We’re covering everything you need to know as you consider applying to Harvard Medical School. You’ll learn about acceptance rates, application deadlines, average MCAT scores, tuition, curriculum, and more.
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Harvard Medical School (HMS) is the graduate medical school of Harvard University and is located in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1782, HMS has an esteemed history and its faculty have been at the forefront of major medical discoveries and innovations.
HMS trains its students to become top-notch medical professionals through its unique curriculum, which focuses on collaboration, research, diversity, and practical experience. It also encourages students to take advantage of the resource-rich Harvard University—students can choose from more than 200 elective courses and there are six dual-degree programs.
With a total enrollment of 712 students (51% female / 49% male) and 9298 full-time faculty members, Harvard Medical School boasts an impressive 13.1:1 faculty-student ratio. The faculty prides itself on its dedication to students, regularly inviting students to participate in research endeavors in addition to clinical experience. The HMS faculty members joke that the quickest way to get an email response from them is to be a student.
Community and collaboration are hallmarks of Harvard Medical School. The curriculum starts with a one-week course called “Introduction to the Profession” that culminates in a white coat ceremony where students recite a self-composed oath in front of family and friends. Upon matriculation, all students are placed into one of five Academic Societies, which collectively act as the advising system. This group-based system of advising is unique in that the Academic Societies are comprised of senior faculty, students from all class years, and a program coordinator. Students can count on their Academic Society not only for guidance but also for community—each society leads a series of enrichment programs every year.
The Curriculum at Harvard Medical School
The curriculum at Harvard Medical School consists of two tracks, and students choose the one that best aligns with their interests and career goals when applying. The first, called Pathways, is most akin to the “traditional” medical school track. Students in the Pathways track will study the foundational building blocks of medicine in Year 1. However, lectures are uncommon. Instead, students are taught through an interactive pedagogy that HMS calls “Case-Based Learning,” which employs a flipped-classroom model. The goal is for most of the content transfer to occur before class in small group study sessions held in the afternoon and evening. When students meet for class with faculty in the morning, they are tasked with integrating the content through application, critical thinking, and problem-solving in teams. Rather than studying one topic at a time through the first year, the “Case-Based Learning” model weaves in topics with recurrence and increasing depth throughout the first 14 months.
The Pathways curriculum continues into the Primary Clinical Experience (PCE) phase, which takes up the majority of Year 2 and the beginning of Year 3. During PCE, which occurs at a single hospital site, students engage in 4-12 week rotations. Clinical experience is supplemented by faculty mentoring and conferences. After PCE is complete, students then reengage in rigorous coursework, pursue scholarly research projects, and embark on their Advanced Clinical and Science Experience. During Year 3 and Year 4, there is flexibility for students to supplement their curriculum with electives available through programs across Harvard University, giving students the agency to tailor their learning to best prepare them for whichever aspect of the medical profession they have developed an interest in.
The second curricular track, Health Sciences & Technology (HST), admits 30 students a year (about 18% of the class) who are committed to pursuing a physician-scientist career upon matriculation. The HST program is in partnership with the Massachusetts Institue of Technology (MIT) and integrates science, medicine, and engineering. Its mission is to “cultivate leaders who will explore fundamental principles underlying disease and develop preventative, diagnostic, and therapeutic innovations,” according to HMS. The HST curriculum requires students to engage in classroom learning and research for their first two years, before their Principal Clinical Experience in Year 3 and their Anchoring Clinical Experience in Y4. Pretty much from the onset, HST students are engaged in independent research under the direction of a faculty member, and students are expected to present a thesis based on their research to graduate. Most students on this track take an extra year to finish the formal curriculum (Years 1 and 2) in order to make room for their research.
In addition to its two curriculum tracks for the MD, Harvard Medical School also has six dual-degree programs, some of which you can choose to pursue after matriculation.
Harvard-MIT MD-PhD Program: trains the next generation of physician-scientists. This program has a similar focus to that of the HST track of the main HMS curriculum, but it takes 8 years to complete, and students graduate with two degrees.
- Harvard-MIT MD-PhD Program: trains the next generation of physician-scientists. This program has a similar focus to that of the HST track of the main HMS curriculum, but it takes 8 years to complete, and students graduate with two degrees.
