If you have dreams of becoming a doctor, you probably spent months or even years preparing to go to medical school. Sometimes, even with the best planning and preparation, things don’t quite go as planned, and you may not have earned a great GPA during your undergrad.
If you don’t have the best GPA in undergrad, you may be wondering if it is still possible to get into medical school.
Can you get into med school with a 3.5 GPA? How about a 3.2 GPA? 2.9?
The good news is that it’s still possible to get into medical school with a low GPA, but you will need to make sure you stand out in other ways. If your GPA is too low, you might have to retake some courses to bring it up.
This guide goes over how to get into med school even if you have a less-than-perfect GPA.
What is the Lowest GPA You Can Get Into Medical School With?
While you can get into medical school without having a 4.0, you will at least need to meet the minimum requirements.
Most medical schools have a strict minimum requirement of at least a 3.0 GPA. This means that your application will typically not even be considered if you have less than a 3.0.
If you have a low GPA, consider applying for a DO program instead of an MD program. The typical cutoff for DO programs is around a 3.4 GPA, while most MD programs require at least a 3.7 GPA.
Another option is to consider attending a school that has a higher acceptance rate. Medical schools in the Caribbean are known to be easier to get into and still provide a high-quality education.
How to Get Into Med School With a Low GPA
Don’t give up on your medical school dreams just because you have a low GPA. While GPA is an important part of your med school application, you can overcome a low GPA by standing out in other areas.
1) Finish Undergrad as Strong as You Can
If you have any time left in your undergrad, do everything you can to bring your grades up. You may need to ask for help from your professors, hire a tutor, take a break from working, or sacrifice your social life for a while in order to improve your grades.
You may be surprised by how much your professors are willing to help you succeed. If you are willing to put in some extra time, most college professors will work with you to help you improve your GPA.
2) Retake any courses you got a D or F in
One D or F grade can have a huge impact on your overall GPA. One failing grade during an undergraduate degree program can bring a 4.0 GPA down to 3.6.
Not only does a failing grade bring your GPA down, but it also looks bad on your school application, potentially ruining your chances of getting into med school.
If you are failing a course, consider withdrawing from the class and re-taking it at a later date.
While withdrawing will show up on most school reports, it does not affect your GPA. If you are too late to withdraw, retake the class before you graduate, and do everything you can to get an A grade.
3) Crush the MCAT
The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is an exam that is designed to test your critical thinking, problem-solving, and understanding of basic scientific principles.
Some schools weigh MCAT scores more heavily than GPA. Getting a good MCAT score is a great way to improve your chances of getting accepted with a low GPA.
The average MCAT score for students who were accepted into medical school in 2022 was 511.9. The average score for all test takers was 501.
Doing exceptionally well on the MCAT greatly increases your chances of being accepted into medical school. In 2022, 82% of students who scored above 517 on the MCAT were accepted into medical school.
You can retake the MCAT up to three times in a calendar year and seven times total.
4) Get as much clinical experience as possible
Good clinical experience for med school can help your application stand out. Med school applicants should aim for 150-300 hours of clinical experience.
Getting a job in healthcare during undergrad such as a medical assistant can help you get into med school since it gives you an opportunity to care for patients, practice basic healthcare skills, and work directly with a practicing physician.
You can see the best jobs for premed students here.
5) Consider a post-bac or special master’s program
A post-bac or master’s degree program gives you an opportunity to strengthen your GPA, get more clinical experience hours, and bulk up your medical school application.
Many pre-med post-bac programs are specifically designed to help students prepare for the MCAT and improve their medical school application.
If your GPA is below 3.0, a master’s degree program is a better choice. The higher credit requirements will affect your GPA more than a post-bac program. Aim for the highest GPA you can during your additional classes, at least a 3.8 or higher if you want to have a competitive application.
6) Write an intriguing personal statement
If you don’t have a great GPA, you may want to talk about the challenges you overcame during your undergrad and how hard you worked to graduate.
If you do choose to write about your academic struggles, make sure that your personal statement does not turn into a letter of complaint or a list of excuses. Focus more on what you learned while working through your struggles than on why your difficulties affected your GPA.
7) Set aside plenty of time for your applications
Completing medical school applications is not something you can rush through at the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to work on each application you send.
Edit your application and personal essay for each school and have a school counselor check your application before you submit it.
You can see our guide to the med school application timeline to learn more about when apps open, when they're due, and other deadlines to know.
8) Be prepared to fill out secondary applications
While you may have dreams of attending a specific medical school, it is risky to only send out one application. Most students apply to 20 to 30 medical schools, and you may have to apply to each school more than once before you get accepted.
9) Gather great letters of recommendation
A strong letter of recommendation from a respected physician or professor can have a big impact on your medical school application. Getting a job as a medical assistant might help you form relationships with physicians who can write you a letter of recommendation.
10) Prepare extensively for med school interviews
As you are working on applications, recruit a friend or family member to help you practice interview questions. You can get a list of potential questions online and practice answering them out loud.
