Academic Expectations

The Duke University School of Medicine strives to attract, educate, and guide students who have extraordinary empathy and compassion,  are visionary leaders and dedicated to caring for others. We have consistently encouraged our applicants to have a broad and balanced undergraduate academic education in addition to a wealth of productive life experiences. To accomplish this growth and maturation process, a rigorous, challenging, and interdisciplinary academic preparation in the sciences and humanities is of paramount importance.

Our medical students are required to have fulfilled “academic expectations” based on competency-based, cross-disciplinary training in the traditional biomedical sciences. Students need to appreciate the influence the basic sciences have on informal training in medicine. In conjunction with the traditional preparation of the biomedical sciences, the need to understand the larger psychosocial context in which medicine plays a role requires significant exposure to the social sciences.

Duke University School of Medicine acknowledges the constant evolution of the biomedical sciences and the challenges presented by the socially-driven disparities in medicine. Those aspiring for clinical and research careers must be prepared to expertly address the ever-changing healthcare environment. The faculty of the School of Medicine, knowledgeable of these constant challenges, continues to create modifications to the curriculum to align our expectations with this evolving  environment of medical school.

Coursework Expectations & MCAT Examination:

For those planning on applying to the School of Medicine, our "academic expectations" include multidisciplinary coursework in a number of areas and completion of the MCAT examination.  We will accept MCAT scores from 2020.

While not required, the courses denoted below would be helpful in your preparation for the MCAT and for the first year of our medical school curriculum. These are considered a component of the ‘academic expectations’ as part of more formal training in undergraduate or post-baccalaureate programs.

The fast-paced curriculum requires that applicants have a minimum MCAT of 500 to be reviewed and evaluated by our committee.

Biochemistry: May be fulfilled by a single course in Biochemistry, or through coursework which incorporates principles of Biochemistry as part of an interdisciplinary course in Cell and/or Molecular Biology and/or Genetics.

Cellular Biology: May be fulfilled by a single course in Cell and/or Molecular Biology and/or Genetics.

Statistics/Biostatistics: An understanding of the application of statistical methods in the analysis of data is expected given the increasing reliance on current biomedical and healthcare research as part of the curriculum.

Physics: An understanding of the correlation of basic physics to human physiology and anatomy (e.g. physics and/or biophysics) should be completed. Labs are optional.

Sociology: An introduction to the principles of social organization, with particular emphasis on the social determinants of healthcare is expected.

Psychology: An introduction to the basic principles of psychology with emphasis on the biological basis of behavior are recommended.

Expository Writing: Experience in expository writing across the humanities, including but not limited to formal courses in English, is a fundamental element in the preparation for medicine. This may be accomplished through coursework in a number of disciplines, including but not limited to Philosophy, History, Public Policy, Political Science, Religion, etc. and may be accomplished through an Honors Thesis or completion of a major research paper.

The preliminary coursework leading up to the cross-disciplinary courses, e.g. Biochemistry, Cell/Molecular Biology, etc., will vary among colleges and universities, therefore the academic expectations as listed represent a sample of the courses we hope to see in our matriculants to the School of Medicine.

Any courses that are taken at community colleges and accepted at your undergraduate institution will also be accepted. In addition, we will consider AP coursework if approved by your undergraduate institution.

DukeMed uses holistic review of applicants. 

Grading: For the upcoming admissions cycle (2024) DukeMed will accept courses on a Pass/Fail, Pass/No Pass, and Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. In addition, DukeMed will also accept online courses.  We prefer, however, that science and laboratory classes are conducted in person and for a letter grade.
MCAT: Duke requires the MCAT for acceptance consideration.  MCAT scores from January 2020 through September 2023 dates are considered