What’s it like to attend medical school in Wisconsin, and how do you get accepted?
In this post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about going to medical school in Wisconsin, including where the medical schools are located, what it’s like to live in Wisconsin, how to apply, and tips for gaining acceptance to medical schools in Wisconsin.
Here’s what to expect below.
- How Many Medical Schools Are in Wisconsin?
- Wisconsin Medical School Locations
- How Much is Medical School Tuition in Wisconsin?
- Medical College of Wisconsin
- The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UW-Madison)
- University of Wisconsin In-State vs. Out-of-State Applicants
- How to Apply to Wisconsin Medical Schools
- Application Requirements
- Application Deadlines
- Wisconsin Medical School Secondary Questions
- Tips to Gain Acceptance at Wisconsin Medical Schools
- Craft a Cohesive Narrative
- Learn About the Culture of Wisconsin
- Understand the Environment
- Bottom Line: Is Going to Medical School in Wisconsin Right for You?
How Many Medical Schools Are in Wisconsin?
There are only two medical schools in Wisconsin, and both are allopathic schools. Wisconsin has no osteopathic medical schools.
List of Medical Schools in Wisconsin
Allopathic Medical Schools in Wisconsin (MD)
- Medical College of Wisconsin
- University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Wisconsin Medical School Locations
The Medical College of Wisconsin is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Milwaukee is the most populous city in Wisconsin, with a population of over 577,000. Its history and culture was heavily influenced by a large influx of German immigrants in the 19th century, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s also famous for its brewing industry. Miller is headquartered in Milwaukee, and Pabst was founded there. The local MLB team name is also named the Brewers.
You will need a car in Milwaukee to run errands, as the public transportation isn’t great. That said, Milwaukee is very affordable for a city of its size and offers a lot to do. The city has both an NBA and MLB team, a zoo, museums, performing arts, a beautiful lakefront, and lots of festivals. The city offers plenty of diversity, especially compared to the state as a whole, and has a great food scene.
The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, more commonly referred to as UW-Madison, is located in Madison, the capital of Wisconsin. It’s about 80 miles west of Milwaukee and has a population of about 273,000. The UW-Madison website describes Madison as “the ultimate college town.”
Downtown Madison is walkable for many daily activities.
Milwaukee and Madison both have lakefronts with plenty of outdoor activities. There are many nearby opportunities for hiking and kayaking. Across the state, Wisconsin has a great deal of natural beauty: A few hours north is Door County and the Apostle Islands.
How Much Is Medical School Tuition in Wisconsin?
So, how much does medical school cost in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin Tuition Costs (2022 Data From MSAR)
|Wisconsin Medical School
|Yearly Tuition In-State
|Yearly Tuition Out-of-State
|Medical College of Wisconsin
|University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
- Additional fees not included.
You also need to factor in the cost of medical school applications, which can add up across primary fees, secondary fees, exam fees, study resources, and interview travel costs. Learn more: How Much Do Med School Applications Cost? The Full Price Analyzed.
Plus, there are many other factors to consider, including housing, transportation, food, exercise, and events. Fortunately, the cost of living in Wisconsin is lower than the majority of other states.
Medical College of Wisconsin
The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) was founded in 1893.
MCW’s mission statement is as follows:
We are a distinguished leader and innovator in the education and development of the next generation of physicians, scientists, pharmacists and health professionals; we discover and translate new knowledge in the biomedical and health sciences; we provide cutting-edge, collaborative patient care of the highest quality; and we improve the health of the communities we serve.
Median Academic Scores of Matriculants:
- Median GPA: 3.79
- Median MCAT: 511
The Medical College of Wisconsin has students pick one of eight Scholarly Pathways to individualize training. The eight pathways are:
- Basic to Translational Research Pathway
- Bioethics and Medical Humanities Pathway
- Clinical to Translational Research Pathway
- Clinician Educator Pathway
- Global Health Pathway
- Health Systems Management and Policy Pathway
- Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Pathway
- Urban and Community Health Pathway
The Medical College of Wisconsin also offers two additional regional campuses in Green Bay and Wausau (Central Wisconsin). These programs are 3 years long and are aimed at students planning to practice primary care, ideally in Wisconsin. Sometimes, students at these campuses realize that they actually want to pursue a different specialty, in which case they usually end up going to the Milwaukee campus for a 4th year of medical school before applying to residency.
In-State vs. Out-of-State Applicants
MCW accepts both in-state and out-of-state applicants.
In 2022, MCW had 726 in-state applicants and 8968 out-of-state applicants.
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine was established in 1907, following the overall university’s creation in 1848.
The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s mission statement is as follows:
We are a distinguished leader and innovator in the education and development of the next generation of physicians, scientists, pharmacists and health professionals. We discover and translate new knowledge in the biomedical and health sciences. We provide cutting-edge, collaborative patient care of the highest quality, and we improve the health of the communities we serve.
