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If you're like most students planning to apply to medical school, you have a pre-med advisor or committee to help guide you through the maze of conflicting requirements and expectations that is medical school admissions.  But what if you're one of the unlucky ones who doesn't?  Or what if you simply can't get your advisor on the phone?  That's where we come in. 

This case study looks at three schools (HMS, Johns Hopkins and Tufts) requirements, pointing out where they are similar in where they are different. The results may surprise you -- read on.

Basic prerequisites. All three schools expect that you hold a BS or BA. All three of the schools emphasize that they don't care what your major was, as long as you fulfill the prerequisites. All three schools strongly prefer students to have completed their undergraduate work in the United States, although Harvard will consider foreign students if they have completed at least one year of American University work. Johns Hopkins specifically states that they will consider community college credit, although they encourage students to take advanced courses and related subjects once they get into a four-year school. The other two schools do not state this. Harvard expresses a strong preference for interdisciplinary courses, probably because they have so many prerequisites that it would be almost impossible to achieve them all otherwise.

Standardized Tests: All three schools require the MCAT, and for foreigners, the TOEFL as well.
Biology.  All three schools require one year of biology. None of the schools will accept AP credit to fulfill this requirement. Both Harvard and Tufts say that biochemistry is now required.

Chemistry. Johns Hopkins requires one and a half years. Both Harvard and Tufts require two. All of the schools require organic chemistry. Johns Hopkins and Tufts clearly place a strong emphasis on laboratory work. Interestingly, Harvard specifically deemphasizes laboratory work, saying they would rather see you put your time into other activities.  They do, however, add that active, sustained participation in faculty-mentored laboratory research experiences is encouraged and can be used to meet requirements for the acquisition of laboratory skills.

Humanities.  These are the requirements that vary most widely between schools.  Harvard expects 16 hours, Johns Hopkins 24 hours, and Tufts simply states that a competency in spoken and written English is required, with no specifics on courses.

Math.  All three schools expect competency in calculus, but all three schools allow it to be achieved via AP credit. All three schools also recommend or require statistics, and will not accept AP credit.
Foreign Language. Both Harvard and Johns Hopkins strongly recommend that the student achieve basic conversational skills in a foreign language.

Extras.  Johns Hopkins places an emphasis on teamwork, and states that a significant experience requiring teamwork is expected in the course of the applicant’s academic and/or extracurricular activities and should be documented in the application.

Have some questions about your target school?  Contact us -- we can help.