We’re covering everything you need to know as you consider applying to Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. You’ll learn about acceptance rates, application deadlines, average MCAT scores, tuition, curriculum, and more.
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All About Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) is the graduate medical school of Columbia University, located at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Founded in 1767, the College of Physicians and Surgeons was the first medical school in the United States to award the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. Consistently ranked as one of the top medical schools in the nation, VP&S is known for its research-intensive program, which provides students with access to many resources and extensive clinical study through the college’s partnership with New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
With 620 full-time students (about 50% women and 50% men) and 2,087 full-time staff, VP&S has a faculty to student ratio of 3.4:1. The curriculum demonstrates an emphasis on humanism and professionalism. VP&S strives to be the best by consistently focusing on its top four goals which are clinical care, research, education, and campus and community life. The college offers degrees in various medical and healthcare fields, as well as 7 dual-degree programs, providing students with ample opportunity to learn and succeed. Students are encouraged to develop their interests and acquire important career skills through electives, a scholarly project, extracurricular activities, and independent research.
Students at VP&S have access to many resources to guide them through their studies and help them get on the right track to their desired career field, including the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, which was designed by faculty to facilitate and support a diverse student body. The Office provides academic advising, guidance, and counseling throughout the curriculum, and supports multiple student organizations that encourage students to become involved in not only campus affairs, but also in service opportunities within the community.
The Curriculum at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
The VP&S med school curriculum is innovative and flexible, abandoning the traditional first, second, third, and fourth-year structure and instead divides the studies into three major segments: Fundamentals, Major Clinical Year, and Differentiation and Integration. The college places a heavy emphasis on teamwork, which is a key element of modern medicine, while also encouraging students to become active participants in their own education and individual goals.
Students begin their studies with the pre-clinical coursework phase, which is an 18-month focus on the fundamentals of medicine. This coursework heavily focuses on biology, anatomy, disease pathology, pharmacology, and psychiatric medicine. During this phase, students begin to develop their patient care and interaction skills, while providing and receiving feedback from their colleagues. The Fundamentals section is co-led by senior students and prepares students for their upcoming clinicals.
The Major Clinical Year takes up the following 12 months, which is spent earning hands-on experience through clerkships in major clinical areas. The clinical rotations are split into 13 major areas of medicine, and students are able to choose a final clinical rotation in an area of their choice. Clinicals are held at the college’s partnering hospital, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, which the college shares a campus with, as well as other affiliate hospitals such as Stamford Hospital (Stamford, CT), Bassett Healthcare (Cooperstown, NY), and Harlem Hospital. Clerkships are divided by two intermissions called Mechanisms and Practice. These sections are held in a classroom-based setting using a small-group teaching approach, which gives students the chance to reflect on and process some of their experiences before diving back into clinicals.
The final phase of the curriculum is a 14-month Differentiation and Integration phase, which is a time for students to differentiate by exploring their specialty areas of interest and to integrate by taking what they have learned and experienced and applying it to their own professional development. Students choose electives based on their desired career-path and have access to advisors who assist with career-planning along the way. Before the end of their med school careers, students must complete a Scholarly Project, which provides an exciting opportunity to really make an impact in their desired field by contributing to research and development of new knowledge and medicine.
In addition to the MD track, VP&S also operates the Columbia-Bassett Program, which is geared toward students considering future practice in a rural setting and is located in Cooperstown, NY. If interested, students must apply to the Columbia-Bassett Program directly.
Columbia VP&S also offers 7 dual-degree programs, as well as programs in genetic counseling, occupational therapy, human nutrition, biomedical sciences, and physical therapy:
- MD-PhD Dual Degree Program: This track involves a year and a half of basic science courses, one major graduate school course, and three to four years of regular graduate study and clinicals. It is often completed in seven years.
- 3-Year PhD-to-MD Program: This track is for students who are completing a PhD in biological sciences. It condenses the MD curriculum into three years.
- MD-OMFS Program: Two graduates per year from the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine are selected to complete training in the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS) Residency Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. This six-year program consists of six months of oral surgery residency, followed by medical school.
- MD-MS in Biomedical Sciences Program: This 30-credit research-intensive program is divided into three sections: pre-thesis development; thesis content courses; and thesis research, defense, and presentation. Most students complete this dual-degree program in five years.
- MD-MPH Program: Students select a public health concentration to focus on between the third and fourth years of medical school. Both degrees are completed in five years.
- MD-MBA Program: Students begin this program in the fall after their major clinical year or during the Differentiation and Integration phase of the MD program, typically adding a year and a half to their medical school studies.
- MD-MS in Biomedical Engineering Program: The program is open to a select group of Columbia medical students and gives students the opportunity to earn both the MD and MS degree in 5 years. Students must apply separately to the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
How has Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons Made an Impact?
Columbia VP&S accomplishments include:
- The first college to award the M.D. degree
- The first college to hold a white-coat ceremony
- Establishing the first teaching hospital in the U.S.
- First to outline the symptoms and progression of Huntington’s Disease
- Pioneered the Whipple procedure
- First to recognize and identify Cystic Fibrosis
- Developed treatment for bacterial meningitis
- Developed Bacitracin
- First to Identify Multiple Sclerosis as an auto-immune disease
- The first successful pediatric heart transplant