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Overview of the program:
The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Guaranteed Admission Program (GAP) is for outstanding high school seniors who have been admitted to the University of Pittsburgh as undergraduates and are interested in attending the University’s medical school after completing their undergraduate degree(s). The program offers accepted applicants who are graduating high school students conditional acceptance to the School of Medicine upon completion of their Bachelor’s degree in the Undergraduate School.
The requirements to apply:
Earn the highest grade point average available at your high school in the context of a curriculum showing the greatest academic rigor possible.
Achieve a minimum SAT score of 1490 or 34 ACT composite score.
However, as of now, submitting test scores are optional until the 2023 application cycle. This may seem convenient, but there is a silver lining. Applicants who DO submit test scores and are accepted will NOT have to take the MCAT to matriculate to medical school. Applicants who DON’T submit test scores MUST take the MCAT. However, the Program notes that the score will be used primarily for advising purposes, meaning as long as you make an average MCAT score, you should be well on your way to matriculating. Still, you will need to dedicate scores of hours to studying for the MCAT, so it’s encouraged to submit test scores if they are above the requirements.
The Application Process:
The first step of applying to the Guaranteed Admission Program in Medicine is to apply to the University of Pittsburgh’s Undergraduate School first. The Undergraduate school follows a rolling admissions process. They will begin accepting applications in early October; you will receive your admissions decision relatively quickly. To be eligible for the Guaranteed Admission Program in Medicine, you must submit your undergraduate application before November 1st (the earlier you submit the better) and note your interest in the program (there will be a place to do so in the application).
A committee will then review your undergraduate application and, if they feel your application is competitive to be considered for the Guaranteed Admission Program in Medicine, will send it to the medical school for review. A committee at the medical school will do a brief review of your undergraduate application and will then decide if you qualify to move to the next round of the application process.
If you are chosen to move on, you will have to then complete a second application: the medical school application. The medical school application will be due in mid January and will comprise of 2-3 essays as well as sections to describe your medical and community service experiences, awards, and any other accolades. The medical school committee will then review this application and select roughly 40 applicants to interview.
Interviews will take place in March. On the interview day, you will have two 30 minute faculty interviews, one 30 minute student interview, and one group interview. Around 10-15 applicants will be admitted (no alternates are selected).
Here are a few things beyond GPA and test scores that the admissions committees will look for in students’ applications.
Medically related experiences: This can include shadowing, volunteering at a clinical setting, or health related service experiences. Virtual shadowing is also now being accepted.
Research Experience: The research does not have to be medically related. Online research that includes analyzing public data sets is also welcomed.
Community of Service: Admission Committees are looking for meaningful service experiences in which you made a major impact on others or the experience made a major impact on you. The quality of experience is much more important than the quantity. Furthermore, the admissions committee has noted that since in-person activities were not possible, the level of creativity displayed by seeking remote involvement in community service will be considered. For example, activities like making masks for hospital or front-line workers, delivering food packages to the elderly, participating in virtual teaching, etc.
Two Letters of Recommendation: One from either a school counselor or/and teacher and the other from a person who knows the applicant through their participation in the activities above. Recommendation Letters can have a major impact on your application, so be sure to ask someone who knows you, rather than someone who just holds prestige.
Leadership activities: Some examples could include student council member, captain of a debate team, involvement in team sports with specific responsibilities, conducting a school band or chorus.
If accepted into the program, there are still a few things you need to do in order to matriculate.
Maintain a Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics (BCPM) GPA of 3.75 as an undergraduate
Complete the undergraduate degree within four years
Continue to gain medically related experiences during their undergraduate years
Seek research opportunities in a medically related field
Seek opportunities for community service
Meet with the Director of the Guaranteed Admit program once every semester to discuss their progress in terms of medically related activities, research and community service.
Meet with the University Pre-Medical Advisor at the start of each semester in order to confirm that they are fulfilling the academic prerequisites for admission to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Provide the Office of Admissions with an official transcript at the completion of their junior year
Why Pitt BS/MD?
One of the great benefits of Pitt’s BS/MD Program is that you can major in anything you want during your undergraduate years—whether that be in music theory, biology, mechanical engineering, computer science, neuroscience, film, etc.—as long as you also complete the AMCAS requirements. Furthermore, because students typically finish their undergraduate degrees in 3 to 3.5 years and don’t have to study for the MCAT, many students will pursue an MPH, travel abroad for a semester or two, or partake in cutting-edge research at Pitt’s Medical School and/or other prestigious research programs across the country. However, you don’t have to wait until your senior year to realize these opportunities. Even as an undergraduate, there are innumerable research opportunities available to you that are not available to other students. For instance, many GAP Medicine students begin conducting research with acclaimed professors at the Medical School as early as freshman and sophomore year of undergrad. The opportunity to be mentored by pioneering professionals so early on is invaluable and opens many doors for the future—particularly in securing prestigious residencies.
It is important to find your own ‘why pitt’ through researching the school and everything the University has to offer (you will most likely be asked ‘why pitt’ in an essay or interview).
However, it’s worth also mentioning that Pitt’s BS/MD has the best Medical School attached to it of all other BS/MD Programs. Pitt Medical School is highly acclaimed in the scholastic sphere, and is one of the best regarded medical schools by Residency Directors (the people who decide whether or not to accept you to their residency program).
Finally, perhaps the greatest benefit you receive from being in Pitt’s BS/MD is its network and community. As a Pitt GAP Med student, you will have an extensive network of upperclassmen to reach out to for any concerns, both in the undergraduate school and the medical school. There are also many alumni of the program who stayed in Pittsburgh and are now practicing physicians at the world-renowned University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. College is a major change, especially for those traveling away from home. Having an assured community and group of friends who’ll stay by your side through undergraduate and medical school and beyond is priceless.