How to Get Into Harvard Medical School



Hey pre-meds!

The Cracking Med School Admissions team has advised students with getting into Harvard Medical School since 2012 with a lot of success! Each year, they have a handful of their students get accepted into HMS. Dr. Rachel Rizal, one of Cracking Med School Admissions advisers, is a resident at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Boston Children’s Hospital. She has also worked with a plethora of medical school students and knows the insider’s perspective of Harvard Medical School.

This blog post serves as a high-yield resource for How to Get Into Harvard Medical School (HMS). The information from this page is a GOLDEN resource. We’ve compiled it from Harvard medical school acceptance rate data, the Harvard Med School website, and most importantly, from Harvard Med students themselves! You will have facts such as Harvard medical school admissions statistics and you’ll get an insider perspective about the curriculum.

Whether you’re comparing medical schools that you have been accepted to, preparing for an interview, or wanting to learn more about Harvard med school, this keep reading!

Each year, the Cracking Med School Admissions team gets people accepted to Harvard. We can help you get accepted! Contact us today.

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Harvard Medical School Secondary Essay Prompts:
How to Get Into Harvard Medical School

There are several application pathways you can pursue while applying to HMS. There’s the “Pathways” program, or the more “traditional” medical school. There is also the Health Sciences and Technology (HST) program, which is a collaboration between MIT & Harvard. Finally, you can apply as MD/PhD to either the Pathways or the HST program.


Harvard Medical School Secondary Application Essay Prompts:

Harvard Medical School  MD Program – Pathways

Essay 1) If you have already graduated, briefly (4000 characters max) summarize your activities since graduation.

Essay 2) If there is an important aspect of your personal background or identity, not addressed elsewhere in the application, that you would like to share with the Committee, we invite you to do so here. Many applicants will not need to answer this question. Examples might include significant challenges in access to education, unusual socioeconomic factors, identification with a minority culture, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Briefly explain how such factors have influenced your motivation for a career in medicine.(4000 character maximum)

Essay 3) Our interview season runs from mid-September through January. Please indicate any significant (three or more weeks) restriction on your availability for interviews during this period. If none, leave blank.


Harvard Medical School HST Secondary Essay Prompts:

Essay 1) Instructions: The HST MD program draws on the combined resources of Harvard and MIT to provide a distinct preclinical education tailored to preparing students for careers as physician-scientists across the full spectrum of disciplines including biological, physical and engineering sciences. HST classes are small, commonly include graduate students and have an emphasis on quantitative and analytic approaches, centered on understanding disease mechanisms and preparing students to solve unmet needs in medicine ranging from novel diagnostics and therapeutics to applications of ‘big data’ and systems engineering as they relate to healthcare. Please focus on how your interests, experiences and aspirations have prepared you for HST (rather than identifying specific HST faculty or research opportunities). Limit your comments to the equivalent of one page of single spaced text with a font size of 10 or 12. (4000 Char)


Harvard Medical School MD/PhD Additional Secondary Essay Prompts:

Essay 1) Briefly list your research interests/areas; use keywords only. This information is not binding. (100 character limit)

Essay 2) Please list publications, indicating for each whether it is published, submitted/under review, or in preparation

For PhD’s in the social sciences only, please complete the following and upload where indicated:

Essay 3 – Statement of Purpose) 

Describe your reasons and motivations for pursuing a graduate degree in your chosen program of study at Harvard. What experiences led you to your research ambitions? Concisely state your past work in your intended field of study and in related fields. Briefly indicate your career objectives. Your statement should not exceed 1,000 words. Health Policy applicants should indicate the concentration(s) and policy area(s) of interest.

Additional Materials) Please see Program Details to determine whether the program to which you are applying requires a writing sample, CV, or other documents. Please follow departmental requirements on type and size of writing sample. Unless noted, writing sample is limited to 20 pages.


Need help with editing your Harvard secondary essays? Get the Cracking Med School Admissions team’s expertise through our secondary essay edit package. If you have questions, email us at or contact us.

