Kaiser Permanente Medical School Acceptance Rate & Tuition

April 26, 2024

kaiser Permanente medical school acceptance rate ranking tuition

You probably already know that a job in the medical profession can be wildly lucrative. Nurses and doctors can earn up to $86,070 and $239,000 per year, respectively, while specialists can expect even more by mid-career.[i] With all of that promised income, however, medical school can be grueling, lasting about four years with a residency of another four years and additional schooling for specialties. On top of that, getting into medical school is no mean feat, and the cost of it can be upward of $60,000 per year (Continue reading for the Kaiser Permanente Medical School acceptance rate, ranking, tuition, and more).

For this reason, you may have heard of Kaiser Permanente Medical School, which first opened in 2020 and has granted its first five classes free medical school tuition for all four years – an incredible financial advantage for anyone admitted! The exact tuition for classes entering after 2024 still remains to be seen, but in this article, we’ll explore the philosophy and offered programs for Kaiser Permanente Medical School, along with tips for how to get into Kaiser Permanente Medical School (like Kaiser Permanente acceptance rates and average MCAT scores for admitted students), and other Kaiser Permanente Medical School admissions requirements.

What is the Kaiser Permanente Medical School?

Located in Pasadena, just outside of Los Angeles, the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine is a brand-new, private, non-profit medical school affiliated with the Kaiser Permanente medical system. Since opening in 2020, the school has made equity in medicine part of its founding philosophy, and some of its tenets for patient care include person-centered partnerships with patients, eliminating health disparities between different patient demographics, and a population-centered approach to medicine. For its students, the school promotes an “environment that supports the health, well-being, and resilience of our graduates,” encourages team-based care education and actively accepts students from diverse and underrepresented populations.[ii] The Kaiser Permanente Medical School currently works within six clinical locations in Southern California and plans to open more.

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Although some students might be hesitant to join an all-new medical school, being one of the earliest classes allows for educational innovation and, as Associate Dean of Admission Dr. Lindia J. Willies-Jacobo states, early students will influence the direction of the school and will be provided with “a blank canvas [they’ll] really get to paint on.”[iii] As a healthcare system, Kaiser Permanente has been a recognized name in the medical field since the earlier decades of the twentieth century and has upheld a high reputation.

As a new medical school, Kaiser Permanente is ranked among some of the best in California, has achieved the highest level of accreditation possible, and promises to offer students quality medical education for years to come. The curriculum of Kaiser Permanente Medical School is designed around three pillars – biomedical science, clinical science, and health systems science – and four threads of ethical, high-functioning healthcare systems: advocacy and leadership; equity, inclusion and diversity; health promotion; and interprofessional collaboration.[iv]  Finally, in its inaugural five years, Kaiser Permanente Medical School has granted free tuition for its students (more on this below), making it an attractive choice for many aspiring physicians.

What Programs does Kaiser Permanente Medical School Offer?

Kaiser Permanente Med School offers several allopathic program options, including:

  • A traditional four-year MD program. Students will spend the first two years of this program learning the fundamentals of practicing medicine, developing service-learning in clinics, and navigating healthcare systems. In the third year of the program, students will begin their specialized training within their desired fields, and the fourth year will prepare students for residency within those fields. Note that students need not commit to a particular specialty upon admittance, but are rather encouraged to explore their personal interests as they progress through the program.
  • An MD / PhD (in association with the California Institute of Technology). This track is suggested for students who are interested in pursuing medical research and filling preexisting gaps within the medical field. During their first two years in med school, students will begin by conducting research in one of several field options like bioengineering, biotechnology leadership, cell and molecular biology, or computational and neural systems.
  • An MD / MPH (in association with UCLA). This public health track is designed for students interested in one of five academic departments: biostatistics, community health sciences, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, and health policy and management.
  • An MD / MHA (in association with the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy). This health administration track is designed for students seeking careers in healthcare leadership who are interested in “ongoing issues in technology, behavioral science, economics, healthcare law, and finance, essential to doctors who want to become leaders within hospitals, health plans, medical practices, and community health organizations.”[v]

It’s also worth noting that students who graduate from Kaiser Permanente Med School are not required to complete their residency with Kaiser Permanente.

