Part 1: Introduction

“What are this patient’s goals?” is a question you’ll ask for every patient case you study at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. The university, which was founded in 1824 and has graduated over 31,000 students, focuses on patient care above simply fixing what’s wrong. This philosophy is a crucial part of their MD program and every medical program they offer. 

In our definitive guide to Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, we’ll show you everything the university has to offer and walk you through the entire application process. 

  • Part 2 will feature Sidney Kimmel Medical College’s programs and the cost of tuition.
  • Part 3 will cover grades and test scores, as well as prerequisite requirements.
  • Part 4 will include essay prompts with sample responses.
  • Part 5 will focus on your virtual interview day (Fingers crossed you’ll get one!).

We’ll also explain some of the jargon used for medical school applications along the way. 

Part 2: Programs Offered at Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Thomas Jefferson University offers the following programs:

Doctor of Medicine (MD) Degree

The Sidney Kimmel Medical College strives to be patient-centered in everything it does. To make that happen, the college introduces students to clinical exposure early on, while teaching them core science classes and professional behavior. The more students learn, the better equipped they are to advance in the program. 

To accomplish all its goals, Sidney Kimmel Medical College splits learning into three phases

Phase 1 teaches students basic science courses while integrating a curriculum focused on eight different organ systems. Phase 1 is 12 weeks shorter than the average MD program to accommodate for Phase 3 being 12 weeks longer. 

Phase 2 takes students into clinical settings, where they begin their rotations and begin applying the science they learned in Phase 1 into the medical practice. Students still spend a significant amount of time in the classroom, where they build on the knowledge they learned in Phase 1.

Phase 3 is filled with electives and is three months longer than most third-year MD programs. Sidney Kimmel Medical College was intentional with this decision, as it gives students more time to figure out what specialty they want to go into and to fill out their applications for residency. 

Sidney Kimmel Medical College puts a strong emphasis on professional development, interaction with patients and classroom knowledge applied in clinical settings. To foster this environment, Sidney Kimmel Medical College primarily teaches students in small groups. The lectures that comprise some programs instead supplement small group study and projects completed individually. 

Sidney Kimmel Medical College has the following departments:

Altogether, the program takes 45 months to complete and must be completed in person at the Center City Campus.

MD/PhD Program

This dual degree requires students to take courses in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College and the Jefferson College of Life Sciences. The program is designed to take eight years to complete, with students completing the MD portion of the program first. They are ultimately awarded their doctorate degree

While there are multiple PhD programs students can enroll in as part of their dual degree, the following courses are required for each PhD program.

  • Research Ethics
  • Current Topics in Translational Biomedical Research
  • Enrichment Course in Clinical Skills for Physician Scientists

Students will also participate in the follow clinical preceptorships:

  • Fundamentals of Clinical Trials (Optional)
  • Ethics Case Conference (Required)
  • Rotation on the Cancer Clinical Research Review Committee (Optional)
  • Critical Review of the Scientific Literature Rotation (Optional)

Students may take a fifth year to complete the PhD program if they and their mentor request the extra year. However, they must still complete Phases 2 and 3 at Sidney Kimmel Medical College, and they must complete their thesis for their PhD first. 

In a nutshell, the MD/PhD program looks like this:

  • Year 1: Phase 1 in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College
  • Year 2-6: PhD curriculum complete and thesis defended
  • Years 7-8: Phases 2 and 3 in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College

IDeA: Innovation and Design Application Program

Please note that this program is not open to everyone.

If you are a current, non-traditional, pre-med sophomore at Princeton University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College has an early admissions program just for you. The program works by having students simultaneously enrolled in Princeton University, where you’ll focus on your non-traditional major while also earning your MD at Thomas Jefferson University. Students who are accepted into the IDeA program do not take the MCAT nor all of the pre-med courses that most traditional MD students take. 

Physician Shortage Area Program

Like the title suggests, the program comes with a purpose: fulfilling the need for doctors in rural locations. The program is geared toward students who grew up in a rural area and therefore understand what it would be like to practice medicine in a rural area. Additionally, these students commit to practicing Primary Care in Pennsylvania or Delaware. If the idea of Primary Care bores you, many students who enroll in this program go on to specialize in OB/GYN, surgery or emergency medicine, all of which are necessary to have, especially in rural areas. 

Delaware Institution of Medical Education and Research (DIMER) Program

Sidney Kimmel Medical College is partnered with the Delaware Institution of Medical Education and Research. This partnership includes a commitment to admit 20 students who are residents of Delaware and who have completed all of the prerequisite courses required for Sidney Kimmel Medical College. These students will be enrolled in the traditional MD program. 

