PreHealth FAQs

PreHealth Paths

Evaluate your longterm goals and consider these possibilities as you plan your time as an undergraduate.

If you think you want to conduct biomedical research to understand disease mechanisms and develop cures:

Your Major One of the sciences
First Year Courses Consider enrolling in calculus and chemistry or physics
Extracurriculars Make contact with the Undergraduate Research Office and get some experience in the laboratory before your junior year in college
After Graduation PhD or MD/PhD Program

If you think you want to shape national or international health policy, or make contributions to the health of an entire community rather than trying to treat one patient at a time: 

Your Major Consider the public health, health economics, and health care management courses
First year courses There is no specific course sequence
Extracurriculars Utilize the Career Center to look for internships in your sophomore and junior summer to help you narrow your focus and eventually choose a work setting
After graduation Master’s degree in public health, public policy or health care administration

If you think you want to work one-on-one with individual patients:

Your Major You can pursue any major as long as you fulfill the requirements for your intended professional school/program
First year courses  More detailed information about prerequisites for diverse professional programs can be found under Health Care Career Opportunities
Extracurriculars Consider community, clinical, and/or public service. Both exposure to the field and commitment to service are key for choosing your ultimate career and for admission to professional school.
After graduation Professional training program*

*You should explore several health care practice settings to see what kind of patients would be the most rewarding for you to work with. 

Timeline for Coursework

About half of our students choose to spread the coursework out, or take additional time to prepare for an entrance exam. These students apply the summer after the senior year, and work during their “gap year” while they are interviewing for professional school. Many students who opt for the gap year report that they wanted to create time to study abroad, or gain more experience outside the classroom in clinical settings, before they applied.

Course Planning

There are many different roads to medical school, here is an outline of undergraduate course sequencing options.

Examples of Course Scheduling Options

Post Baccalaureate 

Many Wash-U students do not complete or even begin taking pre-professional courses while enrolled as undergraduates. Post-baccalaureate programs allow college graduates to take one or all of the required courses. WU students who choose to complete their requirements after graduation can still take advantage of our pre-health advising and resources. Some post-bac programs cater to career changers (those who need to complete most or all of the science core), some to enhancers (students who have completed the core but are taking advanced science electives to improve their science GPA and/or prepare for the MCAT), and some accept both. The post-baccalaureate premedical studies program at Wash U, housed in University College, accepts both types of students. The program allows students to take day or evening courses and provides access to premed resources and advising. For more information, please see the premed website, email pbpm@wustl.edu, or call 314-935-6700 to schedule an appointment with a post-bac advisor. Also, take a look at the full list of post-bac programs available nationally.

Course Credit & Requirements

Can I use AP credit for premedical requirements?

For most medical schools, Advanced Placement (AP) tests in biology, chemistry, and physics do not fulfill the premedical requirements in these areas. Our advice is NOT to skip any required core courses. AP Credit IS sufficient for the math requirement of many programs. Be sure to consult the individual programs you are interested in

When can I take a class pass/fail?

Required courses should never be taken pass/fail. It is acceptable, however, to take a few other courses pass/fail.

GPA

What should my GPA be?

Students with a wide range of credentials apply successfully to medical school.

GPA & MCAT Data for 1st Time Applicants

What counts towards my BCPM (science) GPA?

The medical school common application (AMCAS) calculates a BCPM (biology, chemistry, physics, math) GPA.  Students categorize which courses should be included, based on the courses’ primary content, not home department.  For example, psych stats is offered by a non-BCPM department, but it is a math class. There is very little psychology covered. Students would classify psych stats as math, and it will be included in the science GPA. 

NSM classes are NOT necessarily BCPM. For example, experimental psych is a rigorous course on hypothesis-driven research, but the content is not primarily biology, chemistry, physics or math. Experimental psych should be classified as social and behavioral sciences on the AMCAS application, and will not be included in the science GPA.

AMCAS COURSE CLASSIFICATION GUIDE

Are there different rules for Texas Medical Schools?

Yes, the rules are different for TMDSAS, Texas Medical and Dental School Application Systems.
Unsure which courses at WashU count towards your TMDSAS science GPA? 
Browse the list of TMDSAS science GPA approved WashU courses.

Study Abroad

Overview:

Success in a future healthcare profession will be predicated on a broad education that is complemented with diverse, tangible experiences that reach beyond the classroom.  Study abroad provides an ideal opportunity to develop/hone the skills and attitudes that are valued in the field of healthcare—adaptability, maturity, self-determination, and sensitivity/appreciation of others and their cultural differences.

