Medical School Scholarship Program
Up to 2% of each graduating class may enter medical school directly from West Point. Participants in this program must be endorsed by the USMA Medical Program Advisory Committee (MPAC) and gain admission to a medical school. The Chemistry and Life Science Department provides courses in organic chemistry, advanced biology, cell biology, human physiology, genetics, neuroscience and biochemistry that are important for those interested in medical school. The majority of premedical cadets select the Life Science Major.
Since the medical school program was introduced for the Class of 1979, ten to twenty members of each class have proceeded directly to various medical schools. A number have attended the Department of Defense Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USU). While enrolled in USU, they draw pay and allowances as a second lieutenant. Tuition, equipment, and book costs are also paid by the U.S. Government. Those attending civilian medical schools receive financial support through the Army Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP). While in school, students serve in a reserve status. The scholarship pays tuition, books, fees, and a monthly stipend.
Cadets who do not enter medical school directly from the Academy may apply to USU or compete for a Health Professions Scholarship while on active duty. The number of USMA graduates who attend medical school following a period of active Army service approaches, or even exceeds, the number of those who go straight from USMA to medical school.
Photos courtesy of U.S. Army, Office of the Surgeon General
Frequently Asked Questions about the Medical School Option
Q: How many cadets are allowed to go to medical school immediately after graduation?
A: Up to 2% of each class (approximately 20 cadets) are allowed to attend medical school immediately upon graduation. There is no requirement to be ranked within the top 2% of the class. There is no limitation on the number of graduates who attend medical school after spending time in the Army. Officers fulfilling active duty service obligations (ADSOs) must be released by their branches to attend medical school.
Q: When would I take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)?
A: If you want to attend medical school immediately after graduation, you must take the MCAT in the spring of your Second class (Cow) year.
Q: What GPA and MCAT score do I need to get into medical school?
A: The following table lists average Grade Point Averages and MCAT Scores for schools that accepted cadets accepted during the last three years:
|Oklahoma State University||3.71||512|
|Southern Illinois University||3.72||506|
|University of Massachusetts||3.78||514|
|University of Tennessee||3.77||510|
|UT San Antonio||3.85||513|
|University of Oklahoma||3.81||509|
Q: What additional obligation do I incur for attending medical school?
A: The obligation depends on your school (USU or civilian) and the length of your residency. In addition to the 5-year West Point obligation, you will incur an additional 4 years if you go to a civilian medical school (HPSP), or an additional 7 years if you attend USU. Longer residencies (example: surgery) add more time. You will not start "paying off" the obligation until you complete your Graduate Medical Education (residency program).
Q: When do I have to decide if I want to pursue the medical school option?
A: In the spring of Cow year, cadets apply to the Medical Program Advisory Committee (MPAC) for endorsement to attend medical school. However, most cadets decide when they declare their major and select courses. If you are interested earlier, make that known to Academic Counselors in the Chemistry and Life Science Department and the Office of the Dean. Q: What is the best major to take if I want to go to medical school? I have read that it may not be best to major in the life sciences because medical schools are looking for students from diverse academic backgrounds.
Q: What is the best major to take if I want to go to medical school? I have read that it may not be best to major in the life sciences because medical schools are looking for students from diverse academic backgrounds.
A: Medical schools want well-rounded students who have taken a variety of courses in math, science, and humanities, as well as the specific courses needed for medical school. Your Core Academic Program, which comprises 67% of your academic experience at USMA, is a broad-based academic curriculum with courses in math, science, and humanities. This is exactly the kind of broad-based academic program that medical schools value. The remaining 33% of your academic experience at USMA (courses in your major, complementary support courses and electives) must include the remaining classes you need to prepare for the MCAT and medical school. The majority of cadets interested in medical school sign up for the Life Science Major. This is the most “efficient” way to prepare; the program offers courses that help you succeed with the MCAT and in medical school
Q: What is the minimum number of courses beyond the core courses that I need to compete for selection for medical school?
A: Beyond your core courses (Chemistry, Math, English, Physics), the minimum requirements for most medical schools are 2 semesters of Organic Chemistry with lab, 2 semesters of biological science with lab and one semester of Biochemistry. The USMA courses are:
- CH383 Organic Chemistry I
- CH384 Organic Chemistry II
- CH375 Introduction to Biology
- CH387 Human Physiology
- CH473 Biochemistry
In the Life Science Major you will take CH385 Cell Biology, CH388 Genetics, CH457 Microbiology, and CH479 Biotechnology. These courses will help prepare you for the Biological Foundations portions of the MCAT and medical school. Majors will also take CH371, Introduction to Analytical Chemistry. This course will help prepare you for the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems portion of the MCAT. Majors may also enroll in CH499 Neuroscience, a course designed to facilitate preparation for the Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of the MCAT.
Q: What is the USMA medical school selection process?
A: The USMA Medical Program Advisory Committee (MPAC) meets in April and interviews second class cadets interested in attending medical school. The board is chaired by the Commander (Deputy Commander, when the commander is not a physician) of Keller Army Community Hospital and has members from Keller, the Dean’s Office, the Chemistry and Life Science Department, USUHS, HPSP and USCC. Cadets are required to have a 3.4 academic GPA or higher and an MCAT score of 505 or higher. Applicants must be scheduled to complete the five minimum required courses listed above, by the end of Cow year, to be considered for an interview by the board. “Provisional” endorsement is announced in April so cadets can apply to schools in the spring. Final selections are confirmed in August after MCAT scores are reviewed.
Q: What are the most important factors determining selection by the board?
A: Your academic GPA, BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math) GPA, MCAT, and interview are the most important factors. Medical schools place a high premium on research, clinical exposure (shadowing), volunteer work and community service. As a result, these are also carefully considered by the board. Other important factors include your military and physical performance as well as recommendations from the staff and faculty. Members of the MPAC re-evaluate applicants after MCAT scores are received during the summer. The committee seeks to choose the cadets most qualified to attend medical school immediately upon graduation from the Academy.
Q: I want to go to medical school but I am also interested in doing some troop leading time in the Army. Can I go to medical school later?
A: Absolutely! There are many advantages to going on active duty for a few years before attending medical school. In fact, of all the USMA graduates that are Army physicians, half went to medical school immediately after graduation and half went after serving some active duty time. Whichever option you choose, however, it is important to complete all the courses you need to be accepted to medical school while at USMA. It is very difficult to find the time to take additional courses while on active duty.