Approximately sixty percent of all accepted students have no prior military service. However, after being accepted into the medical program, all students must commission into the Army, Navy, Air Force or Public Health Service prior to matriculation. Before the first year begins, all future students are sent to their respective officer training facilities where they are taught how to become military leaders.
SOM Admissions FAQs
The USU School of Medicine does not accept transfer students. All students must take the full four year curriculum.
Military applicants compete with civilian applicants on the same level. However, there are two considerations which set military applicants apart. First, if you are on active duty, in one of the military academies, or the ROTC, Officers must obtain a Letter of Approval (LOA) and Enlisted must obtain a Letter of Release (LoR) to apply from your branch of service. See Notice to Military Applicants for more information. Remember, the LOA or LoR must clearly state that approval is granted. See LOA example.
For applicants in the reserves, a letter from your commanding officer (who has the authority to release you) will suffice for the LOA or LoR. Those in the IRR do not need the LOA or LoR.
Secondly, active duty and other military obligates are restricted when selecting a branch of service. They must comply with their LOA or (LoR) instructions. It is rare that a component will give permission to transfer into another component. If such permission is not granted, the applicant must enter the same component in which they currently serve.
The USU School of Medicine accepts students with a variety of interests and talents. Our student body represents a diverse educational background. However, in order to be accepted in the SoM program, students must achieve the following:
- Attain a baccalaureate degree as of June 1 of the year of planned matriculation from an accredited academic institution in the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico.
- Completed at least one academic year of general or inorganic chemistry including laboratory; one academic year of organic chemistry including laboratory. Biochemistry may be substituted for the second semester of organic chemistry; one semester of calculus or statistics (precalculus or computer science courses are not acceptable); one academic year of general physics including laboratory (courses in anatomy are not acceptable); one academic year of biology including laboratory (botany courses are not acceptable); one academic year of writing intensive humanities, social sciences, languages or psychology courses (introductory courses in composition or literature are acceptable). You must receive a letter grade of C or highter in these courses.
An academic year of coursework consists of studies extending over a two-semester or three-quarter period and carries total credits of between eight and 12 quarter hours.
For students accepted to the School of Medicine:
- MCAT: 509
- GPA: 3.6
- One academic year of organic chemistry including laboratory
- Biochemistry may be substituted for the second semester of organic
- The Admissions Committee will accept general organic chemistry, introductory organic chemistry, structures and reactions and chemical structural analysis
- Please consult your school's course catalog to make sure that your particular course is organic
- One academic year of general or inorganic chemistry including laboratory (Biochemistry may be substituted for the second semester of organic chemistry)
- The Admissions Committee will accept general chemistry, biochemistry, physical chemistry, analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry and introductory chemistry
- One semester of calculus or statistics
- The Admissions Committee will accept business calculus, survey of calculus and introductory calculus. The committee will accept statistics courses from natural and social science fields
- One academic year of general physics including laboratory
- The Admissions Committee will accept introductory physics, calculus-based physics, algebra-based physics and mechanics, fluids and engineering
- One academic year of biology including laboratory
- Additional, upper level Biology coursework should be taken if one has had AP or IB Biology.
- The Admissions Committee will accept general biology, human anatomy, human physiology (or anatomy and physiology combined), microbiology, zoology, animal biology and cell biology
- The Committee will not accept botany, plant biology, environmental biology, prokaryotic biology, environmental science, ecology or geology
- If you have taken a course which is not listed above, contact the Admissions Office via email for a personal response
- One academic year of English, foreign language, writing intensive humanities, social science, or psychology courses.. Any combination of two semesters or three quarters' worth of classes is acceptable for this requirement
You must receive a letter grade of "C" or higher for the courses to meet the prerequisite requirement. CLEP courses are not accepted for the prerequisites. AP or IB courses for which your undergraduate institution has given you credit are acceptable for Calculus, Statistics, Inorganic Chemistry, and Physics. AP or IB courses for which you have been given credit are also acceptable for the requirement to have one year’s worth of credits in English, the Foreign Languages, Psychology, or the Humanities. If you have received credit for coursework through the AP or IB systems, we strongly recommend that you take upper level coursework in the sciences and humanities to demonstrate your ability to thrive in rigorous, advanced college courses. Please see our FAQ's for more information on course requirements.