Median Academic Scores of Matriculants:
- Median GPA: 3.81
- Median MCAT: 511
In-State vs. Out-of-State Applicants
The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine accepts both in-state and out-of-state applicants. However, in keeping with the school’s mission and the “Wisconsin Idea,” the university ensures approximately 70-75% of the student body in each matriculating class is made up of Wisconsin residents, making non-resident admission more competitive.
Residency is not a factor for the MD-PhD Program. According to the website, “admission to the Wisconsin Academy of Rural Medicine (WARM) program is limited to applicants whose state of legal residence is Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, or Iowa.”
In 2022, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health had 717 in-state applicants and 4889 out-of-state applicants.
These numbers are notable, as nearly 17% of in-state applicants matriculated while only 1% of out-of-state applicants did. Plus, 69% of applicants were Wisconsin residents, while only 31% of matriculants came from out-of-state. There’s also a notable tuition difference for in-state applicants.
If you are a Wisconsin resident, strongly consider applying to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, even if it’s only a backup option.
The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health also offers the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine (WARM) program, which is aimed at students who desire to practice primary care in rural areas of Wisconsin. It also offers the Training in Urban Medicine and Public Health (TRIUMPH) track, aimed at students who want to practice in urban and underserved areas.
How to Apply to Wisconsin Medical Schools
To apply to either Wisconsin medical school, you will use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), the AAMC’s centralized medical school application processing service. It’s the primary application method for first year entering classes for the vast majority of US medical schools. Regardless of how many schools you want to apply to, you only need to submit one set of application materials to AMCAS, and the service handles the rest.
Here’s what you need to know about both the Medical College of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine application process.
1 | Application Requirements
Your primary application is composed of several different components, all of which are essential to your acceptance.
A successful application consists of your college transcripts, a high GPA and MCAT score, a narrative-driven personal statement, strong letters of recommendation, and a diverse and detailed Work and Activities section. Making each of these components as persuasive as possible requires a massive time investment that begins long before actually applying to medical school.
- To earn a high GPA, you need to work hard, develop strong study strategies, and apply yourself throughout all four years of college.
- Earning a high score on the MCAT is no mean feat. The test is regarded as one of the most difficult examinations in the world.
- Developing a persuasive, narrative-driven personal statement will take months. Leave yourself plenty of time for brainstorming, writing, editing, and proofreading.
- Gaining four to five strong letters of recommendation requires you to foster as many or more strong relationships over the course of your college career or even earlier.
- The Work and Activities section of your application gives you space to write about 15 experiences, activities, awards, or hobbies. Admissions committees are specifically looking for longitudinal commitment to these activities. Once you find something you truly enjoy, commit to it.
The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) requires applicants to complete the Casper test offered by Acuity Insights, but not Duet. Acuity Insights is a multi-part assessment, composed of Casper and Duet, designed to assess a prospective medical student’s people skills, bedside manner, and values. While you will be prompted by Acuity Insights to complete Duet, the MCW admissions committee will only look at your Casper score, so do not complete Duet, unless it’s required for one of your other schools.
Casper (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is a computer-based 90-110 minute situational judgment test that evaluates 10 non-academic attributes in applicants, such as empathy, ethics, collaboration, communication, and professionalism. Save our Casper Test Guide, which includes how Casper is scored, prep tips, and FAQs.
The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health does not require applicants to complete either Casper or Duet.
Once you submit your primary application, you will likely receive a secondary application two to four weeks later. Unlike the primary application, you will submit your secondaries directly to each of the individual schools you received them from.
If you pique the interest of either admissions committee, you could receive an invitation to interview at the school at any point between the end of August and the spring of the following year.
Learn more about the complete application process: How to Get Into Medical School: AMCAS Application Process.
2 | Application Deadlines
The AMCAS application opens during the first week of May for the following academic year’s medical school class. This means that if you plan to start medical school in the fall of 2025, you’ll need to begin the application process in the spring of 2024. Submissions do not open until the end of May or early June, which gives you about a month to prepare your application.
That said, the technical deadlines provided by AMCAS are just that—technical. It is imperative you submit your application long before the technical deadlines. Every week or month you delay your application interferes with your chance of acceptance.
Applying as soon as submissions open is essential to your success. This is because medical schools use rolling admissions, which means applications are evaluated as soon as they are received. Therefore, the applicants who submit their application early secure the first secondaries and interview spots. Schools only have so many interview slots available, and they fill up fast. Your chances of acceptance decrease the longer you delay your application. This goes for your secondary applications as well.
And the work isn’t done. After secondaries, you’ll begin to receive invitations to interview. Interview season for the vast majority of medical schools, including MCU and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, begins in September and can run through March of the following year.
