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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
MD Admissions

Applicant Requirements

Feinberg’s Response to COVID-19 - Information for 2021 Admissions Cycle

While we see more than test scores and value the opportunity to develop students with diverse and unique backgrounds and experiences, our requirements are designed to attract applicants who can do well in our challenging academic environment. Please review the elements required to apply to the MD program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine below.


Learn about the required and recommended coursework for Feinberg MD applicants.

Prospective students are encouraged to pursue a balanced education with a major in an area of interest. No preferences is given to those who have majored in the sciences over those who have pursued the humanities. We strive for a diverse student body with varied interests. Feinberg strives to recruit a student body with broad academic interests and encourages applications from students who have majored outside the traditional premedical disciplines of biology and chemistry, including the other sciences, engineering, the humanities and social sciences.

The equivalent of 90 semester hours or 135 quarter hours of undergraduate and/or graduate-level coursework completed at an accredited U.S. or Canadian college or university located in the United States or Canada is required for entrance to the MD program.  A bachelor's degree is required prior to matriculation; this requirement is waived for Northwestern undergraduates enrolled in a dual degree program where the degree is granted upon completion of the first year of medical school. 

Required are at least yearlong courses in biology, general (inorganic) chemistry, organic chemistry (or one semester of organic chemistry plus one semester of biochemistry, with associated labs), and physics.  We also recommend courses in statistics, writing, and social sciences.  In addition, students are expected to have clinical exposure and research experience.  The admissions committee evaluates all coursework completed prior to application, including post baccalaureate and graduate studies.


Biology(Two Semesters-Lecture and Lab)
Physics(Two Semesters-Lecture and Lab)
Inorganic Chemistry (or equivalent)(Two Semesters-Lecture and Lab)
Organic Chemistry(Two Semesters-Lecture and Lab)
Highly Recommended
English Composition
Additional coursework in genetics, public health, and the social sciences (i.e. psychology, sociology, ethics)

AP coursework

Science AP courses for which an applicant has received course credit at his or her undergraduate degree-granting institution will be considered as fulfilling the pre-medical science course requirements. Applicants should keep in mind, however, that the Committee will expect to see advanced level undergraduate courses in the science disciplines for which the AP credit was awarded.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an age limit on coursework?

There is no age limit on coursework completed, so one would not have to retake courses prior to applying.  However, if a student has taken the pre-med coursework quite a while ago, they may want to re-take the courses, perhaps through a post-baccalaureate program, in order to prepare for the MCAT and medical school. 

Can one complete coursework after submitting their application?

We recommend that the required pre-med coursework be completed by the time of application, or as early in the application season as possible.  This coursework must be completed prior to entering medical school. 

Is community college coursework accepted?

Though coursework completed at a junior or community college would be considered, we strongly recommend that the required pre-med courses be completed at a regular 4-year college or university, as this should make your application more competitive. 

Are online courses & labs accepted?

Taking an online course from an accredited U.S. or Canadian university or college is acceptable, though to make one’s application the most competitive, we recommend that the required pre-med courses, especially Organic Chemistry and Inorganic Chemistry, be standard classroom/lab courses. We do not accept online lab courses. 

Special Note: Curricular adjustments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic during the quarter/semester - Spring 2020 may require students to complete online, rather than in-person, courses & labs, which will be acceptable.  We recommend students consult with their pre-med advisor, if applicable, on adjustments affecting their pre-med coursework. 

Are Pass/Fail  pre-med courses accepted?

In general, it is not our preference to see pass/fail coursework for our pre-med requirements, however we do understand that curricular adjustments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic during the quarter/semester - Spring 2020 may require students to take pass/fail courses, which is acceptable.  We recommend students consult with their premed advisor, if applicable, on adjustments affecting their pre-med coursework. 

Are summer courses accepted?

