The University of North Carolina’s Medical School at Chapel Hill neighbors 4 other acclaimed healthcare institutions and boasts a fertile culture of collaboration. Its primary care education ranks 3rd in the nation, and the early opportunities for research and concentrations appeal to career-focused candidates.
So, what does it take to get into UNC Chapel Hill Medical School? This ultimate guide contains everything you need to know to navigate the admissions process and put together a strong, effective application. Consider bookmarking this page for easy reference as you move forward with applying to UNC School of Medicine.
Be an Informed Applicant
Applying to medical school is extremely competitive. To strengthen your application and fluently communicate why you are a good fit for a school, you should familiarize yourself with the institution’s unique opportunities and values.
Being an informed applicant means taking the time to acquire a thorough understanding of what the school is looking for in an ideal candidate. After some preparatory research, you’ll find yourself ready to fully engage with UNC’s secondary application and effectively navigate the admissions process.
This article covers everything we recommend reading up on before you apply, including:
- UNC School of Medicine’s National Rankings and Institutional Identity
- Medical Programs at UNC School of Medicine
- Selection Factors: What UNC Medical School Looks for in a Candidate
- Academic Requirements (GPA, MCAT Scores, Required Coursework)
- UNC Chapel Hill Medical School Acceptance Rate, Class Profile, and More
- Tuition and Cost of Attendance
- AMCAS Primary Application and UNC Secondary Application
- UNC School of Medicine Secondary Application: Essay Prompts, Sample Answers, and Advice
- Medical School Admissions Consulting
- Healthcare Internships and Physician Shadowing Abroad
The process of getting into medical school is extremely challenging. Even with outstanding credentials, navigating the application landscape requires optimal writing, interpersonal, and organizational skills. Our medical school admissions consulting provides you with all the necessary resources, including mock interviews, application reviews, and personalized guidance throughout the entire process.
Why UNC School of Medicine?
UNC School of Medicine offers early options for exploring concentrations, a patient-oriented curriculum, robust research opportunities, and highly-acclaimed dual degree programs.
The University of North Carolina’s primary care education is considered among the best in the nation. Its healthcare network has a track record of reducing health disparities and reaching underserved populations, and students can choose from clerkships with a variety of curricular structures.
Research-oriented students apply to the school because of its 2 Nobel Prize laureates and acclaimed mentors. Additionally, funded research can be undertaken as early as the summer following the first year of medical school.
UNC Chapel Hill Medical School Rankings 2022
The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill ranks #25 in Best Education Schools and #2 in Public Health. It’s also in the top 10 for Best Value Schools and Top Public Schools.
The School of Medicine places as follows:
- #3 in Best Medical Schools: Primary Care
- #24 in Best Medical Schools: Research
- #3 in Family Medicine
- #70 in Most Graduates Practicing in Medically Underserved Areas
- #67 in Most Graduates Practicing in Primary Care Fields
- #62 in Most Graduates Practicing in Rural Areas
MD Programs at UNC School of Medicine
Here’s a list of MD programs currently offered at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine:
- Doctor of Medicine (traditional MD program)
- MD/PhD in Research
- MD/MPH in Public Health
- MD/MBA in Business Administration
4-Year MD Program
The current UNC Chapel Hill Medical School curriculum was established in 2014 as Translational Education at Carolina (TEC). TEC is designed to incorporate longitudinal science and patient-focused learning, as well as provide students with early opportunities to explore specialization.
TEC is composed of 3 phases: Foundation, Application, and Individualization.
The Foundation Phase focuses on basic sciences, organ systems, and clinical skills. This phase begins in the 1st year and ends halfway through the 2nd year.
The Foundation Phase Semester 1:
- Patient-Centered Care 1
- Social and Health Systems 1
- Medical Science Course 1 (Principles of Medicine, Immunological System, Hematologic System, Cardiovascular System)
The Foundation Phase Semester 2:
- Patient-Centered Care 2
- Social and Health Systems 2
- Medical Science Course 2 (Respiratory System, Renal System, Gastrointestinal System, Musculoskeletal/Dermatologic System)
The summer after year 1 can be used to begin electives or research.
The Foundation Phase Semester 3:
- Patient-Centered Care 3
- Social and Health Systems 3
- Medical Science Course 3 (Behavioral Science, Neurologic System, Endocrine System, Reproductive Systems, Multi-Organ Synthesis)
The Foundation Phase ends with USMLE Step 1 preparation and a transition course to ready students for the Application Phase.
