Deciding whether or not to go to medical school is a huge decision that requires extensive research and consideration. One of the key factors to weigh is that medical school is, in fact, a graduate program.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, medical school is considered graduate school. It requires a bachelor’s degree for admission and results in students earning either an MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree, which are doctoral degrees.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover key details on medical school as a type of graduate school, admissions requirements, degree types, curriculum, and more to help you make an informed decision about applying to and attending med school.

Medical School Overview

Medical school is indeed considered a form of graduate school. It is an advanced level of education that prepares individuals to become medical professionals, such as doctors or physicians. The journey to becoming a doctor typically involves completing undergraduate studies followed by attending medical school.

Graduate-level education

Medical school is a graduate-level education program that builds upon the foundational knowledge gained during undergraduate studies. It provides in-depth training in various medical disciplines, including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology.

Medical students also gain hands-on experience through clinical rotations in hospitals and clinics.

During medical school, students acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to diagnose and treat illnesses, perform medical procedures, and provide patient care. The curriculum is rigorous and demanding, requiring students to dedicate several years to intense study and practical training.

Admissions requirements

Admission to medical school is highly competitive and typically requires meeting specific prerequisites. These requirements may vary slightly between different medical schools, but they generally include a bachelor’s degree, completion of prerequisite courses (such as biology, chemistry, and physics), and a strong academic record.

In addition to academic qualifications, medical schools also consider other factors when evaluating applicants. These may include letters of recommendation, personal statements, extracurricular activities, and performance on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

MD and DO degree programs

There are two main types of medical degree programs offered in the United States: Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). Both degrees lead to becoming licensed physicians, but there are slight differences in their approaches to healthcare.

MD programs focus on conventional or allopathic medicine, while DO programs incorporate additional training in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), which emphasizes a holistic approach to patient care. Both MD and DO programs require similar coursework and clinical rotations.

It is important to note that medical school is a substantial commitment of time, effort, and financial resources. However, it is also a rewarding and fulfilling path for those passionate about medicine and dedicated to improving the health and well-being of others.

Applying to Medical School

Applying to medical school is an exciting and challenging process for aspiring doctors. It requires careful planning, dedication, and a strong academic background. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of applying to medical school, including prerequisites, the MCAT exam, letters of recommendation, and the personal statement.


Before applying to medical school, it is important to ensure that you meet the necessary prerequisites. These requirements typically include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, completion of specific science courses such as biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as a strong GPA.

Additionally, some medical schools may require additional coursework in areas like psychology, sociology, or biochemistry. It is essential to research the specific prerequisites for each medical school you are interested in to ensure that you meet all the requirements.


The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized exam that is required for admission to most medical schools. The MCAT assesses a student’s knowledge of various scientific concepts, critical thinking skills, and problem-solving abilities.

It consists of four sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.

It is crucial to dedicate enough time to prepare for the MCAT and achieve a competitive score.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation play a significant role in the medical school application process. These letters provide insight into an applicant’s personal and academic abilities from individuals who can attest to their character and potential as a future healthcare professional.

It is recommended to obtain letters from professors, research mentors, or healthcare professionals who have had direct experience working with you. Strong letters of recommendation can greatly enhance your application and make you stand out among other candidates.

Personal Statement

The personal statement is an essential component of the medical school application. It allows applicants to showcase their unique qualities, experiences, and motivations for pursuing a career in medicine.

A well-crafted personal statement can demonstrate to admissions committees your passion for medicine, your ability to overcome challenges, and your commitment to serving others. It is crucial to dedicate time and effort to writing a compelling personal statement that reflects your individuality and resonates with the values of the medical school you are applying to.

Medical School Curriculum

Medical school is a rigorous and intensive educational program that prepares individuals to become doctors. The curriculum is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of medical knowledge and skills needed to practice medicine effectively.

It typically consists of three main components: basic sciences, clinical rotations, and residencies.

Basic sciences

The basic sciences form the foundation of medical education. Students in medical school are required to complete courses in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, and pathology.

These courses provide a deep understanding of the human body and its functions, as well as the mechanisms of diseases. The knowledge gained from these courses is essential for diagnosing and treating patients.

Clinical rotations

After completing the basic sciences, medical students move on to clinical rotations. During this phase, students gain hands-on experience by rotating through various medical specialties, such as internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and psychiatry.

They work directly with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians, learning to apply their knowledge in real-world medical settings. These rotations allow students to develop clinical skills, enhance their diagnostic abilities, and understand the different specialties available within the field of medicine.


Following the completion of medical school, graduates enter into residencies. Residencies are advanced training programs where doctors-in-training, known as residents, work in hospitals or clinics under the supervision of attending physicians.

The duration of residencies varies depending on the specialty, ranging from three to seven years. During this time, residents gain extensive practical experience and further refine their skills in their chosen specialty.

Residencies are a crucial step in the journey to becoming a fully qualified and independent medical practitioner.

According to a study conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average duration of medical school is four years, with an additional three to seven years for residency training.

Medical school is indeed considered graduate school, as it requires a bachelor’s degree for admission. However, it differs from other graduate programs in terms of its length and the specific curriculum focused on healthcare.

The demanding nature of medical school reflects the high level of expertise and commitment required to practice medicine effectively.

Cost and Time Commitment

When considering medical school, one of the primary concerns for many individuals is the cost and time commitment involved. Medical school is often seen as a significant investment, both in terms of finances and time.

Tuition and fees

Medical school tuition and fees can vary widely depending on the institution and location. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2020-2021 academic year at private medical schools was $64,986 for in-state students and $58,668 for out-of-state students.

Public medical schools had an average tuition and fees cost of $41,438 for in-state students and $58,668 for out-of-state students.

It’s important to note that these figures do not include additional expenses such as textbooks, housing, and living costs. The total cost of attending medical school can easily exceed six figures.

Scholarships and loans

Many medical schools offer scholarships and financial aid options to help alleviate the burden of tuition costs. Scholarships can be based on academic merit, financial need, or specific career goals. It’s important for prospective medical students to research and apply for scholarships to help offset the cost of medical school.

In addition, many students rely on loans to finance their medical education. The AAMC reports that the average medical student debt in 2020 was $241,600 for those who borrowed to pay for medical school.

It’s crucial for students to carefully consider their loan options and develop a plan for repayment after graduation.

Length of program

Medical school is typically a four-year program, following the completion of a bachelor’s degree. However, it’s important to note that the length of medical school can vary depending on factors such as the specialization chosen and any additional training or residencies.

For example, individuals pursuing a surgical specialty may require several additional years of training.

During medical school, students undergo a combination of classroom instruction, laboratory work, and clinical rotations to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to become a physician. This intensive training requires a significant time commitment and dedication to the study of medicine.


In summary, medical school requires a prior bachelor’s degree, takes four additional years to complete, and results in a doctoral-level degree, whether MD or DO. It involves rigorous coursework, clinical rotations, and preparation for residencies.

The cost is substantial, but loans and scholarships are available. Overall, medical school is very much considered graduate-level education.

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