Have questions about admissions for the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S)? We have answers. For easy viewing, our frequently asked questions are organized by topic: application requirements, general inquiries, admitted students, and student life.

Application Requirements

Do you accept international students?

It is rare that we admit individuals from foreign universities because the 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 an institution in the United States, in addition to the MCAT. Please note that non-residents of the United States are ineligible for federal financial aid programs.

What writing course could fulfill the English requirement?

Courses designated 'writing-intensive' by the undergraduate institution will be accepted if they meet the following criteria:

1) at least 70% of the course grade is based on the student's essays (as opposed to exams or other forms of assessment)

2) students are required to hand in at least four essays as part of the course requirements

3) the course fulfills a writing requirement at the undergraduate institution

If my college offers classes in a quarter system, how many biochemistry courses will I need to fulfill your requirement?

One biochemistry course will suffice. The lab is recommended but not required.

What are the required courses?

Biochemistry- one semester, lab recommended but not required

Biology- two semesters with labs

General Chemistry- two semesters with labs

Organic Chemistry- two semesters with labs

English- two semesters

Physics- two semesters with one semester of the lab 

I have a question about AP Credit or advanced standing in lieu of a prerequisite course. Who can I contact?

If you have a question regarding advanced standing or AP Credit, please contact us at psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu. In your e-mail please include the syllabus of the class you wish to substitute for the prerequisite courses.

Do you accept online courses?

All courses must be taken in person with the exception of the 2020 academic calendar and Spring/Summer 2021 semesters which we will accept online courses.

I have been out of school for some time. Is it mandatory to send the Committee Packet?

No, it is not mandatory. Students more than 5 years away from their most recent degree are encouraged to provide at least 1 academic reference from faculty at that institution. We would also welcome individual letters of recommendation from individuals with whom you have had significant work, volunteer, research, or mentor relationships in recent years.

Where do I send supplemental letters of recommendations after the deadline for supporting documents?

You may have your letter writers send any additional letters of recommendations directly to us via e-mail (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu). They must be written and signed on official letterhead and must include your AMCAS ID.

What is the cost of applying to Columbia VP&S?

Our Secondary Application fee is $110. Kindly note that our fee is nonrefundable.

Does VP&S require a background check?

Yes. Only students who are admitted to our school will need to provide our office of admissions with a satisfactory background check report prior to June 1st.

If received a Fee Assistance Program (FAP) waiver from AMCAS, will the Secondary Application fee be waived?

For students granted an FAP waiver from AMCAS, we will waive the Secondary Application Fee. Please contact the Admissions Office via e-mail (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu) with your AMCAS ID.

If I am interested in applying to the 3-year PhD-to-MD program, can my PhD come from another country?

Your Ph.D. degree must come from an accredited US or Canadian School.

Are there exceptions to the requirement for a PhD from an accredited US or Canadian school?

Applications are welcome from participants in the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program, the Gates Foundation, and other leading granting organizations.

Can international applicants apply to the 3-year PhD-to-MD program?

The 3-Year Ph.D.-to-MD program is tied to a residency program at NewYork Presbyterian Hospital.  In order to participate in the residency program, an applicant must have the authorization to work in the United States.  Therefore we cannot accept an applicant with an F1 visa, which does not permit employment.  We regret that you are not eligible for this program, and wish you the best of luck in your career.

General Inquires

What are the essential abilities and characteristics required for completion of the MD degree?

A qualified applicant meets the Technical Standards set by our Curriculum and Education Policy Committee.

Does the MD program at Columbia VP&S meet the academic requirements for medical licensure in all 50 states?

Professional Licensure and Certification Disclosure Requirements


Institutions providing distance education are required to provide certain general disclosures for educational programs, regardless of modality, that prepare students for professional licensure.  The required information relates to whether or not the educational program meets the requirements for professional licensure in all other states.  Where applicable, an institution must also indicate when such a determination cannot be made.


