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Help with school list


Full Member
2+ Year Member
May 1, 2017
  1. Pre-Medical

    I redacted some identifying information, but I wanted to leave up my stats if anyone with similar stats or interests wanted guidance on their school lists! Good luck!​

    Hi everyone, I'm planning on applying this cycle and would appreciate some advice on specific schools that are good fits for my stats and my research interests. I am broadly interested in virology/microbiology, with a specific interest in researching viral adaptations and viral influence on cell metabolism.
    1. cGPA and sGPA: 3.88
    2. MCAT score: 520
    3. Undergraduate institution or category: Ivy League
    4. Clinical experience (volunteer and non-volunteer): 100 hours (50 hours clinical, 50 hours shadowing)
    5. Research experience and productivity at time of application
      1. 3.5 years in basic science biochemistry lab (4th author on high IF journal paper, 3 national conferences, 2600 hours)
      2. Summer program in translational basic science lab (1st prize at end of program conference, 600 hours)
      3. 7 months in cancer biology lab, currently not working due to COVID-19 (potential for anywhere from 0-3 mid-author publications in low to mid IF journals, 1300 hours)
    6. Relevant honors or awards
      1. Received 2 highly-selective (awarded to less than 1% of students my year) research grants totaling $8000 in funding from university
      2. Phi Beta Kappa
    My questions are:
    1) Out of the top 25 programs, which schools specifically excel in microbiology/virology research?
    2) Are there any niche programs I should be considering for my research interests?
    3) How many programs should I apply to?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thank you!
    Last edited:


    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
    Aug 20, 2018
      I think your stats and research are solid. While your clinical experiences might be slightly below average (not entirely sure though), I think its probably good enough. My background is more metabolism than microbiology/virology, but I feel like you could approximately gauge the relative strengths of institutions in your field of interest by looking at NIAID funding over the past few years at NIH RePORT. I'd imagine that all "T25" programs (not sure if that paradigm completely applies to MD/PhD applications) have strong PIs/departments in which you could flourish. I would apply to around 30 programs if I were you and I think you probably have the best chance of getting IIs at the "Target" schools. I believe you should be in play for some "Reach" schools I listed, but your application would probably be slightly below average tbh. Overall, you should absolutely have a good cycle. At this point, its just about clearly, concisely, and confidently articulating yourself and your goals, both in apps/essays and during interviews. Good luck.

      Reach: Harvard, Stanford, Penn, Hopkins, UCSF, Columbia, Tri-I, WashU, Mayo, Yale, NYU, UCLA
      Target: Michigan, Pitt, Emory, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Chicago, UTSW, UNC, UCSD, Mt. Sinai, Wisconsin, Alabama, Baylor
      Others: Maryland, Cincinnati, Minnesota, OHSU, Rochester
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