Secondary Essay Editing
Harvard Medical School Interview Format:

Interviews at HMS are one-on-one traditional interview format, open file. This means that the interviewer most likely reviewed your application file prior to the interview. Based on our students’ experiences, they ask common medical school interview questions, such as the ones found in this blog: 4 Common Medical School Interview Questions and How to Answer Them


Want to learn more about how to prepare for your medical school interview? Get tips and tricks to ace interviews! Read our popular traditional interview preparation blogs here: 3 Tips to Ace Medical School Interviews


Contact us if you want to schedule a mock interview for Harvard Medical School. Or click the button below.

Harvard Medical School Acceptance Rate







Admit Rate


Harvard Medical School Admissions Statistics:

Harvard Med School Median GPA: 3.93

Harvard Med School Median Old MCAT: 35 Total (11 Verbal / 13 Physical Science / 11 Biological Science)

Harvard Med School New MCAT: 517 (130 chemical & physical / 129 critical analysis / 130 biological & biochemical / 130 psychological, social)


How did HMS Students Do on Their USMLE Step Exams?

Average Harvard Medical School USMLE Step 1 Score: 245

Average Harvard Medical School USMLE Step 2 Score: 250


Your Harvard Medical School  Admissions Advisers

Rachel Rizal, MD

Rachel Rizal, M.D.

Changing the trajectory of people’s lives

Undergraduate: Princeton University
Medical School: Stanford School of Medicine
Residency: Harvard, Emergency Medicine
What I did After College:
• Improved vaccine distribution in developing countries
• Worked with the World Health Organization in the Philippines
• Launched a national HIV Awareness Campaign in the Philippines
• Produced an HIV awareness commercial for MTV
• Worked full-time at a healthcare consulting firm, advising pharmaceutical companies
• Created a public health program in Stanford’s Emergency Department
Rishi Mediratta, MD, MSc, MA

Rishi Mediratta, M.D., M.P.H., M.A.

Advising students to attend their dream schools

Undergraduate: Johns Hopkins University
Medical School: Stanford School of Medicine
Residency: Pediatrics, Stanford
Masters: Masters in Medical Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies; Masters of Science in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
What I did after I graduated:
• Interned with the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland
• Founded and launched an NGO to improve the health and education of Ethiopian
• World Bank consultant who helped implement Ethiopia’s national nutrition program
• Partnered with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health to study child health practices in communities

The Insider’s View on
How to Get Into Harvard Medical School

How to Get Into Harvard Medical School – Know the Curriculum:

There are two types of curriculum pathways at HMS.

  1. Pathways
  2. Health Science & Technology (HST) – Harvard-MIT program

For more information, check out Harvard Medical School’s video about the two different MD programs.

Harvard Medical School MD Program Options


Harvard Medical School Pathways Curriculum: 

**The Pathways curriculum at Harvard is very unique. You only do 1.25 years of pre-clinical work. Starting October of your second year, you go into your core clearkships.**

Pre-Clinical Years:

For the first half of your first year, you do foundational medicine classes:

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell biology
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathology
  • Immmunology
  • Microbiology

Then, starting in November of your first year, you start learning based on organ systems: dermatology, rheumatology, allergy/immunology, cardiovascular, respiratory, hematology, gastroenterology, renal, endocrinology, and reproductive endocrinology, neuroscience, and psychiatry.

Prior to starting your clinical clerkships, you have a 1-2 month long clinical transition month where you brush up on your clinical skills, imaging, and other information you’ll need as a physician taking care of patients.

Clinical Years:

October of your second year at Harvard Med, you start your clinical rotations.

The 2nd to 3rd year core clerkship curriculum consists of:

  • Internal Medicine (12 weeks) – both inpatient and outpatient
  • Surgery (12 weeks)
  • Pediatrics (6 weeks)
  • OB-GYN (6 weeks)
  • Psychiatry (4 weeks)
  • Neurology (4 weeks)
  • Radiology (4 weeks)
  • Primary care clerkship (longitudinal)

The last 1.5 years of your HMS clerkship curriculum of additional advanced clinical rotations.

  • Advanced clinical electives (12 weeks, ambulatory medicine or surgery)
  • Advanced Integrated Science Courses (2 months, at least one month has be during Year III)
  • Clinical Capstone (1 month during your 4th year)
  • Sub-Internships (4 weeks)


All students are required complete a scholarly project during their time at HMS, for a minimum of 2 months.