- Missing course prerequisites: If the prerequisite can be completed before June 15th of the year of matriculation, the applicant's file can be reactivated. Any offer of acceptance would be contingent upon completion of the coursework.
- Noncitizens: If the person is a non-citizen but can become a citizen on or before November 1st of the year preceding matriculation, their file can be reactivated.
- Weak academic packages: USU recommends post-baccalaureate (or graduate) work to improve a below-average grade point average. Many undergraduate schools offer such programs, School of Medicine specifically to prepare an applicant for medical school. The Admissions Committee recommends about 25-30 additional credit hours.
- Low MCAT scores: USU recommends students retake the MCAT if they have low scores. The Admissions Committee does not average multiple test scores together and any improvement is looked upon as valid.
- If an applicant does not meet the requirements of USU, another option for military medicine is the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) administered by the Air Force, Army and Navy. This program provides funding for medical school in exchange for service.
- Some undergraduate schools have a pre-medical committee that interviews students, compiles letters of recommendation, and writes cover letters to medical schools. The cover letter usually ranks an individual among the pool of applicants from their school. USU prefers applicants have a pre-medical letter if their school offers one.
- If students do not submit a letter from the committee, they must explain their reason for not providing one.
- If an applicant's undergraduate school does not have a pre-medical committee, notify USU in a statement with the secondary application materials. The university will accept individual letters of recommendation.
- USU Applicants should submit four letters of recommendation:
- Two letters of recommendation should be written by a science faculty member
- One letter of recommendation should be written by a non-science professor
- One letter of recommendation must be written by a supervisor of clinical work. This can be a part of the pre-medical committee letter or separate.
- The USU Admissions Committee works on a "rolling" admissions basis. This means that an applicant's file is advanced onto the next phase as soon as the previous phase is completed.
- The process begins with an application to AMCAS. USU advises applicants to apply in June, prior to the year of matriculation.
- AMCAS begins sending applications to medical schools starting 30 June. An invitiation to fill out the supplemental application will be emailed to applicants at this time. Those applying on or after 30 June will be sent the email within 7 days of submitting the AMCAS application.
- As soon as the forms are returned and the letters of recommendation are received, the file is sent to the Committee to make a decision regarding an invitation to interview.
- All interviews are conducted at USU. Once the interview is completed, the file is sent to the Committee again to make a recommendation. If the committee recommends acceptance and a seat is available, the applicant is offered a conditional acceptance. This means that the person holds a place in the class but will not receive commissioning papers or official orders until the physical exam and security check are cleared and the acceptance form is returned. Once the physical and security checks are cleared, the applicant is offered an unconditional acceptance. Commissioning papers and orders are then processed.
- The Committee receives many files and each one is carefully reviewed. Please be patient while awaiting a response.
The Admissions Committee looks at the "whole" person. The five main factors that determine an applicants eligibility are undergraduate cumulative grade point average (science GPA is carefully weighed), MCAT scores, Letters of Recommendation (LORs), clinical experience, and AMCAS and USU statements.
Students must be interviewed before they are offered an acceptance into the USU School of Medicine. Not all applicants will be invited to interview. Applicants invited to interview are selected by the Admissions Committee. Candidates selected for an interview are notified via e-mail and appointments are scheduled through the SoM Admission's Office. Two SoM representatives interview applicants, evaluating motivation and potential as a future military physician.
Letters of Recommendation
- Not sending in your secondary application
- Lack of a MCAT score (the Admissions Committee needs this score before reviewing your application).
- Lack of one or more of your letters of recommendation (the Admissions Committee needs your complete set of letters before reviewing your application)
- Not listing all of your recommenders on your Letters of Recommendation Checklist.
