Frequently Asked Questions

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Applying to the College of Medicine at SUNY Upstate

What pre-requisite courses do you require?

We require the following pre-requisite courses:

  • General Biology I & II w/labs
  • General Chemistry I & II w/labs
  • Organic Chemistry I w/lab
  • Biochemistry
  • General Physics I & II w/labs*
  • Writing/Composition
  • English elective
  • Statistics (3hrs)

* Applicants should avoid taking more than one or two pre-requisite science courses during the summer and avoid taking them at community colleges.

* While it is recommended, we do not require your Physics courses to be calculus-based unlike other medical schools.

* Applicants can apply without having completed all the pre-requisites however, if accepted, it would be on the condition that any outstanding required courses be successfully completed prior to enrolling.

Can I apply without yet having completed all the pre-requisites?

Yes. The committee will consider your application if you haven't completed all the required pre-requisites at time of application, and if accepted, your acceptance would be conditional upon your successfully completing any outstanding pre-requisites with a grade of "C" or higher prior to enrolling at SUNY Upstate.

Can other science courses like Organic Chemistry II or Microbiology be used to complete your pre-requisites?

No. We will not accept any other science courses as substitutions for our required pre-requisites.

What other science courses can I take to make me more competitive?

Beyond the pre-requisites, the most useful courses to take are Physiology, Genetics, and Cell Biology. These courses have some tricky concepts to master and having some familiarity with them ahead of time will be to your benefit once you enter medical school. Microbiology and Immunology may also be helpful. Courses such as Anatomy, Neuroscience, Histology, Pathology, and Pharmacology generally are subjects that can be fairly easily mastered once you enter medical school but take them as an undergrad if you enjoy them.

When it comes to suggestions of what non-science courses you can take, we recommend Psychology courses addressing the cognitive, abnormal, and developmental aspects of human behavior, knowledge of which will help you in becoming a good physician. Courses related to public health, ethics, communication skills are also of increasing benefit, as doctors become more sophisticated in these areas.

Do you accept Advanced Placement credits?

Yes, as long as you were awarded college credit and the course(s) are listed on an official transcript from your primary undergraduate institution. The Admissions Committee recommends that you also complete advanced science coursework in order to be competitive for admission.

How do I apply?

To complete an application, applicants must: submit a verified AMCAS application, submit the appropriate letters of recommendation to AMCAS, submit a SUNY Upstate Medical University Supplemental Application, submit a non-refundable application fee of $110. For more information and deadlines, go to Admissions.

What is AMCAS?

The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) is a non-profit, centralized application processing service for applicants to the first-year entering classes at participating U.S. medical schools. Most U.S. medical schools use AMCAS as the primary application. For more information, you can visit the AAMC External link website.

When are your application deadlines?

  • June - Begin submitting AMCAS applications
  • August 1 - Early Decision AMCAS applications must be on file
  • August 15 - Early Decision applicants must have a completed application on file
  • October 15 - AMCAS deadline
  • December 1 - Latest date to submit a completed application to SUNY Upstate (MD and MD/PhD applicants)
  • May 15 - Latest date to receive the $100 deposit refund
  • June 1 - Latest date to request a deferment on acceptance

Who do you send a supplemental application to?

We send a supplemental to every verified AMCAS applicant.

Do you give preference to applicants from New York State?

Yes. SUNY Upstate Medical University is a public/state institution and does give a slight preference to applicant's from New York state when reviewing applications. However, we welcome applications from and accept many out of state applicants each year.

What if there is no pre-health committee on my campus?

In the absence of such a committee, two letters of recommendation from faculty in different departments may be submitted, although one department must be a science department.

How important is clinical experience?

Clinical experience is essential. Before you invest all the time, money and hard work that goes into becoming a doctor, you should be sure this is a career that "fits" you and clinical exposure is the way to help you determine this.

Get some exposure early, even before you have made your decision for sure. Students sometimes toy with the idea of becoming a doctor, but interactions with patients in a clinical setting often CONVINCE them—one way or the other. The Admissions Committee also wants to see some evidence that your career choice is well informed and not a "whim."

Experiencing a clinic or hospital often cements the emotional resolve that allows you to invest all those hours of studying. It is not necessary to have many small exposures to every field. One or two thorough immersions such as working as an EMT, orderly in a hospital, or volunteer in a physician's office for the summer (allowing you real patient contact, not just filing X-rays) are more beneficial and desirable.

Remember, you are trying to learn and convince the Admissions Committee, that this is THE career choice for you.

Are volunteer experiences really important?

