Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
MD Education

Alpha Omega Alpha

Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) is a national medical honor society organized in 1902. The Northwestern chapter was founded in 1903. It comprises undergraduate, graduate and honorary members selected on the basis of scholastic achievement and significant contributions in medicine. By charter the AOA allows each chapter to consider for election the top 25 percent of the medical school class. The top 25 percent of the class is determined by a point system (see below). These students are then nominated and invited to submit additional information to the AOA committee for a final selection of the top 16 percent of the class.

Points for AOA nomination are listed below:

Top 25 percent of class during Phase 12 points**
USMLE Step 1 score in the top 25 percent of cohort1 point
Medicine Clerkship2 points
Surgery Clerkship2 points
Pediatrics Clerkship1.5 points
Obstetrics-Gynecology Clerkship1.5 points
Psychiatry Clerkship1 point
Neurology Clerkship1 point
Primary Care Clerkship or ECMH1 point
Honors in all seven required Phase 2 clerkships2 points

** Does not apply to the class of 2020 and future classes. Phase 1 performance will not be part of the academic nomination for AOA.

The top 25 percent of the class during Phase 1 is based on the student’s composite score of all Phase 1 blocks. To determine the students who earn points for the clerkships, clerkship directors are asked to submit students who fell in the top 25 percent of the cohort for their year.

Once all of the possible points for each student have been determined, then the top 25 percent is identified. This is the group of students that the AOA Selection Committee considers for membership. The nomination and selection process occurs in time for the information to be included in the student’s Medical School Performance Evaluation for residency applications.

The AOA Selection Committee includes faculty who are AOA members and have considerable experience in our educational programs. Students are asked to submit their curriculum vitae to complete the application. Nominees are evaluated in five categories:

  • Awards received while in medical school (0-5 points)
  • Research performed while in medical school (0-5 points)
  • Publications accomplished during medical school (0-5 points)
  • Community service performed while in medical school (0-5 points)
  • Leadership while in medical school (0-5 points)

Each student’s application package is evaluated by at least two reviewers to achieve consensus. The reviewers’ scores are then averaged. If consensus is not achieved, the application will be reviewed by the committee at the selection meeting. 

The points for these extracurricular activities are weighed to be 33 percent of the total points. Points for Phase 1 and Phase 2 (M1, M2, M3) and USMLE are weighed to be 67 percent of the total points. Following discussion by the committee, candidates are ranked numerically based on the above criteria. The top 16 percent are selected and notified of their AOA election.