The roughly 165 seats that Harvard Medical School has available for new students each year are the object of intense competition. Over 7,500 people applied for admission in 2015, putting Harvard Medical School’s admission rate at 3.5 per cent — among the steepest odds applicants face in applying to any academic program in the entire country!
Students who are admitted become part of an esteemed medical community and a tradition of service to humankind that stretches back over two hundred years. Harvard’s mission is to train outstanding physicians who are committed to the alleviation of human suffering and likely to become leaders in the medical field. The quality and commitment of Harvard medical students is reflected in the fact that so many of them pursue joint degrees that combine medical training with other specialties, or take advantage of the opportunity to use a fifth year at HMS to complete research projects.
Harvard offers two medical education tracks: the New Pathway program, which emphasizes case-based learning, and the HST program, operated jointly with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which focuses on biomedical research. Applicants must specify which program they want to be considered for. They may apply either to one program or to both.
Harvard Medical School is located in the Longwood Medical Area, a Boston neighborhood where a number of hospitals and training and research centers are located. The HMS community is far more diverse than many people might assume. About 1 out of 4 students is identified as belonging to a minority group. Student ages range from the early 20s to the early 40s.
The learning environment at Harvard Medical School is supportive. The only grades given to first- and second-year students are pass or fail. The classes are demanding, but the emphasis is on mastering subject matter and skills, not on showing up other students. Harvard wants to see all of its students succeed. That commitment is reflected in a faculty devoted to teaching, a culture that emphasizes collaboration, and an administration that offers the services — including technical support, financial aid, and career services — that students need to excel in their learning and move on with productive careers.