Get Into Medical School With A Low Gpa

Get Into Medical School With A Low Gpa
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Oftentimes, the limiting factor to whether or not you should apply to medical school is your GPA. If you don’t have a high GPA but you want to go to an allopathic medical school, you should consider these 15 med schools that traditionally accept students with low GPAs.

15 Med Schools That Accept Students With Low GPAs

Oftentimes, the limiting factor to whether or not you should apply to medical school is your GPA. If you don’t have a high GPA but you want to go to an allopathic medical school, you should consider these 15 med schools that traditionally accept students with low GPAs.

Med Schools with Low GPAs

1. Meharry Medical College (Nashville, Tennessee)
Meharry is a historically black academic health science center but you don’t have to be a person of color to apply here. They provide opportunities, especially for people of color and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. They do accept others, regardless of race or ethnicity, to receive excellent education and training in the health sciences. Meharry Medical College is one of the many med schools that accept students with low GPAs
Median GPA – 3.46
Median MCAT – 503

2. Howard University College of Medicine (Washington, District of Columbia)
Similar to Meharry, Howard University strives to address the special healthcare needs of medically underserved communities. Their goal is to produce a significant number of the nation’s minority physicians. Howard University College of Medicine, is a med school that traditionally accepts students with low GPAs
Median GPA – 3.61
Median MCAT – 507

3. Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (Roanoke, Virginia)
Virginia Tech currently uses multiple-mini interviews to interview its applicants. In the last cycle, they interviewed 246 applicants.
Median GPA – 3.61
Median MCAT – 512

4. Tulane University School of Medicine (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Median GPA – 3.65
Median MCAT – 510

5. Hofstra North Shore – Zucker School of Medicine (Hempstead, New York)
Median GPA – 3.84
Median MCAT – 519

6. University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Medicine (Kansas City, Missouri)
One unique aspect of UMKC is that every week, for three-and-a-half years, students spend a half day assisting in outpatient care at its two continuing care clinics. This allows for early clinical experience and continuity.
Median GPA – 3.85
Median MCAT – 510

7. Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine (Huntington, West Virginia)
Because Marshall is a state-assisted medical school, Marshall gives preference to West Virginia residents. Nevertheless, some positions are available to well-qualified nonresidents from states adjoining West Virginia and nonresidents who have strong ties to West Virginia. Students who have been introduced to the school through the out-of-state recruitment pipeline and outreach programs are also encouraged to apply.
Median GPA – 3.76
Median MCAT – 505

8. Morehouse School of Medicine (Atlanta, Georgia)
Morehouse places a strong emphasis on their social mission, which is to serve people of color and the underserved urban and rural populations in Georgia, the nation, and the world. They are ranked #1 in social mission and #16 in primary care. 63% of their alumni go into primary care. Morehouse School of Medicine traditionally accepts students with low GPAs.
Median GPA – 3.68
Median MCAT – 506

9. Albany Medical College (Albany, New York)
Median GPA – 3.73
Median MCAT – 510

10. Eastern Virginia Medical School (Norfolk, Virginia)
Median GPA – 3.72
Median MCAT – 513

11. Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (Scranton, Pennsylvania)
Median GPA – 3.8
Median MCAT – 513

12. Uniformed Services University – F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine (Bethesda, Maryland)
Herbert School of Medicine is essentially the military’s medical school. Their curriculum includes military and public health medicine to better prepare physicians for military service. Although 60% of their accepted students have no prior military experience, after being accepted into the program, all students must commission into the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Public Health Service prior to matriculation.
Median GPA – 3.77
Median MCAT – 511

13. Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Georgia)
This school’s focus is to serve the medically underserved population in Georgia. Therefore, in order to apply here, you need to be a legal resident of the state of Georgia at the time of submitting the application.
Median GPA – 3.71
Median MCAT – 505

14. New York Medical College (Valhalla, New York)
Median GPA – 3.7
Median MCAT – 514

15. Drexel University College of Medicine (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Median GPA – 3.79
Median MCAT – 512

Having a lower-than-average GPA when applying to med school sets you back. It’s imperative the rest of your medical school application is up to par in order to receive that acceptance you’ve long awaited for.