Medical Scholars Program (MSP)

Sidney Kimmel Medical College partners with the University of Delaware for this program. In eight years, students will become physicians with keen eyes for different aspects of science and culture. The first years are spent at the University of Delaware, where they complete their pre-med courses. Then, they earn their MD through Sidney Kimmel Medical College.

Penn State Accelerated BS/MD Program

If you’re still in high school, this is a great option for you. Selected high school seniors are admitted to both Penn State and Sidney Kimmel Medical College. They earn their Bachelor of Science degree at the University Park Penn State campus in three years (instead of four) and their Doctor of Medicine degree in the last four years at Sidney Kimmel Medical College. Students in the BS/MD program graduate one year faster, saving them time and money and giving them a head start for residency. 

Post Baccalaureate/Pre-Health Programs (PBPH)

This program is designed for students who are in between their bachelor’s degree and medical school. These students need to complete some (or all) of the prerequisite courses required for Sidney Kimmel Medical College. This program is designed for that very purpose. Admitted students have one year to complete the program if they are full-time students or two years if they work full time and take courses part-time. 

Joint MD/MBA-MHA Program

This program lasts for five years. The MD portion of the program is taken at Sidney Kimmel Medical College. The fifth year, when students earn their Master of Business Administration-Master of Healthcare Administration, is completed at Widener University. Located in Chester, PA, Widener University is a 30-minute drive from Thomas Jefferson University’s main campus. 

Dual MD/Master of Public Health Program

This program is designed similarly to the Joint MD/MBA-MHA program, where both degrees are earned in five years. The primary difference is that both degrees are completed in-house at Thomas Jefferson University. 

Tuition Costs

Tuition at Sidney Kimmel Medical College is reasonably priced at just over $60,000 per year. Additional fees (not including housing, food or transportation) add an extra $1,000 per year. Prospective students are encouraged to look into housing and transportation costs for a total yearly estimate. This usually ranges between $20,000 and $30,000 per year. This still comes in at $90,000, making your entire medical education at Sidney Kimmel Medical College $40,000 cheaper than many other universities. If costs are an issue, financial aid and scholarships are available. 

Selection Factors for Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Sidney Kimmel Medical College looks at multiple factors when considering whom to interview and admit into the college. While they do look at test scores, they also want to see letters of recommendation, your performance in activities outside the classroom and your involvement in the community. 

Stats for the Class of 2020

  • Average BCPM GPA: 3.73
  • Average total MCAT score: 514
  • 50% female
  • 50% male
  • 13% from underrepresented minorities
  • 30% ethnic groups other than white

Out of 11,000 applicants, 270 new students were admitted for the Class of 2020. 

Prerequisites and Requirements

Instead of listing a series of course requirements, Sidney Kimmel Medical College recommends that students take courses that will prepare them for the rigor and intensity of medical school. Biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and honors and independent study classes are recommended. 

Sidney Kimmel Medical College requires that all students take the MCAT within 3 years of matriculating. 

Primary Application

For anyone unfamiliar with the process of applying to medical school, you’ll submit two applications. The first application is known as your primary application and is submitted via the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). This is where you submit all your test scores, transcripts, work and activities, volunteer experience, etc. You’ll only need to fill out this application once. Every medical school you apply to will have access to this application. You’ll select the schools of your choice when you submit your application. Then, depending on the school, you might receive a link to their secondary application. Some schools automatically send out secondary applications to every student who applies. Others review applications and then send secondary applications to the strongest applicants. In that case, lack of a secondary application is their way of saying “better luck next time.”

Secondary Application

Sidney Kimmel Medical College doesn’t state whether each applicant who fills out an AMCAS application gets a secondary application. But they do state that the link to their secondary application will be emailed to you after you’ve completed the AMCAS. 

Your secondary application is the one you’ll send directly to Sidney Kimmel Medical College. It’s where you’ll write your essays and where you’ll put your best foot forward to convince the school that they should admit you. 

Part 4: Secondary Application Essays for Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Before you freak out about having to write essays, just take a deep breath. We’ve got you. There are only two questions to answer on the Sidney Kimmel application, which is a huge bonus since many medical schools ask between five and eight questions. What’s more, is that you’ll write up to 2,000 words for some applications. But both questions combined only require 1,200 words. In this section, we’ll look at the questions, discuss how to appropriately/properly answer them, and provide you with sample essays to help you get started on your own essay.