Every committee member weighs this differently, but all expect to see some service work. After 30 years of service work, you can only doctor well if you enjoy the way you spend your day. This career is service work and service work is not for everyone and we (and you) need to figure out if you are committed to service.

There are many selfish reasons to become a doctor: the salary, job security, and prestige, just to name a few. When reviewing your application, the Admissions Committee is trying to gauge how much of your motivation comes from your desire to serve others, and your volunteer work will speak louder to us than your words.

Do I have to be a science major in order to be considered for medical school?

No. While about 80% of our medical students were science majors in college, a science major is not a requirement. Keep in mind, however, that in order to be competitive (get into medical school AND get through the first two years comfortably) you should take more than the required prerequisite science courses (see question "What other science courses can I take to make me more competitive?" above for suggestions). On average, your classmates in medical school will have taken 51 semester hours of science in college and you will want to be equally prepared.

Canadian Applicants

Do you accept Canadians, and are they evaluated differently?

Throughout the application process, Canadian students are treated the same as US residents in that they must complete the same pre-requisite course work, application requirements etc.

Will you accept my 13th year of English as meeting the English pre-requisite for medical school?

No. In order to meet the English requirement, you must have satisfactorily completed two English courses at the college level.

Are scholarships and financial aid available?

Canadian citizens are considered as international applicants and are not eligible for US government aid programs (Pell Grant, SEOG Grant, Stafford Loan, Perkins Loan, PLUS Loan and Federal Work Study). Unfortunately, we are not able to offer scholarship support to international students in the College of Medicine.

International students are financially responsible for their tuition, fees and living expenses while enrolled at Upstate Medical University and should be aware that financial aid is limited and difficult to obtain. Further, it should be understood that Upstate Medical University cannot co-sign for any loans. Prior to enrollment, international students must indicate their understanding of this financial commitment which will then be confirmed via the I-20 application process. Some programs of study at Upstate Medical University offer stipends and tuition waivers. These conditions will be considered throughout the process.

Students may apply for private loans through US banks, providing a US resident co-signs the loan.

Go to International Students for more information.

International Applicants

Do you accept international students?

Applications are accepted from foreign citizens who have completed at least 90 semester hours of college coursework in the United States or Canada, at an accredited institution. The admissions procedures are the same as US citizens. All else being equal, priority will be given to candidates who are US citizens or permanent residents. However, non-US residents with a strong record of academic research achievement are encouraged to apply.

Do I need to take the TOEFL, and what score do you require?

International students whose primary language is not English must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A minimum score of 600 written exam/250 CBT/100 IBT is required. If you have completed a minimum of 90 credit hours at a college or university in the United States or Canada, the TOEFL is not required.

Are scholarships and financial aid available?

International Students are not eligible for US government aid programs (Pell Grant, SEOG Grant, Stafford Loan, Perkins Loan, PLUS Loan and Federal Work Study). Unfortunately, we are not able to offer scholarship support to international students in the College of Medicine.

International students are financially responsible for their tuition, fees and living expenses while enrolled at Upstate Medical University and should be aware that financial aid is limited and difficult to obtain. Further, it should be understood that Upstate Medical University cannot co-sign for any loans. Prior to enrollment, international students must indicate their understanding of this financial commitment which will then be confirmed via the I-20 application process. Some programs of study at Upstate Medical University offer stipends and tuition waivers. These conditions will be considered throughout the process.

Students may apply for private loans through US banks, providing a US resident co-signs the loan.

Transferring to SUNY Upstate Medical University

Do you accept transfers?

When openings arise, we do accept transfers into our 3rd year. Openings do not exist every year and we usually do not know if we will have room to accept transfers until late February. When they do exist, they are limited to United States citizens or permanent residents. To be eligible for transfer, students must be in good standing and matriculated at a medical school approved by the New York State Department of Education. More information is available on our Transfer Students page.

How do I apply?

For information on the transfer application process, and to learn what is required for transfer, please visit the Transfer Students page.

Non-Traditional Applicants

How many students are over 30?

Each year the class has about 5–8 students in their 30's. The average age of the class is 23, and approximately half the class does not come to medical school directly after graduation. The oldest student we have accepted was 63 and we have had a handful of students in their 40's.

I've been out of school for a while now and I doubt any of my professors remember me. Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

Students that graduated from undergraduate college more than 5 years ago and are currently employed full-time, may submit 1 letter of recommendation from a science faculty member with whom a medical school prerequisite was taken and 1 letter of recommendation from a current supervisor. More information can be found on the Letters of Recommendation page.

