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Medical Humanities Scholars Program

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Medical Humanities Scholars Program

The Honors College and the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine are pleased to offer this exciting opportunity to a small number of incoming freshmen each year. In this sequential BA/MD program, Medical Humanities Scholars design unique interdisciplinary programs that allow them to enhance their study of medicine with other areas of academic interest from the humanities, arts, and social sciences.


A Letter to Prospective Medical Humanities Scholars

Greetings from the University of Oklahoma Honors College!  Thank you for your interest in the Medical Humanities Scholars Program (MHSP), now in its twentieth year. The program is one of the few seven- or eight-year programs that emphasizes preparation for a medical career through study in the basic sciences and the humanities, the arts, the social sciences, and the study of western and non-western medical traditions. Our graduates are clinicians and clinical scholars across the country in primary practice, specialties, and sub-specialties. Some are the first in their families to attend college, let alone medical school. They are an extraordinary group.  The MHSP gives students great flexibility. You can major in any area at the university: biology, history, sociology, English, music performance, anthropology, biology. All of these are open to you. You will also complete a Medical Humanities Minor that you design according to your interests. Some of our students focus on cross-cultural perspectives on health and disease; others focus on history of medicine, on bioethics, on spirituality and medicine, on health disparities, on any area of the medical humanities that interests you. There are also abundant research opportunities (in biomedicine, life sciences, social science, and the humanities) and study abroad opportunities for our MH Scholars and all honors students at OU.  Our online application is available in the fall of each year. We receive over 200 applications from around the country, and we review them holistically. Here's what we look for: bright, talented high school seniors with outstanding academic records and strong test scores; people who have genuine interests in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and the social determinants of health. People who want to make the world a better place. Our applicants have diverse extracurricular experiences: some play sports, others play instruments, sing, or dance; some are junior EMTs or have volunteered in hospitals. Some conduct biomedical research, and some write poems. Each applicant is different, and we embrace this diversity. Most applicants are aware of the challenges facing clinical medicine and population health today.  Because our medical school is a state-funded institution, we must take people who are U.S. citizens or resident aliens (green card holders).  Also, we can only accept students who complete the OU and Honors College applications and are accepted into the Honors College. Apply early! There is a link in the Honors application to the MHSP application. We do not under any circumstances consider late applications, nor do we have an early action program for the MHSP. However, the sooner you are accepted at OU and the Honors College, the sooner you will be eligible for consideration. We notify all candidates of their status—whether they get an interview—in late February. Interviews are held in late March.  There is no secret to success in applying to our program. If you have a desire to be a physician and obtain a well-rounded liberal arts education that helps you to understand the human side of medicine as well as the scientific side, we think the Medical Humanities Scholars Program is a great program for you to consider. We also have a Medical Humanities Minor for those not accepted into our BA-MD program.  I wish you the best of luck wherever your college and medical school experiences take you!  Sincerely,  Sarah W. Tracy, Ph.D., Director, Medical Humanities Program

We strongly recommend students apply to OU by December 1st in order to be able to apply for the Medical Humanities Scholars Program

Deadline to Apply is January 15th, 2023

Why Study the Medical Humanities?

Medicine is both art and science. It is the art of understanding humankind in the context of disease – not just recognizing or diagnosing the pathological condition, but seeing how an individual’s disease is a product of his or her environment, constitution, and personality. By exploring medicine through the lenses of the historian, the ethicist, the sociologist, the anthropologist, the writer, and the visual artist, students gain insights into the nature of the human condition, human suffering, personhood, and the responsibilities of individuals to one another in sickness and in health. These insights are valuable for both the aspiring clinician and anyone who will someday get sick and seek medical care. The history of medicine, for example, can provide orientation in a discipline that is changing at a dizzying pace – presenting a picture of where medicine has been, how it is evolving, and what promises and challenges its future may hold. The study of bioethics and medical ethics offers a vital reminder that medicine is a social enterprise that must balance cultural values and moral principles with scientific goals. Literature and the visual arts can convey the personal experiences of sickness and healing, revealing the subjective side of clinical care. Sociologists and anthropologists illuminate the ways in which professional and popular cultures interact, alternately clashing with and complimenting one another. Taken together, these disciplines offer both physicians-in-training and health care “consumers” an enriched understanding of the dynamic relationship between medicine and the larger social world.

History of the Program

In 2000, the University of Oklahoma Honors College and the College of Medicine created a partnership to further the study of humanities in relationship to medicine. Today, at the Honors College there are two programs for students interested in pursuing study in the medical humanities: the Medical Humanities Scholars Program (MHSP) and the Medical Humanities Minor. MHSP students can take advantage of the revised curriculum at the College of Medicine, including electives such as “history of medicine,” “literature and medicine,” “photography and medicine” “medicine and spirituality,” for second-year students. Likewise, students have taken advantage of the Medical Humanities Minor, focusing their studies on topics such as the politics of AIDS vaccine development, the bioethics of cross-cultural medical practice, music therapy, and the history of sports medicine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the links below to reveal the answer to the Medical Humanities Scholars Program's most asked questions.


The deadline to apply to the program is January, 15th 2023.

Provisional acceptance means that a spot is waiting for you at the OU College of Medicine, if you achieve an MCAT score and a GPA that are equal to or higher than the average MCAT score and GPA of the previous year’s incoming medical school class. Typically, this is an MCAT score of approximately 509 and a science GPA of approximately 3.72. 

1. A record of very high overall academic achievement.

2. Admission to the University of Oklahoma (you must apply and be accepted to OU BEFORE you submit your Honors College application with supplemental MHSP questions)

3. EITHER a 3.75 unweighted GPA OR top 10% of your graduating class

You will also need to fill out the supplemental Medical Humanities Scholars Program questions on the Honors College application, which can be found here: MHSP Application

There are no specific non-academic characteristics that are required for consideration or acceptance into the MHSP. In general, however, we look for students with the following attributes:

1. A variety of extracurricular interests.

2. A firm commitment to a career in medicine as a physician.

3. A familiarity with clinical medicine (usually gained through volunteer activities and physician “shadowing”).

4. Knowledge of the problems facing the practice of medicine today.

5. Genuine and demonstrated interest in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

6. Exceptional maturity.

7. Evidence of altruism as displayed through a variety of volunteer or community-service activities.

No. Please do not include ANY supplemental materials with your MHSP application. In order to keep everyone's application on a level playing field, we will review only the MHSP application itself. We will not examine any supplementary documents such as a resume, letters of support, or a transcript. 

Yes. You will need to take the MCAT. See the average MCAT score for the latest entering class above.

Yes. There is a Medical Humanities Minor that is open to any honors-eligible (3.4 GPA) student enrolled at OU. This way, all high-achieving students at the university may enrich their understanding of social, cultural, ethical, political, economic, and spiritual dimensions of health, disease, and medicine. Through the MH minor, you can enjoy all the curricular aspects of the MHSP.

On average we receive over 200 applications per year. We invite approximately 20 applicants for interviews.

Of the students invited to interview for the MHSP, between 5 and 8 students are accepted into the program.