A closeup of the Penn State College of Medicine logo is seen on the jacket of a white coat, draped over the arm of a medical student who is also holding a White Coat Ceremony program. The student was part of the July 2016 White Coat Ceremony, in which incoming medical students at the College receive their short white coats signifying their status as future doctors.

MD Program

MD Admission Requirements

The College of Medicine seeks high-performing students with a background in the sciences as well as a liberal education in humanities and the arts.

See the application materials we require, and learn what to expect during the interview process.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about the MD Program admission requirements, please contact us at 717-531-8755 or StudentAdmissions@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.

Prerequisites for Admission

Students admitted to the College of Medicine commit themselves to a lifelong process of self-education. They should be prepared for a challenging medical curriculum and the demands of a rapidly changing healthcare environment.

The development of scholarly motivation, independence, and creativity is vital to professional medical competence. Gaining an understanding of people, their societies, and their history is considered an invaluable asset for the practice of medicine.

Consequently, a liberal education in humanities and the arts, as well as in the sciences, at a superior level of performance, provides the best pre-professional preparation. The applicant should have demonstrated competence and concentrated study in a discipline or field of special interest. Laboratory exercises are important in all sciences, library skills are essential, and students are expected to have basic computer skills.

Applicants for admission to the College of Medicine are required to have completed three years of undergraduate study at an accredited college or university in the United States or Canada, and must have completed a baccalaureate degree by the time of matriculation at an accredited college or university in the United States or Canada. Applicants are strongly encouraged to complete required science courses before applying. Applicants are required to have fulfilled all academic prerequisites by the end of the calendar year prior to matriculation.


One year (two courses) of college biology plus laboratory is required. The importance of genetics and genomics is rapidly increasing in biomedical science and familiarity with evolution, ecology, and natural history is very helpful.


Two years (four courses) of college chemistry (organic and inorganic) with laboratory is required. The principles of physical chemistry are particularly helpful.


One half-year (one course) of humanities is required. Courses recommended are in disciplines such as philosophy, history, literature, language, anthropology, ethics, and theology. Studies in these areas deepen the student's understanding of the basis for human values and offer the opportunity to develop an appreciation of other cultures and ethnic groups. This background is vital to the healthcare provider.


One year (two courses) of college physics with laboratory is required. Physics provides an important basis for understanding quantitative medical science. Students should have exposure to nuclear sciences, electromagnetic radiation, and radiobiology.


One year (two courses) of college mathematics is required. Biomedical science emphasizes the quantitative approach. Students should have a background in calculus, basic statistical methods, and probability.

Behavioral Science

One half-year (one course) of college study in the behavioral sciences is required. Understanding the range of variation of human behavior as a biologic phenomenon is essential in the practice of medicine. Courses recommended are in disciplines such as psychology, sociology, cultural anthropology, and human ecology.


Although there is no formal course requirement for English, students are expected to have a strong background in writing, oral communication, and critical reading skills.

A Note About Advanced Placement

Applicants may have fulfilled many of the prerequisite requirements listed above by way of Advanced Placement courses. Penn State College of Medicine recognizes advanced placement credits only if they appear as earned credit on an applicant’s college transcript. However, it is also expected that many of the most competitive applicants will have fulfilled advanced course work in those same areas during their baccalaureate years.

Selection Factors

Applicants must present a record of strong undergraduate performance and outstanding personal qualities. The admissions committee seeks to identify individuals from diverse backgrounds who have a strong potential for leadership and service in wide areas of patient care, research, medical education, administration, and service.

All completed applications are reviewed by the admissions committee, and a decision is reached after a thorough evaluation of many factors, including academic record, the Medical College Admissions Test, extracurricular activities, commitment to service, life experiences, letters of recommendation, and the personal interview.

Residency Classification

A student shall be classified as a Pennsylvania resident for tuition purposes if that student has a Pennsylvania domicile and that student's presence in Pennsylvania is not primarily for educational purposes. Domicile is a person's existing and intended fixed, permanent, and principal place of residence. A student whose presence in the Commonwealth is primarily for educational purposes shall be presumed to be a non-Pennsylvania resident for tuition purposes. See in-state and out-of-state tuition details.

International Applicants

International applicants must complete all academic requirements for admissions listed above in an accredited United States or Canadian college or university. If accepted to the College of Medicine, international applicants must verify the ability to finance their medical education. Foreign nationals are not eligible for financial support from the federal government or Penn State.

Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

Completion of the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is required for application to the College of Medicine. Applicants are encouraged to take the examination during the spring of the application year. Exam dates offered during the summer can be used but will delay consideration of the application. The College of Medicine will not accept MCAT test scores earlier than three calendar years previous to the year of matriculation nor those taken during the year of matriculation (January dates). Information about the examination can be obtained from college pre-health advisors or the MCAT Program:

Association of American Medical Colleges
2450 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20037-1127

Phone: 202-828-0690
Email: mcat@aamc.org
Website: aamc.org/students/mcat