Interviewers will want to see how well you perform under pressure and the more you practice, the easier it will be to stay calm during your interview.
11) Make sure you can fill up the AMCAS work and activities section
AMCAS is an online tool that helps medical schools and applicants keep their information organized. While the academic sections of the AMCAS tool are the most important, do not overlook the work and activities section.
The extracurricular activities and service work you participate in during your undergrad could be what sets you apart from other applicants.
12) Consider DO programs or Caribbean medical schools
DO programs and Caribbean medical schools typically have lower GPA requirements than MD schools. While the average GPA for students admitted to MD schools is around 3.8, DO programs often admit students with GPAs as low as 3.4.
Caribbean MD schools consider an applicant to be competitive if they have a GPA higher than 3.2, making them an excellent choice for students who got bad grades during their undergrad program.
Medical Schools With the Lowest GPA Requirements
Students with bad grades can improve their chances of getting into medical school by finding programs with lower GPA requirements.
Note that the current GPA requirements for the following schools may be different than the time of this writing.
US Medical Schools (MD Programs) With the Lowest GPA Requirements
- University of Nevada Reno School of Medicine (Reno, Nevada) - 2.80
- Meharry Medical College (Nashville, Tennessee) - 3.48
- Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (Roanoke, Virginia) - 3.61
- Tulane University School of Medicine (New Orleans, Louisiana) - 3.65
- Morehouse School of Medicine (Atlanta, Georgia) - 3.68
- Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Georgia) - 3.68
- East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine - 3.71
- Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, South Carolina) - 3.73
- Albany Medical College (Albany, New York) - 3.73
- University of Mississippi School of Medicine (Jackson City, Mississippi) - 3.79
US Medical Schools (DO Programs) With the Lowest GPA Requirements
- West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (Lewisburg, WV) - 3.0
- Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (Dothan, Alabama) - 3.33
- DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine at Lincoln Memorial University (Harrogate, TN) - 3.34
- Pacific Northwest University of Health and Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (Yakima, WA) - 3.43
- Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine (Las Cruces, New Mexico) - 3.45
- Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine (Lillington, North Carolina) -3.50
- Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine (Davie, Florida) - 3.50
- Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine - California (San Francisco, California) - 3.51
- University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine (San Antonio, TX) - 3.52
- Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (Glendale, Arizona) - 3.54
Caribbean Medical Schools With the Lowest GPA Requirements
- Windsor University - No GPA requirement
- American University of Integrated Sciences - “A” Grade in 3 science courses
- Saint James School of Medicine - 2.0
- Metropolitan University College of Medicine - 2.5
- American University School of Medicine - 3.0
- Trinity School of Medicine - 3.15
- Ross University School of Medicine -3.2
- American University of Antigua - 3.27
- St. George’s University School of Medicine - 3.3
- Central University of the Caribbean - 3.5
Canadian Medical Schools With the Lowest GPA Requirements
- McMaster University - 3.0
- Northern Ontario School of Medicine - 3.0
- University of Manitoba - 3.3
- University of Alberta - 3.5
- McGill University - 3.5
- University of Ottawa- 3.5
- University of Toronto - 3.6
- Dalhousie University - 3.7
- Western University - 3.7
- University of Calgary - 3.8
FAQs About Getting Into Med School With a Low GPA
What is the lowest GPA med schools will accept?
Most medical schools in the U.S. and Canada will not accept a GPA lower than 3.0. To be competitive, students should aim for a GPA of 3.7 or higher. Schools in the Caribbean may accept a GPA as low as 2.0.
Can I get into med school with a 2.9 GPA?
If you have a 2.9 GPA, you can still apply to some med schools in the Caribbean or attend a post-bac or master's program. You will need an excellent MCAT score and impressive letters of recommendation.
Can I get into med school with a 3.2 GPA?
Some schools in the Caribbean and DO schools accept students with a 3.2 GPA. You may be able to overcome a 3.2 GPA if the rest of your application is acceptable.
Can I get into med school with a 3.5 GPA?
You will not be a competitive MD candidate in the US with a 3.5 GPA. You can, however, apply to schools in the Caribbean or apply to DO programs in the U.S.
How many Cs are acceptable for med school?
To have a competitive med school application, you should have only 1 or 2 C grades, with the rest being A grades.
Can you get into med school with Bs?
You can get into med school if you have a few B grades, but you will need mostly A grades to be a competitive applicant.
Can a high MCAT offset a low GPA?
An exceptionally high MCAT score can offset a low GPA. No matter what your MCAT score is, you must meet the minimum GPA requirements set by the medical school in order to apply.
Will one bad semester ruin med school?
One bad semester will not ruin your chances of being accepted into med school. If you have one bad semester, you can try to retake classes or attend a post-bac program to offset the bad grades.
What is more important: MCAT score or GPA?
Both MCAT score and GPA are equally important when you are applying to med school. If you have a low GPA or MCAT score, doing well on the other can help improve your chances of getting into med school.