When aspiring physicians looking for a New Jersey medical school ask, “what are good medical schools near me?” it’s hard to forget Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU). Though it’s a relatively new school, since its opening in 2012 it’s managed to garner attention with its accelerated three-year MD program, its award-winning pre-med summer programs, and its Center for Humanism.
It’s also made headlines in 2019 for being one of the most selective medical schools in the country.
So what does it take to get into CMSRU? In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Cooper Medical School of Rowan University’s admissions requirements, curriculum, student life, and more. We cover the school’s 2022-2023 secondary essay and application questions, and what selection factors admissions focuses on.
By the end of this post, you should have a clear understanding of what Cooper Medical School of Rowan University is looking for in its applicants, and how you can make your application stand out. If you’re interested in applying to CMSRU, consider bookmarking this page for easy reference.
Be an Informed Applicant
Aspiring physicians are a passionate and driven bunch. You’re passionate about helping others, and you want to make a difference in the world through your career in medicine. You also understand that becoming a physician is no easy feat–it requires years of dedication, hard work, and sacrifice.
But before you even get to medical school, you have to get accepted. Each school has its own selection factors, institutional identity, and admissions requirements. Taking the time to research the schools you’re applying to is crucial to focusing your application and being able to communicate why you belong.
Our medical school guides are designed for just this. But, the truth is, nothing is more helped than one-on-one guidance. Our medical school admissions consulting provides you with expert guidance throughout the entire application process. Applications, secondary essays, mock interviews — we’ve helped hundreds of medical students get into top schools across the country.
This article contains:
- Why Cooper Medical School?
- Cooper Medical School Ranking
- Four-Year MD Program
- Three-Year MD Program
- Facilities and Student Organizations
- CMSRU Pre-med Summer Program
- The Center for Humanism at Cooper Medical School
- Selection Factors: What CMSRU Looks for in a Candidate
- Admissions Requirements (GPA, MCAT, Coursework, Etc.)
- Class Profile and Admissions Statistics
- Tuition and Cost of Attendance
- AMCAS Primary Application and CMSRU Secondary Application
- CMSRU Secondary Application 2022-2023 Essay Questions
Why Cooper Medical School of Rowan University?
CMSRU was opened in 2012 to provide additional medical education options in the region and help address the ongoing physician shortage. The school’s curriculum, detailed below, uses early patient-centered training to prepare its students for a compassionate career in medicine. Additionally, the school’s Humanist Center conducts ongoing investigations into compassion and ethics in medical education to integrate into the school’s curriculum.
Though highly selective, Cooper Medical School offers a three-year MD track to highly motivated students pursuing primary care careers in internal medicine or pediatrics.
Cooper Medical School is the third best medical school in New Jersey, according to College Gazette. For many, the attraction of the school is its integration with the regional community. This burgeoning New Jersey medical school, in its curriculum and practice, finds the fundamental lesson of medical education to be that of competent, human-centered service.
Cooper Medical School Ranking
U.S. News and World Report ranks Cooper Medical School of Rowan University:
- #95 in Best Medical Schools: Research
- #94 in Best Medical Schools: Primary Care
- #97 in Most Diverse Medical Schools
Four-Year MD Program
The four-year MD curriculum at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University is designed to seamlessly integrate foundational studies in medical science, self-directed learning, early clinical exposure and patient-centered learning, service-learning, and teamwork. Graduates of CMSRU are taught to contribute to society as physicians and educators.
A diverse set of real-world clinical cases and medical settings provide teach students to connect medical science to clinical practice. This practice begins in the first semester and continues throughout the entirety of the curriculum. Knowledge of medical science concepts is built upon and deepened during clinical rotations. Medical faculty work closely with educators in the early years of the curriculum to ensure a comprehensive and effective education on the connection between clinical scenarios and scientific study.