Once again, the sooner you complete your interviews, the better, as medical schools begin sending out acceptances as they interview candidates. Simply due to timing, delaying any aspect of your application could result in someone equally as qualified receiving an acceptance in your place.
Keep on top of each of your medical school application deadlines with our comprehensive Medical School Application Timeline and Monthly Schedule. (Updated every application cycle.)
Wisconsin Medical School Secondary Application Questions
Secondary applications should be completed within 1-2 weeks of receiving them for every school you apply to. Schools generally send secondaries to all applicants who meet minimal requirements since secondaries help schools get to know applicants better. Plus, medical schools make money off of secondary fees.
Planning your answers in advance can help you efficiently complete all of your secondary applications while maintaining quality responses. Although some questions will be similar from one application to another, it’s imperative to be sure to tailor your answers to each specific school as much as possible. This will help you stand out from other cookie cutter applicants who only take a cursory glance at a school’s website before applying.
Medical College of Wisconsin Secondary Essay Prompts
The secondary application for the Medical College of Wisconsin costs $100. The following questions were asked for the 2023-2024 application cycle, and they were nearly exactly the same for the previous 2022-2023 cycle.
- Explain how your unique background, identity, interests, or talents will contribute to the MCW learning community. (1000 characters)
- How will MCW uniquely prepare you for your future goals? (1000 characters)
- Recount a time when you made a decision you regret. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? (2000 characters)
- The Medical College of Wisconsin is committed to educating health professionals who are dedicated to improving health equity across the diverse populations we serve. Share with us what you have learned or how you have grown through working with or serving people from cultural backgrounds or groups different than your own. How do you believe you can contribute to improving health equity or reducing health disparities as a physician? (2000 characters)
- We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic may have disrupted academic, extracurricular, and personal activities that could affect your application and/or your application preparation. Do you have additional information you’d like to provide? (y/n) (2000 characters)
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Secondary Essay Prompts
The secondary application for the University of Wisconsin costs $75. The following questions were asked for the 2023-2024 application cycle, and just like MCW, the questions were nearly exactly the same for the previous 2022-2023 cycle.
- The Admissions Committee takes many factors into consideration when reviewing your application. A successful applicant is frequently one who communicates what makes them exceptional and why they will become an outstanding physician. You are invited but not required to provide additional information in this essay. Some applicants tell us about hardships and challenges that they have faced in their lives and how these experiences have helped them become caring and compassionate individuals. Other applicants use this space to emphasize a particular passion they have related to their future career in medicine. If you are not a resident of Wisconsin, you may want to tell us why you are interested in the University of Wisconsin or about a special connection that you may have to our state or people who live here. Our goal is to gain insight into you as a unique applicant. You may include anything in this essay that you feel is relevant. (Limit response to 500 words.)
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core values of UWSMPH. Explain how a learning environment that embodies these values is crucial to the education of tomorrow’s physicians. Reflect on how you might contribute to this mission. (250 words)
- Many inequities exist at the intersection between health outcomes and historical, societal, economic, or other systemic factors. Choose a broader issue or policy that impacts health outcomes where you believe change is needed to advance health equity. Discuss the role you hope to play as a physician in addressing this issue. (250 words)
- In a paragraph (200-300 words), please share how COVID-19 impacted your application in the following domains: Academic, Volunteer, Research, Work
- Personal Life Topics to address might include the public health lessons and health care insights learned from the pandemic, creative ways in which you were able to serve your community during the crisis, or any hardships (economic, health, or other) you faced due to the virus or its mitigation efforts (e.g. social distancing, quarantine).
Required Essay for Re-applicants to UW-Madison: Individuals who are reapplying are required to submit a statement indicating what has changed since the previous application to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health MD or MD/PhD program (e.g., additional academic work, new letters of recommendation, work and volunteer experience, life changes, etc.) (500 words)
Tips for Acceptance at Wisconsin Medical Schools
1 | Craft a Cohesive Application Narrative
Every single component of your application must flow together and complement the other to detail why you want to dedicate your life to medicine. A cohesive narrative will convince admissions committees to look beyond your academic qualifications and MCAT score to see the person underneath. A story is more compelling and far easier to remember than dry facts.
Now, that’s not to say your qualifications don’t matter. They absolutely do, but admissions committees can already see them on your CV. You don’t need to repeat yourself, and you shouldn’t, so focus on the people and events in your life that made you who you are today. What crystallized your ambition to dedicate your life to medicine?
Consider the story you want to tell—your story—and develop a common thread that you want to weave throughout your application. Regardless of what you ultimately decide, be careful not to repeat yourself. Each component of your application must build upon the other with new anecdotes and fresh insights.
Cultivating a unique, cohesive, and persuasive narrative takes a great deal time, so don’t procrastinate. Reflect deeply on your past. What major triumphs or setbacks have led you here? How has adversity made you a stronger person? Be authentic; admissions committees want to know the real you.