The Application Phase begins in year 2. Students undergo clinical clerkships in psychiatry, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, and family medicine.
Clerkships can be completed at the Charlotte, Asheville, Wilmington, or Chapel Hill campus, each of which has a unique curricular structure.
The Application Phase consists of 4 courses:
- Care of Specific Populations – Blocks in ObGyn, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry
- Hospital, Interventional, and Surgical Care – Blocks in Adult Inpatient Medicine and Surgery
- Community Based Longitudinal Care – A 16-week longitudinal learning course with a weekly schedule of 3 primary care clinical days, 1 self-directed learning day, a half-day of quality improvement, and a half-day for other learning.
- Social and Health Systems 4
The final 14-months of the MD program is used to develop individualized clinical skills to meet each student’s specific career goals.
During this time, students take 4 months of elective coursework, as well as the following required coursework and experiences:
- 2 Acting Internships
- Critical Care
- Science of Medicine
- Social and Health Systems 5
- 1 Advanced Clinical Selective
- Transition to Residency (4 weeks of career development programs)
Scholarly Concentration Programs
UNC Medical School’s Scholarly Concentration Programs provide concentrated studies, one-on-one mentorships, and personalized program development opportuninites.
Completing a Scholarly Concentration Program distinguishes a student’s skill and interest in a particular medical field and increases the favorability of their residency applications.
Here are the concentrations offered:
- Medical Education
- Clinician Leadership in Quality and Safety
- Global Health
- Care of the Older Patient
- Humanities and Social Sciences
- Medical Education Supporting Sexuality And Gender Expressions
MD Research Program
The Carolina Medical Student Research Program (CMSRP) grants stipends to approximately 40 medical students per year. Students connect with a mentor and submit an 8-week research proposal. Research projects are usually conducted in the summer following the first semester of the MD program.
Full-time work on research over the summer is expected. Students who have completed their first semester and are in good academic standing are encouraged to apply.
MD/PhD and Dual Degrees
The Univerisity of North Carolina offers an MD/PhD program, as well as a few dual degrees. Here are the details:
The UNC School of Medicine’s MD/PhD program offers training under faculty with a wide array of expertise, and benefits from the proximity of UNC’s schools of Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Medicine.
The program takes 8 years to complete and follows the 2-4-2 curriculum schedule (2 years MD, 4 years PhD, 2 years MD).
MD/MPH (Public Health)
UNC boasts its Health Care and Prevention MD-MPH program as one of the finest of its kind. The Gillings School of Health, which offers the program in collaboration with the School of Medicine, is rated #2 in the country. Students appreciate the abundance of elective coursework, which allows the broad field of public health to be tailored to their specific interests, as well as the opportunity to study under nationally recognized faculty.
The MPH program takes 12 months to complete and is typically undertaken after the 3rd year of medical school.
MD/MBA (Business Administration)
The dual degree in Medicine and Business Administration is designed for students interested in careers in health care management and administration. Applications for the program may be submitted upon applying to medical school, or before the end of the 2nd MD year.
A year of MBA coursework is taken after 3 years of medical school, followed by a year of electives in the MD and MBA program.
Selection Factors: What UNC Medical School Looks for in a Candidate
Beyond the admissions requirements detailed in the following section, candidates will need to demonstrate their fit for the school, its mission, and the profession of medicine.
The Office of Admissions at UNC Medical School looks for a few key qualities in the students they admit. Here are the main takeaways from their page on the subject, “Our Ideal Candidate.”
- Driven Learners – A student’s academic credentials should go beyond excellent grades and difficult coursework. Self-driven intellectual investigations and seeking out enriching educational experiences are the qualities of a lifelong learner.
- A Passion for Service – Volunteer experience should demonstrate an exceptional passion for service, and show a sustained practice of affecting change in a specific way.
- Deep Healthcare Experience – The school looks for candidates who have immersive, patient-oriented experiences that produce an understanding of healthcare systems and the challenges of doctoring. Physician shadowing abroadand other intensive healthcare experiences can be helpful in demonstrating this.
- Authenticity and Interpersonal Skills – Being a kind and compassionate person is critical for those who enter the field of medicine. A spirit for collaboration with diverse groups of people is essential, as is are writing and speaking skills.