Professional licensure and certification requirements may vary state to state. This information is also subject to change.  Students should contact the appropriate licensing agency for his or her home state to obtain the most up to date information.


The MD Program at the Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons is accredited by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education and thereby does meets the academic requirements for licensure in all 50 states.


For further information please visit: https://lcme.org/


Date of Last Revision: June 2020

When will I know the final decision on my application? Who makes final decisions on my application?

Columbia does not have rolling admissions for medical school. Decisions are made at the end of interview season and all decisions are released in early March.

Final decisions on all applications are decided by the Faculty Admissions Committee.

What is the vision of VP&S?

The guiding vision of Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) reads: “We aspire to transform human health by driving discovery, advancing care, and educating leaders.” We do this work in an environment that values excellence, equity, and respect and provides opportunities for students to put those values into action. 

At VP&S, we aspire to educate the next generation of physician leaders to serve our neighboring, national, and global communities using the lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice to promote the health and state-of-the-art care of patients.

The values of humanism, collaboration, inquiry, transformation, growth, and wellness individually and together inspire our every effort in pursuit of this goal.

To best prepare our graduates for their future careers, the college recently updated its medical education program objectives to focus on the domains of:  

  • Patient Care 
  • Medical Knowledge 
  • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement 
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills 
  • Professionalism 
  • Systems-Based Practice 
  • Anti-Racism, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity 
  • Inquiry 

Through these domains, VP&S prepares its graduates to be leaders and role models who define excellence in patient care, medical research, education, community and population health, and healthcare policy. VP&S empowers students to transform health care by setting the standards of medicine in the United States and beyond. Their guided exposure and training will allow them to exhibit the highest principles of humanism and professionalism in their responsibilities to their patients, to their community, and to society.

The curriculum at VP&S prepares graduates to question data and discover new insights; to compassionately educate patients, students, and residents; and to provide the highest quality of equitable patient care. The additional competencies of anti-racism, inclusion, diversity, equity, and inquiry support our shared commitment to innovative, evidence-based, and equitable approaches to medical education.

Beginning in the winter of their third year, our students explore their interests in medicine through diverse electives. Students also have the opportunity to drive discovery through their scholarly projects. Our faculty are eager to help trainees and provide opportunities—whether that be for research in an area of interest, in education or social sciences, or in service to an underserved community in the United States or abroad. In 2021, we formally launched the VP&S Anti-Racism Coalition (ARC), an interdisciplinary effort by students and staff to promote a sustainable culture of inclusion and diversity. Its ongoing goal is to create, adopt, and strengthen anti-racist educational systems and practices and to support equity and justice throughout the VP&S learning environment.

These activities occur with the active support of a robust student affairs office. Each student is assigned an Advisory Dean who provides opportunities for career and specialty exploration and provides career counseling in small group and individual settings. We also encourage active involvement in VP&S activities, including programs that enrich student life and enhance leadership skills. The VP&S Club hosts a variety of activities to meet the diverse interests of our students, offering everything from specialty interest groups to programs in advocacy.

The best example of how VP&S helps students put their values to work is the portfolio of opportunities to work in the community. Columbia medical students not only live in Washington Heights, they partner with organizations in the neighborhood to pursue common goals in improving individual and public health. Students have created and participate in five student-run clinics for uninsured or underinsured neighbors. Many VP&S students point to these clinics as the reason they chose to attend VP&S.

VP&S aspires to transform human health by driving discovery, advancing care, and educating the leaders of tomorrow. From developing Nobel Prize-winning advances like cardiac catheterization to identifying the gene for Huntington’s disease, our graduates not only practice medicine, they change it.

What is the GPA/MCAT range for the applicants that received an offer of admission for the 2023 application cycle?

GPA- 2.98-4.0

MCAT- 508-528

Whats your ideal candidate?

