Guide to the Rice/Baylor BS/MD Program

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Rice is the best university in Texas, and attracts students from around the state and across the country. Many of these students dream of a career in medicine. Most of these take a pre med course of studies at Rice, but some join the prestigious Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars Program. 

In this article, we’ll explore what this program is, what it offers students, and how you need to apply, along with an exploration of their supplemental essay questions. This is an incredibly competitive program, far more so than Rice’s already competitive admissions. While all BS/MD programs are incredibly competitive, the added prestige of Rice elevates this to the next level. We hope this article prepares you for what’s ahead, and arms you with the knowledge you need. Let’s jump in!

What is the Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars Program?

This is a partnership between Rice University and the Baylor College of Medicine (not to be confused with Baylor University, though they have their own joint program called Baylor2). You spend four years of undergrad at Rice, and take classes at normal, then matriculate into the medical school. 

This is a conditional acceptance program, meaning your continuation into the medical college requires maintaining a certain GPA, completing required coursework, and achieving success on the MCAT. 

You may major in any subject at Rice, and indeed, students are encouraged to explore all facets of the liberal arts curriculum available to them. You do need to complete pre med coursework, but this mirrors the courses all pre meds are required to complete. You are also expected to participate in extracurricular programs which prepare you for medicine, including shadowing, clinical experience, and volunteering. 

How to Apply to Rice/Baylor

You apply to the Medical Scholars Program through the standard Rice application on the Common App. This may be done either Early Decision or Regular Decision. You may be admitted to Rice without also being accepted into the program; if you applied ED, you are required to attend Rice if admitted, regardless of whether or not you get into the BS/MD program. Early Decision applications are due by November 1st, Regular Decision applications to the BS/MD program are due by December 1st. Applications submitted after this date will be considered for Rice admission, but not for admission into the program.

Regardless of when you apply, students who are selected for the interview process are notified in January. These interviews take place in February. You are notified of admittance by April 1st. 

Students applying through QuestBridge may also apply to this program. 

This program requires three essays, in addition to the regular Rice supplementals. We’ll go over in depth how to write these in the next section.

How to Write the Rice/Baylor Supplemental Essays

The application requires three essays. These cover why you want to apply to the program, an extracurricular, and a challenge you’ve faced. We’ll go over each prompt in turn, and cover how best to answer them.

Why Rice/Baylor?

What aspirations, experiences or relationships have motivated you to study in the eight-year Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars Program? (500 word limit)

This prompt is very straightforward, and is often asked by colleges, medical schools, and BS/MD programs alike. Admissions officers want to know why you want to study with them, rather than somewhere else. 

This question has an additional part, asking which experiences or relationships motivated this decision. Overall, your essay should explore two things:

  1. Why do you want to study medicine?
  2. Why do you want to study medicine at Rice/Baylor specifically?

We suggest beginning with the first question, and spending approximately half, or maybe a little more, of the essay answering it. We recommend focusing on a single event or experience, and delving in depth on why it impacted you so much. This can be an extracurricular you participated in, a health event which impacted you, or a relative who sparked your interest in medicine. 

You can also give a brief overview of multiple involvements you’ve had, covering many different topics in a limited way. This is a good approach if you want to discuss many different ways you’ve interfaced with medicine during high school. The approach you take should reflect your own experiences; if you have interacted with many different medical experiences, you may gain more value from listing all of them. 

For the second part of the essay, you should discuss what specifically attracted you to the Rice/Baylor program. Specificity is key; all BS/MD programs offer generally the same thing, but differ in the details. The more specific you are with details, the more admissions officers will believe your argument.

We recommend discussing the liberal arts offerings at Rice, and other draws of the school. Try not to overlap with what you say in your other Rice supplemental essays, as the admissions officers will read all of them. The more unique information you can provide them with, the better. 

Extracurricular Essay

Outside of academics, what do you enjoy doing most? (300 word limit)

This essay question is quite straightforward. We recommend not touching on medicine at all when answering this question. Medical schools are very intense, and they want to admit students who will be able to deal with the pressure in a healthy way. By showing you have other outlets, you demonstrate an ability to step back from work for a while, and avoid burnout. 

This is also a good way to differentiate yourself from other applicants. Everyone applying to a BS/MD program will have a solid background in science and medicine, so you can best differentiate yourself by your other interests and passions. When trying to stand out in a sea of candidates, a unique or interesting hobby goes a long way. 

If you discussed one of your extracurriculars in another essay, you shouldn’t also cover it here, unless you are exploring a very different angle. We recommend not discussing a medical extracurricular here; instead focus on something truly non academic, rather than merely something which happens outside of a standard school setting. Continuing to discuss a medicine related field will make your application feel more one-dimensional, and make it less memorable overall. 

A Challenge

Describe the most difficult adversity you have faced, and describe how you dealt with it. (300 word limit)

This essay asks specifically about a challenge you have faced, and how you overcame it. The hardest part of this essay for some students is finding a topic worth writing about, as many students feel as if they have not faced a significant challenge in their lives. 

Personal, academic, and social adversities can all be sources of inspiration for this essay. You should cover the adversity briefly and clearly; you should neither exaggerate nor downplay any challenges you faced. The bulk of the essay should then discuss how you responded to this situation. 

Note that the essay doesn’t require you to have overcome this adversity, merely dealt with it. You don’t need to have an absolute victory to write an essay; merely describing any progress you made, or why your best attempts failed, can make for an intriguing narrative. The most important thing is to show that you tried your best, and in so doing reveal your character traits which make you a good fit for the program. 

Doctors face challenges constantly, and the program is looking for students with the resilience and maturity to handle these, and to proceed in spite of them. What challenge you faced is therefore far less important than your handling of it. 

Final Thoughts

The Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars Program is one of the most prestigious BS/MD programs in the country, and allows you to pursue a full liberal arts curriculum and a medical degree. While the program is incredibly competitive for admissions, we think it’s worth pursuing for motivated students.

If you want our help in your application to Rice/Baylor, or with crafting the perfect essays, schedule a free consultation now to learn how we can help you. We have helped hundreds of students attain their collegiate dreams, and are always happy to hear from you. 

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