- MD-MAD: students have the opportunity to complete a Master of Academic Discipline (MAD) degree, currently offered in the Master of Bioethics and Master of Biomedical Informatics programs. The curriculum for either degree is usually completed between the third and fourth years.
- MD-MBA: a five-year program in partnership with Harvard Business School. The MD-MBA program is a good fit for students who are interested in leading a health service organization or working in the pharmaceutical or health product industries.
- MD-MMSc: students can complete a 56-credit Master of Medical Science course and a 32-credit research requirement between Year 3 and Year 4 to earn their Master of Medical Science degree in Clinical Investigation, Global Health Delivery, Immunology, or Medical Education
- MD-MPH: offered in partnership with the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Students can apply for admission to this program after enrolling in the MD program at HMS.
- MD-MPP: this combined degree in Public Policy is in partnership with Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and may be a good fit for students interested in setting public policy on a local or federal level.
How has Harvard Medical School Made an Impact?
Harvard Medical School faculty have been associated with many hallmark discoveries and advancements in the medical field, including:
- The first successful heart valve surgery
- The first successful human kidney transplant
- The first reattachment of a severed human limb
- The discovery of genes that cause Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and Huntington’s Disease
- The development of artificial skin for burn victims
- The development of the first successful chemotherapy for childhood leukemia
- Introducing insulin for the treatment of diabetes in the U.S.
- The first use of anesthesia for pain control
- Laser treatment for the removal of tattoos
More recently, Harvard Medical School has been associated with:
- 2000: identification of four brain abnormalities associated with childhood abuse and neglect
- 2001: discovery into a circadian clock brain pathway that sends signals to control the body’s daily rhythms
- 2011: identification of two novel genetic markers that predict the risk of kidney failure in patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
- 2017: discovery of more precise treatments for Rheumatoid arthritis
Notable Programs at Harvard Medical School
Enrollment, Acceptance, Tuition, and more
Harvard Medical School is one of the most selective medical schools. For the Class of 2023, there were 6185 applications. Of those applicants, 948 received interviews (15.3% interview rate), and ultimately 165 enrolled. In the Class of 2023, 135 students enrolled in the Pathways track, 30 in the HST track, and 14 in the MD-PhD program.
What is the admittance rate for Harvard Medical School?
Harvard Medical School has an admittance rate of 2.6%
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How expensive is tuition for Harvard Medical School?
Full-time tuition is $61,600. 70% of students receive Financial Aid with an average annual scholarship of $50,245. The average graduating debt in 2019 at Harvard Medical School was $111,823, far below the national averages of $175,607 for public medical schools and $184,892 for private medical schools.
When is the application deadline for Harvard Medical School?
Here is the application cycle for Harvard Medical School:
- Early June: AMCAS Application available for submission
- Early July: Harvard Medical School Secondary Application opens
- September: Interviews begin
- Application Deadline: October 22
- January: Interviews conclude
The application fee is $100.
Average MCAT Scores for Harvard Medical School
For the Class of 2023:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: 129.98
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS): 128.86
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: 129.86
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior: 130.25
- Total: 519.06
Top Harvard Medical School Residency Program Match Rates and Locations
For the past 12 years, the most popular matches have been to programs in the following specialties:
- Internal Medicine: 25%
- Radiation Oncology: 8%
- Radiology: 8%
- Pediatrics: 8%
- Dermatology: 7%
- Ob/Gyn: 6%
- Orthopedics: 5%
- Anesthesia: 5%
For the Class of 2019, 48% matched at a Harvard Medical School-affiliated program. Graduates most commonly continued on to residency programs at the following hospitals:
- Massachusetts General Hospital
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital
- NYU School of Medicine
- Johns Hopkins Hospital
- UC San Francisco
Graduates most commonly matched with programs in Massachusetts (48%), California (18%), and Metropolitan NY (10%).
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- Ira Black: neuroscientist/stem cell researcher who served as the first director of the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey
- Babak Azizzadeh: facial surgery specialist and surgeon
- Herbert Benson: cardiologist
- Laurie H. Glimcher: President and CEO, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
- Bill Frist: former U.S. Senator
- David Wu: former member of the U.S. House of Representatives
- J. Hartwell Harrison: surgeon associated with the first kidney transplant
- Patrick Tyrance: Orthopedic surgeon and former NFL football player