Prospective Students

We’re excited you’re considering UW-Madison for your college career. UW-Madison is a great place to learn, grow, and connect with others. Pre-health advisors in our office will look forward to working with you if you decide to make UW-Madison your college home!

To show you where we fit in the overall advising landscape here at UW-Madison, the Center for Pre-Health Advising (CPHA) is one of two Pre-Professional Advising offices at UW-Madison. The Center for Pre-Law Advising (CPLA) is the other. We share a director (Molly Reinhard), office space, pre-professional expertise, and missions of increasing access and equity in healthcare and law careers. Want to learn more? Please have a look at this overview of Pre-Professional Advising at UW-Madison and meet our very own Molly Reinhard.

Please also see our answers to frequently asked questions below.

frequently asked questions

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I am not a current UW-Madison student. Can I still be advised by CPHA?

CPHA provides extensive advising resources for current UW-Madison students and alumni interested in pursuing careers in healthcare, as well as for admitted transfer students. Prospective transfer and admitted transfer students are also encouraged to work with the Transfer Transitions Program for personalized support and to email questions@prehealth.wisc.edu with pre-health specific questions or concerns.

If you are a prospective or admitted first-year student (i.e. freshman) we are excited to start working with you more directly starting during Orientation (SOAR). Whether you are waiting to attend your SOAR session or are just starting to consider attending UW-Madison for undergrad, we encourage you to access pre-health advising information through CPHA’s excellent online resources (e.g. this website). For information on the breadth of academic opportunities available to you as a pre-health student at UW-Madison, check out the major & certificate exploration page of the Guide.

You are also welcome to consider signing up for our bimonthly Pre-Health CPHA Newsletter to learn more about opportunities for pre-health students on our campus and beyond, health careers, and related topics. Please also consider signing up for a Pre-Health Information Session through the UW Admissions Office. You can find information about upcoming virtual admissions events here.

How can I visit campus?

UW-Madison looks forward to welcoming you to visit our campus when it is once again safe to do so. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person events and experiences at UW-Madison are currently on hold. Please find the latest updates regarding UW-Madison’s response to COVID-19 here.

We are also excited to share that many units on our campus are finding ways to continue operations virtually. Please consider attending a Virtual Admissions information session or a Transfer Virtual information session. In addition, if you are a prospective student who is interested in a Bioscience Major here at UW-Madison, you can also watch a narrated version of the Bioscience Majors and Academic Opportunities information session.

Where can I find information about applying to UW-Madison?

For specific applications and deadlines visit the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

If you are a returning student looking to complete prerequisite courses at UW-Madison, please note that you will need to apply to be a University Special student through the Adult Career and Special Student Services Office.

What happens once I'm admitted?

SOAR (Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration) will be your first step as a UW-Madison student. Once you are enrolled as a UW-Madison student, we also encourage you to sign-up for our online orientation designed to help you navigate your experience on this campus as a pre-health student. The orientation is called “Preparing for Professional Programs in Health Care.”

Please also learn about all the support that CPHA offers to first year students. We look forward to working with you!

Is there a preferred major for health professions graduate programs?

Not at all. Health professional schools seek candidates with diverse interests and backgrounds. We encourage you to think about what you most want to learn and do while you are in college. Find out what you can consider studying as a major here at UW-Madison. Health professional programs view the work you do in the prerequisite courses they require as sufficient evidence of your academic preparation for the coursework they require. Some majors at UW-Madison require courses that health professional programs also require. This leads some students to choose one of these majors. However, depending on time and financial constraints, you can major in any area of interest! One way to diversify your coursework and pursue academic interests outside your major is to get a certificate (what many institutions call a minor).

For additional information on the breadth of academic opportunities available to you as a pre-health student at UW-Madison, check out the major & certificate exploration page of the Guide.

How many UW-Madison students apply to medical school every year?

Great question. Around 500 UW-Madison students apply to medical school every year. This total includes students and alumni who apply to MD and DO programs. As an office, we gather data on all types of medical school applications. So, breaking this down further, we find that around 400 students apply to MD programs, around 200 apply to DO programs, and around 100 apply to both these types of program every year.

Keep in mind as you research acceptance data presented by schools that many report data on their website from the AAMC (American Association of Medical Colleges). This data includes only the number of students who get into MD programs. Our office seeks to represent the bigger picture more fully.

How many UW-Madison students get into medical school every year?

Nationally, the acceptance rate into MD programs specifically is about 45%. At UW, it’s about 55%. While this is better, it still sounds scary when you realize that about half the students who apply don’t get in. This led us to look at the data more carefully. We wanted to know “who is not getting in?” We found that the total number of applicants applying to medical school includes those with low GPAs and low MCAT scores who were most likely not competitive overall for programs. We then looked at the percentage of applicants with GPAs of 3.5 and higher and 80th-percentile-and-higher MCAT scores. We found that these UW-Madison students and alumni have gotten into medical schools at a rate of 85%. This is a stunning number for a school that does not screen applicants through a pre-medical committee.

What is a pre-medical committee? This needs to be explained. A pre-medical committee is a panel of faculty and advisors who interview students who want to apply to medical schools and then, based on that interview, write an official letter of recommendation for them — or choose not to write this letter. If schools have a pre-medical committee and decline to write a letter in support of an applicant, that applicant must explain why they did not get a committee letter when they apply. This is important to know because when schools provide this type of letter and then draw attention to their 95% acceptance rate, they are simply saying that their pre-medical committee did a great job choosing which applicants they endorsed that year.

The philosophy of CPHA is to support students and alumni in your preparation for medicine. We do not approve what you do, but we will help you think critically about preparing. Nor do we endorse your application, but we will do everything we can to help you become a strong candidate for programs. We are here to listen, guide, provide recommendations, offer resources, and help in any way we can. We are also here for you if plans change and you discover that dentistry (or any other healthcare career) is a better professional fit for you than medicine. We have resources to help you navigate switching course-plan and professional-preparation changes with minimal crisis.

And we will look forward to working with you if you choose to come to UW-Madison!