Here is the full list of factors that the Office of Admissions considers when evaluating a candidate:
- A rigorous and successful academic record
- Competitive MCAT scores
- Commitment to service
- Research experience
- Healthcare experience
- Extracurricular activities
- Life and work experiences
- Letters of recommendation
- Communication skills
UNC Medical School Requirements
Students must complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution before matriculation, and final transcripts must be submitted by July 1st of the matriculation year.
Candidates who are applying 5 years or more after receiving their undergraduate degree must demonstrate competency in the sciences by completing a graduate science program or completing 30 hours of baccalaureate coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and/or other scientific disciplines.
UNC Medical School Minimum GPA and MCAT Score
In-state applicants must have a minimum science GPA of 3.2, a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2, and an MCAT score no lower than 500 to be considered a competitive candidate.
Out-of-state applicants must have an undergraduate science GPA of 3.49, an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.59, and a minimum MCAT score of 514 to be considered a competitive candidate.
UNC Chapel Hill Medical School Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation must be submitted through the AMCAS Letter Service by August 31st. It’s a good idea to begin requesting your letters of recommendation early, as many professors need time to write and submit their letters.
UNC Medical School requires 3 letters of recommendation, but you may submit up to 5. Your 2 additional letters can be submitted as late as October 1st. At least 3 of your letters should be from professors who have formally taught you and know you well.
The Office of Admissions suggests:
- At least 1 letter from a professor in your major or degree-granting department.
- Letters from your Pre-Health Committee are preferred (if your undergraduate institution has one).
If you graduated over 2 years ago, your 3 letters should be from mentors who presently know you well and have worked with you in an academic setting. If you are currently completing a graduating degree, at least 1 letter should be from a professor in your current program. If you have already completed a graduate degree, 1 letter should be from post-grad education or work experience.
Here is an overview of the coursework you must complete before attending UNC School of Medicine. Admissions requires you to have completed 30 hours of science coursework before submitting your application. CLEP and WES credits are not accepted for the School of Medicine’s required courses. Additionally, letter grade format (not pass/fail) is required on your transcript.
Finally, in-class coursework is required to meet the prerequisites. Exceptions are made in your institution was unable to offer in-class courses during the COVID-19 pandemic, certain courses required hybrid in-class and online coursework, or if your institution was unable to accommodate a seated place in class.
Here is the published prerequisite coursework, according to the Office of Admissions page on Academic Requirements:
Mathematics – One Statistics course is required. Statistics or Biostatistics are acceptable courses to fulfill the requirement.
Chemistry – Three chemistry courses are required including a biochemistry course. Two of the chemistry courses must include the associated laboratories. Organic chemistry would be one of the acceptable courses to fulfill the requirement.
Biological Sciences – Three biology courses are required. Two must be advanced biology courses, and one of the advanced courses, must include a laboratory. Acceptable advanced biology courses include: Microbiology, Cell and Molecular Biology, Physiology, and Genetics.
Three courses are required. Humanities coursework in the following categories are acceptable: English, History, Philosophy, Ethics, Ethnic and Gender Studies, Social Justice, or foreign language study.
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Three courses are required. Social and Behavioral Science coursework in the following categories are acceptable: Behavioral Psychology, Psychology, Sociology, Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities, Political Science, and Anthropology.
UNC Medical School Acceptance Rate and Other Admissions Statistics
Out of around 7,000 applicants, the School of Medine typically interviews 600 candidates. Each year, approximately 190 students matriculate.
The most recent entering class cumulative GPA for science coursework is 3.79 and 3.66 for non-science coursework. The average MCAT score is 512.
For in-state applicants, the interview rate is 49%. For out-of-state applicants, the rate is 2.67%.
The UNC School of Medicine’s acceptance rate is 4.1%.
UNC Chapel Hill Medical School Tuition and Cost of Education
Here are the costs to attend UNC Medical School (1 year):
- In-state tuition/fees: $35,154.
- Out-of-state tuition/fees: $63,114
In addition to tuition and fees, medical students can expect the following expenses (estimated):
Health Insurance: $2,616
Federal Loan Fees: $1,112
Miscellaneous Total: $6,162
Personal Expenses: $4,242
Ipad Fee: $500
Total Cost of Attendance for NC Residents: $72,066
Total Cost of Attendance for Non-Residents: $100,026
AMCAS Primary Application and UNC School of Medicine Secondary Application
When applying to medical school, you will first submit your primary application with the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). Your AMCAS application is sent to all the medical schools you apply to.