Can I attend a community college to complete my pre-requisites?

Admission to medical school is very competitive. In 2012, we received 4,854 applications for 160 available seats. In order to make your application as competitive as possible, the Admissions Committee strongly recommends that all science pre-requisites be completed at a competitive four year college or university.

Interviewing at SUNY Upstate

Who gets invited for an interview?

Out of a very large and competitive applicant pool (4,854 applications received for the entering class of 2012), we typically invite 700 or so applicants in for an interview. GPA's and MCAT scores are the two most heavily weighted factors considered when screening applications. Other factors such as clinical experience, volunteer work, personal statement, and letters of recommendation are also considered when trying to select the most qualified applicants to bring in for an interview.

When are interviews conducted?

Interviews are conducted every Monday and Wednesday beginning in September and will continue into January. Students are expected to arrive at 8:45 am on their scheduled interview day and typically finish around 2:00 pm. A current medical student will conduct a tour of campus and lunch will be provided.

What should I expect on interview day?

You will receive details about your interview day once it has been confirmed. You will need to arrive on campus by 9:00 am and plan on being on campus until 2 pm. During your day at SUNY Upstate, you will interview with eight different interviewers in the MMI process. Lunch and a tour of campus will be provided and you will have the opportunity to sit in on and observe a variety of classes. To learn more, you can also visit the Interview Day web page.

What nearby hotels do you recommend?

The following hotels are located close to campus and offer free shuttle service to our applicants. Please be sure to mention that you are interviewing at SUNY Upstate Medical University in order to receive a special room rate.

There are some rooms available in Upstate's Geneva Tower for applicants to stay in while in Syracuse for their interview.  The rate for the one night stay is $55.00.  The room is a private bedroom in a 4 person suite, so applicants would be staying in the suite with three other applicants (of the same gender).  The suite has a total of 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen. E-mail Geneva@upstate.edu for more details.

Rejected Applicants

Why was I rejected without even getting an interview?

Weaker academic scores (GPA and/or MCATS) is the most common reason for rejection without an interview. This year we received over 4,800 applications of which we can only interview 700. Thus, every year we must reject many applicants with good credentials who are edged out by others with slightly stronger ones.

I thought my interviews went well, why was I rejected?

They may have gone well but keep in mind that medical schools can only accept about half of the people they interview, and the candidate pool is a very homogenous and impressive group. Sometimes it is just chance. It may tip in your favor at the next school. However, statistics suggest that if you are interviewed at more than two schools and still do not receive an acceptance, your interviews are probably not going as well as you think.

I applied last year but was rejected. Should I re-apply?

The committee encourages previously rejected applicants to re-apply only once they have taken the necessary steps to address and improve the weaknesses in their application. This can often not be done in a matter of months and in time for the next application cycle. If you are unsure as to what were your applications weaknesses, we recommend that you seek the advice of your pre-health advisor or schedule an appointment to attend an information session, held monthly, about the College of Medicine at SUNY Upstate.

Do you offer application counseling?

Yes. You can schedule to attend a general information session held with an admissions advisor. These sessions are held once a month, and are done in small groups which allow students the opportunity to ask questions and seek advice pertaining to their application. If you would like to attend, please call the Office of Admissions at (315) 464-4570 to find out when the next session is being held. Or you can register online to attend a pre-advisement session.

Application counseling is not available by phone or email.

High School Students

Which undergraduate college should I attend?

While there is no one specific college that will ensure you admission into medical school, you should try to attend the most competitive college or university that meets your needs. Along with the personal reasons for attending, you should look for a school with a strong science program and while itís not necessary for admission, one that has a pre-health committee or advisor on campus. They can offer pre-med students a lot of advice and help guide you through the process of preparing for and applying to medical school.

Can I apply for Early Acceptance now?

We offer a number of combined BS/MD programs to which students can apply to out of high school. To learn more about these special admission programs, please visit the Special Admissions Options page.

Special Programs

What is the Early Assurance Program for college Sophomores?

To learn more about who is eligible and how to apply to this early acceptance program, please visit the Early Assurance Program (EAP) for college sophonores page.

I was accepted under the Early Assurance program for two years from now, but I am graduating early, can I come a year early?

No. Because seats in each entering class are limited (150 students a year) and of those a specific number of seats are held in advance for early assurance students, we must require you to come the year you were accepted.

What is Early Decision Program?

This program is offered to applicants who are interested in applying only to Upstate. Requirements for the Early Decision Program are the same as for regular admissions, except that the AMCAS Early Decision application deadline is August 1 and the deadline to have a complete application on file is August 15.

