Jul 21, 2024  
2020-2021 Academic Bulletin (July 2020 Ed) 
2020-2021 Academic Bulletin (July 2020 Ed) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Admission Requirements and Selection


The University Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine admits a class of 170 students in August each year. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States at the time of application. Applications are accepted from:

  • Tennessee residents;
  • Residents of the eight states contiguous to Tennessee - Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama;
  • Children of UT System alumni regardless of their state of residence.

As a state-supported institution, qualified Tennesseans are given priority in each entering class. A maximum of ten percent of the matriculants may be non-residents; therefore, nonresidents must possess superior qualifications to be seriously considered for admission. The College of Medicine uses the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). Applications must be received by AMCAS no later than November 15 of the year prior to admission. Upon initial review of AMCAS application, a secondary application is forwarded to competive applicants for further review by the Committee on Admissions. The AMCAS application can be found at: https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/amcas/.

Three major areas are considered in admissions decisions: undergraduate academic preparation and achievement; personal qualities as assessed from interviews with members of the Committee on Admissions, the pre-professional evaluation, recommendations, and the personal statement included in the application; and scores on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Each of these areas is important with no one area seen as more significant in the admission decision than another. The Committee on Admissions evaluates nonacademic, as well as, academic factors in the selection process, with consideration being given to the unique backgrounds and challenges of these applicants. The University of Tennessee Health Science Center requires that all students undergo a criminal background check, document proper immunizations, and show evidence of health insurance prior to matriculation.

Technical Standards for Admissions, Retention and Graduation

The goal of the UTHSC College of Medicine is the broad preparation of students for the practice of medicine. This goal is achieved in part by undergraduate medical education, postgraduate medical education and preparation for life-long learning. Modern medical education requires that the accumulation of scientific knowledge be accompanied by the simultaneous acquisition of skills and professional attitudes and behavior. Our faculty has the responsibility to graduate the best possible physicians; thus, admission to medical school is offered to those who present the highest qualifications for the study and practice of medicine.

Applicants to the UTHSC College of Medicine must possess the following general qualities: critical thinking, sound judgment, emotional stability and maturity, empathy, physical and mental stamina and the ability to learn and function in a wide variety of educational settings. In all phases of medical education, students of medicine must use their intellectual ability and must maintain emotional stability, particularly when under stress. Graduates of the College of Medicine must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care.

The Committee on Admissions maintains that prospective students must meet certain minimum technical standards. Prospective students must certify that they have read and can comply with the technical standards when completing the secondary application required for admission. The standards must be maintained throughout a student’s enrollment and graduation. Prospective students with questions or needing assistance with the technical standards should contact Ms. Kathy Gibbs, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion (SASSI), 901-448-5056, kgibbs@uthsc.edu.

Motor Skills
Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. Candidates should be able to execute motor movements necessary to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients.

Sensory and Observational Skills
Candidates must be able to observe demonstrations and participate in experiments as required in the curriculum. They must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance as well as close at hand and be able to obtain a medical history directly from the patient, while observing the patient’s medical condition. This observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision, hearing, and other sensory modalities.

Communication Skills
Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively in oral and written form with patients. These skills must be demonstrated at times in clinical settings when the time available for communication may be limited.

Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Skills
These skills include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem solving and diagnosis, the critical skills demanded of physicians, require all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, candidates must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.

Behavioral and Social Skills, and Professionalism
Empathy, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admissions process and throughout medical education. Candidates must possess the emotional well-being required for the full use of their intellectual abilities; the exercise of sound judgment; the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients; and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively when stressed. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of the uncertainty inherent in the clinical problems of many patients.

