Harvard Medical School Acceptance Rate & Requirements – 2024

December 5, 2023

Harvard medical school acceptance rate

Getting accepted into Harvard Medical School (HMS) is undoubtedly a formidable challenge, given its highly competitive environment and global prestige. However, armed with a strategic and well-informed approach, your aspirations can become a reality. The Harvard Medical School acceptance rate of 3.7% will become less important as you understand the keys to gaining admission. This guide, enriched with both expert advice and relevant admissions statistics, aims to empower prospective medical students with the tools necessary to present a compelling and competitive candidacy to HMS.


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What Programs Are Offered at Harvard Medical School?

Harvard Medical School offers distinctive educational tracks that cater to the diverse aspirations and interests of medical students. Two noteworthy programs within HMS are the Pathways program and the Health Sciences & Technology (HST) program. Each program represents a unique approach to medical education, providing students with specialized opportunities to tailor their academic and clinical experiences.

Pathways Program

Representing the more traditional route, the Harvard Pathways program entails case-based learning, early clinical exposure (commencing in the first few weeks of the first year), advanced science coursework, and a research project. Approximately 80 percent of Harvard medical students opt for the Pathways program.

HST Program

A collaborative venture between Harvard and MIT, the HST program focuses on biomedical research, basic sciences, and biotechnology. HST students, constituting around 20 percent of each class, commence clinical experiences later than their Pathways counterparts (mid-way through the second year) and consistently engage in research activities throughout their medical education. Graduation from the HST program necessitates the completion of a research thesis.

Harvard provides a detailed overview of the commonalities and distinctions between Pathways and HST on its website, a resource we recommend exploring. Additionally, Harvard Medical School offers various dual degree programs, including MD/PhD, MD/MPH, MD/MBA, MD/MBE, MD/MMSc, MD/MPP, and MD/MBI. Each program caters to specific academic and professional interests, allowing students to tailor their medical education to align with their career aspirations.

How Competitive is Harvard Medical School?

HMS is renowned for its intense competitiveness, reflected in an acceptance rate of around 3.7%, making it one of the most challenging medical schools to secure admission. For the class of 2027, HMS received about 7,000 applications and granted 789 interviews. Ultimately, 164 students were admitted with 135 enrolling in the Pathways program, 29 choosing the HST program, and 15 pursuing a joint MD-PhD.

Overall, the average GPA of accepted students was 3.9 and the average MCAT score was 520.59. A more specific sectional breakdown of scores can be found below:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems – 130.24
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems – 130.41
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior – 130.86
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills – 129.08

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This high selectivity underscores the institution’s commitment to maintaining exceptional academic and professional standards. Beyond the acceptance rate, HMS attracts a multitude of accomplished applicants, creating a fiercely competitive pool that necessitates not only academic excellence but also strong extracurricular engagement, leadership, and a genuine passion for healthcare and research.

What Academic Prerequisites Are Required to Get into Harvard Medical School?

While there isn’t a fixed list of required courses, HMS expects applicants to have completed a strong foundation in the sciences and humanities, showcasing a well-rounded academic background. Successful applicants typically hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, having excelled in challenging coursework. You can find more information about the requirements here.

Subject Specifications
Behavior Sciences Encouraged to complete coursework in Behavioral Sciences (e.g. psychology, sociology, etc.).
Biology One year with lab experience, including a focus on cellular and molecular biology.
Chemistry/Biochemistry Two years of chemistry (four courses) including inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry with lab experience required.
Physics One year required. Lab experience is desirable but not required. (HST applicants should complete additional calculus-based physics courses.)
Math One year required with calculus and statistics. (HST applicants should complete additional math courses, such as differential equations and linear algebra.)
Writing One year required, with writing-intensive courses preferred.


What Other Requirements Are Important to Get into Harvard Medical School?

Extracurricular Activities

Getting into HMS is a multifaceted process that goes beyond academic achievements, and a well-rounded portfolio of activities is essential to enhance an applicant’s candidacy.