A summer course is acceptable, if it covers the equivalent of a yearlong course.  Please note that the degree of difficulty of the school and the courses taken, as well as the breadth of the academic program and the life experiences of the individual, are considered by the Committee on Admissions. 

Special Note: We do not advise that students complete a required pre-med course over the summer unless a grade will be given for the course and it covers the equivalent of a yearlong course.  It is acceptable to take other courses online & as Pass/Fail or Credit/No Credit during the summer. 


Apply via the American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®), the AAMC's centralized medical school application processing service.

All Feinberg applicants are required to submit an AMCAS Application electronically. The AMCAS application is to be submitted no earlier than June 1 and no later than 12 midnight (EDT) November 1, 2020 for 2021 matriculation. Visit the AMCAS section of the American Association of Medical Colleges site for submission details.

AMCAS requires that all applicants submit an email address. Feinberg applicants are required to maintain their AMCAS submitted email address for receipt of individual and group communications. Applicants are advised to remove any qualifiers or blocks on their email addresses. Applicants should notify both AMCAS and the Feinberg of changes to their email address or other contact information.

Deadline Extensions for the AMCAS application are not available.

The Feinberg Committee on Admissions is not able to consider AMCAS applications submitted after November 1, 2020. All supporting documents (including supplemental application and letters) must be submitted by November 15, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is there a preliminary review of the AMCAS application?

Shortly after an applicant's AMCAS application is received (4 to 6 weeks after it is submitted to AMCAS), they are sent a supplemental invitation e-mail. There is no preliminary screening of the AMCAS application.

 Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

Learn about requirements for MCAT scores related to Feinberg application.

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is required of all applicants. Only scores from tests administered within three years of the year of medical school matriculation will be accepted by Feinberg.  For application to the 2021 entering class, MCAT scores from January 2018 through September 2020 will be considered.  Students are encouraged to take the MCAT exam or any retests no later than June of the application year. The latest MCAT scores considered will be from the September 2020 test dates.

Applicants are required to indicate any upcoming MCAT test taking dates when submitting the Feinberg supplemental application.

Find information concerning the test via the MCAT section of the American Association of Medical Colleges site.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I apply to Feinberg before I take the MCAT?
    Yes. Applicants should not delay applying simply because an MCAT score is not yet available. Candidates will be invited to complete the supplemental application prior to the receipt of an MCAT score.
  • What if I plan to retake MCAT after I submit my application?
    Applicants should indicate on their supplemental application if they would like their application review held until upcoming MCAT scores are released.  Once the scores have been released, the applicant may e-mail our office to request their application be taken off MCAT hold.
  • I took the MCAT several times. Do you see all of my scores?
    Feinberg can see all of your MCAT test scores from previous administrations of the MCAT.  We do not combine scores of the sections to make your cumulative score higher.
  • What are the average GPAs and MCAT scores of candidates accepted to Feinberg? Are there any GPA or MCAT cut-offs?   The undergraduate median GPA for the 2019 entering class was 3.91. The median MCAT score was 520. There are no minimum MCAT or GPA scores required for entrance to the School of Medicine. Although high academic performance is an important aspect of a successful application, we complete a holistic review, including the academic course load and rigor, academic honors, extracurricular activities, clinical and research experience and letters of recommendation.

 Letters of Recommendation/Evaluation

Find instructions and information about letters of recommendation/evaluation associated with your application.

Traditional MD Applicants

Your letters may be written by your college’s pre-medical/pre-health advisory committee, which may be presented as either a Committee Letter or a Letter Packet.  If your college does not have a pre-medical/pre-health advisory committee or other similar service, you may procure Individual Letters.

Letters of recommendation must be submitted by November 15, 2020.

If you submit either a Committee Letter or a Letter Packet, that will be sufficient to meet Feinberg School of Medicine’s letters requirement; no additional letters need to be submitted at the time of your application.  