We seek applicants who have shown the greatest evidence of excellence and leadership potential in the science and art of medicine. Beyond academic ability, medicine also demands integrity, the ability to relate to others, and have concern for their welfare. The school evaluates applicants by several means: academic achievement, letters of recommendation, participation in extracurricular and summer activities, breadth of interests, and the personal interview. The Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons seeks diversity of background among its applicants; no preference is given to state of residence. Admission is possible for all qualified applicants regardless of sex, race, age, religion, sexual orientation or national origin.

Do you accept transfer students?

We do not accept transfer students.

Do you accept re-applicants?

We do accept re-applicants.

Are former medical students eligible to apply to Columbia VP&S?

Students previously enrolled in medical school are not eligible to apply for admission to Columbia VP&S.

I am having technical difficulties with AMCAS and/or the Columbia Supplemental Application. Where can I get help?

If you are having difficulties with the AMCAS application, please contact AMCAS. If you are having difficulties with the Columbia Supplemental Application, please contact our Admissions Office at 212-305-3595 or psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu.

I submitted my CV via the Secondary Portal and now I would like to delete it. What can I do?

Please send the Admissions Office an email with a request to delete your CV and include your full name and AMCAS ID number.

Is a CV the same as a resume?

Even though the format and function of a CV can differ from a resume, we accept both and have no preference on which type you submit, with the exception of the 3-year Ph.D.-to-MD program that requires a CV.

Does the Admissions Office provide tours, pre-medical admissions advising, or materials to visitors?

Our office does not provide tours or pre-medical admissions advising. All of our available information is located on our website, so please look around!

If I have taken multiple MCATs, will the Admissions Committee take all of them under consideration?

If you have taken multiple MCATs, the Admissions Committee will only look at your highest overall score.

Do you accept additional MCAT scores after submitting my secondary application?

As long as the additional test is taken before September, of the year you submitted the secondary application, you may place your application on hold until your new scores are sent to us. Please e-mail the Office of Admissions (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu) to place a hold on your application.

Where should I send any updates/corrections to my Secondary Application or to submit a new CV/resume?

Any updates or corrections to the Secondary Application should be sent as an Applicant Update (in PDF) via the “Status” tab of the Secondary Application.

I have uploaded a document to the Secondary Portal and cannot see it. How may I confirm that the document was successfully received?

You will receive an e-mail from us confirming receipt of your uploaded document within one or two business days.

I am a non-regular MD applicant (Columbia-Bassett, MD/PhD, 3 Year PhD-to-MD), am I considered a dual applicant?

If your primary program (Columbia-Bassett, MD/Ph.D., 3 Year Ph.D.-to-MD) declines to invite you to interview, you are automatically placed in our regular MD applicant pool.

How do I change my application from one program to another?

If you would like to change your application, please contact the Admissions Office via e-mail (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu). Please include your AMCAS ID.

Do you require official transcripts to be sent to the Admissions Office as part of application process?

You are welcome to upload unofficial copies as an Applicant Update (in PDF) via the “Status” tab of the Secondary Application. However, we do not require applicants to submit an official transcript to us unless they are accepted and decide to matriculate at VP&S.

I’m looking for advice for getting into medical school, is there anyone I may reach out to for more help?

Unfortunately, the Office of Admissions does not provide advice to interested students or applicants. We suggest you reach out to any premedical advisor available to you for more assistance.

Interviewing Inquires

When will I know if I am invited for an interview?

We begin extending invitations for interviews through email from Mid-August through January.

How do I go about reiterating my interest in Columbia VP&S?

Please upload your letter of interest through the Secondary Application portal (as PDFs).

I am an applicant to a non-regular MD program (Columbia-Bassett, MD/Ph.D., 3 Year Ph.D.-to-MD) and have not heard back regarding an interview. Who can I contact?

These programs have a later start to their interview cycle and usually begin in October.

What does the interview process look like for Columbia-Bassett applicants?

Applicants to the Columbia-Bassett track interview with faculty members from Cooperstown, NY, and New York City.

