Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine Admission Counselors

A Guide to the Feinberg Admissions Process - Essays, Interviews & Deadlines

Northwestern University Mission Statement

The Feinberg School of Medicine will mentor and educate students to become exceptional, compassionate, and innovative physicians, educators, and researchers. We expect our students to be inquiry-driven team leaders who will serve their patients, society, and profession.

Feinberg School of Medicine Admissions Counselor

Northwestern Secondary Application Questions

Below we break down the secondary application (essay) questions typically employed at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Our consultants have also provided insight into what the school is looking for in response to these questions.

Given the distinctive educational philosophy and curriculum at FSM, describe how your personal characteristics and learning style would fit the institution. (250 words)

The FSM MD curriculum trains students to practice 21st-century medicine. The educational program offers an integrated, learner-centered environment that promotes inquiry, continuity, and evidence-based learning.

It closely aligns classroom instruction with relevant, hands-on clinical experiences from day one. This approach facilitates active, inquiry-driven learning. It includes:

  • A team-based care model in which students practice and refine clinical and communication skills in authentic patient care and simulated environments.
  • A focus on multidimensional care that is patient-centered, safe, cost-effective, efficient, evidence-based, culturally competent, and equitable.
  • A highly mentored research experience in a personal area of interest over the four years will lead to a thesis or other scholarly work.
  • A longitudinal clinical experience with the underserved to develop the skills to become culturally sensitive, globally aware, and socially accountable practitioners with compassion.

If your experiences have included any or many of the approaches described in the FSM curriculum, it should be obvious to highlight that but also to describe how those experiences might be an asset in collaboration with peers or others. In other words, how can your experience with scholarly work, or clinical experience with underserved populations, or work in teams be shared and be a resource for others.

If your experiences do not seem to fit these approaches described in the FSM curriculum, then you should think more critically about all of your experiences, as teamwork, scholarly work, and hands-on experiences are applicable concepts in many facets of life experiences.

Describe the coping skills (not problem-solving skills) you use when confronted with difficult situations. (250 words)

The request (in the question) not to confuse problem-solving skills with coping skills is important to consider because many people continue to make that mistake. The use of problem-solving skills might lead to the resolution of a problem but coping skills lead to the conscious and subconscious actions that allow you to deal with a problem that may not be corrected. One of the important exercises in answering this question is the ability to be sufficiently self-aware of the positive and negative triggers for you that require coping skills.

There are many different actions that constitute coping skills but be conscientious not to simply list typical actions such as exercise. That can certainly be part of the response but seek to be more thoughtful and insightful.

Describe your career plans and goals.
Be as specific as your current thinking will allow. (250 words)

The specificity of your response can indicate your level of knowledge and exposure to the vast options available. Many students thinking of the future might only concentrate on the specialty of interest but do not consider or know of career options beyond clinical practice or research.

For example, as a clinician, there is obviously patient care, but there are also opportunities to participate in education, policy, consulting, or leadership roles with administrative responsibilities related to their department, hospital, institution, or issues related to ethics, cultural competency, economics, etc.

There are a plethora of directions that a physician’s career can take and it’s more impressive when someone has much knowledge and has been contemplative of their choices.

If you have (or expect to have) a year or more between college graduation and Medical school matriculation, describe your activities and/or plans. (if applicable) (250 words)

While it is obviously helpful to frame these experiences in the context of better preparing oneself for a career in medicine, it can be just as valid to describe how such activities are going to make you more than just a better physician, but a better member of society, friend, advocate, leader, etc.

If you wish, use this space to provide more detail about your selections above and how you would bring diversity to the Northwestern community. (250 words)

[note: this is about your racial background, sexual identity, and social background]
The learning environment is enhanced with the addition of diverse perspectives and experiences.  This encourages opportunities for better appreciation and understanding of ideas that have not been shared by everyone. The most effective way for others to benefit from experiences and ideas unknown to them is through active efforts to share and to learn.

In other words, in the response to this prompt, it is important to emphasize tangible efforts for how one’s particular identities or experiences have been shared with others by being a role model or mentor among other things.  An emphasis should be placed on a track record that has been active in seeking to help others better understand and appreciate diverse perspectives.

Feinberg School of Medicine Application Timeline

AMCAS Application submission: May 28, 2022 - November 1, 2022 (last date)

Secondary Application submission: July 10, 2022 - November 15, 2022 (last date)

Letter of Recommendation Deadline: November 15, 2022

Admissions Decisions Released: Before September 15, 2022

Feinberg Commit to Enroll Deadline: July 2023

All AMCAS applicants will be invited to submit a secondary application.

Additional Application Information:


For more information about the Northwestern process, reach out to us via any of the contact options below.