According to Medical School Admission Requirements, about 92% of individuals admitted to HMS possess community service and volunteer experience in medical or clinical settings. Moreover, 82% of matriculants at HMS have gained valuable experience through shadowing, while an impressive 98% have participated in research and lab-based endeavors.

Clinical experience is a cornerstone of a strong HMS application. Prospective students are encouraged to participate in hands-on clinical opportunities, such as volunteering or internships in healthcare settings. This not only demonstrates a genuine interest in the medical field but also provides valuable insights into patient care. In addition, research involvement is highly valued at HMS, showcasing an applicant’s commitment to advancing medical knowledge. Aspiring students should seek opportunities to engage in meaningful research projects, potentially resulting in publications or presentations at conferences. This demonstrates an active contribution to the scientific community.

Furthermore, leadership and service activities play a pivotal role in shaping a compelling HMS application. Involvement in healthcare-related organizations, community service projects, or leadership roles within academic or extracurricular settings demonstrates an applicant’s capacity to make a positive impact, both within and beyond the medical field. Demonstrating cultural competence and a commitment to diversity and inclusion is crucial. Engaging in activities that showcase an understanding of diverse perspectives in healthcare, and actively contributing to initiatives that promote inclusivity, aligns with HMS’s values and mission.

Letter of Recommendations

HMS places significant importance on letters of recommendation as part of the comprehensive evaluation process for prospective students. The school requires applicants to submit a minimum of three letters of recommendation as part of their application. These letters should provide a comprehensive and nuanced perspective on the applicant’s academic abilities, personal qualities, and potential as a future medical professional. They provide specific recommendations for what kind of letters to send:

  • At least two letters should be from science professors whose class(es) you’ve taken.
  • At least one letter should be written by a non-science professor whose class(es) you’ve taken.
  • For applicants applying to MD and MD-PhD programs, all research supervisors should submit a letter, even if it exceeds the six-letter maximum.
  • If applicants wish to supplement a premedical advisory committee evaluation packet with additional letters of recommendation, they should count the packet as one letter toward the six-letter maximum.

Personal Statement

Crafting a compelling personal statement is a crucial component of the application process for Harvard Medical School. The personal statement serves as an opportunity for applicants to convey their motivations, experiences, and aspirations in a concise and impactful manner. Here are some key considerations and strategies to guide the writing process:

1) Reflect on Your Journey

Begin by reflecting on your personal and academic journey. Identify pivotal moments, experiences, or individuals that have influenced your decision to pursue a career in medicine. Harvard Medical School is not only interested in academic achievements but also in the unique qualities and experiences that have shaped your perspective.

2) Align with HMS’s Mission

Harvard Medical School has a distinct mission and values. Tailor your personal statement to align with these principles, showcasing an understanding of and commitment to the institution’s goals. Highlight how your personal and professional aspirations resonate with the mission of HMS.

3) Be Genuine and Authentic

Admissions committees value authenticity. Share genuine insights into your motivations, experiences, and the personal growth you’ve undergone. Avoid clichés and focus on presenting a sincere narrative that sets you apart from other applicants.

 4) Showcase Your Unique Contributions

Highlight your unique contributions and qualities that you bring to the medical profession. Whether it’s a specific skill, an uncommon experience, or a perspective that adds diversity to the community, emphasize how you can make a distinctive impact at HMS.

5) Illustrate Resilience and Adaptability

Medicine is a dynamic field that requires resilience and adaptability. Share instances where you faced challenges, overcame adversity, or adapted to new environments. Illustrate how these experiences have prepared you for the demands of a medical career.

