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Thinking About Medical School?

Modern medicine generally refers to clinical practice: the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease by a physician. That physician may be an allopathic physician (M.D.) or an osteopathic physician (D.O.).

--Definition from Explore Health Careers homepage.
Explore Careers & Programs

Medical School at a Glance

Track or Major? 

PreMedicine is a track made up of courses required for entry to medical school, along with those for bachelor’s degree and major of your choice. This prepares you for admission into a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program.

  • Track hours to complete: 49, including courses recommended for MCAT.
  • Time to compete: Pre-Med pre-requisite courses and Bachelors Degree of your choice (4 years), plus 4 years of medical schooling

Level of degree - Doctoral

Does KU have a program? 

Yes. Students spend their first 4 years on the Lawrence campus completing their pre-admission courses and a Bachelor’s Degree. Once admitted, 4 years are spent at the KU School of Medicine (campuses in KC, Wichita and Salina).

More information about KU's program

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View KU's prerequisite list for PreMedicine students.

View specific course and sequencing suggestions.

Quick Tip: If you have specific questions related to courses, contact your academic advisor. Exploring students and pre-professional students may meet with an adviser in the Undergraduate Advising Center.

View the overview of KU's School of Medicine.

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Program Admission

KU's Program

How to Apply: Application Quick Links

Gaining Experience: Quick Links

Most medical schools, including KU School of Medicine, require candidates to first apply through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS).

AMCAS applications open at the beginning of May. They begin to accept complete applications in early June and start to transmit applications to designated medical schools by the end of June.

***You should be applying the summer between your junior and senior year.

Evaluation Letters

Evaluation Letters need to be submitted through AMCAS by August 1st.

  • Enter the information for each writer in your application.
  • Designate which schools should recieve the letters.
  • Check to make sure letters are recieved by AMCAS.
  • Meet with each of your writers to discuss the letter and AMCAS directions for submission. Be sure to give them the August 1st deadline.

Special KU application information

  • Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is required. The MCAT is offered between late January and early September.
  • Interviews typically start in September. The KU School of Medicine will hold early decision interviews in September and regular decision interviews from October to January.
  • If you haven't been offered an interview by January, send an updated transcript to each medical schools admissions office.
  • Applications also require Personal Comments Essays in addition to a professional resume.
  • Medical Schools will be looking for applicants with strong evidence of health care activities on their resume: volunteering, shadowing, or direct, close work with physicians.
  • Undergraduate research is another way to strengthen your application
  • Social service is also greatly valued in the medical field.
Other Application Services

For most Texas public schools you first apply through Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS).

For most osteopathic medical schools you first apply through American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOMAS).

Explore other medical programs

Practice interviewing before you apply: Through, you can practice a medical school interview in the comfort of your own home. If you want feedback from a career coach, you can submit it online, and we will respond within 48 hours. Use these instructions to practice on your own (pdf).

Quick Tip: If you need assistance with your application resume and/or personal statement, schedule an appointment at the KU Writing Center and/or University Career Center!

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Gain Experience Before You Apply!

Gaining Experience: Quick Links

Medical school selection committee members expect a deep understanding gained through significant experience serving patients in health care settings and shadowing or working closely with physicians. Additionally, it's essential to grow your social awareness and empathy and to prove your desire to help others.

Medical schools, however, typically don't state a minimum number of expected hours.  A minimum of 200 hours (~4 hours per week for one year) of volunteering or working in health care settings at time of application is recommended, including at least 50 hours of shadowing or working closely with doctors. At least one of the people you shadow should be a primary care physician, specializing in pediatrics, family practice or internal medicine.

Explore jobs & internships

Connect with alumni

KU Mentoring

Quick Tip: The University Career Center can assist you in finding experiential opportunities. Schedule an appointment online or by calling 785-864-3624.

Also, consider the following:

Healthcare Activity Possibilities

The purpose of medical school is to educate and train physicians and surgeons to serve patients who need help, not just to fulfill a candidate's dream of becoming a doctor. So, in addition to health care and shadowing experience, it's essential to grow your social awareness and empathy and to prove your desire to help others. On-campus activities and philanthropy can be a good start; however, especially if you're from a relatively well-served community, it's increasingly important to go out and directly help people in relatively underserved inner-city and rural communities.

