Frequently-Asked Questions About EMSAP

1. What is EMSAP?
EMSAP is the Early Medical School Acceptance Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Since its inception, the program has expanded to include both early acceptance dental and optometry programs. All three programs (medical, dental, and optometry) provide students with conditional acceptance to UAB professional schools. Students are required to maintain a 3.5 math/science GPA and an overall GPA of 3.6, and students must also score a certain score on their MCAT (minimum 28) or DAT (average of incoming dental class).

2. What are the deadlines for applying to EMSAP?
The deadline for applying to EMSAP is December 15th. However, before a student is allowed to apply to EMSAP, he or she must have already been admitted to UAB.

3. What kind of ACT/SAT score do students need to be competitive?
The minimum required score for application is a 30 ACT or on the SAT a minimum combined score of 1340 on the critical reading and math sections. However, the average of students accepted to the program is a 33.50 ACT and 1450 SAT.

4. Does EMSAP take super scores (combining scores from sections from different testing days)?
No. The combined score must be from one testing day.

5. Can I take a December standardized test?
No. The December standardized test score results are released too late to be considered for admittance to EMSAP.

6. How many applications does EMSAP receive?
The number of applications varies from year to year, but EMSAP often receives over 200 applications.

7. How many applicants are invited for an interview?
Of the total application, up to 30 students are invited for an interview for the medical program, up to 6 are invited to interview for the dental program, and up to 4 are invited to interview for the optometry program. In some years, fewer students may be invited to interview.

8. Who conducts the interviews?
The members of the actual admissions committee for each professional school conduct all interviews – the same people who interview graduating college seniors for medical, dental, and optometry school at UAB.

9. Is the reception the night before the formal interview a mandatory event?
Yes, so plan on traveling to Birmingham early the day of the reception.

10. Can a make-up interview be scheduled for any reason?
No, because the committee members volunteer a day away from their professional practice, this is the only day that interviews are conducted. Unfortunately, if a student misses an interview for any reason (e.g. weather emergency, illness, flight cancellation), we cannot reschedule it. For this reason, it is advisable to arrive in Birmingham well before the reception and interview.

11. How many applicants are accepted?
The medical program usually accepts around 14 students to fill 10 slots, The dental program accepts 2 to 3 students for its slots. The optometry program accepts 1 student. There is a list of alternates for all three programs; students on this list sometimes later gain admission.

12. Is there a preference for in-state students?
EMSAP does not have any quotas for in-state students. Generally, the class is balanced between in and out-of-state students, but decisions that determine if students are admitted are based on the student, not necessarily his or her resident status.

13. When are acceptance decisions announced?
The acceptance decision will be announced within a week of interviews. Dr. Gregory Pence, EMSAP director, calls every student who interviewed to inform him or her of the committee’s decision. Interviews are usually the last week of January, toward the end of the week.

14. Are there special scholarships for EMSAP students? Do these cover out of state tuition?
No, there are no special scholarships for EMSAP students, but most EMSAP students are recipients of UAB’s ACT and GPA-based scholarships.  Please visit for more information and to determine your eligibility.  Additionally, UAB offers a comprehensive scholarship for National Merit Finalists who list UAB as their 1st choice.  Please contact the Scholarship Coordinator at if you have any questions.

This is an extraordinary benefit of this program, as very few of the other 100+ BS/MD programs grant scholarships for undergraduate tuition. This is another reason that admission to EMSAP is so competitive.

15. Must you be in an honors program in the Honors College to be in EMSAP?
No, EMSAP is a special admissions function that exists independent of the Honors College. Both EMSAP and the UAB Honors College are unique opportunities available to high ability students.

16. Doesn’t being in an honors program increase your chances of being accepted into EMSAP?
No. The decisions are made completely independent of one another. Whether or not you are in any honors program has no effect on your chances of acceptance into EMSAP.

17. Is one honors program better than another for EMSAP students?
The various honors programs serve different constituencies with different desires. Please consult each honors program for its unique identity.

18. Must you be a U.S. Citizen to apply to EMSAP?

19. Can I graduate in fewer years in EMSAP?
No. EMSAP is not an accelerated program and frowns on not spending four years in college and 4 years in medical school. In fact, EMSAP encourages graduates to take a gap “adventure year” before undertaking the rigors of 4 years of medical school plus 4+ of residency and fellowships.

20. EMSAP Students Can Apply Out
Unlike most BS/MD programs, UAB students in EMSAP do not lose their guaranteed position in medical or dental school if they apply to other schools.  Undergraduate EMSAP alumni have attended medical schools at Harvard (4), Hopkins (4), Penn (1), New York University (1), Vanderbilt (3) and Duke (1). The best accepted offered scholarships to these medical schools.

21. EMSAP Students Do Not Coast Through Undergraduate Life
Because EMSAP students can apply to other medical schools without penalty, they are motivated to excel. Seniors this year scored 37 and 38 on the MCAT, with many applying out. Seniors with high MCATs, when they win tuition scholarships, often stay at UAB for medical school.

22. EMSAP Graduates in Top Medical Schools
This is not a program for those who want to coast into medical school. Previous EMSAP students have won Rhodes, Marshall, Goldwater, Soros, and Fulbright Scholarships, as well as spots on the USA Today All-American Academic Team. EMSAP students at UAB use internationally famous medical faculty as their research mentors, especially those majoring in neurosciences, a unique major at UAB (read bio on Ameen Barghi).

23. New Kind of Interview for 2015
This fall, the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine interview process for applicants to the Class of 2015 will look a little like speed dating.

24. What else is special about EMSAP?
EMSAP is the only BS/MD program in America led by a former medical professor with 34 years' experience in teaching in the medical school and who is also a founder of the new field of Bioethics.

25. What is the typical sequence of special courses for EMSAP students?
Freshmen take a Freshmen Learning Experience course together with Professor Pence their first semester. Then they take two special seminars, one in Bioethics, and one in Narrative Medicine, with Professor Pence.  Twelve alumni of the writing seminar have published in national newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post. Because of their expertise in Bioethics and Narrative Medicine, EMSAP graduates have gotten better residencies in their preferred fields.