- Clinical Letter not received in a timely manner
A clinical letter is a letter of recommendation which can be written by a Health Care Professional (Doctor, Nurse, Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, Certified Nursing Assistant, etc.) who has observed your patient care interactions. They have witnessed firsthand your hands-on experiences in the healthcare environment and how you have implemented your developing clinical skills in real life experiences.
Here are some examples of a clinical letter:
- Physician at an office at which you worked, shadowed, or volunteered
- Health care staff member who has observed you in the emergency department
- Nurse that you have been working with in a health care facility, nursing home, or clinic
- Member of the staff (e.g. supervisor) at the place at which you are providing volunteer medical service who has observed you (Veterans Home, , Hospice, etc.)
- Supervisor of your EMT Department
- Supervisor at the hospital where you work as a nurse, medical scribe, phlebotomist, medical assistant, tech, etc.
A missing letter explanation is a one to two paragraph explanation detailing why you were unable to provide a required letter of recommendation, such as an academic or clinical letter. This explanation needs to be submitted as part of your secondary application in the appropriate areas.
A Premedical Committee letter of recommendation packet is required by the Admissions Committee. A compilation packet from your University’s letter service will be accepted in lieu of a premedical committee packet.
If a premedical letter or compilation packet cannot be provided, the following ACADEMIC letters must be submitted:
- Two science letters (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.)
- One non-science letter (math, English, humanities, etc.)
There are no substitutes for these letters. Even if you have been out of school for an extended period of time, you must still attempt to submit academic letters of recommendation.
If unable to provide a Premedical Committee or compilation packet or any of the academic letters, a missing letter explanation will need to be provided in the appropriate area of the secondary application.
Finances & Fees
When enrolled in the School Medicine, students serve on active duty as commissioned officers in the grade O-1 (i.e. Second Lieutenant in the Army or Air Force, Ensign in the Navy or Public Health Service) with the full pay and allowances of that grade.
Type of Pay
Annual Base Pay
Basic Allowance for Housing
Basic Allowance for Subsistence
Annual Total (Gross Pay)
There are no fees for secondary applications.
All USU School of Medicine students enjoy a tuition-free education. Furthermore, they draw the full salary and benefits of a junior ranking officer while attending the four-year program.
There is a difference among the services. Applicants are not required to make a decision regarding service until the day of the interview, but USU recommends applicants research each well in advance. Information about the Army, Air Force and Navy and can be found on their home Web sites. Information about the Public Health Service can be found here and on it's home Web site.
At the interview, applicants are provided a form asking them to rank the services in order of preference and their commitment to each. Interviewees will be given briefings about the services and the admissions staff will be available for questions.
The majority of the USU School of Medicine graduates build an impressive career devoted to military medicine. They serve in vital capacities of biomedicine and many hold key leadership positions critical to the successful operation of the military and public health systems. The roles of USU School of Medicine graduates are diverse and far reaching, including heading terrorism and emergency response teams, serving in the White House Presidential medical detail, commanding major Military Treatment Facilities, and conducting vital research across all disciplines of medicine.
Students commit to serving at least seven years in the uniformed services after graduation.
Upon completion of the active duty service obligation, students who served on active duty for less than 10 years after graduation are placed on the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) roster. (Graduate medical education does not count toward the 10 years.) While on the IRR roster, service members are on inactive reserve status, with no weekend or annual active duty drill required, but are subject to call-up by the president of the United States in times of emergency. The amount of time required is as follows:
- Active duty service less than eight years: six years on the IRR roster
- Active duty service of more than eight years, but less than nine: four years on the IRR roster
- Active duty service of nine years or more, but less than 10; two years on the IRR roster
Except as law or service policy otherwise prescribe, the IRR obligation is added after all other active duty obligations have been served, including time for USU, ROTC, or the service academies.