2 | Learn About the Culture of Wisconsin
Wisconsin is frequently cited as the heaviest drinking state in the country. While this doesn’t affect daily life much, a number of social activities do revolve around beer. For example, a departmental gathering might be at a local brewery, or a medical school club might meet at a brewpub.
The Miller Brewing Company is headquartered in Milwaukee, and Pabst was founded there. In fact, so was Schlitz before it was sold to Pabst in 1999. The local MLB team name is also the Brewers.
Milwaukee was essentially founded by German immigrants in the 1800s, and they started a number of breweries, so beer permeates the culture a bit more in both Milwaukee and Madison than in some other places.
That said, not everyone drinks to excess, and there are certainly plenty of non-alcohol related activities to do.
In Madison, alcohol gets combined with rooting for the UW sports teams, and the state as a whole proudly roots for the Packers. In more rural areas of Wisconsin, there’s some rural decay, which may drive excess alcoholism, but that’s not unique to Wisconsin.
If you like to drink and party, this culture may be a pro. However, if you don’t drink and are generally annoyed by people when they are drinking, this might be a con. If you like to have a beer every now and then, the culture may not matter either way, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re interested in studying medicine in Wisconsin.
3 | Understand the Environment
Choosing a medical school also means choosing where you will live for at least 4 years of your life, and medical school is challenging enough as it is. The last thing you want is to end up in a city you can’t stand.
If you’re not used to snow or despise outdoor sports, Wisconsin may not be the state for you. Winters can be harsh in Wisconsin. Expect a low of up to -10 degrees Celsius or 14 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re moving to Wisconsin, you’ll need to invest in a good winter coat and learn to layer. Pure rear wheel drive vehicles may have trouble in snow.
On the other hand, Wisconsin summers are beautiful and full of outdoor activities. The cities of both medical schools, Milwaukee and Madison, have lakefronts with plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking and kayaking.
The public transit in Milwaukee is not excellent, which means the majority of students at MCW have their own car. MCW is located in a suburb of Milwaukee, and some people do live within walking distance, which makes things nice and easy. Others live a few miles out and drive.
If you come from a big city with a multi-facetted and reliable transit system, driving your own car to and from the school could be a transition.
However, in Madison, where the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health is located, public transportation is much better. Taking the bus or biking to the medical school and hospital is very feasible. Madison is an excellent city for biking, and most daily activities are walkable. Most UW-Madison students live relatively close to the school; Madison isn’t that big of a place, and the school’s not far from many of the popular neighborhoods.
Bottom Line: Is Going to Medical School in Wisconsin Right for You?
Both Wisconsin medical schools are solid schools with plenty of resources and research opportunities. They are a good option for pretty much every specialty, which is helpful both for clinical exposure and preparing for residency.
But beyond the schools, medical programs, and resources, it matters whether or not you enjoy the community and environment you’ll call home.
Pros of Medical School in Wisconsin
- The people are generally friendly and kind (like other Midwestern states).
- Wisconsin has excellent physician compensation compared to other states.
- Wisconsin often makes lists of the best places for physicians to practice, considering factors like liability and malpractice insurance.
- It has a lower cost of living compared to the coastal states.
- There are a variety of settings to live in and places to visit nearby.
- The state has ample access to nature. The many lakes and forests provide opportunities for hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, etc.
- If you like beer, Wisconsin is famous for its breweries and drinking culture.
Cons of Medical School in Wisconsin
- The winter in Wisconsin is cold and harsh.
- There’s less cultural diversity outside of Milwaukee and Madison.
- Flights to the West Coast usually have a layover unless you fly out of Chicago.
- The public transportation in Milwaukee is not excellent, so you may have to buy a car if you go to MCW.
- Wisconsin has high property taxes.
- If you don’t like beer or consuming alcohol, you may find the drinking culture irritating.
What’s most essential is doing as much research as possible for each school you want to apply to. Do you align with the goals, values, and teaching styles? And not only that, do you enjoy the city where the school is located?
You’ll be spending at least four years of your life there, so it’s vital to find a location you feel you can be comfortable and thrive in. Pick what feels best to you—but if you love cheese and beer, Wisconsin could be the state for you!
What Adcoms Are Looking for
No matter the state where you apply, adcoms are looking for diverse, well-rounded students who will enhance the student population at their school. Simply checking off boxes is not enough.
Med School Insiders can help you craft a stand out application that will get you noticed by Wisconsin medical schools, as well as any schools at the top of your list. We have a range of services to suit your specific needs, from one-on-one guidance to application editing to mock interviews.
Our services are tailored to meet the needs of each student because we understand that every applicant is unique. Learn more about our comprehensive medical school application packages.
Thank you to MD Thomas Reith, a Medical College of Wisconsin graduate, for being our Insider contributor for this guide.