University of Southern California
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Doctor of Medicine

Keith Administration Building 100C
1975 Zonal Avenue, Los Angeles 90089-9021
(323) 442-2552
FAX: (323) 442-2433

Associate Dean, Admissions: Erin A. Quinn, Ph.D.

The Keck School of Medicine Committee on Admissions is responsible for selecting members of the entering class of the medical curriculum. The members of the committee represent a cross section of the school -- full-time and voluntary faculty, alumni and students. The Committee on Admissions seriously considers candidates whose academic achievement and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) performance indicate their ability to satisfactorily complete the rigorous curriculum of the medical school. Favorable consideration reflects additional factors which contribute to the breadth and diversity of the entering class. These include but are not limited to motivation and commitment to service, evidence of leadership, personal qualities that are deemed desirable for the study and practice of medicine and potential for significant achievement. This assessment is not influenced by race, creed, gender, nationality, residence, age or disability.

The applicant's undergraduate preparation may have been in any major field from any accredited college or university. Although sound preparation in the basic sciences is essential, a broad background in the humanities and wide exposure to people and their problems are equally necessary. The administration believes that the medical training obtained at USC will make all graduates superbly dedicated physicians.

General Admissions Information

The Keck School of Medicine offers 160 places in each entering class; since the number of applicants is far greater (almost 5,000 applications were received in 2003), admission is highly selective. Each application is considered individually. The school does not require a minimum grade point average or minimum MCAT score for applicants; nevertheless, intense competition to enter medical school tends to eliminate applicants with a low GPA and/or MCAT scores.


All applicants to the 2004 entering class must have completed a minimum of four full years or 120 semester hours of academic work at an accredited college or university at the time of matriculation. Course work must have included two semesters or three quarters of the following subjects: biology, general chemistry and physics -- all with laboratory instruction; one semester or two quarters of organic chemistry with laboratory instruction; and one semester or one quarter of biochemistry. Additionally, a course in basic molecular biology is required. Suitable courses may include: molecular biology, molecular genetics, cell and molecular biology, advanced cell biology, or the equivalent. Thirty semester hours (or quarter equivalent) of course work in the social sciences, humanities and English composition are required. Facility in the principles of college mathematics or calculus and in the use of computers as a tool for independent learning is highly recommended. Applicants are strongly encouraged to have their basic science requirements completed at the time of application.

Students from foreign countries must have taken at least one year of study in the United States prior to application; credits from abroad must be certified by a U.S. college both as to number of hours and course content. Individuals who have discontinued studies in medical school for academic reasons are not eligible to apply to the Keck School of Medicine.

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

The MCAT is required of all applicants. Applicants are strongly urged to take the MCAT in the spring of the year of application and to have their basic science requirements completed at the time of application. Applicants to the 2004 entering class are required to take the MCAT no earlier than April 2001 and no later than August 2003. Scores from earlier administrations of the examination will not be acceptable.


The school participates in the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). This agency of the Association of American Medical Colleges reproduces and distributes an application and standardized academic record to participating medical schools designated by the student. The fee charged for this service depends upon the number of schools to which an application is sent. Applications may be obtained from their Web site (

Applications are available after June 1 for the class entering in August of the following year. Although applications to USC must be returned to AMCAS before November 1, earlier application is encouraged. Only one class is admitted each year, with registration shortly after the opening of the school year. The Keck School of Medicine participates in the Early Decision Program. Interested applicants apply between June 1 and August 1 and are notified of the Admissions Committee decision by September 1. Additional information is available in the AMCAS material.

The Committee on Admissions reviews all information submitted on the AMCAS form as well as any supplemental data; the school charges a $90 fee for this review. The most qualified candidates, as determined by this review, are invited to appear for personal interviews.

Personal Interviews

Personal interviews are a required part of the application procedure when initiated by the committee. Invited candidates meet with two interviewers who may be faculty, alumni, administrators, or students. Interviews in

Los Angeles are required so that applicants have an opportunity to visit the campus and talk with students and faculty members. Interviews are conducted either on the Health Sciences campus or in an off-campus clinical setting in the Los Angeles area.