The academic program blends a traditional health sciences curriculum with specialized education. The program includes courses in basic medical science and military-unique training. Students attend school year round and receive an additional 500 hours of preparation compared to their civilian counterparts. Topics such as trauma and emergency medicine, infectious disease and parasitology, the humanities and behavioral science, and the principles of leadership and teamwork is the focus of the enhanced curriculum.
Students complete their clinical training at Military Treatment Facilities across the United States.
Students are required to wear the appropriate uniform of the day handed down by the University brigade.
The University is located in a park-like setting on the grounds of the National Naval Medical Center. This central location, just a few miles outside of Washington, D.C., gives students unparalleled opportunities to enjoy many exciting cultural opportunities. Award-winning restaurants, museums and monuments surround the campus and provide a welcome break from the rigors of medical school. Students also enjoy a full-complement of extracurricular activities including a variety of athletic programs and students clubs.
The Uniformed Services University is located on the grounds of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. There is no base housing provided to students. However, they are given the monthly basic allowance for housing (BAH) to find accommodations in the area. There are several local options, many providing mass transit access.
Graduate Medical Education
The USU School of Medicine students learn what specialties they will pursue and the location at which they will practice medicine during their final year of school. The matches are based on service needs and student preference. Typically, more than 90 percent of USU students receive their first choice in specialty and location.
Applicants interested in the M.D./Ph.D. program must first apply directly to the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine using the American Medical Colleges Application Service (AMCAS). Applicants must indicate their interest in the M.D./Ph.D. program on the AMCAS application. A completed USU Ph.D. Program Application must also be submitted with this material. GRE scores are not required.
If the applicant is not accepted into a Ph.D. program, they may still continue the medical school application process.
Students admitted into the M.D./Ph.D. program will receive a stipend from the graduate program for the first three years of study. In most cases, the M.D./Ph.D. student will be commissioned in the United States military as an O-1 at the end of the third year of the program. Commissioning will mark the beginning of the student's military service. At this time, the student will draw the full salary and benefits of a commissioned officer.
The curriculum combines and integrates the requirements for both the M.D. and the Ph.D degrees. The M.D./Ph.D. program consists of three phases to be completed in seven to eight years. The first or graduate program phase will generally last three years. The M.D./Ph.D. student will complete this initial phase as a civilian, under the guidance of the graduate program director, thesis advisor, and M.D./Ph.D. Advisory Committee.
The student will complete all required courses for the Ph.D. degree during the first and second years. During this time, they will complete many of the courses required for the first two years of the medical school curriculum as well.
The qualifying examination for advancement to candidacy will be taken at the end of the second year and a doctoral thesis proposal will be submitted subsequently to the thesis advisory committee. The third year will be a research year.
The transition phase begins after the third year and will last two years. The student will complete all requirements to be commissioned in the United States military and will attend Officer Basic Training.
As a uniformed officer, the student will complete the remaining requirements of the first and second years of the medical school curriculum. The student will also continue to spend significant time on thesis research, finalize the thesis project, and prepare and defend his/her doctoral dissertation.
The final phase of the M.D./Ph.D. program is the clinical phase over the sixth and seventh years of the program. The student will begin full participation in the medical school curriculum and complete all required clinical rotations and clerkships.
After completing both program requirements, the student will be awarded both the M.D. and the Ph.D. degrees and commissioned as an active duty officer (O-3) at commencement.
Representatives in the Office of Medical School Admissions and the Office of Graduate Education can answer questions about the M.D./Ph.D. program.
Yes. To be unconditionally accepted, all students must meet the height and weight requirements for the Army, regardless of which service they will enter. The height and weight requirements differ for men and women.
- For men, height below 60 inches or over 80 inches does not meet the standard.
- For women, height below 58 inches or over 80 inches does not meet the standard.
Yes, we do. When students receive an invitation for an interview, a request is sent to the Department of Defense Medical Review Board (DoDMERB) to initiate the physical clearance requirement. To begin the process, you must call the Commissioning Coordinator and provide your social security number.