Question #1
COVID-19 has presented unprecedented problems to many applicants. If this pandemic has negatively affected your attempt to get into law school, please explain what has happened. Your situation will be taken into account as we review your application. (400 words)

This question doesn’t require much explanation. We would advise against saying things like, “When classes went virtual, my grades dropped,” because that happened to everyone, whether or not you’re applying for medical school. Instead, focus on how your timeline has been disrupted or how your personal life has been affected in ways that have impacted your medical school preparation. 

For example, if your MCAT score is outdated because testing centers have been closed, the admissions committee will take this into account. If you had a family member who was in the ICU or on a ventilator from complications due to COVID-19, this would also be appropriate to discuss. 

Here’s an example:
My family were some of the first to contract COVID-19 here in the United States because my sister had gone on a study abroad trip in China, close to where the virus originated. Because there were no tests available in the United States and because the virus wasn’t common knowledge in January 2020, we thought it was a really bad case of the flu. But when my mother ended up in the ICU, we suspected it was something more. We just didn’t know what it was. 

I had scheduled to take the MCAT in early February, but I canceled the test because of how sick my mother was. After explaining to my university professors what was going on, I was allowed to participate in classes remotely and go home to see my mom. My mom remained in the ICU for nearly a month. Once she was well enough to go home, I decided to return to school. I rescheduled my MCAT to April so that I would have time to catch up on studying for it and be as prepared as possible. 

But then COVID-19 hit, and everything shut down. Unfortunately, because of this, my MCAT test scores are out-of-date, and they’re not where I’d like them to be. I didn’t know what to expect for the MCAT the first time I took it, which is why my grade is lower than I’d like it to be. I feel confident that a more recent test score would adequately reflect where I believe I am on my journey to medical school. 

It took my mother well over three months to fully recover from the negative effects of COVID-19. When news of the virus began spreading in the United States, we suspected that it was what my mother had contracted. Once antibody tests became available, my mother was tested, and our suspicions were confirmed. 

I believe that part of being a doctor is about making sacrifices. I chose to sacrifice time from school and my opportunity to take the MCAT in February so that I could be with my mother while she was very sick. There were certainly times when our family questioned if she would recover/make it. My gratitude for her recovery extends to the doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who provided the care she needed during her sickest hours. That’s the kind of doctor I want to become–the kind who does everything she can for her patients to make them as comfortable as possible while recovering from extreme illness. 

Thank you for considering my application, even with my outdated MCAT score.

This essay is 434 words, so it’s not too short or too long. This applicant does well in her essay because she describes the very real and scary effects of COVID-19. She also uses the experience she gained while being with her mom to show the admissions committee how much she wants to be a doctor. She does her best to highlight that and draw the attention away from her less-than-perfect MCAT score. Her determination and drive to become a doctor should impress the admissions committee and help them look beyond her outdated MCAT score. 

Question #2
What additional information should we know? (800 words)

This is a wide-open question, meaning you can discuss anything you want. You can share your story of why you want to become a doctor. You could tackle the famous adversity or diversity essays. You could discuss having a problem in the workplace that you overcame. There aren’t any limits here to what you can discuss, so long as you don’t share personal information that would be considered inappropriate.

Here’s an example of what one student wrote:

I’ve wanted to become a doctor since I was a little girl. It was always my answer when someone asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’ve been babysitting children since I was about 10 years old, which I think influenced my desire to become a pediatrician. I like spending time with little children. My favorite part of interacting with them involves being swept away with them in their imaginations and seeing the world through their childlike eyes. 

One experience, in particular, comes to mind. I was 12 years old and babysitting my neighbor’s toddler. We’ll call her Alicia. Alicia was about two and a half, so she couldn’t be left unsupervised, but she couldn’t be kept in one spot, either. I followed her everywhere she went, amazed at how strong her short, little legs were. I watched her pick up Play-Doh and mold shapes out of it for her Barbie dolls to wear. She made Play-Doh hats, belts and shoes. Alicia was in the process of fitting a Play-Doh hat on the Barbie dressed as a nurse when her mother called. Mrs. Anderson was just checking in to see how everything was going. I turned around for a moment as I was talking to her. After we hung up, I noticed that Alicia had stopped playing with the Play-Doh. She was holding her Barbie in her arms, but she looked upset. 

“Are you okay?” I asked her, concerned about her sudden change in behavior. She shook her head, so I asked her what was wrong. When she opened her mouth to respond, no words came out, but I could see saliva and the evidence of Play-Doh in her mouth. And that was when I realized she was choking. During the one moment when I had turned around to assure her mother that she was okay, Alicia had tried to swallow the Play-Doh. I instantly panicked, not knowing what to do. I knew I should try the Heimlich maneuver on her, but I had never done it before and didn’t know if it would work. But I had to try, or Alicia might die. So I dialed 9-1-1 as I tried to give her the Heimlich. I was able to get the Play-Doh out of her mouth and then watched helplessly until the paramedics arrived. 