In summary, the mission of the faculty is to prepare students for the comprehensive practice of medicine. The Committee on Admissions and the College of Medicine, in accordance with Section 504 of the 1973 Vocational Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) {Public Law 101 -3367}, has established the aforementioned essential functions of medical students and physicians. The Committee on Admissions will consider applicants for admission who demonstrate the ability to perform or to learn to perform the essential skills listed in this document. The College must ensure that patients are not placed in jeopardy by students or physicians with substantially impaired intellectual, physical, or emotional functions. Students will be judged not only on their scholastic accomplishments, but also on their physical and emotional capacities to meet the full requirements of the school’s curriculum and to graduate as skilled and effective practitioners of medicine.

Undergraduate Academic Preparation

Because the College of Medicine recognizes the importance of a broadly based undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, no specific major is required for medical school admission. Prospective candidates are encouraged to major in their area of greatest interest; and regardless of choice of major, are encouraged to pursue a course of study that achieves a balance between both science and non- science course work. Further, because of the relevance of a broadly based education to success in medical school, the Committee is particularly impressed by students whose education has provided a range of intellectual experience, including opportunities for analytical thinking and independent study. With rare exception, the completion of an undergraduate degree will be necessary in order to fulfill educational expectations. In addition to the pattern and content of courses taken, consideration is given to achievement in these courses. Generally, the grade point average for entering classes is 3.6 overall and in prescribed course work. In support of this philosophy of education, the courses required for admission are as follows:


General Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
English Composition/Literature
Semester Credit Hr.


A minimum of sixteen semester credit hours of chemistry is required, eight semester credit hours of organic chemistry and eight semester credit hours of inorganic chemistry, which may include analytical chemistry. Each of these courses must be a complete, standard, college-level course utilizing full laboratory facilities. In instances where students feel uncertain of their preparation in chemistry and wish to take additional course work, biochemistry is recommended.


Acceptable courses in physics must include laboratory credits and must adequately cover mechanics, heat, light, sound, electricity, and magnetism. Survey types of courses will not satisfy this requirement.


Eight semester credit hours in modern concepts of mammalian biology, including laboratory are required. Courses in botany do not meet this requirement. Applicants, particularly non-science majors, are strongly encouraged to pursue upper level coursework in the biological sciences beyond the minimum requirement. Such courses might include biochemistry, cell biology, comparative anatomy, embryology, general genetics, histology, immunology, mammalian physiology, microbiology or related courses.

English Composition

Facility in the use of both oral and written English is highly essential to the successful study of medicine. Introductory freshman English (six semester credit hours) meets the admission requirement. Students who qualify for advanced placement credit in English are not required to take additional English courses, although they are encouraged to do so.


Because the medical curriculum is devoted largely to the biological and physical sciences, a student should acquire a broad cultural background in the pre-medical preparation. The behavioral sciences, including psychology, sociology, etc., are valuable. Additional dimensions are derived from higher mathematics, computer sciences, languages, literature, philosophy, history, political science, economics, etymology and statistics.

Advanced placement credit or other non-traditional credit in prescribed science courses will be honored in fulfilling requirements for the College of Medicine, provided such placement has been followed by a more advanced course in the same discipline. (Example: A student granted credit for biology will be required to complete the eight semester hour requirement by taking advanced courses in that discipline.) The Committee on Admissions will consider grade averages attained in both prescribed and elective courses. A grade of “C” or better in each of the prescribed pre-medical courses is required. If a prospective student is uncertain of the acceptability for premedical credit of a proposed course of study, and if the pre- professional advisor cannot advise in the matter, the prospective student is invited to make inquiry to the Office of Admissions, College of Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN 38163.

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

Candidates admitted to the College of Medicine must achieve a satisfactory score on the MCAT. Average scores for recent entering classes have been between 500-510 with the range of scores for individual sections between 118-132.  The MCAT is offered over 25 times a year on a national basis by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Registration for the MCAT is done online through the AAMC at https://www.aamc.org/. The test must be taken no later than September of the year preceding the desired date of admission. The College of Medicine only accepts scores from exams taken within 5 years of the year of desired matriculation.