If you submit Individual Letters, you will need to submit a total of three separate letters to meet Feinberg’s letters requirement.  At least one of these letters should come from a science faculty member who has taught you.  The other two letters may come from a variety of sources, preferably faculty members (science or non-science) or a research supervisor, but may also include a long-term employer. 

  • Committee Letter: A letter authored by a pre-health committee or pre-health advisor and intended to represent your institution’s evaluation of you. A Committee Letter may or may not include additional letters written in support of your application. This is sometimes called a Composite Letter.
  • Letter Packet: A packet or set of letters assembled and distributed by your institution, often by the institution’s career center. A Letter Packet may include a cover sheet from your pre-health committee or advisor. However, unlike to a Committee Letter, a Letter Packet does not include an evaluative letter from your pre-health committee or advisor.
  • Individual Letter: A letter written by, and representing, a single letter author.

Nontraditional MD Applicants

Nontraditional applicants/students are generally defined as those who have taken two or more years off between undergraduate studies and matriculation to medical school.  For these applicants, there are three options for meeting Feinberg’s letters requirements:

  • Option 1: 2 letters by science faculty members and 1 letter by a non-science faculty member, volunteer supervisor or employer.
  • Option 2:  1 letter by a science faculty member, 1 letter by supervisor from research experience and 1 letter by non-science faculty member, volunteer supervisor or employer.  
  • Option 3: 1 letter by a supervisor from research experience, 2 letters by non-science faculty member, volunteer supervisor, or employer.

Transmission of Letters

Feinberg School of Medicine accepts letters submitted through the AMCAS Letter Service.

Submission of Additional Letters

Do not send more than the required amount of letters (1 Committee Letter or Letter Packet, or 3 Individual Letters) prior to receiving an invitation to interview at Feinberg.  If you would like to submit additional letters of recommendation, you may do so only after you have interviewed.

Frequently Asked Question

  • What happens if my letters of recommendation are received by AMCAS after the deadline?
    Your application will still be processed, but you will not receive any confirmation when your file becomes complete. We cannot guarantee that late letters will be included when your file is reviewed by the Committee on Admissions.

 Supplemental Application

Find information about the application process after your AMCAS application is submitted.

Once your AMCAS application has been submitted, verified & transmitted to our office (4-6 after it was submitted), we will send you an invitation to submit the Feinberg supplemental application, so please check your e-mail frequently beginning at this time.  

In order to successfully receive the supplemental invitation e-mail, please remove the spam filters from your email and include among your approved senders.  Gmail users can find instructions about spam setting: add approved senders to bypass the spam filter.

All applicants are invited via email to complete the supplemental application and pay the processing fee of $95, at the secure applicant website

The supplemental application must be submitted by November 15, 2020.

 Student Health Forms & Immunization Requirements

Learn about the health requirements and forms required prior to matriculation to the University.  

Accepted students must provide proof of positive immunity prior to matriculation to the University.   Incomplete health requirements will restrict participation in certain clinical activities.  For further information, please review the Entrance Health Requirements for Medical Students.

 Criminal Background Check & Drug Screening
Find information about the Criminal Background Check and Drug Screening Policy

Criminal Background Check

Criminal Background Checks are required by the State of Illinois. Illinois has joined a growing national trend in requiring background checks on students, employees and other persons having direct contact with patients. The objective of this program, is to enhance patient health and safety, facilitate student access to affiliated clinical facilities, and ensure eligibility for licensure. The School reserves the right to rescind an offer of acceptance based on adverse information discovered during the criminal background check.

All accepted students’ Criminal Background Checks will need to be completed no later than by July 1 of the matriculation year.

To learn more about the Criminal Background Check process, please visit this AAMC page:

Drug Screening

All accepted Feinberg students will be required to undergo drug testing for commonly abused controlled substances prior to matriculation at Feinberg.  The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all students entrusted with the health, safety and welfare of patients operate in clinical settings with good judgement and ethical behavior. Substance abuse can impair a student’s capacity to safely function in such a setting. All of our clinical affiliates require that physicians, staff and students undergo drug screening. Because students begin interacting with patients during the first week of school, drug testing must be completed by July 1 prior to matriculation to FSM.