There are two main phases of the MD coursework. The first phase, “Foundation and Integration,” teaches the basic skills, knowledge, and scientific backgrounds necessary to get the most of clinical practice education. The second phase, “Application, Exploration, and Advancement,” takes place in the third and fourth years. Students in this phase learn how to apply their knowledge in real-world settings, explore various medical specialties, contribute to medical science, and develop the skills needed for advanced clinical practice.
CMSRU provides a full list of competencies that their students learn before residency.
Three-Year MD Program
The three-year MD track, known as the PC3, awards the same MD degree as the four-year track in three years. PC3 is for students dedicated to a career in primary care internal medicine or pediatrics. Graduates have the opportunity to directly transition to a residency at Cooper University Hospital.
This program enrolls up to two students a year for pediatrics and two students a year for internal medicine. Once accepted to CMSRU, you are able to apply for the program. M1 four-year students may apply to the program if an opening is available.
Accelerated medical students begin classes five weeks early with PC3’s Introduction to Basic Clinical Skills. Here, PC3 students are trained in foundation medical skills, such as physical diagnosis, history-taking, and communication. These skills are used every day in medical practice and provide a strong foundation for succeeding in the first year of the accelerated program.
Students spend a day each month at a patient-centered clinic. Internal medicine students train in Willingboro and pediatrics students train in Camden. A preceptor guides each student through the process of diagnosing and treating real patients in an outpatient setting. These clinics provide students with essential hands-on experience caring for patients.
Your other first-year courses line up with those of your four-year MD counterparts.
After a short break following the completion of year one, PC3 medical students enter Transforming Healthcare in an Urban Environment. This is a five-week class that provides students with learning experiences in healthcare delivery in underserved urban communities. Students are taught contemporary models of practice that help overcome barriers to urban healthcare delivery. Topics include trauma-informed care, healthcare for the homeless, how public health policies and advocacy impact urban health, and social determinants of health. Students learn firsthand how healthcare workers in the Camden area provide care for communities with psychosocial and complex medical needs.
In year two, PC3 students continue their training at patient-centered clinics but with more independence and responsibilities. M2 students are exposed to behavioral health resources and population health management concepts for primary care. Second-year students take the USMLE Step 1 exam at the end of the year.
The third year of PC3 differs greatly from those in the four-year program.
The first semester includes clerkships in neurology, internal medicine, surgery, and more. In the second semester, 13 weeks are spent in the Cooper Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship. Students spend part of the day each week with physicians in OB/GYN, surgery, pediatrics, adult medicine, and neurology. During this time, students spent their time in pediatrics or internal medicine at the same patient-centered clinic as year one and two.
After attending review sessions, PC3 students take the Step 2 CS and CK exams.
The final year of PC3 ends with pre-residency sub-internships in the chosen specialty (pediatrics or internal medicine). Sub-internships consist of students joining an inpatient team and performing clinical tasks under the supervision of an attending physician and senior resident.
Facilities, Student Organizations, and More
Some of the main facilities at Cooper Medical School include:
- Student health and wellness center
- Snatomy lab with contemporary medical education technology
- Biomedical research laboratories
- A large auditorium for events, speakers, and lecture
- Library commons, dedicated suites, and other study spaces
- Dedicated “active learning rooms” for first- and second-year students to use for self-directed study and small group learning sessions
- Simulation center with clinical simulation room
- Many multi-purpose rooms and labs throughout the campus
CMSRU’s Office of Diversity and Community Affairs sponsors numerous student organizations on campus:
- Student National Medical Association (SNMA)
- Muslim Medical Students Association (MMSA)
- Cooper Pride
- Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA)
- Jewish Medical Student Association (JMSA)
- Disability Awareness Association at Cooper (DAAC)
- Christian Medical Students Association (CMSA)
- Association of Women Surgeons (AWS)
- Asian Pacific American Medical Students Association (APAMSA)
- American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA)
Pre-medical Urban Leaders Summer Enrichment
CMSRU’s Pre-medical Urban Leaders Summer Enrichment (PULSE) program is designed for undergraduate pre-med students. The program focuses on urban health and provides service-learning, research, clinical, and academic learning experiences.
