Part 1: Introduction

Yale School of Medicine made a name for itself many years ago, and its popularity still stands today. Yale accepts 40 students each year, and over 1,000 applicants compete for those 40 spots. In other words, it’s very challenging to be accepted into Yale. 

But it’s not impossible. If your application is strong and you write excellent essays for your secondary application, you’ve got a shot at earning one of those 40 spots. In this guide to Yale School of Medicine, we’re going to prepare you for exactly that. We’ll review the different programs that Yale offers, info about admissions, required test scores and detailed guidelines for how to write your essay responses. 

By the time you’ve read through this entire five-part guide, you’ll feel like a Yale Insider ready to take on the application process. Let’s go!

Part 2: Programs at Yale School of Medicine

Yale School of Medicine offers the following programs:

  • Four-year MD program
  • MD/PhD program
  • MS/Master of Public Health program
  • MS/Master of Health Science program
  • MD/Juris Doctorate
  • MD/Master of Business Administration
  • MD/Master of Divinity
  • Physician Assistant (PA) program

Yale School of Medicine doesn’t come short on the programs they offer. 

All of Yale School of Medicine’s programs operate with Yale’s “Eight Overarching Goals and Five Guiding Principles.”

Eight Overarching Goals

  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  • Mechanisms and Treatment of Disease
  • Clinical Reasoning
  • Patient Care
  • Professionalism and Communication
  • Responsibility to Society
  • Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge
  • Physician as Scientist

Five Guiding Principles

  • Integration
  • Learning Environment
  • Scholarship and Creative Thinking
  • Assessment and Reflection
  • Educator Development

Now, let’s take a look at each program.

Traditional Four-Year Program

Yale School of Medicine’s current curriculum was designed in 2015 with the goal of creating doctors who will lead medical teams and find new cures. The MD program requires students to be self-driven and motivated, handling issues as they arise with grace and maturity, all while being enrolled in full-time courses with faculty mentorship. They are also required to present a thesis that challenges a topic in science.

During their first year, students will go through the Integrated Course Curriculum, Clinical Skills, Longitudinal Clinical Experience and Tutors. Year Two finishes Year One out and begins Clinical Clerkships. Year Three finishes out Clinical Clerkships and introduces Subinternships, Electives and Research. That continues into Year Four when students complete the program.

This traditional program is perfect for students seeking a four-year MD degree. Its fast pace is equal to that of many other Ivy Leagues. 

MD-PhD Program

If you love scientific research as much as you love medicine, then the MD-PhD program might be your cup of tea. A high degree of scientific research, along with research seminars and time in clinics and labs, are an integral part of the MD-PhD curriculum. It takes students an average of eight years to complete the program. Graduates have practiced medicine in the following areas:

  • Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Dermatology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry
  • Pathology
  • Radiology
  • Ophthalmology/ENT
  • ER
  • Family Medicine
  • Anesthesiology

MD Master of Public Health Program

Earning your MD with your Masters in Public Health is possible through the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. You’ll earn a world-class MD degree while studying public health and the healthcare system. Your classroom experience will be optimal with 3-4 students per teacher in each classroom. 

The Master of Public Health coursework is completed in the following way:

  • Two years of course work with 20 units
  • A seminar teaching professional skills
  • Courses with in-depth instruction on ethics and public health
  • An applied practice experience paired with a summer internship
  • A thesis or capstone course to earn your Master’s

MD Master of Health Science Program

There are two avenues to earning your MD/Master of Health Science degree at Yale. You can spend your time performing clinical research or have your eye focused on a microscopic lens, studying a variety of lab specimens. 

In order to be considered for this program, you’ll need a thesis advisor and a thesis committee comprised of three people. You must also have a fully-funded project that will take you one year to complete. Once you’ve met all these requirements, you’ll be ready to apply for the MD Master of Health Science program.