Thankfully MedSchoolCoach offers application support. You’ll be matched with a renowned physician and writing advisor to ensure you have the best medical school application possible.

How to Get Into Medical School with a Low GPA

Learn how to maximize your medical school admissions odds if your grades are less than stellar

Get Into Medical School With A Low Gpa


If you’re hoping to become a doctor, having a low GPA can seem like a major roadblock in getting into medical school. It is. But every year, students with non-ideal GPAs make it into the medical field.

There are many reasons you might have a low GPA. Perhaps you suffered from a serious illness during your undergraduate years. Or perhaps you simply didn’t begin to take your grades seriously till the end of your college career. Maybe you only came to medicine as a senior and have since pursued post-baccalaureate studies.

Whatever your situation, you’re likely wondering what recourse you have and whether there’s still hope of getting into your preferred school. Luckily, there are ways to address your less than stellar GPA and minimize its impact on your admissions prospects.

What is considered a low GPA for med school?

GPA is relative, and what might be considered a “low” GPA at one school could be average or strong at another. You’ll want to look at the average GPAs of the schools to which you’re applying. You can find a comprehensive list here.

If, for instance, you have a 3.7 GPA, your grades would be below average for a top school like Stanford or Duke. A 3.7 GPA would be on par with the Tufts School of Medicine or UNC Chapel Hill, and for someplace like Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine, a 3.7 would be above average.

However, one general rule is that anything below 3.5 is considered low by most if not all medical schools. The further one gets from this threshold, the more ground one must make up in other areas of their application.

Step 1: Identify the cause of your low GPA

The first thing to consider is what led to your low GPA, so that you can assess the most appropriate response and make sense of it for yourself and your application. Was your GPA caused by illness, mental health problems, or an unavoidable tragedy? In these cases, you may be able to add that context, causing admissions officers to at least give other variables a chance.

In such cases you might also consider writing your medical school personal statement about the circumstances surrounding your low GPA (i.e. not an explanation of or defense against poor grades, but the story of your life that gave rise to the grades).

If there’s no concrete reason, and you simply began to take your studies more seriously as you progressed, then it would be worth thinking about what led to this change and how you plan to continue this success in medical school. Grades that improved over the course of your undergraduate studies will look better than grades that declined.

Here, too, you can bake that sense of progress into your personal statement by articulating a specific moment at which you got serious about your medical pursuits.

Step 2: Maximize your admissions odds with one or more of the following strategies

GPA is one of several factors admissions officers consider in their holistic appraisal of your application. How much it matters will depend largely on the school and your other test scores, essays, and academic accomplishments.

But a GPA below 3.5 will stand out, and admissions officers will expect explanation.

The strategy for applying to medical school with a low GPA should be multi-pronged.

1. Beef up the other aspects of your application.

  • Achieve a high MCAT score – Scoring well on your MCAT is important regardless of your GPA, but with a low GPA, the importance is only increased. Scoring well can be another way of showing admissions officers that while you may have had academic issues in the past, you are now in a good place to take your studies seriously.
  • Gain more clinical experience – Taking a gap year to earn more clinical experience can only help your admissions prospects. This could mean volunteering at a hospital, shadowing a physician, or even working as an EMT.
  • Beef up your research experience – this shows that you’ve excelled in an intellectually rigorous pursuit outside your studies. If you have a lot of research experience, be sure to foreground it in your personal and secondary essays.

2. If possible, improve your GPA. If there’s time to make improvements, make them. You want your transcript to show that whatever led to your low GPA is behind you, and that now you’re a serious student. This might mean retaking old courses for a better grade.