There are other ways of helping that can also be developed into distinguishing strengths through tutoring, teaching, research assisting, advocating and leadership. Whatever you choose, it's important to show dedication by continuing to volunteer, work or assist with research for at least a year.

Shadowing and Informational Interviewing

Is your decision to enter the profession well-informed? Interviewing, shadowing and working with physicians will help you decide whether or not you truly want to join the profession. Ask professionals how they started, what they do, what they like about their jobs, what they dislike about their jobs, and what advice they have for someone interested in pursuing this career. It's good to talk with physicians you plan to shadow to figure out the best way to sample and understand what they do. You can learn a lot in 10-20 hours. Occasionally, shadowing grows into a longer-term mentoring connection.

HIPAA regulations, liability concerns and patient comfort issues make it challenging to shadow physicians; however, it is possible. Most people begin by interviewing their personal physicians or using friend and family networks to arrange informational interviews and shadowing experiences. Some people try cold calling/e-mailing a list of physicians and surgeons. People with last names later in the alphabet and in less well-known specialties won’t get asked as often and might be more open to shadowing. Similarly, physicians in smaller towns outside of Lawrence may not get asked as often, and those in smaller practices in which they're more in charge may be more willing to allow you to shadow. It’s normal to ask a lot of physicians to find a few who will let you shadow.

Sample different specialties, not just the specialty you think you want to enter at this time. Eventually, it's helpful to shadow at least five different physicians or surgeons, including at least one primary care physician in internal medicine, family practice or pediatrics. So, total shadowing at time of application is usually ~50-100 hours.

To help you get started and make the most out of your shadowing opportunities, be sure to attend a KU School of Medicine Primary Care Workshop.

Also, to be sure you shadow appropriately, please read the AAMC's Guidelines for Clinical Shadowing Experiences for Premedical Students.

Quick tip: Be sure to send personal thank you cards to the physicians you shadow!


Activities like feeding people who are hungry, building houses for people who are homeless, serving as a mentor for young people, and preserving and improving our communities and environment can demonstrate your concern and willingness to sacrifice for others. These may be especially compelling demonstrations of a compassionate nature because they cannot be attributed solely to your interest in health care.

To find out more contact:

Service Abroad: It's essential to learn about health care in the United States; however, if you also want to help in other countries, you may wish to participate in a medical mission trip, some of which are listed by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). Some admissions committee members have expressed concerns about students on international trips practicing medicine without proper education, training and supervision. In response, the AAMC has posted Guidelines for Premedical and Medical Students Providing Patient Care During Clinical Experiences Abroad (pdf). Because there's also a risk of well-intentioned programs doing more harm than good, KU's Center for Service Learning has posted some important Considerations for Serving Ethically.

If you'd like to go abroad, as an alternative to medical mission trips, you may want to consider internships which emphasize learning about medicine in more developed countries, some of which are listed by KU's Office of Study Abroad.


Research can strengthen your candidacy, especially at research-oriented medical schools, and extensive experience is crucial for admission to MD-PhD programs. For more information, see the AAMC's Considering a Career in Medical Research.

Science is integral to medicine, and it's helpful to know how this knowledge is developed. Working on a research project is also a good way to earn a substantial recommendation letter from a faculty member who knows you well. Most students volunteer their help, some earn directed study credit, and a few are paid for their assistance.

To get involved, you can start with the KU Center for Undergraduate Research. The next step is to find faculty, who're doing research you'd like to help with:

Campus Involvement and Leadership

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Deadlines & Contact Information

Application due date:
Early decision - July 1st is encouraged; Aug. 1st is the deadline.

Regular decision - Sept. 1st is encouraged.

Final deadline for KU School of Medicine - Oct. 15th

Advising home:
Exploring and pre-professional students: Undergraduate Advising Center, 785-864-2834

Students with a declared major: major department

Is this path for you?
PreMedicine FAQs
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