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What to Know About Research Experience for BS/MD Admission

Wondering what kind of experience you need for medical program admission? Learn what to know about research experience and BS/MD admission from an expert.

Direct medical programs, often referred to as BS/MD programs, are some of the most competitive higher education programs in the country because they give high school students conditional acceptance to partnered medical schools. Due to the competitive nature, colleges such as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute like to see students with extensive research experience to prove they’re prepared for these rigorous programs. The RPI Physician-Scientist Program admits students who will not only participate in research during their time in the program but also lead and create their own research projects. Let’s answer some commonly asked questions about research experience in the BS/MD admission process.

What type of research do BS/MD programs accept?

Most high school students have access to a wide array of research opportunities. School-related options to pursue include science fair projects, an AP Seminar, or an AP Research course. You could also investigate summer camps or similar programs that allow you to dedicate more time to research in a peer setting. Other students may find independent research projects with local professors or opt to write a literature review paper and work on getting it published.

When BS/MD admission officers review applications, they don’t pit one type of learning experience against another. They know not every student will have access to a local professor to research with or can afford to enroll in a paid summer program that spans several weeks. Consequently, they typically consider the depth of a research experience holistically, irrespective of the type of research you complete.

Do research topics matter and is publication required?

Your research experience doesn’t necessarily have to align with your long-term academic interests, but it’s often helpful when it does. BS/MD admission officers know that high school students are still exploring their interests, which will evolve over the years. Any research opportunity is valuable because it allows you to gain skills you can leverage in other research experiences in the future. Any experience resulting in the publication of your research is a huge bonus, but it isn’t a requirement. Regardless of publication, if you write a research paper, you will have demonstrated your scientific writing abilities and added value to your college application.

Related: Why and How You Can Get Into Research in High School

How long should the research experience be?

The typical length of research programs, especially in the summer, can vary from a week to eight weeks. A longer research experience provides a more comprehensive understanding of your subject matter and an opportunity to build meaningful relationships with mentors and fellow students. However, the duration of your program or project is not the sole determinant of a meaningful experience. You should consider what the tangible outcomes will be, such as a research paper, skills gained, or letters of recommendation. For students who find an independent research opportunity, the relationship with your mentor might span months or even years, which might result in more fruitful research and a strong relationship with your mentor.

What if I can’t find a good research opportunity?

Every BS/MD program is unique, and admission officers may value research differently from program to program. Ultimately, direct medical programs are looking for students who are excited about medicine and have proof of experience to affirm that passion. In an interview with Moon Prep, the College of New Jersey stated that they are looking for passionate students, whether they have deep involvement in Boy Scouts, Taekwondo, or music. Therefore, you should never feel obligated to pursue research if it doesn’t align with your interests. Being genuine in your activities and demonstrating your interests will help you build a résumé that stands out to BS/MD admission officers.

Related: How to Get Accepted to a Direct Medical Program

BS/MD programs prioritize students with a genuine passion for medicine, and if you’re looking for a way to strengthen your applications, getting involved in research is a great way to do that. Admission officers value authenticity and holistic involvement, considering various activities that demonstrate your dedication and skills. Engaging in research and other activities that align with your personal interests can help create a compelling application for these competitive programs.

Want to understand the direct-admit admission process even better? Check out some advice from our experts on how it differs from the traditional undergrad process.

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About Lindsey Conger

Lindsey Conger

Lindsey Conger is a college counselor and tutor at Moon Prep.


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