Notice of Acceptance

Notice of acceptance will be sent to successful candidates continually until the class is filled. In no case will an acceptance be offered earlier than one year before anticipated enrollment. Applications are mainly considered during the fall and winter, with review usually complete by May.

Candidates must reply to an offer of acceptance within two weeks, enclosing a $100 deposit (non-refundable after May 15). A letter of withdrawal is required if students wish to relinquish their place in the class; release is granted automatically when the letter is received.

M.D./Ph.D. Program

The Keck School of Medicine has developed an M.D./Ph.D. program designed for individuals who aspire to a career in academic medicine or a leadership role within the biomedical industry. Students are expected to acquire the modern skills that are required for physician competence. Additionally, the M.D./Ph.D. program provides an opportunity for the development of research expertise and academic excellence while fulfilling the requirements for a Ph.D. degree.

A joint program between the Keck School of Medicine and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) was established in fall 1997 for the granting of the M.D./Ph.D. degree. Ph.D. studies may be carried out at Caltech or through collaboration between two laboratories at both institutions. The M.D. will be awarded from the Keck School of Medicine and the Ph.D. will be awarded from Caltech.

The Keck School of Medicine M.D./Ph.D. Committee is responsible for selecting students for the M.D./Ph.D. program. Members of the committee review the qualifications of each applicant, including MCAT and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores available, academic performance, letters of recommendation and research experience. The committee interviews candidates and then selects students for admission to the program.

Applicants interested in and found acceptable for the joint program with Caltech must go through a screening and interview process at Caltech as well as at the Keck School of Medicine.

General Information

The M.D./Ph.D. program enrolls a maximum of six students annually; two of these six students are identified for the joint program with Caltech. Each student accepted to the program must also be accepted to the Keck School of Medicine.


Admission requirements for the M.D./Ph.D. program are those of one of the graduate programs concerned or Caltech and the Keck School of Medicine. Students select the basic science program of their choice during the first two years of the medical curriculum; descriptions of these programs are available from each department and Caltech.

Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)

To assist the M.D./Ph.D. Committee in its evaluation of candidates, applicants to the M.D./Ph.D. program are encouraged to provide recent GRE scores. The committee does not, however, require GRE scores in order to consider an application.


Applicants to the Keck School of Medicine are advised to request information about the M.D./Ph.D. program at the time of application. In addition to completing the medical school application, applicants should indicate their interest in the M.D./Ph.D. program.

Students who are currently pursuing the medical curriculum at the Keck School of Medicine may apply to the M.D./Ph.D. program by contacting: M.D./Ph.D. Program, Keck School of Medicine, 1975 Zonal Avenue (KAM 314), Los Angeles, CA 90089-9023; (323) 442-2965, FAX: (323) 442-2318.

Personal Interviews

All applicants are screened by members of the M.D./Ph.D. Committee; candidates who meet the basic criteria of the program are then invited to be interviewed by members of the committee.

Notice of Acceptance

Students selected for acceptance to the M.D./Ph.D. program are notified between January and June of each year. Students begin their program in the fall semester and register for courses in the medical curriculum at that time.

Further information about the M.D./Ph.D. program at the Keck School of Medicine may be obtained by contacting: M.D./Ph.D. Program, Keck School of Medicine, 1975 Zonal Avenue (KAM 314), Los Angeles, CA 90089-9023; (323) 442-2965, FAX: (323) 442-2318; email:

Graduate Degree Programs

Admission standards for these curricula are established jointly by the Keck School of Medicine, its participating departments and the Graduate School.

Applicants to graduate degree programs offered by departments of the Keck School of Medicine must meet the general criteria for acceptance to the Graduate School. Each participating department may have additional requirements for application. The departmental requirements for the Keck School of Medicine's graduate programs are detailed in the Graduate Degree Programs section.

Further information about graduate degree programs at the Keck School of Medicine may be obtained by contacting: Office of the Senior Associate Dean for Scientific Affairs, Keck School of Medicine, 1975 Zonal Avenue (KAM 110), Los Angeles, CA 90089-9023; (323) 442-1607, FAX: (323) 442-1610.