The AAMC awarded Cooper Medical School the Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Engagement for its PULSE program in 2019.
Center for Humanism
CMSRU recently founded its Center for Humanism, Professionalism, Medical Ethics, and Law. The center’s mission is to explore areas of improvement and innovation in the following areas, and to implement these findings into the MD curriculum:
- Bioethics & Law
- Communication and Compassion
- Wellness and Burnout Prevention
- Humanism and Professionalism
According to the founding members of the Center for Humanism, data shows that medical students enter MD training with great degrees of empathy, yet display lesser amounts by the time they graduate. Increasingly, medical students are less and less provided opportunities to work with clinicians with a long history of medical practice and therefore are less exposed to the “soft” skills of being a doctor. The Center’s goal is to learn how to teach medical students how to remain compassionate, empathetic, and ethical throughout their careers.
Selection Factors: What CMSRU Looks for in a Candidate
Good grades, high scores, clinical experience, and strong letters of recommendation are prized by medical school admissions committees across the country. Familiarizing yourself with, and fulfilling, AAMC’s Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students, seeking out well-rounded and impactful pre-med internships, and exploring medical school admissions consulting services are all great ways for you to strengthen your application and stand out from the crowd.
In addition to common expectations for medical school applications, most schools take the time to explain their unique selection factors, or the qualities that they prioritize when reviewing candidates. This is important information to be aware of because it can help you focus your application strategy and demonstrate to admissions committees that you are a good fit for their institution.
The Cooper Medical School of Rowan University conducts a holistic review of applicants. This means that they consider more than just your numbers when making admissions decisions. They also take into account the rigor of your coursework, clinical experience, research experience, leadership roles, service activities, and other extracurricular involvement. Any and all information included in your AMCAS, letters of recommendation, and secondary essay are considered together. Admissions tries to get the whole picture of who you are as an applicant and make selection decisions from there.
Here are some of the CMSRU selection factors laid out by the admissions faculty:
- Residency – New Jersey residents are given special consideration, though applicants from all states are encouraged to apply. Most years, 65-70% of students are Cooper Medical School are residents of New Jersey.
- GPA – Academic performance and GPA trends are reviewed carefully by CMSRU. This includes graduate and post-bac GPAs in addition to your undergraduate GPA.
- MCAT – The MCAT is an important part of your application, but it is not the only factor that will be considered. CMSRU considers your MCAT scores in the context of your entire application.
- Work and Life Experiences – Leadership, initiative, time-management, and adaptability are all qualities that are valued by CMSRU. They want to see how you have handled different challenges in your life and what kind of person you are outside of the classroom.
- Personal Competencies – Admissions highly values evidence of strong collaborative character, ability to learn from criticism, adaptability, ethical integrity, cultural awareness, dedication to service, strong interpersonal skills, and resilience.
The admissions faculty at CMSRU emphasize that all applicants who show a desire to study medicine at Cooper Medical School will be given an exhaustive, fair, and holistic review of all submitted materials.
For students interested in CMSRU’s Accelerated Three-Year Primary Care Program (PC3), the school looks for the following:
- Excellent academics
- Maturity and other personal characteristics necessary to succeed in an accelerated program
- Highly and genuinely motivated to because a primary care physician in pediatrics or internal medicine
To apply, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and complete a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. or Canadian institution before matriculation.
Minimum GPA and MCAT Requirements
There is no minimum GPA or MCAT score required applicants are required to meet. Admissions conducts a holistic review and your GPA and MCAT scores will be considered relative to the rest of your application. Still, GPA and MCAT scores are understood to be good predictors of success in medical school. So, if your GPA or MCAT score is significantly lower than the average for admitted students, it may be difficult to gain admission.
Required and Recommended Coursework
Cooper Medical School admissions does not accept AB/IB credits to fulfill the following, though you may take upper-level courses to substitute for introductory courses taken for AB/IB credits.