 Technical Standards

Applicants will be asked to evaluate themselves according to the technical standards established by the faculty before matriculation and at various points throughout the curriculum. These standards include observation and communication skills, reasoning abilities, and motor skills necessary for the performance of laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures. 

Decisions on whether these standards are met will be adjudicated by the Student Promotions Committee, as set forth in the Student Handbook.  Appeals of such decisions will be reviewed by the Student Appeals Committee, as set forth in the Student Handbook.

The purpose of this document is to specify the technical standards the faculty deems necessary for a student to matriculate, remain in good standing and ultimately to achieve all the competencies necessary for graduation with the MD degree. The Feinberg School of Medicine therefore requires applicants to confirm their ability to comply with these standards, with or without reasonable accommodation, as a condition of admission to the MD program.


Students must be able to observe and interpret demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences. They must have sufficient visual and auditory acuity to accurately determine and interpret physical findings in patients. The student must also have adequate touch perception to be able to palpate and percuss during physical examinations.


Students must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with patients, families and colleagues to elicit information in both verbal and non-verbal forms. They must be able to obtain a medical history in a timely fashion and establish therapeutic relationships with patients. Students must be able to record information accurately and clearly and communicate effectively and efficiently with other health care professionals in a variety of patient settings.

Motor Skills

A student must be able to demonstrate the required motor movements to perform basic laboratory tests and physical examinations including but not limited to palpation, auscultation and percussion. This requires both gross and fine muscular movements, as well as coordination. The student must be able to adhere to universal precautions in performing these activities.

Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities

Students must be able to calculate, measure, reason, analyze, and synthesize. The most critical skill required of physicians, problem solving, demands all of these abilities. Students must be able to participate and learn through a variety of modalities including but not limited to classroom instruction, small groups, team and collaborative activities.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Students must demonstrate the ability to exercise good judgment, the timely completion of responsibilities related to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and colleagues. Students must be able to work collaboratively in a health care team and function in stressful work environments such as hospitals and clinics. They must be able to demonstrate reasonable flexibility in adapting to changing work situations.


The Feinberg School of Medicine encourages application by qualified students with disabilities who meet these technical standards either with or without the use of reasonable accommodations. Information regarding disability accommodations may be obtained through Accessible NU and the Feinberg School Office of Student Programs and Career Development.   

Policy of Nondiscrimination

Northwestern University does not discriminate or permit discrimination by any member of its community against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship status, veteran status, genetic information or any other classification protected by law in matters of admissions, employment, housing, or services or in the educational programs or activities it operates.

MD-Related Program Requirements

Follow the links below for requirements related to our early decision and physician-scientist programs.

Policy of Non-Discrimination

Northwestern is an equal opportunity, affirmative action educator, and employer.

Northwestern University reserves the right to change without notice any statement on this web site concerning, but not limited to, rules, policies, tuition, fees, curricula, and courses.

It is the policy of Northwestern University not to discriminate against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, or veteran status in matters of admissions, employment, housing, or services or in the educational programs or activities it operates, in accordance with civil rights legislation and University commitment.

Disabilities Statement

It is Northwestern University policy to ensure that no qualified student with a disability is denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination in any University program or activity. In response to a request made by a qualified student with a disability, the University will arrange, at no cost to the student, for the provision of educational auxiliary aids, including sign language interpreters, determined by the University to be necessary to afford such student the opportunity for full participation in University programs.

Any alleged violations of this policy or questions regarding the law with respect to nondiscrimination should be directed to the:

Director of Equal Employment Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services
720 University Place
Evanston, Illinois 60208-1147
Office of the Provost
Rebecca Crown Center
633 Clark Street
Evanston, Illinois 60208-1101