Because of the sheer volume of medical school applications they have to wade through, admissions officers have to make some initial screening decisions based largely on GPA and MCAT scores. The average GPA for medical school matriculants in 2016–2017 was a 3.64 science, a 3.78 non-science, and a 3.70 overall.

How Important is GPA?

Student boosting GPA for medical school

Generally speaking, your undergraduate performance is the most important aspect of your medical school application. The most competitive medical schools may use national GPA averages as cutoffs for initial selection. But at most medical schools, successful candidates can still score below these national averages, if they are above average in any of the other components of their applications.

Top schools also consider subjective aspects of a student’s academic record, such as the type and difficulty of courses taken, GPA trends (an upward trajectory is good!), special academic projects undertaken, and the reputation of your college or pre-med major.

Which GPAs do Med Schools Care About?

Your GPA, for the purposes of applying to medical school, consists of your science GPA, your non-science GPA , and your cumulative GPA. Your science GPA is comprised of grades in medical school prerequisite classes like biology, chemistry, physics, and math. Your non-science GPA is comprised of grades in all your other classes. Each GPA is calculated for your undergraduate career, for any non degree-seeking postsecondary work, and for any degree seeking postsecondary programs. In other words, you could conceivably have nine different GPAs! Each medical school has its own policies for deciding which GPA means the most to them when they’re choosing which applicants to interview and/or to accept.

What is a Good GPA for Med School?

It is extremely difficult to get into medical school with a cumulative GPA of less than 3.0. Here’s how med school applicants compare to enrolled students (i.e. matriculants).

2016-2017 Average GPAs for Medical School
Science GPA 3.45 3.64
Non-Science GPA 3.69 3.78
Total GPA 3.55 3.70

SOURCE:  Association of American Medical Colleges

How Do Your Grades Measure Up?

Use resources like the MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements) database to help you compare your grades to the average med school GPAs for the schools on your list. The MSAR Online is available for a $27 subscription fee to students looking for information on U.S. and Canadian medical schools.

You can also find average GPAs and med school acceptance rates in our online school profiles. Just use our med school search to find the programs you want to research.

Strategies for Applying with a Low GPA

If your GPA is on the low side, you’ll need higher MCAT scores to compensate.

But remember: Although grades and scores play a large role in your application, medical schools are also interested in who you are, why you want to be a physician, and whether or not you have a clue about what being a doctor is really like. So, if you’re applying with a less-competitive GPA, here’s what you’ll want to play up on your application:

  • Exposure to the healthcare field (professional or volunteer work in a hospital, clinic, hospice, or other healthcare setting)
  • Academic research experience
  • Leadership and community service
  • Personal skills and qualities like empathy, communication, and strong interest in the sciences

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