The University of Massachusetts is home to the Chan Medical School, among the most distinguished colleges of medicine in the entire east coast.
Three schools make up Chan Medical: the T.H. Chan School of Medicine, the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing.
A public school and part of the UMass system, Chan Medical School graduated its first medical doctors in 1974 after the state established the school in 1962.
The new school grounded its curriculum and practice in direct care experience, focusing on the human aspect of medicine as well as on scientific breakthroughs and research.
In a short half century, the school expanded quickly, adding the PhD program in biomedical sciences by 1979, then a nursing school in 1986. Chan acquired the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research and Massachusetts Biological Laboratories, entering the 2000s ready to expand their research capacity.
The school gained international attention when faculty member Craig Mello’s work on RNA interface garnered a Nobel Prize.
Shared with Andrew Fire of Stanford, Mello’s Nobel marked a first for Chan. Still, with a $175 million gift from the Morningside Foundation in 2021, Chan Medical is poised for expansion, innovation, and more groundbreaking research.
UMass Medical School Acceptance Rate
Chan Medical’s acceptance rate is just over 9%; 166 first-year students enrolled in the 2020-2021 academic year from over 5,000 applicants.
Enrolled students earned an average GPA of 3.77 and an average MCAT of 514. While Chan doesn’t require minimum GPA or MCAT scores, the average scores of accepted students show that candidates must bring a solid academic record in order to be competitive in the application process.
Students in the most recent cohort graduated predominantly from New England-based universities; the top five undergraduate schools attended by first-year students are all located near UMass.
But the top ten schools sending students to Chan round out with schools in LA, Michigan, and St. Louis.
During the application process, candidates may indicate their intention to apply for the Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health (PURCH) track, a program within the MD curriculum. Around 25 spots are available in each incoming class for the PURCH program.
Based at Baystate Health in Springfield, the PURCH program gives Chan medical students thorough training in healthcare disparity and issues relevant to urban and rural communities.
While learning about how to address the problems of populations left out of health care, PURCH students become integral, valued members of their patient and clinical community.
Students certain they will attend Chan Medical if accepted may choose to apply as Early Decision candidates. These applications are due in the summer, and acceptances are issued by October.
Students who apply for Early Decision and are not offered admission are automatically considered again among the regular decision applicant pool.
Accepted students may apply for a one-year deferral; Chan admissions will consider deferrals necessary for relevant scholarly work or for extenuating personal circumstances.
UMass Medical School Tuition
Chan Medical’s status as a state school means Massachusetts residents pay significantly less tuition compared to out-of-state students. For Massachusetts residents, tuition is $37,120; with estimated annual expenses including housing, insurance, food, and other fees, the cost comes to just over $70k.
Out-of-state tuition is $63,832, making the total annual cost a little over $97k. The Class of 2021 graduated with an average debt of $165,625.
Institutional and federal aid packages are awarded through the financial aid office. Most awards are based on the submitted FAFSA; supplemental forms are only necessary if requested by the financial aid office.
UMass offers all medical students, whether or not they are candidates for financial aid, participation in the UMMS Learning Contract. This program defers payment of $5,568 of medical school tuition.
UMass Medical School Requirements
Chan applicants must complete a bachelor’s degree at a U.S. or Canadian university prior to enrollment. Required coursework includes two semesters each of biology, physics, and English composition.
One semester each of calculus and statistics, along with five semesters of a combination of organic, inorganic, and biochemistry, make up the rest of the mandatory courses.
All required science courses must be completed within six years of application to Chan. Applicants currently in a graduate or professional program must be in the final year of the program in order to be eligible to apply to Chan.
Prospective students must submit applications through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) by October 15. Candidates receive secondary application materials specific to Chan, including Massachusetts Residency forms.
MCAT scores within three years must also be submitted, as well as three to six letters of recommendation. Chan provides specific guidance as to how to select recommenders if graduating from an undergraduate program without a premed advising program to provide a committee letter.
Chan details specific physical and character requirements for medical students. Candidates must demonstrate consistent communication skills, physical and intellectual coordination, as well as professional traits like sound judgment, cultural sensitivity, and motivation to learn, particularly in team situations.
UMass Medical School Notable Alumni
Chan graduates are leaders in primary care practice, as the program ranks #27 nationally for most graduates practicing in primary care fields. Service to rural areas also attracts many Chan graduates.
In recent years, Chan Medical established an alumni award to begin recognizing the extraordinary contributions to medicine made by individual Chan graduates.
Its inaugural award went to Christine Cassel, former CEO and president of the American Board of Internal Medicine and current Planning Dean of the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine.
Cassel was chosen by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Susan Hou, another award winner, practices primary care in a facility she and her husband founded in a remote area of Bolivia. 2019 recipient Thomas FitzGerald earned his MD at UMass, completed a residency at Harvard, and returned to UMMS, where he chairs the Department of Radiation Oncology.
2020 recipient Jennifer Keating Litton is pioneering the treatment of cancer during pregnancy. She teaches at the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center.
UMass Medical School Ranking
UMass Chan Medical School ranks as the #10 program in the nation for primary care, according to U.S. News. This still relatively new program also ranks in the top 50 for research, certain to continue moving up as a research institution, with its recognized faculty and the community investment in its future.
Online publication SCImago ranks UMass Chan Medical at #65 overall among research institutions, considering factors like the school’s contribution to the community, contributions to innovation, and societal impact.
UMass Chan Medical earns a #6 rank among our own list of the best medical schools in New England, a region with some of the best schools in the country.
Baystate and UMass Hospitals rank at #4 and #6, respectively, among Massachusetts hospitals. Both facilities are affiliated with Chan Medical and provide clinical rotation environments for Chan students.
According to the Association of University Technology Managers, UMass ranked at #4 for generating income from the licensing of products developed and discovered by faculty. Almost all of that licensing revenue was generated through the medical school, demonstrating its increasing prominence and efficiency.
Should You Attend UMass Medical School?
It’s a great time to consider UMass Chan Medical for a medical school career. Chan Medical’s curriculum is a good fit for students focused on primary care and patient interaction from the early days of medical school.
With a recent influx of research and development funds, Chan presents an attractive option for students interested in a research career as well.
MassBiologics, formerly the Massachusetts Biological Laboratory and now part of UMass, is the only publicly-owned, nonprofit facility manufacturing vaccines, so candidates interested in public health, infectious disease, or those interested in medical entrepreneurship would find a place at Chan.
Prospective medical students hoping to use their medical degrees to bring expert, compassionate care to people everywhere, including underserved communities, have been finding a home at Chan since 1970, and the future appears to hold even more promise.