In 2021, Harvard University was the most competitive undergraduate school to enter, with an acceptance rate of just 3.4%. It was closely followed by another Ivy League school, Columbia University, which had an acceptance rate of 3.7%. It’s no secret that it is extremely difficult to get into the Ivy League and top universities, but it may come as a surprise that BS / MD, also known as Direct Medical Programs, is even more hard to get a coveted seat.
In the last cycle, programs like the Rice / Baylor Medical Scholars program had over 1,600 applicants for just six places, bringing the acceptance rate to less than 1%. Likewise, Case Western Reserve University’s Pre-professional Scholarship Program (PPSP) achieved an acceptance rate of 1%.
Despite these low acceptance rates, high school students are still drawn to BS / MD programs because of the perks – often they will secure a place in the partner medical school as long as they meet all of the program requirements.
Due to low acceptance rates and high academic standards, these ultra-competitive programs are accessible to anyone, regardless of class rank or resume. For BS / MD applicants, it is more important than ever to stand out from the average candidate by pursuing interesting clinical placements, meaningful research experiences, and community service. It is not enough to have perfect grades and SAT scores; The student’s essays and interviews will be equally important in the BS / MD admissions process.
As a BS / MD Admission Advisor, my team and I work closely with BS / MD students applying to programs across the country. Here are some of the BS / MD admission prospects for the 2020-21 cycle.
Increase in demand
Overall, students have applied to more colleges this year – the Common App saw an 11% increase in applications over the previous admission cycle. Schools like Duke University, New York University and Georgia Tech have seen their applications increase by about 25%.
The BS / MD programs were no different. Brown University’s Liberal Medical Education (PLME) program saw a 45% increase in applications; Case Western’s RPSP has increased by more than 20%.
Due to the increased competitiveness of the programs, Moon Prep advisor Nicole Cooksey recommends that students apply to at least ten direct medicine programs in addition to traditional undergraduate colleges. “There are no ‘matching’ or ‘safety’ BS / MD programs, so we encourage students to apply for more programs to give themselves the best possible chance.”
A BS / MD student’s resume requires more specific activities than the average undergraduate applicant. For example, at Union College, directors of the Leadership in Medicine program are specifically looking for students who are always looking for ways to take their extracurricular activities to the next level. They also prioritize direct exposure to the healthcare profession, whether it’s working as a paramedic, volunteering in a hospital, or observing a doctor.
However, the pandemic has altered the look of resumes due to the lack of in-person opportunities available to students. According to an interview with the director of the BS / MD program at the College of New Jersey, Dr. Sudhir Nayak, “Shadowing a doctor is not possible at the moment. Most hospitals have just closed their volunteer systems entirely. We expect student applications to be a little different this year than usual.
Instead, students can search for virtual opportunities to create their resumes. Instead of observing a doctor in person, they can virtually observe sites like WebShadowers or Virtual Shadowing. Although working physically in a lab is impossible for many students, they might consider pursuing an independent research project.
This year, all BS / MD program interviews were virtual. Although the interviews were conducted online, the students still encountered both types of interview formats: a more traditional interview and a mini multiple interview (MMI).
Some schools did not offer an interview and accepted students based solely on their transcripts, test scores and essays. These schools included the University of Toledo, California Northstate University, St. Louis University, the New York Institute of Technology, and Old Westbury.
Program cancellations and additions
Two programs have decided to close their doors this year: the Honors Program in Medical Education at Northwestern University and Washington University in St. Louis. However, other programs have been added to the list over the past year, including:
The future of standardized testing
For the 2021-2022 application cycle, more than 1,400 schools have already announced that they will be optional, including around 70 schools that have announced that they are either test-free or test-free. BS / MD programs have been slower to change their policies. Programs at Stony Brook University, Florida Atlantic University, and Drexel University still require students to submit a standardized test result to be considered.
However, the following schools have opted for the optional test for their BS / MD program:
Some of these schools have rules regarding their voluntary testing policy. For example, Union College requires students to submit their SAT or ACT score if they were able to pass the exam. Typically, students accepted at the University of Pittsburgh do not have to take the MCAT; However, students who take the optional test will be required to take this exam before enrolling in medical school.
Due to the competitive nature of BS / MD programs, Cooksey recommends that students submit scores where possible, even though the program is optional. “You can bet other competitive candidates will submit near perfect scores. The programs will compare you to these applicants, so you don’t want to be at a disadvantage.
BS / MD admission prospects: cycle 2020-21
With the growing number of applications and declining acceptance rates, prospective BS / MD students may feel discouraged and overwhelmed. However, the advantages of a BS / MD channel are numerous. By focusing on building a solid resume filled with diverse (virtual) activities, students can always find a way to secure one of the few spots in a direct medical program.