MD Juris Doctorate

This specialized, joint degree is for students who want to connect legal expertise with their medical knowledge. This could be helpful in a number of circumstances. You could focus on medical law, which would prepare you for leadership positions in hospital settings. Upon graduation, you’ll be a doctor and a lawyer. How cool is that?

MD/Master of Business Administration Program

Many individuals with MBAs are hospital chiefs, so this degree would truly be beneficial for you. The Yale School of Management works with the Yale School of Medicine to provide this program. Students spend their first three years at Yale School of Medicine, their fourth year at Yale School of Management (along with the MBA curriculum), and then their fifth and final year choosing electives through both the medicine and management schools. You’ll be one busy beaver, but you’ll come out as a doctor and a master of business administration. Sounds to us like it’s worth it!

MD Master of Divinity Program

This degree program provides ample, spiritual knowledge that would complement an MD well. Students can study how to interpret the Bible, ethical and theological matters, the history behind different religions, and how to preach and counsel members of one’s congregation. 

The Yale Divinity School and Yale School of Medicine have partnered to make it possible for students to be both doctors and pastors.

PA Program

Physician assistants aren’t required to go through as much schooling as MDs, and, as a result, aren’t able to treat patients on the same level. However, PAs are able to see patients without supervision, prescribe medications, and perform all the duties of a nurse. 

There are three components to the PA program: Didactic, Clinical, and Research

The didactic section of the program consists of 12 months of lectures and classes. The clinical section immediately follows with 16 months of clinical clerkships. During their clerkships, students will also work on their thesis. The research part of the PA degree runs along with the didactic and clinical phases. Students take the Introduction to Research course during the didactic phase and are involved in extensive research during the Medicine and Surgery section of the PA program. It’s an intense program that will prepare you to effectively treat patients as a Physician Assistant.  

Ultimately, there are nine different pathways to get into Yale School of Medicine. You are welcome to apply to more than one school, although that will mean writing more essays. Whichever school you apply to, we wish you the best of luck.

Tuition Costs

Being the Ivy League that it is and offering the programs it offers makes Yale a top competitor among the Ivy Leagues. Indeed, they recommend a $96,000 yearly budget for each year they are enrolled at Yale School of Medicine. 

Unfortunately, Yale doesn’t offer any scholarships, even for students who need financial assistance or who earn high grades. All of the resources that Yale recommends for students who need help are listed here.

Getting In: Yale School of Medicine’s Numbers

Acceptance Rate

  • 1,000 applicants
  • 170 interviews
  • 40 students admitted

These numbers equal a 17% interview rate and a 4% acceptance rate. Their interview rate is lower than some of the other Ivy Leagues mentioned in other posts here on Medical Aid, but their acceptance rate is actually higher. However, even with a slightly higher acceptance rather, it is still very challenging to get in. 

Stats for Applicants

Listed are the overall scores for every one. The lowest to highest ranges are also listed in parentheses. 

  • Undergrad overall GPA: 3.75 (3.44-4.00)
  • Undergrad science GPA: 3.72 (3.35-4.00)
  • MCAT score: 518 (96th percentile)
  • Healthcare experience hours: 2,868 (512-10,565)

Application Timeframes

Because of COVID-19 and the delays it has caused for everyone, Yale is accepting AMCAS applications through November 15 and the Yale School of Medicine application through December 15. Depending on when you submit your application, you’ll receive an invitation to interview between August and February, and you’ll receive your acceptance/rejection letter by March 15. 

Part 4: Strategies and Sample Essays for Yale School of Medicine

If you’re reading this guide as an intro to what medical school applications, in general, might be like, then you might not know what “AMCAS” stands for. The American Medical College Application Service is where you’ll start your med school application journey. It’s commonly referred to as your primary application, while the application you’ll send directly to Yale School of Medicine is your secondary application. We go into detail on the AMCAS here, if you want an in-depth review of how this application service works. 

Yale will review your AMCAS application first, so it needs to be strong. Your personal statementWork and Activities Section and scores matter. Once Yale receives your AMCAS application, they’ll send you the secondary application, which contains three essay prompts.

