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Admission Requirements


It is a university requirement that Vanderbilt has a complete record of your undergraduate and/or graduate preparation with degree(s) conferred prior to your matriculation to medical school. Applicants must have attended a regionally accredited institution of postsecondary education. Preparation in foreign universities, in most cases, should be supplemented by a year or more of course work at an approved university in the United States.

All official credentials including transcripts from foreign universities and letters of recommendation must be sent from the source and cannot be accepted from the applicant. Once admitted, please send all official final transcripts with degree awarded and date of graduation by July 1 of the year you will be entering medical school. Please note that transcripts sent to AMCAS during the application process do not fulfill this requirement.

Due to the unpredictable nature of the ongoing global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we are kindly asking that you only submit digital copies of your transcripts at this time. These digital transcripts should be sent to the admissions team at

Please note: digital copies of your transcripts sent via Secure Electronic Delivery (such as Parchment, National Student Clearinghouse, etc.) will be accepted. We cannot accept emailed transcripts from you. If your institution is unable to provide a digital copy of your transcript, please email the admissions team at for accommodations.

General Requirements

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine seeks to matriculate a diverse population of academically exceptional students whose attributes and accomplishments suggest that they will be future leaders and/or scholars in medicine. We accept students in good standing who will be graduates of accredited colleges and universities before matriculation to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. There are no restrictions on the type of major a student chooses; we provide recommendations of courses for applicants in their preparation for the study of medicine. The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is required and used along with other data to predict success in preclinical course work.

Course Recommendations

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine recognizes that the undergraduate academic experience of applicants varies greatly. Therefore, we have made the decision to move away from “requirements” to “recommendations.” The expansive and ever-changing landscape of medicine and its practice necessitates that an applicant have demonstrated competencies in the natural and life sciences, social sciences, and mathematics. These competencies can be met through traditional and/or newly-established interdisciplinary courses of study in an accredited institution of higher learning. The use of AP or other credit is acceptable, but it is strongly encouraged to build stronger competencies through courses taken in college. Although there is no timeframe in which students must meet the above competencies, it is recommended that students have recent exposures to most or all of these areas. Competitive applicants should demonstrate in-depth competency in each of the following areas of study, based on the AAMC-HHMI Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians and AAMC-Behavioral and Social Science Foundations for Future Physicians. Mastery of competencies is reflected by a strong performance in the classroom and on the MCAT, as well as in letters of evaluation.

  • Biology: Applicants should demonstrate competence in the understanding of molecular and cellular biology, genetics, and how they regulate organ and organismic structure and function. Fields of study analyzing diverse human properties are view in a strong, positive light.
  • Chemistry/Biochemistry: Applicants should demonstrate competence in the basic principles of chemistry as it pertains to living systems. Studies in biochemistry are an exemplary way to prepare students for training in medicine science.
  • Mathematics/Statistics and Physics: Applicants should demonstrate competence in the basic principles of physics and mathematics underlying living systems. Applicants should demonstrate basic competence in statistics or biostatistics, which is important to understand the quantitative aspects of medicine and biomedical research.
  • Social Sciences and Communication: It is imperative that the applicant demonstrate competence in the humanistic understanding of patients as human beings and as part of a familial and social structure. In this regard, studies in psychology and sociology are viewed favorably. It is required that the applicant speaks, writes, and reads English fluently.

International Applicants

If you have taken your coursework at an international university where English is not the language of instruction, your application may benefit from taking additional science courses at an English-speaking university.

Letters of Evaluation

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine receives letters of evaluation through the AMCAS Letter Writer Application for the incoming 2023 class. Applicants are individually responsible for ensuring receipt by AMCAS. Please designate Vanderbilt University School of Medicine as one of the institutions assigned to receive your letters when you submit your primary AMCAS application. Please note that failure to have letters sent to AMCAS will delay your application review at VUSM.

Note: If your college writes a pre-med advisor letter or a committee letter, and you elect not to use it, this may cause concern to our Admissions Committee.

Vanderbilt will accept the following options:

  1. Committee Letters. If your college writes a committee letter WITH additional faculty letters attached, this will meet our requirement. We understand if the total number of letters in that committee letter packet contains more than five letters; the additional letters will not negatively impact you. If you then send an additional letter outside of the committee packet, please reflect on if the additional letters will truly give us additional insight on you. If your college writes a committee letter WITHOUT additional faculty letters attached, you will want to send additional letters. We accept 3-5 letters from candidates.
  2. Pre-Health Advisor Letters. If your college writes a Pre-Health (or Pre-Med) Advisor letter and does not provide additional letters from others in that letter, you will want to send additional letters. We accept 3-5 letters from candidates.
  3. Individual Letters. We accept 3-5 letters from candidates and are more concerned with the quality (and information gathered) rather than quantity of letters. The vast majority of applicants will only send three letters, but we know everyone’s journey to medicine is different; it may be better to collect an additional letter or two to document that journey.

Vanderbilt University supports the movement for letters to cover the AAMC Guidelines and encourages applicants to solicit letters from evaluators who can address competencies. If you have advanced degrees or at least one year of postgraduate full-time employment, it is advisable to ask your supervisor at work or a member of the graduate faculty to send a letter of evaluation.

Criminal/Background Check Policy

Background checks will be conducted on all students conditionally accepted for admission or conditionally designated as an alternate for admission to the M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. programs at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Read the full policy (PDF).

Learn more:

  • AAMC Background Check Details
  • Certiphi Screening Inc. will procure a background report on early decision program applicants at the point of acceptance and all other applicants at the point of acceptance after January 1st. An e-mail will be sent to applicants by Certiphi Screening Inc., at the preferred e-mail address entered in the AMCAS application by the applicant.