Upon receiving your AMCAS application, UNC will send you an invitation to complete its secondary application.
If you have further questions about this aspect of the application process, check out our article on understanding the differences between primary and secondary medical school applications.
UNC School of Medicine Secondary Application: Essay Prompts, Sample Answers, and Advice
The essay prompts on your secondary application are important opportunities to give captivating, well-rounded accounts of your experiences and to demonstrate your informed interest in UNC School of Medicine.
To distinguish yourself beyond metrics such as GPA and MCAT scores, you’ll need to provide thoughtful and persuasive responses to the essay prompts. Ideally, you should communicate your unique qualities, motivations, and aspirations in a way that is both authentic to you and compelling to the admissions committee.
In this section, we provide guidance for how to approach UNC Medical School’s essay prompts and tips for structuring your responses. We’ve also included some sample answers to give you a better idea of what an effective essay looks like.
Tell us about a peer who is deserving of recognition but whose accomplishments may not be acknowledged adequately. Why do you think their accomplishments have gone relatively unacknowledged? (400 words)
Your attention to and appreciation of others demonstrates how interested you are in other people’s lives and your capacity to recognize their talent and dedication. Additionally, being aware of accomplishments that go unnoticed can show an exceptional level of insight and perspective.
In your essay, you should highlight a peer’s exceptional accomplishment(s) and explain why you feel they have gone relatively unacknowledged. Ideally, your response will involve an academic, professional, or medical setting.
Finally, reflect on any insights you may have learned during this situation or while recalling it.
Some examples of why accomplishments go unnoticed include:
- Lack of confidence – People who lack confidence may not share their achievements with others.
- Anxiety – People with anxiety may worry about criticism or fear the spotlight.
- Bias – Discrimination can cause people’s accomplishments to be overlooked or downplayed.
- Lack of interpersonal skills – People who are shy, introverted, awkward, or simply less immediately captivating than their peers may not receive the attention required to have their achievements recognized.
- Beauracracy – The red tape of institutions can prevent people from being formally recognized for their accomplishments.
Please share your thoughts and experiences with navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. This could include the barrier you have faced in applying to medical school, creative ways you have overcome those barriers, feelings of grief and loss, thoughts on the role of health care, professional challenges associated with racial health inequities, or other reflection on living through a global pandemic crisis. (400 words)
Everyone’s experience during COVID-19 is unique and personal, so you should feel free to write about aspects of the pandemic you feel most drawn to discuss. However, some general things to consider include:
- If COVID-19 affected your coursework, academic performance, or ability to gain healthcare experience, make sure to cover include these setbacks, as well as what you did to mitigate them.
- If the focus of your response is personal, try to include a broader perspective on COVID-19 in your introduction or conclusion. The same goes for the opposite scenario — if you are drawn to discuss your thoughts on the pandemic in a more global or regional light, discuss how it has personally affected you somewhere in your essay.
Here’s a sample answer:
“During the pandemic, my whole family’s lives were turned upside down. My grandfather, who has always been a pillar of strength for us, was hospitalized with COVID-19 for weeks. My father’s place of work eventually closed, and my mother was working overtime as a nurse. Amidst all this chaos, I was trying to keep my grades up and figure out a way to get into medical school, despite the fact that my plans were crumbling before my eyes.
As reflected in my AMCAS application, I ultimately maintained my academic standing and complete a rigorous course load. Unfortunately, I was unable to continue my volunteer work and pursue a healthcare internship over the summer of 2020.
However, the most challenging aspect of preparing for medical school during the pandemic was witnessing my mother endure her work at the hospital. It would be dishonest of me not to mention that this caused me serious turmoil, as I became unsure if I had what it took to be a doctor in such times. My mother is the strongest person I know, and she barely made it through.
In the end, I am glad I was confronted so viscerally with this internal conflict. It forced me to face my deepest fears and insecurities head-on. After months of conversation with my friends and family, as well as reflection on my experiences during the pandemic, I realized that I want to become a doctor more than ever. I want to treat people like my grandfather and work alongside colleagues like my mother. I want to be on the frontline of medicine and inspire others with the hope, confidence, and compassion that others have given me through this crisis.