What should I do if I have been invited to interview, but the dates available don’t work with my schedule?

If the dates available to interview do not work for you, we will try our best to accommodate you. Please contact the Admissions Office via e-mail (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu) and our Interview Coordinator will get in contact with you.

What should I do if I am abroad during the interview cycle?

We will be conducting virtual interviews for the 2025 application cycle. However, please notify us if you are abroad so that we may accommodate you concerning the time of your interview.

What does the interview day look like?

Interviews for the 2024-2025 application cycle will be virtual. Information regarding the interview day will be provided through the secondary application portal.

Who should I contact if I would like to send a thank-you note to the Dean of Admissions, my interviewer or the admissions staff?

We are very welcoming of any thank-you notes you would like to send. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide you with specific contact information of your interviewer if they did not share that information with you. You may send any thank-you notes to our email address:


We ask that any thank-you notes also be uploaded via the Secondary Portal as an Applicant Update (in PDF).

I successfully completed my interview day at Columbia VP&S. When will I hear back regarding my admission decision?

We do not have rolling admissions. All of our applicants will receive their admissions decisions in early March.



Admitted Students

Do admitted applicants have to select the Plan to Enroll option by a certain date?

Yes. Admitted applicants must select the Plan to Enroll option no later than April 30th.

Do admitted applicants have to select the Commit to Enroll option by a certain date?

Yes. Admitted applicants must select the Commit to Enroll option no later than June 15th.

If I am participating in a pre-orientation program, must I select the Commit to Enroll option on a different date?

No. You must select the Commit to Enroll option no later than June 15th. 

I am an accepted student who plans on matriculating. What information does the Admissions Office need from me?

  1. Your undergraduate degree must be completed before matriculating to Columbia VP&S.
  2. An official final undergraduate transcript stating the date and degree received.
  3. All required courses must be completed before matriculation.
  4. Pre-Registration Health forms
  5. Must clear background check

Does Columbia's medical school grant deferrals?

Yes, deferrals are granted on a case-by-case basis for applicants who were accepted in the first round. Deferrals are usually approved by the Admissions Committee for one or two years. Admitted students interested in deferring must upload to their application a letter detailing their reason for requesting a deferral, along with the length of their deferral request. The deadline for requesting a deferral is April 30th.

If I am accepted off the waitlist, can I be granted a deferral?

No, deferral requests from students pulled off the waitlist are not granted. It has long been our policy that acceptances from the waitlist are made for the purpose of filling vacancies in the incoming class as they occur.

Do I have to live in 50 Haven Ave. during my first year of medical school?

No, you can select other housing options during the selection process.

Are the apartments furnished?

The apartments come furnished and unfurnished. During the selection process, you will be able to see which apartments are available and if they are furnished or unfurnished. 

Is there a deposit to hold my spot for the incoming class?

There is no deposit required to save your spot at Columbia VP&S.

I have received an offer of admissions at Columbia VP&S. Is it binding?

No, our offer of admissions at Columbia VP&S is not binding.

If I have previously been admitted to Columbia VP&S and would now like to withdraw, who should I contact?

If you would like to decline our offer of admission, please contact the Admissions Office via e-mail (psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu). In addition, please upload your intention to withdraw as an Applicant Update via the Secondary Portal.

If I have been accepted to VP&S from the wait-list and the deadline for important forms have passed, will I be granted an extension?

As an incoming VP&S student, you are guaranteed 50 Haven Ave. housing. Health Forms are required three weeks after your acceptance date.

When will I be receiving information about UNI’s, e-mail address activation, and orientation?

You will receive more information about UNIs, e-mail address activation, and orientation in early June.

Do I need to send official transcripts to the school even though I submitted my transcripts directly to AMCAS?

