Northwestern University’s Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME) is a unique seven-year BA or BS/MD program. While it was shut down at the beginning of COVID-19, we’re hoping that they’ll start it up again soon because the program was designed to foster flexibility and creativity while preparing students to become leaders in medicine.About Northwestern HPME
Established in 1961, Northwestern HPME admits students simultaneously to one of Northwestern University’s undergraduate colleges in Evanston, Illinois, and to the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
Students earn a bachelor’s degree from either the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Communication, or the McCormick School of Engineering.
After successfully completing their undergraduate studies, students then matriculate to medical school at Feinberg School of Medicine.
Benefits of HPME
This one-of-a-kind program offers many benefits to its students, including flexibility, reduced pressure, and unique opportunities.
Northwestern HPME is perhaps the top BS/MD program in the country, often ranked above its Ivy League counterpart.
As undergraduates, HPME students participate in a flexible, individualized program that can be completed in either three or four years.
Specifically, students have the following options:
- School of Communication HPME students major in Human Communication Sciences and may select an area of concentration
- McCormick School of Engineering students pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
- Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences students select any major, earning either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Sciences degree with a full year of study abroad
Students work closely with faculty advisers to build a customized curriculum based on their personal and academic interests.
- At the same time, advisers ensure that students take foundational science courses needed for medical school. Students take a sequence of courses in chemistry, biology, and physics.
Various forums allow former students to share their unique tracks and experiences within the program. These mentors provide inspiration to current students, informing their customized educational plans.
Typically, the process of applying to medical schools is complicated and stressful. For HPME students, this is not the case.
HPME students have been accepted to medical school before even setting foot on campus.
- To matriculate to Feinberg School of Medicine, they don’t have to apply to medical school or even take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test).
This reduced pressure allows students to explore undergraduate opportunities and challenge themselves without focusing on the usual worries of pre-med students.
However, it should be noted that HPME students must complete their undergraduate studies with a 3.7 cumulative GPA and a 3.55 science GPA to continue with the program.
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HPME students have access to opportunities including public and global health experiences, advanced degree coursework, research, and entrepreneurial experiences.
- Students can also participate in the HPME Summer Research Program at Feinberg.
- Once in medical school, students often continue their research, serve in leadership roles, or build upon prior coursework to pursue dual degrees.
Another unique aspect of the program is that students are encouraged to take a gap year before beginning medical school in Chicago. Students meet with the HPME director to discuss plans for the gap year.
These may include research, additional degrees, international opportunities, or other areas of personal interest. The gap year is not required, but HPME promotes it as an enriching experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we discuss the application process, let’s look at a few frequently asked questions about HPME.
Can I transfer to HPME after enrolling at Northwestern?
No, HPME is open only to graduating high school seniors. You must apply to HPME at the same time that you apply to Northwestern.
What if I want to apply to other medical schools?
Although HPME students are strongly encouraged to attend Feinberg School of Medicine, the program is non-binding.
You are permitted to apply to other medical schools if desired.
The only exception is for students who have already taken a gap year.
- At this point, a spot at Feinberg has been saved for you, so you may not apply to other medical schools during the gap year.
However, it should be noted that you will need to take the MCAT and meet the other medical school’s requirements if you choose to go elsewhere.
We recommend enrolling in HPME only if you plan to matriculate to Feinberg. Otherwise, you are forfeiting many of the program’s benefits.
Can I tour the Feinberg School of Medicine?
Tours or campus visits are not currently available for HPME or the Feinberg School of Medicine, but applicants are encouraged to tour Northwestern and the undergraduate colleges that interest them.
After scheduling a tour, prospective HPME students can contact the HPME office to be paired with a current student in the program in order to learn more.
If a current student is not available for the tour, the office will connect the prospective student with a current student via email.
How to Apply to Northwestern HMPE
To apply to HPME, students must submit both an application to Northwestern via the Common Application and a separate HPME application.
The HPME application is available by request only, and this request must be submitted by December 1.
- Requesting the application does not automatically guarantee that you’ll receive it. The program’s website states, “Applications are granted only to students who demonstrate superior high school achievement and academic aptitude.”
For the HPME application, students must submit a secondary school report, counselor recommendation, and English teacher recommendation, in addition to exam scores.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at the HPME admissions process.
Before submitting an application request, students are expected to familiarize themselves with the following entrance requirements.
- 4 units of mathematics, including differential and integral calculus
- 1 unit of chemistry (AP Chemistry strongly preferred)*
- 1 unit of physics
- 1 unit of biology
- 4 units of English
- 2 units of a foreign language, though 3 or 4 units of the same language are preferred
A strong performance in chemistry, mathematics, and English is most important.
*Admitted students who have not taken AP Chemistry must take the Northwestern Chemistry placement exam the summer before matriculating to Northwestern.
Applicants are required to take the SAT Reasoning Exam and SAT Subject Exams in Math Level 2 and Chemistry.
The ACT may be substituted for the SAT, but there are no substitutions for the Math Level 2 and Chemistry Subject Exams. While the SAT may be superscored, the ACT may not.
- Average test scores for the SAT are 762 on Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and 792 on Math. On average, accepted students score 777 on SAT Chemistry and 790 on SAT Math Level 2.
HPME specifies that they do not have minimum score requirements. As you can see, however, applicants should have performed well on these exams.
HPME does not have a minimum GPA requirement. However, admitted students are typically at or near the top of their class.
- HPME application request: October-December 1
- HPME application due: January 1
- Common Application for undergraduate admission to Northwestern: January 1
- Required tests: Testing dates no later than November for ACT/SAT and December for Subject Tests
- Select applicants invited to interview in Chicago: February-March
- Applicants notified of application status: April 1 (via email)
Other Important Information
- There is no early admission for HPME applicants. Students must apply regular decision.
- When requesting the application, include as much relevant academic information as possible. Requests with too little information may be denied. Relevant information includes exam scores, coursework (AP, IB, and honors), and GPA.
- Extracurricular activities, awards, and honors are not considered during the application request stage and should not be included.
- If your application request for HPME is accepted, you will receive a unique online application link. You must submit application materials via this link. Materials received via fax or mail will not be considered. Additionally, information submitted on the Northwestern application must be submitted separately for HPME.
Both tuition and financial aid are handled through the HPME students’ undergraduate campus.
Although there are no specific HPME scholarships, financial aid is available through both Northwestern and the Feinberg School of Medicine.
- To be considered for financial aid, students must submit the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All financial aid is need-based.
The average financial aid award consists of a grant, a student loan, and part-time employment through the Federal Work-Study Program. Half of the Northwestern undergraduates receive Northwestern grants, while 60 percent receive some form of financial aid.
Final Thoughts: Northwestern HPME
Northwestern HPME is an excellent option for motivated, high-achieving students planning for a career in the medical field. It provides students with a flexible, less stressful path through undergraduate and medical school, as well as many unique opportunities. If you’re a high school student interested in the program, aim for high test scores and a GPA that places you at or near the top of the class.
- Remember that HPME particularly looks for strong performances in Chemistry, Math, and English.
In the past, HPME applications became available in October, and students needed to submit both the HPME application and an application to Northwestern (via the Common Application) by December 1.
While the program is currently on an indefinite pause, the advice listed in this article remains sound for many other BS/MD programs. If you’re interested in reading more, check out our article on Brown’s PLME program.