We understand if you’re nervous about writing essays for an Ivy League school like Yale. You’re not alone. Every single medical school applicant is nervous. Our goal is to help alleviate your nerves by breaking down the essay questions into chewable pieces. 

Also, this is a great time to start looking at opportunities that will bolster your application and provide you with content to discuss in these essays. International Medical Aid offers international internships for Pre-Med students. Our internship opportunities cover Pre-Medicine, Medicine, and PA opportunities. So, no matter what you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered. 

Now, let’s get started!

Question #1 Diversity is very important at Yale School of Medicine. What will you contribute as a student here? Describe events from your life that will influence your contribution. Discuss what kind of doctor you will be upon graduating from Yale. (500 words)

This is a classic question that you’ll find on many, many medical school applications. In fact, you’ll find it on a lot of college applications, regardless of the type of school. We recommend this great article from Shemmassian Consulting on how to write a diversity essay. 

This essay gives you the opportunity to stand out. Maybe your dad is Chinese and your mom is Korean, and you grew up in a family that celebrated every holiday in both cultures. How will your upbringing affect your relationship with your patients? Oftentimes, very ordinary parts of your life can be great examples of diversity. 

You have 500 words (or 3000 characters) to answer this question. Make your focal point about your diversity and, if you have any leftover room, tie it back to Yale. If possible, you’ll want to tie all your answers back to Yale–how Yale will impact you and vice versa.

Question #2 Choose one of the following questions. (500 words)

1. Researching patient symptoms is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment. Every student enrolled at Yale School of Medicine is required to complete a research thesis. Share what types of research interest you, and how you would use those interests to make a contribution to Yale School of Medicine.

2. Yale School of Medicine has two emphases: the doctor-patient relationship and “training future physicians” to care for diverse communities. Tell us how your experiences would make Yale School of Medicine a better institution.

Your experience should determine which question you want to answer. If you’ve spent time in the lab researching a topic that you’re passionate about, then the first prompt would be ideal for you. But if you’ve spent more time shadowing doctors and gaining experience in a clinical setting, then the second prompt will be your best bet. However, if you have experience in both settings, consider which setting you’ve made more of an impact in, and pick that one. It’s important to take every opportunity to bolster your application, which means choosing topics that will show how well-rounded you are.

If you’re struggling to decide which experience was more impactful, ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Have you received awards or been promoted for your work?
  2. What has your contribution done for the scientific community at large?
  3. If you’ve conducted research, have you tackled challenging topics?

Answering these questions should help you narrow down what prompt to choose. You should also consider which response will help you have a complete application that covers all the areas Yale will look at. 

Now, let’s discuss how to write your response.

1. Researching patient symptoms is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment. Every student enrolled at Yale School of Medicine is required to complete a research thesis. Share what types of research interest you, and how you would use those interests to make a contribution at Yale School of Medicine.

Since you only have 500 words, it’s important to structure your essay so that it flows well and is easily readable. This is the structure we recommend:

  • What has been your goal in your past research?

– Describe the research you’ve conducted in the past.
– Explain what your goal was.
– Detail your hypothesis.
– Explain what research you conducted and why everyone else should care about it. The what and why behind your research is equally important to the research itself. 
– Don’t approach it like an abstract. While abstracts are well-written, they’re extremely impersonal and only focus on the research conducted. This essay should be personalized to you and should help Yale School of Medicine better understand you as an applicant.
– Write in layman terms. The admissions committee will understand in-depth medical terminology, but writing for a lay audience shows that you’ll be able to communicate well with your patients when that time comes. 

  • How did you conduct your research?

– This is critical since the process of research always needs to be carefully recorded. This isn’t just for that BIO 264 class you took as a dual-credit elective. By recording the research you conduct, you’re providing information that could be valuable for someone else down the road. By explaining how you conducted your research, you’re showing a higher level of competency and preparedness for medical school.

