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BS/MD applications vs. traditional applications: What’s the difference

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Applying to direct medical programs, also called BS/MD programs, is an intense process requiring more work than the traditional application process. That is because the student is not only applying for admission into the traditional undergraduate program but also the medical school—all while they are still in high school.

Here are the most significant differences between BS/MD and traditional applications.


To be a competitive candidate for BS/MD programs, you need top grades, high scores on science-based AP tests, and near-perfect scores on the SAT/ACT and SAT subject tests. A student applying to a BS/MD program will need more science-focused extracurriculars than if he were applying to a traditional program. A BS/MD student also needs to have spent time volunteering at hospitals, doing medical research, and shadowing physicians. If you are applying to a traditional school that is not highly selective, your grades won’t need to be as high.

Limited Spots

BS/MD programs have more limited spots than traditional programs. For example, Case Western Reserve University’s (CWRU) Pre-Professional Scholars Program gets more than 2800 applicants for just 20-25 seats. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has about 650 applications for only 20 seats

Time Commitment 

However, the time commitment is the most significant way the BS/MD process varies from the traditional process. Students applying to less competitive programs will apply to 10 schools on average. However, when we work with BS/MD students, the average student applies to 17 schools. Some schools, like the direct medical program at Brown University, have seven essays. All in all, you might be doing 60 or more essays, which might take weeks or months.

Interview Process

The interview process is much more intense for BS/MD students than for traditional students. BS/MD interviews will either be a more traditional format or a Multiple Mini Interview, which requires extra prep to ace this type of interview. MMI questions will likely be scenario-based, with some behavioral questions. For example, you might be questioned about how you respond to an ethical dilemma or how you feel about a moral question facing doctors in the healthcare industry. However, if you are a traditional student applying to schools, you might have a phone, skype, or local interview with an alum, student, or an admissions officer. This interview will likely be about your experiences and won’t be as intensive.

Getting into a BS/MD program isn’t easy. It is much more intense than a traditional application and program. You can learn more about it here.

*Violet W is a College Counselor & Outreach Coordinator at MoonPrep. It is never a good idea to sign up for an official MCAT without being 100% prepared. If your practice tests aren’t in your target score range, you probably aren’t ready to take the exam. Some schools will see all of your MCAT scores, so it isn’t a good idea to take a test that won’t help you on your path to medical school.

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