- Chemistry (2 semesters w/ lab / 8 credits)
- Biology (2 semesters w/ lab / 8 credits)
- English/Composition/Literature (1 semester / 3 credits)
- Spanish (2 semesters / 6 credits)
- Humanities (2 semesters / 6 credits)
- Biostatistics (1 semester / 3 credits)
- Behavioral Science (1 semester / 3 credits)
- Ethics (1 semester / 3 credits)
- Physics (2 semesters with lab / 8 credits)
- Organic Chemistry (2 semesters with lab / 8 credits)
- Biochemistry (1 semeseters / 3 credits)
CMSRU’s recommended coursework is recommended so that applicants are better prepared for the curricular rigors of medical school. However, during the review process, applicants are not ranked according to how many recommended courses they complete.
Completion of required coursework has no expiration.
Letters of Recommendation
The admissions committee asks for a letter written by a representative of your institution’s pre-health committee. You may submit other letters of support in addition to the pre-health letter. If your school doesn’t have a pre-health committee, you’re required to submit a minimum of three letters. Two of the letters must be from professors or university faculty.
A good letter of recommendation is written by someone who knows you well and can attest to your academic abilities. The committee also looks for evidence of qualities like motivation, compassion, teamwork, and leadership in your letters.
Applicants should submit their letters of recommendation through the AMCAS letter service.
Class Profile and Admissions Statistics
Below are some key admissions statistics so you can see how competitive the school is and what the typical class profile looks like.
2024 Class Profile
Here are some statistics for the 2024 class at Cooper Medical School to help you get a sense of the class size, range of GPA and MCAT scores, and other important factors.
- Total Students: 112
- New Jersey Residents: 77
- Out-of-State: 35
- Average Overall GPA: 3.77
- Average Science GPA: 3.71
- Biomedical Science Faculty: 77
- Clinical Faculty: 598
Cooper Medical School Acceptance Rate
In 2019, Cooper Medical School made headlines for being one of the toughest medical schools in the country to get accepted to. At the time, the acceptance rate was less than 3%.
As of 2022, the acceptance rate at CMSRU is 1.82%. The in-state acceptance rate is 5.5%. The out-of-state acceptance rate is 0.66%.
The national average acceptance rate for medical schools in the U.S. is usually between 5% and 7% in any given year.
Tuition and Cost of Attendance
Tuition at Cooper Medical School is $40,479 in-state and $64,240 out-of-state with $2,290 in required fees.
In addition to tuition, medical students should expect to incur other expenses like room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous living expenses.
For a detailed breakdown on medical school expenses, loans, and more, see our article The Cost of Medical School in 2022.
AMCAS Primary Application and CMSRU Secondary Application
Applying to medical school requires two applications, a primary and a secondary. Most allopathic (MD) medical schools in the U.S. use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) as the primary application.
Your AMCAS is completed first and contains things like your basic biographical information, activities, transcripts, and your personal statement. The AMCAS will also ask you to list the medical schools you are applying to.
The AMCAS will then send your primary application to all of the schools you list. Once the schools receive your AMCAS and verify that your application is complete and you meet any minimum requirements, you’ll be sent an invitation to complete a secondary application.
The secondary application is specific to each school and usually asks additional questions about your motivation for becoming a doctor, your experience in healthcare, and more essays.
For a more in-depth explanation, see our article on the subject: Primary vs. Secondary Applications: Understanding the Difference.
The secondary application fee for Cooper Medical School is $100 as of the 2022-2023 application cycle.
Cooper Medical School of Rowan University Secondary Application: Essay Prompts, Sample Answers, and Advice
Here are the CMSRU secondary essay questions for the 2022-2023 application cycle.
Please write a personal mission statement for yourself as a student at CMSRU. How will CMSRU help you fulfill your mission? (1500 characters)
A good response to this essay will include a clear and concise description of your goals as a medical student and how you plan to achieve them. You should also use this guide to help find specific examples of how CMSRU will help you reach your goals — how the curriculum is structured, what kind of clinical experiences are available, what kind of research opportunities exist, etc. You may also mention non-academic aspects of the school, such as the community it serves, its sponsored student organizations, or anything else that is important to you and will support you on your journey to becoming a physician.