To check out more details about the HMS curriculum:


Harvard Medical School HST Track

HST students do two years of preclinical coursework. These classes are different than the Pathways track. Other than biology and medicine, they also incorporate biotechnology, engineering, and physical sciences.

It is expected and required that HST students become actively involved in independent research. Most students we know at HST pursue research throughout their entire time at Harvard Med, and even take additional years to graduate in order to publish papers and advance their research projects.

Find out more about the HST Program.


Taking Time Off:

Many students at Harvard take time off to pursue other interests. We have friends and know students spend extra year(s) to: pursue research; go abroad on global health opportunities; earn an extra degree at Harvard including an MBA, MPH, MPP (Masters of Public Policy), and even a JD (law degree); and start companies.


Why choose Harvard Medical School?

The most common reasons we’ve heard:

  • Inspiring student body who have positively changed the world and excelled in different life interests
  • Opportunity for world-class research
  • Ability to pursue other non-traditional interests in medical school
  • Medical school class comprised on students from countries around the world – very open to accepting international students
  • The “name brand” and recognition will carry you for life
  • New curriculum less focused on preclinical clerkships but more on clinical experiences

What students are saying about HMS

You have world class talent here. The guy sitting next to me worked with Paul Farmer and the other guy sitting across the hall was an Olympian.

I think HMS is the school that is most supportive of business students. Several students (including myself) pursue an MD/MBA here. It's important to have good leaders and business-minded managers to improve healthcare systems.

The research opportunities are endless.

The HMS campus is close enough to Boston to take advantage of the plethora of opportunities but it is also far enough from downtown where you feel a campus community here.

Everyone at HMS is a world leader.

Unique highlights about pre-clinical years:

  • Pathways and HST (Harvard-MIT) track
  • Ability to take several elective classes within the medical school, public health school, public policy school, and business schools.
  • High acceptance rates for graduate fellowships abroad and additional joint degrees throughout the Harvard system (MD/MPH, MD/MPP, MD/MA, MD/JD, MD/MBA)
  • Case-based small group learning
  • 1-2 month pre-clinical course prior to starting clerkships

Unique highlights about clinical years:

  • Clinical year starts EARLY (October) of your second year
  • Focused on evidence-based medicine
  • Longitudinal primary care clerkship (you work with one primary care provider and follow his or her panel throughout your clinical years)
  • Research opportunities throughout your clinical rotations
  • Scholarly project

Clinical Rotation Sites:

Students mainly work at one hospital during their first year of clinical clerkships and then can explore other hospitals in electives later on.

  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Cambridge Health Alliance
  • Boston Children’s Hospital (pediatric site for Beth Israel and Brigham)

What students are saying about clinical rotations at HMS

As a MD/PhD student, I am still able to think of new research questions in my clinical rotations. I am taking a new clinical clerkship where we can help diagnose patients with rare or undiscovered diseases. It's fun and I'm learning a lot!

Harvard recruits the best residents around the country. The residents have been incredible teachers who are driven to improve my clinical acumen day and night.

You will receive strong clinical training here that is very pertinent to every-day medicine. My classmates did fairly well during residency match.

I matched at my #1 place for a surgical residency in the West Coast!


Where do students live?

Many first and second years live in dorms and then most people move to apartments near their clinical rotations (mostly near the MGH area of Longwood close to Brigham or Beth Israel). The Medical School is located in Boston, Massachusetts — specifically in the neighborhood of Brookline / Longwood Medical Area. There is a public transportation (subway / train) located on-campus and near all the major hospitals affiliated with Harvard Medical School.


Getting around:

There’s great public transportation in Boston. You don’t need to bring a car for the entirety of medical school.


Financial Considerations:

  • You can apply for grants and financial aid with Harvard Medical School’s financial aid office.
  • Harvard Medical School Tuition: ~$60,000
  • Average indebtedness of graduates: ~$106,000

Want to learn more about other medical schools?

Read our other popular school blogs here:

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Dr. Rachel Rizal

Author Dr. Rachel Rizal

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