Additionally, I became deeply interested in the inner workings of global healthcare systems, and I spent a lot of my free time studying how different countries were preparing for and reacting to COVID-19. During my research, I applied for, and was accepted to, one of International Medical Aid’s healthcare internship abroad, and will be spending my gap year shadowing physicians abroad in Kenya.
Finally, the pandemic has shown why public awareness of infectious diseases is more important than ever. This has driven me to reach out to local elementary schools and offer guided discussions about the basics of epidemiology and how to stay healthy.”
How will your values and attitude foster a positive educational environment and benefit your future patients? Tell us about the sources of those values and attitude (eg family, places you’ve lived in, things you have read, life experiences, etc) (400 words)
Principled values and positive attitudes are important for doctor-patient relationships. Additionally, collaborative learning is a strong feature in UNC School of Medicine’s curriculum, which includes group discussions and reflections on clinical experiences. Finally, communicating an understanding of the source of your values and attitude demonstrates self-awareness and helps the office of admissions get to know you as a person.
As with any essay, it’s important to support your responses to this prompt with concrete experiences. Here are some ideas for what to include in your essay:
- Examples of enriching interactions with patients and doctors during your healthcare internships or health-related volunteer work
- Experiences you’ve had collaborating with others on a project, and how you engaged with the group
- How you value feedback and your ability to give constructive criticism or ask questions that elevate a learning environment
- Events in your life that affected your commitment to a high standard of ethics, professionalism, and other important qualities.
- Essays or books that have shaped your worldview and how you think about important issues in medicine
- How you were raised and the impact this had on your values
Tell us about a time when you observed or personally experienced biased behavior. What did you do to address this situation or what would you do in the future? Through either situation we are interested in what you learned. (400 words)
The healthcare community takes issues such as racism, anti-LGBTQ discrimination, ableism, and sexism more seriously than ever, as these problems affect the ability to serve diverse populations with compassion and care. These issues also affect the composition of doctors, clinical scientists, and healthcare administrators.
Here are some things to keep in mind when responding to this prompt:
- Be honest. What you learned from the situation is often more important than how you handled it in the moment.
- Think about the principles that are important to you and how they were tested in this situation.
- Demonstrate a desire to continue to learn about systemic issues of bias in healthcare.
- If you describe an experience in which you experienced biased treatment, be sure to also talk about how you responded and whether or not you hope to respond differently in the future.
What motivates you to apply to UNC School of Medicine? (200 words)
Your response to this question should demonstrate a thorough knowledge of specific programs, values, and opportunities offered at UNC School of Medicine. This guide offers plenty of information about all of the above. If you have personal reasons (close to family, you enjoy the area, etc.) feel free to include these as well, but focus on the academic and professional opportunities that motivate you to apply.
If you are unsure of your precise career path, that’s okay. As we covered in the section on UNC’s MD program above, the school provides early opportunities for students to explore concentrations. With that said, you should still mention your top career interests and why UNC is uniquely suited to help you pursue them.
Medical School Admissions Consulting
We do our best to maintain this website as an ultimate resource for future physicians working to get into their perfect medical school. However, it’s still the case that applying to medical school can be overwhelming. It requires optimal levels of organization, communication, and planning — even ideal candidates can fail to express their strengths on paper. That’s where our admissions consulting service comes in.
We’re here to leverage our expertise in medicine and education to help you navigate the admissions process and learn how to be a competitive applicant. Our services include a full review of your applications, mock interviews, personalized strategy sessions, and more.
You can find more information about our medical school consulting services here.
Physician Shadowing Abroad
Like other medical schools, the University of North Carolina School of Medicine looks for deep, hands-on healthcare experience. The Office of Admissions also emphasizes the importance of being able to demonstrate a commitment to service.
IMA’s healthcare internships give you an opportunity to shadow physicians abroad while experiencing the complexities and charm of other cultures. You will learn about the practices and challenges of medicine in different parts of the world, gain immersive healthcare experience, and receive personalized mentorship in medicine and career planning. Our interns leave with an expanded global perspective, a clearer understanding of their career aspirations, and invaluable pre-med experience.
Good Luck to You!
We hope this guide serves you well on your journey to becoming tomorrow’s physician. Don’t forget to check out the rest of our ultimate medical school guides:
- University of Florida Medical School
- Emory University School of Medicine
- Boston University School 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
We wish you the best of luck in your academic and professional career!