DoDMERB then provides you with information for setting up an examination with a physician who practices in your local area. The physician is not interested in the number of push-ups and sit-ups you can do (see “Are there any fitness requirements?”). Rather, your physical will focus on your general state of health and will try to determine if you have any medically disqualifying conditions (check the other FAQs for more information on medically disqualifying conditions). All of these exams are set up through Concorde, Inc. and may be tracked on the DoDMETS website.
When you receive your invitation to interview, you will want to set up your medical examination as soon as possible—the qualification process may take some time to complete, especially if you have had health problems in the past. There comes a point in the admissions cycle where only those students who have fully completed the medical clearance process are able to be offered spots in the class.
DoDMERB has a list of FAQs that may also answer your questions
The Commissioning Coordinator can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Department of Defense screens for certain conditions that might be incompatible with military medical practice. You may not be medically cleared for unconditional acceptance to the School of Medicine if you are not able to do the things required to practice medicine:
- at home and abroad in both resource rich and resource poor areas
- during medical school residency and throughout your active duty service obligation
- without accommodations that would needlessly risk yourself or your unit
Likewise, if you have a condition that might be expected to recur or worsen to the point that it precludes you from full military medical practice, you may not be medically cleared.
Department of Defense Instruction 6130.03 provides medical standards for induction into the military services and lists many potentially disqualifying conditions. Although all of the conditions listed in DoDI 6130.03 are disqualifying, many are able to be waived. That is, you might be disqualified on the basis of a pre-existing condition, but the disqualification may be waived either by DoDMERB or by a separate waiver process conducted by the military services and the Department of Defense, Health Affairs. DoDI 6130.03 is not an exhaustive document; unlisted conditions may also be deemed disqualifying at the time of physical examination and review.
As an example, DoDI 6130.03 lists refractive errors in excess of -8.00 or +8.00 as disqualifying. However, the military services feel that as long as the vision corrects to 20/20, an individual with such a condition would have no difficulty serving in the military. Although DoDMERB would likely disqualify the individual, the waiver process conducted by the military services and Health Affairs would likely waive the requirement, allowing the student to be unconditionally accepted into the class.
As another example, chondromalacia, or patellofemoral pain syndrome (commonly called runner’s knee), is potentially disqualifying. DoDMERB may or may not disqualify an individual with runner’s knee based on the information they receive on that individual. If an individual is disqualified, the military services and Health Affairs would review the physical examination record and any other materials submitted on the student’s behalf. If the condition has not occurred for some time, or if it does not interfere with physical activity, it is likely to be waived.
If you would like to know if you would receive a waiver for your potentially disqualifying position, you should email the Commissioning Coordinator.
Please note that the Public Health Service is currently not granting any waivers.
Possibly. Each service has its own policy regarding tattoos. You can find the tattoo policy for each service below. If you are uncertain after reviewing the policies, please contact the Commissioning Coordinator.
- Army AR 670-1 (pages 18-19)
- Navy (Section 7)
- Air Force AFI 36-2903 (pages 24-26)
- Public Health Service (slide 48 )
"Tattoos/Body Art/Brands are not permitted on the head, face, neck, scalp or exposed skin. Those prejudicial to good order, discipline, and morale or of a nature to bring discredit upon the Corps are prohibited. Waivers may be requested from OSG for prior service and existing tattoos."
If you have been disqualified by DoDMERB, you are encouraged to apply for a waiver of your disqualifying medical condition. Although not everyone receives a waiver, many do. You will not know unless you ask!
Please keep in mind that each request for a waiver is considered on a case-by-case basis. All relevant information is considered when making a waiver decision.
To request a waiver, email the Commissioning Coordinator with your request. Your request may be very simple, like this:
I, [Name], am an applicant for the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, and have been disqualified by DoDMERB. My preference for service is [Service Branch]. I would like to request a waiver of my medical condition.