Study abroad can offer prehealth students a unique chance to explore/experience diverse healthcare systems, alternative approaches to health and healing, cultural perspectives/attitudes toward aging and disease, new methodologies in biomedicine, and, in some instances, to gain volunteer experience in a distinct healthcare or research setting.  Undertaking such an opportunity can augment your knowledge of health issues affecting diverse groups of people and can better prepare you for the future—not only with your professional applications and interviews but also in your long-term perspective in how you engage and treat others, such as colleagues and patients, in the professional setting.

Important Notes:

  • Approved/sponsored study abroad programs & their courses count as credit toward graduation, may help satisfy Arts & Sciences distribution requirements, and can provide credit toward majors/minors (appropriate department ultimately decides which courses will count and requirements fulfilled)
  • Some study abroad programs require a foreign language background before the start of the program; other programs require a language course to be taken while abroad
  • Required coursework for professional school admissions should NOT be taken during study abroad
  •  Wash U tuition covers the educational cost of semester- and academic year-study abroad programs, with financial aid and scholarships applicable; summer programs fall in a separate term and a student’s financial aid package or scholarship does not apply

I'm premed. Can I still study abroad?

Absolutely!  It is doable and feasible for premed students to study abroad during their years at Washington University.  All it takes is good planning and a little flexibility.

Can I take the recommended premed science classes abroad?

No.  Most medical schools will not accept prerequisites taken abroad.  All of the required science and math classes should be completed at Washington University or another accredited institution of higher education in the U.S.

Can I take my premed science classes over the summer in order to study abroad?

Yes, taking some prerequisites over the summer can build flexibility into your schedule, allowing you to better accomplish your academic goals (i.e., study abroad).  This decision can be discussed individually with a prehealth advisor.

When is the best time to study abroad for a premed student?

The answer depends on the individual student and his/her premed, personal, and academic timeline.  Important points to consider:

  • Attending a summer study abroad program will require minimal adjustment of your coursework and spare any interruptions in your academic timeline.
  • Some students elect to take a gap year (year off between undergraduate studies and medical school), and in so doing, these students are easily able to complete science coursework during the normal academic year and study abroad during their Junior year.
  • For those students who DO NOT plan on taking a gap year, the best time to study abroad is the Fall semester of the Junior year or during summers.

As you can begin to appreciate, there are numerous options for a premed (or prehealth) student to consider when mapping out a strategy for studying abroad.  A sample of collected scheduling options can be found below.  However, it is best to discuss your options with the study abroad prehealth advisor  early in your WashU tenure in order to best navigate semester schedules that will fit into a manageable study abroad timeframe.

Study Abroad Scheduling Options

Gap Year Study Abroad Plans: For students who wish to study abroad for 1-2 semesters and apply for matriculation with a gap year, here are a few possible schedules:

 

Fall

Spring

Summer

First-Year

Chem 111

Chem 151

Math (or AP credit)

CWP 100

Chem 112

Chem 152

BIOL 2960

Math (or AP credit)

 

Sophomore

Chem 261

BIOL 2970

Chem 262

Psych or Sociol elective

Physics 117 & 118

Junior

Abroad

Abroad

 

Senior

BIOL 451 (biochem)

MCAT

Graduate

Apply

Gap Year

Interviews, work/fellowship/volunteering

 

Matriculation to health professional school

 

 

Fall

Spring

Summer

First-Year

Chem 111

Chem 151

Math (or AP credit)

CWP 100

Chem 112

Chem 152

BIOL 2960

Math (or AP credit)

 

Sophomore

Chem 261

BIOL 2970

Chem 262

Psych or Sociol elective

 

Junior

Physics 117

BIOL 451 (biochem)

Physics 118

MCAT

Senior

Abroad

Graduate

Apply

Gap Year

Interviews, work/fellowship/volunteering

 

Matriculation to health professional school

 

 

Fall

Spring

Summer

First-Year

Chem 111

Chem 151

Math (or AP credit)

CWP 100

Chem 112

Chem 152

BIOL 2960

Math (or AP credit)

 

Sophomore

Chem 261

BIOL 2970

Chem 262

Psych or Sociol elective

 

Junior

Abroad

BIOL 451 (biochem)

 

Senior

Physics 117

Physics 118

Graduate

MCAT

Apply

Gap Year

Interviews, work/fellowship/volunteering

 