  • Showcase your results and why they matter

– While this might be very obvious to you, the admissions committee can’t read your mind. Answer the following questions: 

  • What were your results?
  • Did you answer your original question?
  • If not, will the research you performed help others in the medical community?
  • What does the bigger picture look like for your research?
  • What did you personally learn from it?
  • How does Yale School of Medicine fit into the picture?

– Do you want your research to be continued during your time at Yale?
– Will you carry your research on to help your patients once you have your MD?
– Are you going to involve your professors and classmates in your research when possible?

Overwhelmed? That’s okay. We understand. Here’s a sample essay to help put all the pieces together:

I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska. I thought my life was perfect. That all changed the summer before I left for college. Four of my friends died on the same night from overdosing on heroin. While I had been aware of heroin as a drug, I’d never imagined that it would be a problem in my town. But it was. As I began to look into the problem, I discovered that a ton of my friends from high school were doing drugs on a regular basis. Indeed, even those close to me started offering me heroin, despite our friends’ deaths. This shook me to the core. I’d always been a major science nerd, so I decided to put my interest to good use. I changed my major from Communications to Neuroscience and spent much of my free time in the lab, examining drugs and how the body is capable of overdosing and dying. While understanding the chemical process the body goes through before it shuts down was an eye-opener for me, I realized it wasn’t enough to create change. 

If I was going to convince high schoolers and college peers that snorting heroin could ultimately kill you, I was going to need evidence. So, I went straight to the experts. First, I spoke with addiction specialists. We worked together to create a questionnaire. By having people anonymously answer questions about their exposure to drugs, we were able to understand how to respond. We saw trends, like how finances, family, housing situations, stress levels, etc., affected those who were actively doing drugs. A group of our questionnaire responders agreed to go through treatment. During their treatment phase, I created another questionnaire for the doctors to use to record their progress. I compared the data of both questionnaires to each other. Our research showed that individuals who didn’t have a good support system were far more likely to overdose. 

Research results indicated that, while clinical treatment is important, outside factors also played a huge role. For example, living with an alcoholic for a father would greatly increase the need for a high, for a high school senior, even if they have a good counselor at school. With these results in hand, we did our best to implement a new treatment plan–one with support groups, opportunities for employment, extracurricular activities, family therapy, and more.

Thus far, the research that I have conducted and the results I am continuing to see will be published in an upcoming edition of a reputable science magazine. Additionally, I am continuing in-depth research on different ways to help patients recover. At Yale School of Medicine, I will be actively engaged in the Addiction Recovery Program. I will share my findings and engage with colleagues to further my research. Yale’s focus on training great doctors is why I want to be accepted into this program. I want to become one of Yale’s great doctors.

2. Yale School of Medicine has two emphases: the doctor-patient relationship and “training future physicians” to care for diverse communities. Tell us how your experiences would make Yale School of Medicine a better institution.

If you choose to answer this question, focus on community health and public health, and how you as a doctor will contribute to and help improve the healthcare system.

We recommend tackling the prompt in this order…

  • Personal anecdote
  • Experience specific to this essay prompt
  • Potential fixes
  • How you’ll help improve the future

Once again, here’s a sample essay to help put the structure into words.

I grew up with a doctor for a father and a lawyer for a mother. In short, I was privileged. While it wasn’t a crime to grow up in a privileged neighborhood, attending privileged schools and having privileged friends, it did completely shield me from the realities that many children and teenagers my age face daily. I grew up about 30 minutes away from Dallas, Texas. I needed volunteer hours during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, so I volunteered at a dance academy. I expected to see people like my friends there. But instead, I saw poor students who danced in leggings and worn-out t-shirts because they didn’t have the money for leotards. I saw teachers who voluntarily taught these students because, if they couldn’t afford a leotard, they most definitely couldn’t afford to pay for dance lessons. These teachers devoted their time to these students to keep them off the streets and out of gangs. I realized just how privileged I was, and it embarrassed me. Wearing a coat felt like a privilege on a cold day when I saw a student come in, shivering without a coat. 

