Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
MD Education

Alpha Omega Alpha

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


The top 25% of the class during Phase 1 is based on the student’s composite score of all Phase 1 blocks. Phase 1 performance will NOT be factored into AOA consideration for the Class of 2020 and all subsequent classes.  Each clerkship grade equals a point value. Points assigned for clerkship grades are based on the length of the clerkship, the distribution of grades (Honors, High Pass, and Pass), and if a student is in the top 25% of students in that clerkship 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 Selection Committee is composed of 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 and the reviewers’ scores are 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% of the total points. Points for Phase 1 and Phase 2 (M1, M2, M3) and USMLE are weighed to be 67% of the total points. Following discussion by the Committee, candidates are ranked numerically based on the above criteria. The top 16% are selected and notified of their AOA election.