Matriculation to health professional school

 

 

Direct Entry (NO Gap Year) Study Abroad Plans: For students who wish to study abroad for a semester and apply for matriculation directly following graduation, here are a few possible schedules:

 

Fall

Spring

Summer

First-Year

Chem 111

Chem 151

Math (or AP credit)

CWP 100

Chem 112

Chem 152

BIOL 2960

Math (or AP credit)

 

Sophomore

Chem 261

BIOL 2970

Chem 262

Psych or Sociol elective

Physics 117 & 118

Junior

Abroad

BIOL 451 (biochem)

MCAT

Apply

Senior

Interviews

Interviews

Graduate

 

 

Matriculation to health professional school

 

 

Fall

Spring

Summer

First-Year

Chem 111

Chem 151

Math (or AP credit)

CWP 100

Chem 112

Chem 152

BIOL 2960

Math (or AP credit)

 

Sophomore

Physics 117

BIOL 2970

Physics 118

Psych or Sociol elective

Chem 261 & 262

Junior

Abroad

BIOL 451 (biochem)

MCAT

Apply

Senior

Interviews

Interviews

Graduate

 

 

Matriculation to health professional school

 

 

Fall

Spring

Summer

First-Year

Chem 111

Chem 151

Math (or AP credit)

CWP 100

Physics 117

Chem 112

Chem 152

BIOL 2960

Math (or AP credit)

Physics 118

 

Sophomore

Chem 261

BIOL 2970

Chem 262

Psych or Sociol elective

 

Junior

Abroad

BIOL 451 (biochem)

MCAT

Apply

Senior

Interviews

Interviews

Graduate

 

 

Matriculation to health professional school

*Note: No-Gap-year timelines can be challenging since it compresses the prerequisite coursework and one will have to potentially manage some of the logistics of professional school applications from abroad.

Can I take the MCAT while abroad?

While there are some international sites which administer the MCAT, you should think carefully about whether you want to make the serious commitment of undertaking MCAT preparation and testing while abroad.  This can very well take away from the overall study abroad experience.

Q. Do I need to attend a program which yields a transcript from an American university?

No, you do not have to specifically attend a study abroad program from a US college or university.  Unless the program is specifically sponsored by Wash U and taught by Wash U faculty, students earn transfer credit from their study abroad coursework, with no grades recorded on the Wash U transcript and, hence, no impact on the Wash U GPA.  Nevertheless, study abroad courses can satisfy Wash U graduation requirements.

On your AMCAS application, these study abroad grades will appear as P/NP and not factor into your AMCAS GPA.

Are there study abroad programs specifically for prehealth students?

Yes, there are a select number of programs designed specifically for prehealth students that include clinical, shadowing, patient, and/or biomedical research experiences.  There is also a plethora of programs that focus on global health, community issues, development, and translational sciences, allowing you to pursue your own interests in the health sciences.  HOWEVER, ANY STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM THAT YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT WILL BE REWARDING, ENRICH YOU PERSONALLY, ENAHNCE YOUR NARRATIVE, AND STRENGTHEN YOUR PROFESSIONAL APPLICATION.  Please see the selection of study abroad programs that are popular with prehealth students.

Semester Study Abroad Programs

Popular with WUSTL PreHealth Students

DIS Copenhagen - Medical Practice & Policy

This program offers you unique and valuable hands-on medical experiences, such as clinical lab exercises, as well as insight into clinical practices and health provision in Europe.
The Medical Practice & Policy program will allow you to:

  • Learn from medical doctors at Copenhagen University hospitals, and gain an insider view of the workings of hospitals and clinics, and the daily practice of physicians
  • Try your hand at recording patient history and clinical cases as part of the experiential learning element of the core course
  • Perform physical examinations and procedures on medical phantoms, such as blood drawing, I.V. entry, and suturing
  • Compare and contrast health care and medical practice in newly reformed versus welfare state systems by visiting hospitals, clinics, and research institutions on study tours in Denmark and cities in Western and Eastern Europe

This program is right for you if you have a serious interest in medicine and science and are considering pursing a graduate degree in the health professions. You will gain insight into the field of medicine through the faculty, who are Danish medical practitioners, and classes at a local university hospital. https://sa.wustl.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10265

 