Yes, If you have attended a college or university in the United States you must submit an electronic transcript directly from your school to psadmissions@cumc.columbia.edu

If a paper transcript is the only option, the transcript must be sent directly from your institution to our office. It cannot be delivered or forwarded by you. Please have your school mail your transcript to:

Columbia University, Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons

104 Haven Avenue

1st Floor, Suite 105

New York, NY 10032

Student Life

What sets apart Columbia medical students?

Although our students demonstrate exceptional academic achievement upon entering medical school, what truly sets them apart is their commitment: to one another, to the life of their school, to the advancement of the field, and to the world beyond medical school—be it in the Washington Heights community or an impoverished nation thousands of miles away.


What is the VP&S Club?

Our students are remarkably active, involved, socially committed, and diverse. The VP&S Club, an umbrella student activities organization for Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, sponsors over 70 clubs, the most comprehensive of any student activities group in American medical education. For more information, please visit the VP&S Club website.

How many students participate in international experiences?

In the class of 2022, 8 students went abroad for first year summer experiences before the pandemic curtailed global travel.

How many students take an extra year for research or a dual-degree?

Approximately 32 percent of the most recent graduating class took extra time for research or a dual degree.

How many students match at Columbia for postgraduate training?

Eighteen percent of our most recent graduate class matched at Columbia for part or all of their postgraduate training.

Thirty-six percent will remain in New York, mostly in New York City.

What service-learning opportunities exist at Columbia?

Washington Heights offers students the opportunity to work with underserved populations to help alleviate health care disparities afflicting minority, immigrant, and low-income populations. There are numerous opportunities to participate in community education and community building programs established by Washington Heights and Harlem community organizations as well as VP&S. These programs include:

What are the first-time pass rates on licensure examinations for Columbia medical students?

USMLE Step 1

2013: 99% (VP&S) vs. 96% (national)

2014: 99% (VP&S) vs. 96% (national)

2015: 100% (VP&S) vs. 95% (national)

2016: 99% (VP&S) vs. 95% (national)

2017: 99% (VP&S) vs. 96% (national)

2018: 99% (VP&S) vs. 96% (national)

2019: 99% (VP&S) vs. 97% (national)

2020: 99% (VP&S) vs. 97% (national)

2021: 100% (VP&S) vs 96% (national)


USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge

2012-2013: 100% (VP&S) vs. 98% (national)

2013-2014: 99% (VP&S) vs. 97% (national)

2014-2015: 96% (VP&S) vs. 95% (national)

2015-2016: 97% (VP&S) vs. 96% (national)

2016-2017: 99% (VP&S) vs. 96% (national)

2017-2018: 97% (VP&S) vs. 97% (national)

2018-2019: 99% (VP&S) vs 98% (national)

2019-2020: 98% (VP&S) vs 98% (national)

2020-2021: 99% (VP&S) vs 98% (national)


USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills

2012-2013: 99% (VP&S) vs. 98% (national)

2013-2014: 99% (VP&S) vs. 96% (national)

2014-2015: 98% (VP&S) vs. 96% (national)

2015-2016: 100% (VP&S) vs. 97% (national)

2016-2017: 98% (VP&S) vs. 96% (national)

2017-2018: 99% (VP&S) vs. 95% (national)

2018-2019: 96% (VP&S) vs. 95% (national)

2019-2020: 97% (VP&S) vs. 95% (national)

Exam was retired in late 2020.


USMLE Step 3 (taken after graduation in first few years of residency)

Class of 2011: 98% (VP&S) vs. 97% (national)

Class of 2012  100% (VP&S) vs. 97% (national)

Class of 2013: 97% (VP&S) vs. 97% (national)

Class of 2014: 99% (VP&S) vs. 98% (national)

Class of 2015: 99% (VP&S) vs. 98% (national)

Class of 2016: 100% (VP&S) vs 98% (national)

Class of 2017: 100% (VP&S) vs 98% (national)

Class of 2018: 100% (VP&S) vs 98% (national)

Class of 2019: 99% (VP&S) vs 98% (national)