Acceptance decisions are made prior to October 1. Candidates not accepted Early Decision may apply to other schools and will automatically be considered under the regular admissions process after October 1.

Paying for Medical School

How much does it cost to attend SUNY Upstate?

Please visit the Tuition & Fees page for an overview on the costs associated with attending medical school at SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Are scholarships available?

SUNY Upstate Medical University offers a number of scholarships and grants to enrolled students. Some of the awards sponsored by SUNY Upstate, by the State University of New York, New York State, and the Federal Government include:

  • New York State Tuition Assistance Program
  • Syracuse Medical Alumni Scholarships
  • Upstate Medical University Foundation Scholarships
  • Faculty Student Association Scholarships
  • College of Medicine Endowed Scholarships
  • SUNY Economically Disadvantaged Tuition Waivers
  • SUNY Graduate Opportunity Tuition Waivers
  • Upstate MD/PhD Tuition Waivers
  • Regents Health Care Scholarships
  • National Health Service Corps Scholarships
  • Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarships

Visit the Financial Aid section of our website for links to several free internet scholarship searches that can assist you in locating awards sponsored by private organizations.

About the College of Medicine at Upstate

What is average overall and cum GPA for accepted students?

The class of 2012 had an average cumulative GPA of 3.63 and an average science GPA of 3.60.

What is the average MCAT score for accepted students?

The average scores for the class of 2012 were BS = 10.59, PS = 10.56, VR = 9.60.

Is the curriculum problem based?

No. The curriculum is organ based, but problem laden. That is, the organization of most pre-clinical courses is to teach various aspects of a single system together, for example the heart. In the first year you learn the heart's normal anatomy, physiology, and histology, in the second year its pathology, pharmacology, and microbiology, repeating this pattern for all of the organ systems. We do draw on cases (problems) heavily to show how the basic science explains the rationale for the diagnosis and management of a patient. One course, Pathophysiology, is centered on cases. You are given the clinical case and must explain your diagnosis and management plan using the basic science you have learned.

What is the difference between the Syracuse and Binghamton campuses?

All College of Medicine students spend their first two years on the Upstate campus in Syracuse. Prior to the start of the third year, one-quarter of the class moves 70 miles south to the Binghamton Clinical Campus. Students learn the same skills on both campuses, but the ambiance is different. Much of the clinical training in Syracuse takes place in a tertiary care setting, the special focus of University Hospital.

As the only Level I trauma and burn center in the region, the most seriously ill and injured patients are treated here. In addition to the typical services provided at a major health care center, University Hospital offers hundreds of specialty services. Located 70 miles south of Syracuse, the Binghamton campus offers a smaller, community-based setting allowing for more interaction with patients and attending physicians.

Applicants must declare their campus preference within two weeks of their Interview Day. Once the campus selection has been made, it cannot be reversed.

Visit our Binghamton Clinical Campus page.

What is the Summer Human Anatomy Program?

The Summer Human Anatomy Program is a great option for students who have been out of school for a while or who just want to lighten their course load in the Fall. The small class size allows for more individualized instruction and if successfully completed, exempts students from the class in the Fall, allowing more time to pursue other options such as research, electives etc.

Are medical students required to have a computer?

Laptops will be required for all incoming medical students.

Do you offer on-campus housing?

You can learn more about the various room types, cost and benefits of living on campus by visiting the Office of Residence Life.

You may also contact the Office of Residence Life via email at Clarktow@upstate.edu or by calling 315 464-5106.

About Syracuse, NY

Is it affordable to live here?

Absolutely! The cost of living is considerably less than many of the other cities with medical schools.

Visit our Syracuse & Central New York page.

Where can my partner/spouse go to look for a job?

Current job listings in the Syracuse area can be viewed by visiting:www.syracuse.com/jobs/ External link and CentralNewYorkHelpWanted.com External link. These sites also provide links to the Human Resources departments of many major area employers. Job openings at SUNY Upstate can be viewed by visiting: jobsatupstate.peopleadmin.com.

Tell me more about Syracuse…..

Syracuse is a great place to live, work and study! To learn more about what Syracuse has to offer its residents, you can visit: http://www.syracuse.ny.us/ External link.

David B. Duggan, MD, MACP, Dean

David B. Duggan, MD, MACP
Dean, College of Medicine

I am particularly honored to serve as Dean of the College of Medicine. As an alumnus of the Class of 1979 and a member of the faculty since 1986, I have been extraordinarily pleased at the growth of the Medical School over this time and proud of the work of its faculty and graduates.

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