DIS Stockholm - Medical Practice & Policy

Engage in a unique pre-medical experience by learning from Swedish medical doctors and researchers, focusing on how research translates into medical practices, and how patient data translates back into research.
PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore case studies that bridge research and clinical breakthroughs within acute and chronic diseases, and investigate how diagnostic tools and treatment strategies are developed through the dynamic relationships between clinicians, physicians, and scientists 
  • Perform physical examinations and procedures on medical phantoms, such as blood drawing, I.V. entry, and suturing at clinical training center in Stockholm
  • Travel with DIS on course-integrated study tours to visit clinical and diagnostic hospital departments and research institutions, and gain insight into clinical practices, translational research, and the lives of research doctors
    https://sa.wustl.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10522

 

King's College University of London (KCL) – Health and Society

King's College London Health and Society is a unique opportunity in the UK to have a clinical placement—examples include primary care practices, walk-in centers, and sexual health centers. Course topics may focus on national health systems and medical practice, as well as medicinal ethics, anthropology and humanities. If you’re pursuing a career in medicine and have a strong academic background in biology, this could be a good option for you.

Your program will consist of a clinical placement, a cornerstone course, and three additional classes. You’ll shadow clinicians and other health practitioners, attend lectures from leading academics, and evaluate health care related literature.
https://studyabroad.arcadia.edu/find-a-program/programs-by-country/england/kings-college-health-and-society/

SIT Study Abroad Chile - Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment

Gain unique insight and exposure to health care policies, politics, and delivery methods in a multicultural and rapidly changing region of South America.Central to the program is an analysis of health reform intended primarily to improve health conditions of disadvantaged groups, particularly those in Chile, while also improving health care access for the population at large.

Students carefully examine intercultural health and alternative healthcare practices in the context of Chile as well as southern Peru. Students consider different conceptions of wellness and healing, including beliefs and health practices of the Aymara and Mapuche indigenous groups. The program gives students the opportunity to experience Chile's health system firsthand with guided, insightful visits to public and private health centers.

Learning is conducted through thematic lectures, field study, and educational excursions, which challenge students to consider topics such as:

  • Chile's national and indigenous health systems
  • Economic, structural, and ideological determinants of public health planning and practices
  • Alternative treatments of psychiatric and other mental health issues
  • Healing and spiritual beliefs
  • Health of women, children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly
  • Public health and community empowerment
    https://sa.wustl.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10012

SIT Study Abroad China - Community Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine

From barefoot doctors to traditional remedies, the Chinese public health system has drawn increasing attention in the West. In this program, students have the unique opportunity to study traditional Chinese medicine and public health issues by working with professionals in the field in both urban and rural settings. Students will have the opportunity to observe traditional practitioners of herbal medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy, and, in some cases, receive practical training.
 

Based in the city of Kunming in Yunnan Province, China, and run in conjunction with the Yunnan Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the program provides an introduction to the ancient philosophy, theory, history, and practices in traditional Chinese medicine, one of the world's oldest, best-known, and most-developed medicinal systems, placing it in the social context of public health in China.
 

To facilitate their health-related academic work, students on this program also undertake the study of Mandarin language and Chinese culture.
Compare Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Philosophies with Practicing Doctors

 

Many of the doctors affiliated with SIT Study Abroad's program have certification in both Western medicine and TCM. Students have shared in many spirited, insightful, and often surprising discussions of the appropriate use of one treatment over another.

Learn about TCM philosophy


Much of TCM philosophy is based in Daoism. To understand the practice, students explore the concepts of yin and yang, the organs, meridians, and the basic underpinnings of many Eastern philosophies, as well as the history of TCM.


Practice techniques of massage, acupuncture, and moxibustion. Each week, the program focuses on a different TCM practice, including Chinese massage (Tuina), moxibustion, cupping, acupuncture and herbal remedies. Students practice these techniques and see doctors performing these techniques.

Explore the pharmacopeia of TCM herbal medicine

Program activities include visits to nature parks with a botanist to learn about healing plants and herbs, exploration of the TCM pharmacy, and a demonstration of medicines being made.

Visit Tibetan healers and learn of indigenous healing techniques

While on excursion in the northernmost parts of Yunnan, students will see traditional dongba healing ceremonies, meet a Tibetan healer, and learn about daily health practices in minority communities.

https://sa.wustl.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10015

SIT Study Abroad Kenya – Global Health and Human Rights

This program examines health and human rights in Kenya through a complex constellation of urban issues including housing, urban infrastructures, land tenure, informal settlements, food (in)security in the city, and evictions. Students examine Kenya’s healthcare challenges, practices, and systems, in both rural and urban contexts, together with analyses of locally informed debates surrounding human rights.