Please describe your anticipated educational, employment, volunteer or other activities between completing your AMCAS application and matriculating to medical school. (1500 characters)
This question asks you to talk about what you’ll be doing between now and enrollment.
If you’re going straight from undergrad to medical school, describe your academic plan for your final year of earning a bachelor’s. If you will be completing any of CMSRU’s prerequisite courses, or intend to take some of the recommended courses (these are detailed in the “Prerequisite Coursework” section above), then make sure to include that in your response.
You should also include any research experience you plan on completing, as well as any job shadowing or volunteering you’ll be doing in healthcare settings.
Make sure to touch on how these experiences will help you become a better doctor and why you’re excited about them.
In some cases, such as if you aren’t taking a gap year, you may be planning to rest and recharge before medical school, with little pre-med activities planned. We advise doing your best to stay busy (without burning out!), but if this is the case for you, just be honest about what you’re doing and why it’s important to you.
Here is a sample answer:
“I am currently completing my undergraduate degree at XYZ University and will graduate in May. I have been accepted to the school’s pre-med post-baccalaureate program and will complete my additional coursework related to medical science this summer. I am also working as a research assistant in the XYZ lab, where I am studying the effects of ABC on DEF. In addition, I have volunteered at the XYZ free clinic for the past year and will continue to do so throughout my post-bacc program.
I am most excited to return to Columbia in the fall for my pre-med internship with International Medical Aid. I believe diverse medical experiences are critical for becoming a well-rounded physician, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with patients from different backgrounds and with physicians who provide quality care despite limited resources. I will be participating in didactic learning sessions in internal medicine and pediatrics to begin exploring my possible career paths early. Primary care for underserved communities is a central interest of mine, and I believe this experience will be invaluable as I make decisions about my future.”
Tell us about something that makes you a unique applicant to CMSRU. (1500 characters)
When considering this question, remember that secondary essays help admissions get to know things about you that are otherwise not represented in the rest of your application. The answer to this question does not have to be directly related to your pre-med activities. In fact, some of the most interesting and impactful responses we’ve seen have been about interests or experiences outside of the traditional “pre-med” box.
Effective topics for “what makes you unique?” will include things that demonstrate skills, experiences, and characteristics that indirectly or directly relate to your ability to succeed as a medical student and physician. There are endless possible topics, but here are some examples:
- You have a hobby that teaches you about community
- You have experience starting or running a business
- You have played a leadership role in a unique extracurricular activity
- You have experienced first-hand the social or economic obstacles that healthcare disparities can create
- You have faced personal challenges that have required you to be resilient
- You have pursued interests outside of the sciences that have helped you develop skills like effective communication, teamwork, or critical thinking
- You have conducted independent research into a unique topic that provides unique insights into medical practice/science
- You have a unique philosophy of education, learning, community, or other related subjects. (If writing about your ideas, include concrete examples that demonstrate your passion.)
Your goal with this essay is to give admissions a window into who you are as a person, outside of your academic and extracurricular achievements. This is your opportunity to share something about yourself that will help the admissions committee see you as an individual, not just a list of accomplishments.
Be honest, be genuine, and be specific. This is not the time to be vague or generalize about your qualities – admissions wants to see evidence that you have thought deeply about who you are and how you will contribute to the CMSRU community.
Everyone has unique qualities that make them valuable to a community of learners. Take a moment and brainstorm about what makes you, YOU. Or, what are some things about you that you don’t see in other people? If you’re struggling to connect your interests and activities to medicine, don’t worry. Instead, you can use the AAMC Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students as a guide to how your skills relate to succeeding in medical school.
For instance, here are the Interpersonal Competencies:
- Service Orientation
- Social Skills
- Cultural Competence
- Oral Communication
And here are the Intrapersonal Competencies:
- Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others
- Reliability and Dependability
- Resilience and Adaptability
- Capacity for Improvement
Additionally, critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, scientific inquiry, and written communication are listed as Thinking and Reasoning Competencies.
