Update in Light of COVID-19 Impact on Premedical Education
The Admissions Committee at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons has voted to accept Pass/Fail grades for prerequisite courses taken at schools that decided to go Pass/Fail for the 2020 academic calendar and, Spring/Summer 2021 semesters. We understand some concerns about the impact on GPAs and will take this fully into consideration for future applicants. For students in schools for which Pass/Fail is optional during these semesters, we will consider each student’s situation individually.
We also understand the tremendous stress that many of you feel during this unprecedented time. As we look at our current students, graduates, and colleagues, we could not be prouder to be part of the healthcare workforce. Keep up the strong work as you study to be part of this community going forward.
From academic coursework to letters of recommendation, our application requirements are noted by topic in this section.
Applicants must have:
At the time of application, at least three full academic years at a regionally accredited college in the United States or Canada.
- Baccalaureate degree prior to matriculation
- English- One year of English or other writing-intensive courses.
- Biology- One year of Biology with labs. For applicants whose undergraduate college accepted Advanced Placement (AP) credit to satisfy the requirement, we require one year of advanced study. This additional year must include at least one semester of the lab, and two semesters are recommended.
- Physics- One year of Physics with one semester of the lab. For applicants whose undergraduate college accepted Advanced Placement (AP) credit to satisfy the requirement in introductory-level Physics, no further Physics coursework is required.
- Chemistry- Two years of chemistry, one of which must be Organic Chemistry, both with labs. For applicants whose undergraduate college accepted Advanced Placement (AP) credit to satisfy the requirement in introductory-level Chemistry, no additional upper-level Chemistry is required beyond Organic Chemistry.
- Biochemistry- One semester of Biochemistry, lab recommended but not required
- Applicants for the 3-Year PhD-to-MD Program must have successfully defended their thesis by April 30th of the year of matriculation.
Prospective students may apply if they lack one or two of the above prerequisites, but completion of these courses is a requirement for enrollment. Applications from students in all majors are considered. Kindly note that we do not accept online courses for our prerequisite classes except for the exceptions noted above due to COVID.
We rarely admit individuals from foreign universities because our Admissions Committee does not have satisfactory means of evaluating premedical education at universities outside of the United States and Canada. We, therefore, require at least one year of premedical training at a U.S. institution, in addition to the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
Please note: Non-residents of the United States are ineligible for federal financial aid programs.
Please note: All prerequisite courses must have been completed within 10 years of application. We prefer that prerequisite courses in biology be taken within five years of application.
The MCAT may be taken up to three years prior to applying for the 2024 application cycle. For more information about the MCAT, visit the Association of American Medical Colleges website.
Our Admissions Committee looks for applicants who have received As and Bs in scientific courses (more As than Bs) but recognizes that such grades are not possible under all circumstances. A final grade lower than C- in any required course is regarded by the Committee as an unsatisfactory completion of our requirements. For consideration, these required courses must be retaken (or have acceptable substitutes) with higher grades. Applicants may take a few courses not required for admissions on a pass/fail basis, but if they have failed a course, the Committee will wonder why. If relevant, please include an explanation of such a grade in the application.
Letters of Recommendation
We welcome letters of recommendation from individuals and premedical advisory groups (Committee Letters) with genuine knowledge of applicants and their capabilities, who can provide more than routine praise. Our Admissions Committee requires three letters of recommendation and accepts up to seven. One must come from a science faculty member, teacher, or research mentor. Letters from people who do not personally know the applicants cannot be given serious consideration.
Applicants must submit the AMCAS and VP&S secondary application to be considered for the entering class. A non-refundable secondary application fee of $110 is required at the time of submission. Students who are granted fee waivers by AAMC's Fee Assistance Program (AAMC FAP) will receive a fee waiver for Columbia VP&S' Secondary Application. We will not waive the fee for any other request.