Major Topics of Study Include:

Housing policies and practices in Kenya and their implication for health and human rights

Kenyan healthcare systems and healthcare challenges, including demographics, public health education, differential access to healthcare,

Health issues in Kenya, including HIV/AIDS, health issues of orphaned and vulnerable children, women’s healthcare needs, and mental healthcare

Links between access to and reliance on Kenyan healthcare services and the conceptions of human rights of individuals and communities

Successful coalition-building efforts, civil society organizations, the private sector, and others pursuing community-based approaches to myriad contemporary issues
https://sa.wustl.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10026

SIT Study Abroad South Africa – Community Health and Social Policy

Examine the interplay of health care policy, education, and practice in South Africa. Students will focus on topics such as the relationship between traditional healing and western medicine, prenatal care, access to health care, and health education. Building on a multidisciplinary and historical analysis of health in South Africa, the program explores critical issues and initiatives in a nation where health policies have achieved mixed results in addressing health problems.

The program base of Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal, serves as a nexus of health teaching, research, and practice in both western and traditional healing systems. Lecturers are drawn from the University of Kwazulu-Natal and a variety of non-government organizations (NGOs), most of whom are on the cutting edge of research and policy development. Students participate in a number of urban and rural homestays, in Durban and the North and South Coasts, getting a real sense of grassroots level health-care. Short excursions take students to special needs schools and various health-providing organizations. A particular highlight is the homestay with rural community health workers, whom students shadow on their daily rounds.

Major Topics of Study:

  • Healthcare delivery in rural South Africa, including the practice of prevention and promotion of healthcare
  • The role of the media in promoting, communicating, or influencing health issues in South Africa
  • The ways in which specific health issues in South Africa are being targeted or addressed
  • Rural health and social justice
  • The pharmaceutical industry
  • Traditional healing
    https://sa.wustl.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10043

Summer Study Abroad Programs

Popular with WUSTL PreHealth Students

Andean Studies Summer Program in Peru

The Andean Studies Summer Program in Lima, organized in conjunction with the prestigious Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru, has been designed as an immersion-type program that allows students to experience first-hand the legacy of ancient Inca culture and delve into the interactions between indigenous traditions and modern life. {NOTE: Spanish 202 must be completed by the start of the program}

*One course within the program allows students the opportunity to engage with traditional healers (course description is below):

 

“Public Health, Healing and Traditional Medicine in the Andean Region” focuses on the fundamental aspects of popular and indigenous medicinal systems and their interaction with contemporary medical practices and policies. Some of the topics to be covered deal with notions such as medical pluralism, medical anthropology, global health, etc. and analyze the practices of shamanism, herbalism, cuaranderismo, etc. The notions of health, healing, disease are studies in connection to environmental problems and worldviews in the diverse cultures of the region.  (3 credits)

 

https://sa.wustl.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10387

 

Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS): Global Health Issues in South Africa

This course integrates classroom and field instruction to introduce students to the fundamental principles of South African medicine and public health systems.  Students will study topics including infectious diseases, epidemiology, virology and zoonosis, sexual health and reproductive issues, environmental health (vector ecology, water quality, waste management, entomology, toxicology), global health issues (emerging tropical diseases), and traditional and alternative medicine. Students will study current techniques and concerns in South African medicine and public health, analyze the impact of climate change for human health, and analyze the social and economic determinants that contribute to the expanding impact of infectious diseases. Students will learn firsthand about South Africa’s health care system, from the primary care in rural communities to large urban systems.

Visits will include primary health care facilities in rural areas including a homestay in a Venda community in Hamakuya (west of Kruger National Park). Students will also stay at the Wits Rural Facility, which is a community, supported in part by Witwatersrand University (an OTS consortium institution).  Located just west of Kruger National Park, the community is a model for studies on health care delivery and sustainability. In addition, students will have the opportunity to interview doctors and patients, analyze quarantine programs, conduct field research in biological and environmental areas relevant to human health, and learn how to document a disease-related case study. {NOTE: two semesters of college-level biology, ecology, or other related sciences must be completed by the start of the program}

https://sa.wustl.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10182

WU's French and African Studies Summer Program in Senegal

The summer program to Senegal, West Africa is designed for students who want to build their conversational French language skills, learn more about Francophone West Africa, and experiment with field research. Dakar, Senegal provides the perfect opportunity to explore themes in African and Francophone studies because of its geographical space and unique history. Geographically, Dakar naturally opens itself to the wider world, as reflected in its history, its role in the former French empire, its religious landscape, and its current relationships with other countries. Senegal, very proud of its place as an intellectual center, is the epicenter of many artistic and cultural movements. Dakar is a stable, cosmopolitan, and culturally rich capital city.