Reflect on the items in this list and think about how your experiences have helped you develop skills in these areas. Have you ever volunteered in a healthcare setting? This could be related to the Service Orientation Competency. Do you play a sport? This could demonstrate teamwork skills. Have you had to overcome any personal challenges? This would show resilience. The examples are endless.
At the end of the day, we can’t tell you what makes you unique. But, hopefully, we’ve given you some ideas for how to approach this question.
Working to help communicate the unique strengths of medical school applications is part of what we do here at International Medical Aid. If questions like these are giving you trouble (or any other aspect of the application process), we want to work with you. You can learn more about how it works here.
Medical school involves hard work and can be stressful at times. Tell us about activities that you use to help maintain a work-life balance and respond to stress. (1500 characters)
Your goal with this essay is to show that you’re self-aware and have thought about how you’ll manage the demands of medical school. Admissions committees want to see that you have a healthy way of dealing with stress and that you won’t let the challenges of medical school get in the way of your success.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question – what works for you might not work for someone else. The key is to be honest and share activities that you actually find helpful in managing stress. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Staying organized
- Taking care of your body through exercise or diet
- Spending time with friends and family
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, think about a time when you were feeling stressed and overwhelmed. What did you do to make yourself feel better?
As with the other essays, we recommend that you share your activity in a way that is meaningful to you. If you find journaling helpful, for example, tell us about a time when it made a difference for you. What were you struggling with? How did journaling help you work through it?
The admissions committee will be looking to see that you have a solid plan for managing stress and that you’re proactive about it. They don’t want to see that you’re just winging it and hoping for the best. So, take some time to think about what works for you and share your plan in a thoughtful way.
Essay #5 (optional)
For applicants with a serious interest in the PC3 track: please write a short statement that describes your desire to become either a primary care Internist or a primary care Pediatrician and the qualities that make you an excellent choice for the PC3 track and for residency at Cooper. (1000 characters)
The accelerated three-year MD program at CMSRU (PC3) accepts a maximum of two internal medicine and two pediatrician students each year. It’s a highly selective program that requires serious dedication and a strong desire to become a primary care physician.
In this essay, you’ll need to convince the admissions committee that you have what it takes to succeed in the PC3 program and that you’re committed to becoming a primary care physician. This is your chance to show off your motivation, maturity, and ability to handle the rigors of an accelerated program.
Those accepted to CMSRU will have the opportunity to apply for this program.
If you’re interested in the PC3 program, complete this essay response and make sure to include:
- Evidence of your dedication to pediatrics or internal medicine in primary care, such as participating in pre-med internships abroad that offer pediatric or internal medicine focuses, volunteering in a clinic that provides care to underserved populations, or working with a mentor who is a primary care physician.
- The qualities that would make you an excellent candidate for the program. Examples might include your maturity, resilience, and ability to handle stress. Examples go a long way when space allows.
Good Luck to You!
We hope this guide has given you a clear understanding of what CMSRU is looking for in its applicants and how you can best position yourself for success.
Don’t forget to explore our other definitive medical school guides:
- A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Saint Louis University School of Medicine
- University of Missouri Medical School
- Kansas City University (KCU)
- UMKC School of Medicine
- New York Medical College
- University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
- University of Wisconsin Medical School
- VCU School of Medicine
- University of Maryland School of Medicine
- Case Western Medical School
- University of North Carolina Medical School
- University of Florida Medical School
- Emory University School of Medicine
- Boston University College of Medicine
- California University of Science and Medicine
- UC San Diego Medical School
- California Northstate University College of Medicine
- Touro University of California
- CHSU College of Osteopathic Medicine
- UC Davis School of Medicine
- Harvard Medical School
- UC Riverside School of Medicine
- USC Keck School of Medicine
- UT Southwestern Medical School
- Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio
- University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine
- 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
As always, if you have any questions about your application or the admissions process, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.