Kaiser Permanente Medical School Acceptance Rate and Tuition

As you consider applying to Kaiser Permanente Medical School, it’s important to understand how the school’s free tuition has impacted its application and admissions rates over the past five years. Choosing a medical school with free tuition is obviously financially beneficial, but there are perks that are less obviously quantifiable, too. Aspiring med students from disadvantaged economic backgrounds will clearly benefit from attending a school without tuition, and all students accepted to Kaiser Permanente during its free years will have the distinct advantage of being able to choose specialties that align with their personal interests (rather than areas of focus that will simply offer the most lucrative payouts in the end).

As a result, the acceptance rate for Kaiser Permanente Medical School has been remarkably low: 0.05% of students were accepted out of the 10,500 applicants in the 2020-2021 school year, and that percentage has remained at or less than 1% acceptance ever since. On average, the school plans to admit 48 to 50 students per year.

For the incoming class of 2025, students will need to pay tuition (currently estimated at $61,494), living expenses ($38,380), and healthcare costs ($6,725).[vi] On one hand this is an obvious negative – there will be no more guaranteed free tuition (though the school will still offer scholarships based on financial need). On the other hand, the pool of applicants is likely to decrease, which will only better your chances if you still plan on applying!

Average MCAT Scores and Other Admissions Data for Recently Admitted Kaiser Permanente Medical School Students

The admissions pool for Kaiser Permanente Med School has been fiercely competitive so far, with an average MCAT score of 516 and an average GPA of 3.76 for admitted students in 2023. If you’ve already taken your MCAT, you may know that a 516 in 2023 is in the 92nd percentile – an exceptional score (and if you have not yet taken it, be sure to see our tips on when to take the MCAT)! Additionally, 98% of students entering in the 2027 graduating class have research experience, and the students average about 132 shadowing hours each.

Kaiser Permanente Med School prides itself on inclusivity and actively seeks a diverse student population among its many qualified applicants. Demographically speaking, 40% of admitted students are from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds; 32% are nontraditional students; 26% are first-generation students, and 18% are non-science undergraduate majors. In terms of race and ethnicity, the breakdown for the 2023 class is:

  • 30% White
  • 26% Asian
  • 26% Hispanic
  • 18% Black or African American
  • 6% Unknown
  • 4% Pacific Islander
  • 2% American Indian / Alaskan Native[vii]

Kaiser Permanente Medical School Admissions Requirements

Residence and Degrees: Applicants for Kaiser Permanente Med School must be either U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or DACA recipients. International students with visas are not currently accepted to the school (if you’re not from the U.S., see our list of med schools that do accept international students). While many accepted students are from California (about half of the 2023 admitted class), students are accepted from all over the United States.

Additionally, applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in either the United States or Canada. Note that students who were previously medical school students or who are transferring from another institution are not permitted to apply.

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MCAT Scores and GPA: While there is no minimum MCAT score or GPA required for admission, in 2023 the average MCAT for admitted students was 516 and the average GPA was 3.76 (see above). Note that students applying for KPSOM should take their MCAT by September of the year before matriculation. While this specific deadline is subject to change, future applicants should be mindful of this cutoff date. Additionally, the school currently accepts MCAT scores earned up to three years prior to the application date. (i.e. scores from 2021 for the 2024 application year).

AAMC PREview Professional Readiness Exam: Starting with the 2024-2025 school year, students will need to take the Association of American Medical Colleges Professional Readiness Exam by November 1st. There is no minimum AAMC PREview score and the exam scores for this test do not expire.