 

*In the context of this program, students have the opportunity to work at a regional malaria lab in Dakar at Hospital Dantec (which has an affiliation with Harvard School of Public Health) and/or involve themselves in shadowing and research at Hoptial Fann (psychiatry and neurology).

 

https://sa.wustl.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10081#Academics

WU's Summer Study in France for the Premed Student

This intensive summer program is designed for students interested in French language and cultural studies as well as pre-medical studies. The program aims at total immersion into life in France, while providing students with the opportunity to experience first-hand the French medical system. Going into its twenty-third season, France for the Pre-Med can accommodate students in a broad spectrum of health-related fields and special interests. {NOTE: two years of college-level French or the equivalent must be completed by the start of the program}

https://sa.wustl.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10105

What scores do I need to enter Medical School?

What grades and MCAT do I need for medical school?

Our Aggregate Matriculation Data is the best way to ascertain whether your numerical credentials are a fit for the schools where you want to apply.  Some schools admit a wide swath of Wash U students; others have a narrower range of academic credentials that they consider.  You can also surmise how familiar the school is with our curriculum from the total number of matriculants.

A few things to keep in mind as you examine this data:

  • The table includes re-applicants. 
  • The BCPM (science) GPAs on this chart are at time of application.  Many younger students have more modest grades early on and build an upward trend.
  • Numbers are only half the picture.  How well you demonstrate the AAMC Core Competencies, how well you perform on the pre-interview situational judgement test (CASPer), how well you describe your narrative in the written aspects of your application,  and how well you interview in both traditional and MMI formats are all important.  These are all skills you can build.
  • Rising seniors with a BCPM GPA < 3.4 may be well advised to spend an additional year building their portfolios before applying.

What if my grades, MCAT or both are below the middle 50% for my target medical schools?

Holistic review is real, and students with lower grades and MCAT can be successful applicants. See your prehealth advisor to develop a strategy.

Letters of Recommendation for Medical School Applications

How many letters of recommendation do I need and from whom?

We advise securing one nonscience and two science faculty letters. This approach will work most places, but you should check specific requirements at your state school(s) and any dream schools. Some schools give no specific guidance about types of letters (examples are WUSM and U MI); others have very specific criteria for acceptable letters.

What counts as a science (or nonscience) letter?

That is up to the medical schools. If the schools to which you’ll apply don’t have specific criteria for letters, you don’t need to worry about this question. If you are applying to schools that, for example, require a biology faculty letter and you want to know if your neuroscience course offered out of the psychology department will count, you really have to check with the admissions office of that school.

Where do my Recommenders send their letters?

The PIR system works as a letter of recommendation depository for students who plan to apply through the Washington University PreHealth office. We ask that you create a PIR account, Sign a Confidentiality waiver, and give this waiver to your recommenders when asking them for a letter of recommendation. The waiver form has instructions on how your recommender(s) can submit their letters to us in order to be stored in your PIR account. We accept letters via email to prehealth@wustl.edu and through campus/US mail, address below. We cannot add a letter to a student's account if a confidentiality waiver is not signed. The letter must also be both signed and on official letterhead before it can be stored in your account. If we receive a letter that is not formatted appropriately we will try to be in touch with your recommender to correct the formatting.

The College of Arts & Sciences
Washington University
Attn: Liz Heidger
Campus Box 1117
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
prehealth@wustl.edu

What happens if a medical school has restrictions on the number of letters they will receive?

Some medical schools will ask for a specific number of letters. Please keep in mind Washington University's PreHealth Program will send one letter packet to AMCAS, to meet the requirements at many different Medical School Programs. We have never found a medical school take issue with our process. Medical schools understand our process and will review the letters that fulfill their requirements. If you would like to customize the letters that you send to a specific medical school; you can do so by requesting1 letter packet that will go to all schools followed by an individual letter(s) that will go to select schools. Your letter packet will include the Institutional Cover Letter, followed by the letters that you've requested in the order that you've requested them. Packets will be available to customize once your cover letter is completed and approved.