When you request a waiver, it is to your advantage to submit any additional materials that put your physical condition in the best possible light. This might include notes from your primary care or specialty physician that provides background on the condition, the last time you were symptomatic with it, whether or not you currently require treatment or medication for it, or whether it impacts your daily activities.
Once you have requested a waiver, a physician or a series of physicians will look at your information and determine whether the condition would preclude active service with the military, both in medical school and afterwards, at home and abroad, now and in the future. If your condition is not felt to preclude successful practice as a military physician, you may be granted a waiver. If, on the other hand, your condition is not felt to be compatible with military service, your request for a waiver may be denied. Current or prior service in the military does not guarantee that your waiver will be approved.
If you have been asked to provide remedial information, you have a condition that may be disqualifying. The DoDMERB reviewing officials are not sure and are interested in trying to provide you an endorsement of qualification, contingent on more information. Please complete any additional consultations, laboratory draws, and radiologic examination requests as soon as possible so that the results may be forwarded to DoDMERB. If you are asked to provide additional records from your medical chart, please make sure these are sent as soon as possible.
- If you do not have any potentially disqualifying conditions, DoDMERB should update your status on the site and send you a letter through the postal mail stating you are medically qualified. This can take up to 4 weeks.
- If you have any potentially disqualifying conditions, DoDMERB will send a letter in the postal mail requesting remedial information. You should receive a letter within 4 weeks of completing your physical.
- Times may vary depending on the number of cases DoDMERB has to review.
If your request for a waiver has been denied, you may appeal the decision made by the waiver granting authority. If you do, be sure to send new or additional medical records. Appeals made without new information are uniformly denied
Once you send in additional information, your chart will be prepared for appeal. A physician or series of physicians will review the information provided and then render a decision.
The appeals decision is final.
If you do not meet the weight requirement at the time of your physical examination, you will need to complete body composition testing to show that you do not exceed the maximum body fat percentage.
The scroll is the process by which incoming USUHS students are commissioned to the rank of Second Lieutenant (2LT- Army or Air Force) or Ensign (ENS- Navy). The scroll is submitted to each service branch no later than February and can take 60-90 days for approval by the Secretary of Defense. Delays in processing can extend the date of approval.
Officer training for each service takes place during the summer prior to the start of medical school and lasts 5-6 weeks. Specific dates vary from year to year.
Unless otherwise stated, the officer training course is mandatory.
- Army: Prior Army officers are not required to attend the Army Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC). The Army will recognize all BOLCs as meeting requirements as long as there has not been more than a two year break in service (this may change so check with the Commissioning Coordinator). All civilian, enlisted, ROTC, and West Point graduates are required to attend BOLC, located at Fort Sam Houston in TX.
- Navy: All civilian and enlisted incoming students commissioning into the Navy are required to attend the Navy Officer Development School (ODS), located in Newport, RI. Naval Academy, NROTC graduates, and prior officers are to report directly to USUHS in August as they are not required to attend the summer training.
- Air Force: All civilian and enlisted incoming students commissioning into the Air Force must attend the Commissioned Officer Training (COT), located at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Alabama. Air Force Academy, AFROTC graduates, and prior officers are to report directly to USUHS in August as they are not required to attend the summer orientations.
- Public Health Service: Prior PHS officers are not required to attend the Officer Basic Course (OBC) if they have already completed it, provided there has not been greater than a two year break in service. All other incoming students, including prior service officers and enlisted from other services, ROTC and academy graduates, and all incoming civilians must attend OBC, located in Rockville, MD.
After you have been unconditionally accepted, the military department sponsoring your commission will contact you to arrange for your assignment to the School as a Medical Officer Candidate, including issuance of orders. This process takes a few weeks. Once you have completed all required paperwork and your scroll has been approved (see "What is the scroll?"), you should receive orders within 2 weeks of the start of officer training. Delays in processing could result in receiving your orders within days of the start of officer training.
Information regarding the Commissioning and Physical Requirements can be found at USU Commissioning.