COVID-19 (coronavirus) Information

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UW School of Medicine Admissions Response to COVID-19

Updated 7/28/2020

UWSOM Admissions is closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the admissions process for the Fall 2021 entering class.

Any additional changes to UWSOM policies and procedures will be shared with applicants on our Admissions website and Facebook. Below are some common concerns we have received from applicants.

Please be aware that the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD) has a separate admissions process. Details about the MSTP application and admissions process can be found on their website.

Online Courses and Pass/Fail Grading

Many colleges and universities have switched to online instruction. Our prerequisite policy has always accommodated online coursework and P/F courses. This means that:

  • Online coursework from regionally accredited institutions will be accepted towards fulfilling prerequisites.
  • Pass/Fail courses will also be accepted towards fulfilling prerequisites.

MCAT Test in 2020

For those who have not yet taken the MCAT exam, the test will be optional for the remainder of 2020 for the UWSOM MD and MD/PhD programs. This will only be for the Fall 2021 application cycle. We will consider and accept applicants without MCAT scores. If you have a MCAT score, or pending MCAT score, it will be considered by the Admissions Committee.

If you choose to take the MCAT this year, the current deadline to take the MCAT is September 30, 2020.

Students accepted without a MCAT score will not be required to take the MCAT before matriculation.

Secondary Application Fee Waiver

COVID-19 has financially impacted many applicants and their families due to loss of income and/or medical expenses. For the Fall 2021 application cycle, the $35 secondary application fee will be automatically waived for all MD applicants.

Interviews for the Fall 2021 Application Cycle

The UWSOM will have a virtual interview season for the Fall 2021 application cycle. All applicants interviewing for the MD program can expect a video interview. The decision was made with the safety of our applicants in mind and to ensure consistency and equity in the interview process. Virtual opportunities will be made available during the season to learn more about our curriculum and the UWSOM community.

No decision has been made for the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD). MD/PhD interviews will start in January 2021. Please visit the MD/PhD website for updates.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions


An applicant is more than their MCAT score – it is only one piece of many pieces in the broader applicant experience. The Admissions Committee uses holistic review to assess your candidacy based on the information shared in the application. Your score, or lack of score, will be considered in the context of other parts of your application including lived and acquired experiences, community service, and grades. For complete details about what the UWSOM looks for, please see our Admissions Resources page.  

The ability to take, or retake, the MCAT in light of the current obstacles created by the pandemic will not be held against the applicant.


The decision to change the MCAT policy was made with consideration that many applicants have already taken the MCAT and want to include their MCAT score to supplement their application.

We are trying to balance the needs of many during this difficult time, and recognize that applicants have different preferences. Our admissions system is directly linked to AMCAS’s system, and does not have the flexibility to include or omit MCAT scores on an individual basis.


UWSOM does not require labs. If you want to take online labs, that is fine by us.


We recognize this has impacted folks’ shadowing and volunteering opportunities this year. The Admissions Committee has always valued the insight and reflection that applicants gain from their experiences rather than the number of hours.


The UWSOM does not require shadowing. Virtual shadowing is acceptable clinical experience.


We will accept a minimum of 3 individual letters of recommendation and a maximum of 6 letters. Please see our letters of recommendation policy for more details: uwmedicine.org/admissions


We encourage to use the existing secondary application essays to reflect on your experience with COVID-19. Which essay(s) you should use will depend on your experience and the narrative you are sharing in your application. See our secondary application page for the available secondary essay prompts.


The Admissions Committee is generally looking for patterns and trajectories when it comes to grades. Ultimately, how you perform in one class will not make or break your application. If you know that there is room for you to demonstrate improvement in your grades, it may be worth choosing to have the course graded so that the Committee can see evidence of your improvement. It’s important to make your decision based on your individual needs and responsibilities.


AAMC is working to expand Fee Assistance Program (FAP) to help applicants financially impacted by COVID-19. Please see the FAP webpage for more information about applying. FAP Applicants will also have their CASPer fee waived.

For the Fall 2021 application cycle, the $35 secondary application fee will be automatically waived for all applicants.


There are still a number of ways you can stay active during this time:

  • Follow credible news sources.
    • Learn more about our health care system, patient delivery, and health related policies.
    • Read/watch interviews with health care providers on the front lines.
  • Find ways to serve in your community while staying safe and maintaining social distance. Including, but not limited to:
    • Pick up/drop off groceries for your elderly and/or vulnerable neighbors.
    • Volunteer at food banks or local schools to provide meals for individuals in need.
    • Provide childcare to essential workers who continue to work during the pandemic while schools are closed.