Hofstra University
- Marshall University
- Texas Tech University
- University of Chicago at Illinois
Applying to a BS/MD Program
Your child will start their education as a freshman undergraduate, like any other student. Because of this, you’ll want to prepare them for college applications during their junior year of high school. There will be added pressure knowing that your child is applying to a highly selective program. But approaching it with a normal timeline will help everything go more smoothly.
We recommend checking the admissions timeline and requirements for each BS/MD program you’re considering. This will further ensure that your child is on the right track.
Choosing the Right Program
You’ll want your child to apply to several BS/MD programs. Having said that, that’s not all they should apply to. Because the BS/MD programs acceptance rate is so low, applying to any BS/MD program is like applying to Yale. You want your child to apply to Yale. But you also want them to apply to other “safety schools”. You want them to lay eggs in multiple baskets, not just one.
The term “safety schools” refers to schools that closely match your child’s performance in school. There’s a stronger chance of getting into a safety school than a dream school. And you want to ensure that your child follows their dreams and gets into a good college.
So, what does this mean? It means you should apply to several BS/MD programs while keeping the BS/MD programs acceptance rate in mind. Encourage your child to also look at traditional undergrad programs. That way, if they don’t get into a BS/MD program, they won’t be stranded. Think of applying to regular undergraduate programs as your child’s backup plan. They’re laying their eggs in multiple baskets!
In the best-case scenario, your child will be admitted into the BS/MD program of their dreams. They’ll be able to focus on their undergraduate studies and enjoy their experience without the dreaded notion of studying for the MCAT (at most schools) or going through the interview process.
In the worst-case scenario, your child will go to a traditional, four-year college. As they near the completion of their undergraduate studies, then they’ll go through the traditional medical school application process. It won’t be the end of the world if they end up going this route. Remember, many great doctors have. You can provide support for them in the future just like you’re supporting them now.
Get Started Today
We hope this guide has thoroughly explained how BS/MD programs work. We hope all your questions have been answered. But if you or your child have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Answering questions is part of our pre-med advising and med school admissions consulting.
If you’re not sure where to get started, we’re providing you with a list of BS/MD programs in the United States. You can get started by going through this list of schools with your child and picking out the ones that look promising. You can narrow down your search from there by researching each school.
Schools that are partnered with other schools mean that they don’t have both colleges within the university. Your child will have the opportunity to attend two different schools. Schools that aren’t partnered mean that they have both the undergraduate program and the medical school. Your child will stay at the same university for all eight years. They’ll simply switch which college they attend within the university when the time comes. Both have their pros and cons. We recommend discussing both options with your child and seeing what they would prefer.
- Augusta University partnered with the Medical College at Georgia
- Baylor University
- Boston University
- Brooklyn College partnered with SUNY-Downstate Medical Center
- Brown University
- Caldwell University partnered with New Jersey Medical School at Rutgers University, St. George’s University School of Medicine and American University of Antigua
- California Northstate University
- Case Western Reserve University
- The City College of New York
- The College of New Jersey partnered with New Jersey Medical School at Rutgers University
- Drew University partnered with New Jersey Medical School at Rutgers University
- Drexel University
- Florida Atlantic University
- Franklin Pierce University partnered with St. George’s University School of Medicine
- George Washington University
- Grambling State University
- Hofstra University
- Howard University
- Indiana State University
- Marshall University
- Mercer University
- Monmouth University partnered with St. George’s University School of Medicine
- Montclair State University partnered with New Jersey Medical School at Rutgers University
- New Jersey Institute of Technology partnered with the American University of Antigua West Indies, New Jersey Medical School at Rutgers University and St. George’s University School of Medicine
- Penn State University partnered with Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Rice University partnered with Baylor College of Medicine
- Rutgers University – Newark College of Arts and Sciences
- Siena College partnered with Albany Medical College School of Medicine
- St. Bonaventure University partnered with George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
- St. Louis University
- Stevens Institute of Technology partnered with New Jersey Medical School at Rutgers University
- Stony Brook University
- Temple University
- Texas Tech University
- Union College partnered with Albany Medical College School of Medicine
- University of Alabama
- University of Cincinnati
- University of Colorado
- University of Connecticut
- University of Evansville
- University of Connecticut
- University of Illinois at Chicago
- University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
- University of Missouri – Kansas City
- University of Nevada – Reno
- University of New Mexico
- University of Oklahoma
- University of Pittsburg
- University of Rochester
- University of South Alabama
- University of Southern Florida
- University of Southern Indiana
- University of Toledo
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- Washington & Jefferson College
- Wayne State University
And since we recommend applying to regular undergrad programs for your child’s bachelor’s degree, check out these traditional medical school programs that might interest them down the road.
- UT Austin’s Dell Medical School
- UTMB School of Medicine
- McGovern Medical School at UT Health
- Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
- McGovern Medical School at UT Health
- The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine
- UNT Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
- University of Houston College of Medicine
- Texas A&M College of Medicine
- Johns Hopkins Medical School
- Baylor College of Medicine
- George Washington University School of Medicine
- Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
- St. George’s University School of Medicine
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (in Pennsylvania)
- Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
- Wake Forest University School of Medicine
- Western University of Health Sciences (in California)
- Drexel University College of Medicine
- Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago
- Georgetown University School of Medicine
- Yale School of Medicine
- Perelman School of Medicine
- UCLA Medical School
- NYU Medical School
- Washington University School of Medicine
- Brown Medical School
It’s great that you’re taking the time to learn what your child’s options are. As difficult as it is to get into, a BS/MD program is perfect for some students. If you or your child need any help on the road to medical school, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. International Medical Aid is here to help. You can get started here.