Criminal Background Check

All newly accepted students must have an approved Criminal Background Check prior to matriculation at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Once accepted, applicants will receive information as to how to apply for the criminal background check. Adverse findings on a criminal background check may lead to a withdrawal of the offer of admission or denial of access to a clinical training site. The UTHSC Policy on Criminal Background Checks for Matriculating Students may be found in the student handbook (CenterScope) or at https://uthsc.policymedical.net/policymed/anonymous/docViewer?stoken=de47aa28-16aa-408b-9c96-cb04f232964f&dtoken=ebb4ceee-e5a4-4928-beaa-30305e81d93b.

Additional Considerations for Admissions

Personal Qualities and Motivation toward Medicine

An applicant’s interest in and motivation toward the medical profession is an important factor in the admissions decision. In order to assess the motivation and personal qualities of an applicant, selected individuals are invited to campus for interviews with members of the Committee on Admissions. Both academic achievement and MCAT scores are considered by the Committee in determining who will be invited to interview. Each year, 450-500 applicants are invited for admission interviews. Interviews take place between October and March.

The personal statement on the application and evaluations submitted on behalf of the candidates allow further insight into the values and motivation of the candidates. An evaluation from the official Pre-professional Advisory Committee (where such a committee exists), or letters from three faculty members, is required.

A maximum of three additional recommendations may be submitted.

Medical Experience

The Committee of Admissions considers it vital that prospective students enhance their knowledge of medicine through direct, patient-centered clinical experience in a variety of settings. Such experience, which is frequently gained through volunteer work, should provide a greater understanding of the realities of medicine as well as an opportunity for service.

Deferred Matriculation

Students who are accepted for admission are offered the opportunity of deferring their matriculation for one year, with a guaranteed position in the following class. During the intervening period, students may earn money to finance their medical education, take advantage of additional educational experiences they may not have pursued otherwise, or take care of personal or family obligations. Those who wish to delay their entrance must notify the Chair of the Committee on Admissions of the College of Medicine in writing by July 1, prior to the originally scheduled enrollment date.

Advanced Standing

Transfer or advanced standing applications will be considered for the third year only. Regardless of availability of spaces, only students clearly demonstrating outstanding academic and personal achievement will be considered for transfer into the third year of the College of Medicine curriculum. The selection of transfer students is on a competitive basis. Deadline for application is April 1. In order to be considered by the Committee on Admissions, a candidate must supply evidence of the following:

  • The completion of the basic requirements for admission to the College of Medicine, including Tennessee residency1 at the time of admission to the medical school in which the student has been enrolled;
  • Satisfactory completion of the equivalent of the biomedical sciences portion of the College of Medicine curriculum at an LCME accredited institution and be in good academic standing;
  • A passing score on the Step 1 United States Medical Licensing Examination; and,
  • Evidence of circumstances necessitating a transfer.

1 By right of official affiliation with the UT Health Science Center College of Medicine, immediate family members of UT faculty and interns or residents selected for UT programs may apply for admission with advanced standing regardless of state of residence. However, as always, the candidates’ credentials will be the sole determinant of admission.

Diversity/Groups Underrepresented in Medicine

The College values diversity in its medical education programs. Individuals from different backgrounds and experiences not only enhance the quality of education for all students, but also translate into graduates who are more effective and better prepared to serve multiple patient populations. The UT Health Science Center College of Medicine actively encourages applications from members of groups who are underrepresented in medicine, e.g., students from ethnic minority groups underrepresented in medicine, rural areas, disadvantaged socioeconomic or educational backgrounds, or students with past or present military service. The Committee on Admissions evaluates nonacademic, as well as, academic factors in the selection process, with consideration being given to the unique backgrounds and challenges of these applicants. Among American medical schools, the UT Health Science Center College of Medicine is a national leader in the admissions, matriculation, and graduation of students from groups underrepresented in medicine.

Full-time Status

The College of Medicine enrolls full time students only for the M.D. degree. Part-time students are not accepted. Students may not drop or add specific courses during the first or second year due to the full-time nature of the curriculum.