If your GPA is very low, you might consider spending a year or two taking non-degree or post-bac courses (and acing them). The more advanced the course, the more impressive it will be to admissions officers. Show that you’ve turned things around, and that you’re capable of doing serious, difficult academic work.

3. Consider expanding your school list. Many people get hung up on their low GPAs because they don’t reconcile the grades with the reality of the application process. Make a realistic school list that fits your statistics. That may mean considering D.O. schools.

How to contextualize your low GPA

Once you’ve done all you can to improve the other aspects of application, you’ll want to turn to explaining your low GPA.

This can be tricky, as you should never sound defensive while writing about bad grades. Your goal is to assure the medical schools reading your applications that you’ll continue to excel academically in the future, but also give them a sense of who you are before, beyond, and surrounding those bad grades.

If the reasons for your low GPA are complicated (as they are for most people), and neither totally within or outside of your control, then you’ll have to strike a balance between explaining and taking responsibility. The most obvious place to do this is your personal essay or your secondary essays.

The Adversity Essay , a common secondary essay, provides an opportunity to discuss the circumstances that led to your low GPA. If you can present a narrative to admissions officers showing that you’ve not only overcome adversity but found a way to excel in the time since, it could even be a strength (provided that your GPA is only somewhat below average and not exceedingly low).

For instance, if a major health or mental health issue led you to have bad grades for the first two years of college, it’s likely that you grew personally from that challenge. Writing about this in your personal statement or adversity essay not only answers the admissions officers’ inevitable questions about whether or not you’re right for their school, but also turns your weakness into an asset.

Of course, life doesn’t always lend itself to simple explanations. Take responsibility for what you could’ve avoided and to explain what you could not have avoided. If, for instance, you started out in the wrong major, or you took advanced classes for which you were underprepared, you should acknowledge why these decisions weren’t the best and show how you’ve matured since you made them.

If you spent your college career playing a serious varsity sport and neglecting your grades, consider writing about what that sport taught you, and how it led you to the postbaccalaureate route you are now taking to medical school.

Finally, make sure you get strong letters of recommendation from faculty who know your story and can write with confidence about your ability to perform at a high academic level. Someone who saw you improve is an ideal recommender to round out your narrative.

4. Prepare for interviews. If you make it to the interview stage, you can rest assured that you’ve overcome the major hurdles your GPA caused you and adcoms found something notable in your application to call you in. Either you’ve improved your GPA or you have a compelling reason to explain it.

That said, you don’t want to drop the ball now. Your preparation for interview day should include learning all you can about the facilities, programs, and values of the school you applied to as well as deeply considering how you would respond to common interview questions such as “Why X school?,” “Why medicine?,” and “What is your greatest weakness?”

Additionally, when thinking through your responses, you should try to tailor them for the school where you’re interviewing. For example, if the interviewer asks you about your volunteering experiences with underserved populations and the school is known for its service towards those less well-off, make sure to highlight this fact in your response.

Final Thoughts

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing a low GPA. Everyone’s circumstances will be different, and your strategy will depend on the medical school you hope to attend. If you have a GPA below 3.5, think actively about taking serious measures outlined here to mitigate that. If your GPA is better than 3.5 but still not where you’d like it to be, you can also use these strategies to not only convince an admissions officer that you’re prepared, but also to actually be prepared for success in medical school.


Dr. Shemmassian

Dr. Shirag Shemmassian is the Founder of Shemmassian Academic Consulting and well-known expert on college admissions, medical school admissions, and graduate school admissions. For nearly 20 years, he and his team have helped thousands of students get into elite institutions.

Maddie Otto

By Maddie Otto

Maddie is a second-year medical student at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney and one of Level Medicine’s workshop project managers. Prior to studying medicine, she worked and studied as a musician in Melbourne. She has a background in community arts, which combined her love for both the arts and disability support. She is an advocate for intersectional gender equity, and is passionate about accessibility and inclusive practice within the healthcare system.

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