In my dazed and confused state, I hadn’t even thought to call Mrs. Anderson and tell her what was going on. At the paramedic’s suggestion, I did just that. Thankfully, Mrs. Anderson wasn’t upset with me, and Alicia turned out to be fine. But I learned a valuable lesson: never face your back to a child you’re watching! Their whole life could change in the blink of an eye because they’re too young to play on their own. If you can’t see them, you’re not supervising them well enough.

Every time I thought about being a doctor, I imagined little children on my exam table, learning about not putting Play-Doh in their mouths, breathing in and out deeply so I can listen to their hearts and lungs, and trusting me to care for them. I want to counsel parents and give them guidance that will help them raise their children. There are so many issues that parents face in the world today. I believe I can make a difference and help parents raise healthy children who will grow up strong and who will be prepared to take on the world.

I can’t wait to become a pediatrician. I believe that Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University will provide me with the level of education I want to be the best doctor I can be.

This essay comes in at 610 words, so it’s within the word count. The essay works because it shows how a personal experience influenced a pre-teen’s decision to become a doctor. Her memory has remained with her and continues to impact her decision to this day. This is a great example of what the admissions committee should be told in an essay because you can’t put that on your AMCAS application. It’s a story worth telling, one that will hopefully help her get into Sidney Kimmel Medical College. 

Part 5: Your Interview at Sidney Kimmel Medical College

As you would probably expect, your interview for the 2021 admissions cycle will be held virtually because of COVID-19. While this might disappoint prospective students who want to tour the campus and experience their interview in person, it will be a welcome blessing for other students who face financial challenges and only need to worry about having a strong internet connection. 

But don’t think for one moment that a virtual interview means it isn’t serious. Dress like you would if you were going in person. Log on to the Zoom links as early as you can, and be attentive throughout the sessions. The admissions committee will be paying close attention to who is actively engaged throughout the day. 

For the day of your interview, Sidney Kimmel Medical College put together an entire page to help you prepare. 

The interview process will take place over Zoom, the famous videoconferencing application that’s taken the world by storm since COVID-19 began. If you are selected to interview, you’ll have a virtual session to attend on Tuesday night, followed by a full day on Wednesday. The exact dates for your interview will be provided to you when you’re invited to interview. Since Sidney Kimmel Medical College uses a rolling admissions system, they will conduct several interview days with prospective students as they go through applications. 

Your schedule will be as follows.

Tuesday night

  • 5:00 p.m. (EST): Introduction to the Current Student Hospitality and Engagement Directors. You don’t have to attend this session, but it’s a great way to put your best foot forward and make yourself remembered.


  • 10:00 a.m. (EST): Interview day begins with aministrative staff greeting you and Admissions and Financial Aid providing you with important information.
  • 10:30 – 11:50 a.m.: Dean, Students and Faculty provide more information on Sidney Kimmel
  • 12:15 – 12:45 p.m.: Student Interview
  • 2:00 – 2:30 p.m.: Faculty Interview
  • 3:00 p.m.: Virtual tour of Thomas Jefferson University Center City Campus
  • 4:00 p.m.: Meet and Greet with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

If you want to learn more about Sidney Kimmel Medical College but don’t have an interview, they offer virtual open house events to help you become acquainted with Thomas Jefferson University.

Where We Come In

Here at International Medical Aid, we’re committed to helping you find success on your medical journey. That’s why we offer resources on our blog and consultations with our medical school experts. Visit our website today if you want a professional set of eyes to go over your applications, review your essays or practice interviewing with you. You’ll feel more prepared after you’ve practiced.

Not only can we help you with your application, but we can help you obtain the kinds of experiences you’ll want to write about in your secondary essays. International Medical Aid takes students on global mission trips to South America, East Africa and the Caribbean.

We also offer an abundance of resources on our blog. We cover everything from writing a strong personal statement, to tips for passing the MCAT. We also offer definitive guides on how to get into some of the most prestigious Ivy Leagues out there. 

Don’t be afraid to apply for a school that feels out of your reach. No one who was too scared to apply to Yale, Brown or Columbia got in from not applying! Just make sure that your test scores are where they need to be. Then aim high! 

We wish you the best of luck in your medical school journey. It’s a long, difficult process getting into medical school. But with the right resources and support tools, you can be a successful medical school candidate who goes on to become a great doctor.