Prerequisite Courses: While a particular bachelor’s degree is not necessary for application, the application lists several required courses:

  • “Behavioral or social science (e.g. anthropology, economics, ethnic studies, psychology, sociology: one-half academic year (one quarter or one semester)
  • General biology with laboratory: one academic year
  • General or inorganic chemistry, or equivalent, with laboratory: one academic year (three quarters or two semesters)
  • General physics with laboratory: one academic year
  • Humanities (e.g. art, English, history, literature, philosophy): one-half academic year”[viii]

Please note that while the medical school will accept applications with pending coursework, all of that coursework should be completed by the time the student actually begins med school.

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Recommended Courses: Although these courses are not required, taking some or all of them will certainly strengthen your chances of admission:

  • Organic chemistry and biochemistry
  • Calculus
  • Statistics
  • Population health, epidemiology, or other public health course
  • Language other than English

Advanced Placement Credits: The medical school does accept AP credits if they appear on a student’s transcript and if the student’s undergraduate school counted them toward graduation.

The Kaiser Permanente Medical School Application Process

While specific dates for the application process may vary each year, students should be aware of general timelines and the application process length as they apply[ix]. Specific due dates are usually announced by the school in May before the application year, but below, you’ll find an approximate overview of the application process for Kaiser Permanente Medical School:

  • Students will need to complete the American Medical College Application Service Primary Application by the early fall before their starting year (e.g. for the 2024 year, this date was October 2, 2023). The application opens in May and includes transcripts, a personal statement, other essays, MCAT scores and letters of recommendation.
  • Note that students should submit either three to six individual letters of recommendation, or one synthesized letter of recommendation that includes comments from multiple recommenders and is authored and edited by a pre-med committee or pre-med advisor.
  • Eligible applicants will be invited to submit a Secondary Application when their Primary Application has been accepted. The deadline for the 2024 school year was November 1st, 2023 and future applicants can expect a similar due date.
  • Multiple Mini Interview (MMIs) invitations will be sent to applicants on a rolling basis, approximately from August to March. Before these interviews, it’s important to brush up on common medical school interview questions!
  • Financial Aid Forms should be submitted as soon as possible so that students may gauge the amount of assistance they will receive (the deadline for the 2024 year was June 3, 2024).
  • Admitted students must commit by May of the school year (the specific 2024 date was May 30th).

Good luck!

How to Get Into Kaiser Permanente Medical School – Sources

[i] Salary figures are estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. Please note that these are averages that include median data from mid- and late-career salaries, along with salaries from entry-level positions. In other words, these numbers can give you a rough estimate of what you may earn by mid-career in each medical field.

[ii] “Mission, Vision, and Values,” Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, 2024. https://medschool.kp.org/about/mission-vision-and-values

[iii] Moon, Kristen, “This Medical School Has an Admission Rate of Less Than 1%. Here’s How to Get In,” Forbes Online, 21 June, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kristenmoon/2021/06/21/this-medical-school-has-an-admission-rate-of-less-than-1-heres-how-to-get-in/?sh=1bae6dcb20d5

[iv] “An Integrated Curriculum, A Cohesive Framework,” Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, 2024. https://medschool.kp.org/education/curriculum

[v]“An Integrated Curriculum, A Cohesive Framework,” Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, 2024. https://medschool.kp.org/education/curriculum

[vi] “A Tuition-Free Medical School,” Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, 2024. https://medschool.kp.org/admissions/tuition-and-financial-aid

[vii] Note that some students may qualify for more than one racial or ethnic group. “Student Demographics,” Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, 2024. https://medschool.kp.org/admissions/student-demographics

[viii] “Medical School Requirements for Admission,” Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, 2024. https://medschool.kp.org/admissions/admission-requirements

[ix] Claybourn, Cole. “The Medical School Admissions Cycle: A Month-By-Month Guide,” U.S. News & World Report. 28 March, 2023. https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/the-medical-school-admissions-cycle-a-month-by-month-guide