Being on the border of Mexico, Texas houses many immigrants. A lot of these students were immigrants, and their parents didn’t have access to health care. So when a dancer got injured, they couldn’t afford to go to the doctor and get x-rays to make sure that nothing was broken. Thankfully, the owner of the dance studio contracted with a local doctor to give free x-rays to injured dancers and to provide low-cost treatment if anything was broken. Seeing this commitment to keeping these kids off the street inspired me at a level I’d never imagined. 

Unfortunately, a lot of these kids were too scared to admit when they got injured and simply stopped coming. To help combat this issue, I created a sign-up list for all the dancers in the studio. When they stopped coming, I sent out text messages reminding them of all the benefits they received for dancing at the studio. Free snacks and water were provided at every practice, along with ballet and tap shoes. I also included details about x-ray services. The doctor providing these services reported that several students showed up at his office. I then took some of my allowance money (again, I was privileged) to design, create and print out pamphlets to place on display in the studio. They were glossy and pretty, so students took them. We saw an increase in the number of students who returned after recovering from an injury. Ultimately, we were all thrilled to keep as many students as possible off the streets. 

Although this experience happened before I knew I wanted to be a doctor, it helped influence the kind of doctor I want to become. I will be able to pay out of pocket for my medical school expenses, which will enable me to immediately offer discounted services. I want to be a pediatrician so that I can focus my attention on the under-privileged kids in Dallas and do my part to keep them off the streets. 

Question #3 In this optional section, share anything with the admissions committee that hasn’t already been discussed, that you want them to know. This can be part of your personal, scholastic, or professional life. (500 words)

Yes, we see the word “optional” in there. And while you might be tempted to treat this question as an option you want to skip, we highly recommend writing an essay response. Why? Because all the top applicants who are invited to interview will have answered this question as their final opportunity to prove themselves to Yale School of Medicine. That needs to include you, too.

But, before you begin writing, take time to recall everything you’ve already shared. You don’t want to share the same information written in a new way. You want to share brand new information about yourself that the admissions committee won’t know about. We recommend combing through your AMCAS application to look for something to help flesh out your application and provide a full picture of everything you have to offer Yale.

If you have experience leading groups, working with others, volunteering, or being exposed to different cultures, this could be a great place to expound on that. We recommend writing a statement at the beginning of this essay to inform the admissions committee of what you’re writing about and why they should care/why it’s relevant to your overall application. This is also a great place to tell Yale why you want to be admitted into Yale School of Medicine.

Part 5: Interviewing at Yale School of Medicine

Congratulations if you’ve scored an interview with Yale! This is a major accomplishment and something you should be very proud of. Here’s a look at what your interview day will look like. Please note that, due to COVID-19, all interviews are being held virtually at this time.

  1. Orientation with Director of Admissions
  2. One interview lasting 20-30 minutes with the Director or Assistant Director of Admissions
  3. Two 45-minute interviews with the Admissions Commitee
  4. Q&A session
  5. Info sessions for Financial Aid
  6. Faculty meet and greet

It will be a full day. The Zoom meeting will start at 9:45 a.m. EST and will conclude by 5:30 p.m. EST. 

For more details on Yale’s interview process, go here


We wish you the very best of luck in your medical school application journey. Here at International Medical Aid, we’re committed to helping you on your journey with the resources on our website, as well as through our internship opportunities. Our opportunities span South America, East Africa and the Caribbean. Please visit our website for more information, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you might have. 

The medical school application process is long and exhausting. Writing essays that are unique to each application gets old quickly. That’s why it’s important to start early so you can take your time and stay sharp for each application. You never know which school will pick you for an application, so you want your in-state university to be as top-notch as your application to Yale School of Medicine. 

So, start early, take your time, and shoot for the stars.