Secondary Essays

Once you submit your primary application, you’ll receive a link to submit a Harvard-specific secondary application with additional short essays. These require a thoughtful and strategic approach. Each secondary essay prompt serves as an opportunity for applicants to provide additional insights into their character, experiences, and motivations. Last year’s prompts included:

1) If you have already graduated, briefly summarize your activities since graduation. (4000 character maximum)

2) If there is an important aspect of your personal background or identity, not addressed elsewhere in the application, that you would like to share with the Committee, we invite you to do so here. Many applicants will not need to answer this question. Examples might include significant challenges in access to education, unusual socioeconomic factors, identification with a minority culture, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Briefly explain how such factors have influenced your motivation for a career in medicine. (4000 character maximum)

Harvard Medical School Acceptance Rate & Requirements (Continued)

3) HST-MD Program Essay: The HST MD program draws on the combined resources of Harvard and MIT to provide a distinct preclinical education tailored to preparing students for careers as physician-scientists across the full spectrum of disciplines including biological, physical and engineering sciences. HST classes are small, commonly include graduate students and have an emphasis on quantitative and analytic approaches, centered on understanding disease mechanisms and preparing students to solve unmet needs in medicine ranging from novel diagnostics and therapeutics to applications of ‘big data’ and systems engineering as they relate to healthcare. Please focus on how your interests, experiences and aspirations have prepared you for HST (rather than identifying specific HST faculty or research opportunities). (4000 character maximum)

4) MD/PhD Essays

  1. Briefly list your research interests/areas; use keywords only. This information is not binding. (100 character limit)
  2. Please list publications, indicating for each whether it is published, submitted/under review, or in preparation3. For PhDs in the social sciences only, please complete the following and upload where indicated: Describe your reasons and motivations for pursuing a graduate degree in your chosen program of study at Harvard. What experiences led you to your research ambitions? Concisely state your past work in your intended field of study and in related fields. Briefly indicate your career objectives. Your statement should not exceed 1,000 words. Health Policy applicants should indicate the concentration(s) and policy area(s) of interest.


Harvard Medical School’s interview process is a crucial part of admissions evaluation. The interactive day allows candidates to engage with faculty and assess the institution’s collaborative culture. HMS emphasizes personal attributes, ethical decision-making, and communication skills, evaluated through one-on-one interviews with faculty. This process offers a comprehensive evaluation for both the admissions committee and applicants to ensure alignment with their medical aspirations.

Applicants who are offered an interview opportunity are emailed by the Office of the Committee on Admissions regarding available dates. Currently, all interviews are being conducted virtually.

How Much Does It Cost to Attend Harvard Medical School?

In general, attending medical school is a significant financial commitment no matter what school you choose, and the cost of attendance encompasses various components. As of the most recent data available, the Harvard Medical School tuition for the 2023-2024 academic year is approximately $69,300. However, this figure represents only a portion of the overall cost, as it excludes additional expenses such as living costs, books, supplies, and personal expenses.

When factoring in these additional expenses, the total cost of attendance for a single academic year at HMS can range from $90,000 to $100,000 or more. It’s important to note that living costs can vary based on factors such as housing choices and lifestyle preferences, contributing to the overall variability in expenses.

Harvard Medical School Acceptance Rate & Tuition (Continued)

Despite the substantial costs associated with attending Harvard Medical School, the institution is committed to providing financial support to its students. HMS offers a robust financial aid program, including need-based scholarships, low-interest loans, and work-study opportunities. In the class of 2027, 71% of admitted students received financial aid, with the average annual scholarship being $56,716.

Prospective students are encouraged to explore and understand the financial aid options available at HMS, and the school’s financial aid office is a valuable resource for individuals seeking guidance on managing the costs of medical education. Additionally, students may explore external scholarships, grants, and other funding opportunities to supplement their financial support.

Final Thoughts – Harvard Medical School Acceptance Rate, Requirements, Tuition, etc.

Ultimately, the path to Harvard Medical School requires a comprehensive and dedicated approach. Academic excellence, impactful extracurriculars, a compelling personal statement, and successful interviews are key components. Amidst the competitive admissions landscape, remember that authenticity and passion for medicine are crucial as you journey to become a doctor. Gaining admission to Harvard Medical School is not just about securing a spot; it’s about joining a community committed to excellence and global healthcare advancement.