If you’re a hopeful future doctor, you’ve probably heard of the Brown University Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME). This prestigious eight-year continuum culminates in a combined baccalaureate-MD, offering automatic admission into The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University after four years of undergraduate studies at Brown University.
PLME is the only program of its kind in the Ivy League.
This innovative program is highly coveted and prestigious. It is well known globally, considered one of the top combined degree programs in the country, if not the world — and with good reason.
What is Brown PLME?
PLME has a several-decade-long history, beginning in the 1984–85 academic year. Students may pursue any of the nearly 100 AB or ScB degrees offered by Brown, across the sciences, humanities, social sciences, or behavioral sciences. This gives students the opportunity to explore a variety of interests through Brown’s signature Open Curriculum. They will need to complete pre-med requirements but have the reason to pursue other disciplines through their major, without having to complete any core requirements.
Once students earn their bachelor’s degree, they will automatically be enrolled in the Warren Alpert Medical School. They will be able to defer entry for up to two years to pursue additional opportunities, such as research.
Students who are in good academic standing will not need to submit MCAT scores to matriculate at Alpert.
Brown PLME Application
In most respects, the admissions process for PLME is identical to that of the general undergraduate Brown admissions process. Students will use the Common Application to apply and complete the Brown supplement.
However, in addition to the essays all applicants complete, PLME candidates will need to complete an additional three essays as part of the Common App, which they will find in a separate section via the portal. One of the applicant’s two letters of recommendation must be from a math or science teacher.
Students may apply to PLME either through the regular decision or early decision plan. Early decision is a binding agreement, and students may be admitted to Brown while being deferred or rejected from PLME. In this case, they will still be required to attend the university — one drawback for students who have their heart set on the combined bachelor’s-MD program.
Brown PLME Course Requirements
While there are no specific prerequisites for admission, applicants are encouraged to pursue the most rigorous curriculum available to them, including plenty of honors, AP, and/or IB courses, particularly in STEM subjects. The university also recommends that students complete, at minimum:
• 4 years of English with an emphasis on writing
• 3 years of college preparatory mathematics (we recommend four)
• 3 years of foreign language (we recommend four)
• 2 years of laboratory science above the freshman level (we recommend four years of lab science)
• 2 years of history, including American history (we recommend four years of history)
• At least one year of elective academic subjects
Brown PLME Average GPA
To be competitive for the Brown PLME program, we recommend an overall unweighted GPA of 3.8+ in the most rigorous classes available to you at your high school.
Brown PLME Average SAT and ACT
The average SAT for accepted PLME students was 748 EBRW and 779 math
The average ACT for accepted PLME students was 35.
Currently, Brown Undergraduate Admissions has a test-optional policy for first-year students, and Brown says that students who are unable to submit ACT or SAT scores will not have a disadvantage in the admissions process — this applies to regular admissions and PLME admissions. However, we recommend PLME applicants have SAT / ACT scores of 1530 / 35 or higher to be competitive.
Brown does not disclose the average GPA for accepted students but it is safe to assume it is at least a 3.8 unweighted.
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Brown PLME Extracurricular Requirements
To be competitive for a program like PLME, not only do you need to have impressive research experience in your background, but we also recommend demonstrating leadership and advocacy skills. Students who are competitive for top-tier schools have usually excelled in at least one area extracurricularly and often two.
For example, you might have done neuroscience research at a local university with a pending publication and be heavily involved in debate having won some national competitions.
Or you might research healthcare inequities in a city near where you live and be an accomplished musician.
Accepted PLME applicants are exceptional from academic, scholarly, and extracurricular standpoints.
Sadly, unlike other BS/MD programs, interviews are not currently part of the admissions process.
Instead, PLME applicants are encouraged to submit a video portfolio to showcase their personality, experiences, and backgrounds and help the admissions committee learn more about them.
You can find plenty of sample Brown admissions videos on YouTube but do not try to imitate any of these. Be yourself and create your own idea of how you want to present yourself.
Brown PLME Acceptance Rate
PLME is extremely selective.
Brown PLME class of 2025 admissions data:
- 3,516 candidates
- 87 students were admitted
- Acceptance rate 2.5%
This acceptance rate was less than the Brown undergraduate admissions rate of 5.4% for the same year.
Brown PLME class of 2026 admissions data:
- 3,827 applicants
- Number of students admitted not disclosed
- 61 enrolled
Brown PLME Benefits
Brown’s Open Curriculum and liberal arts education give students the flexibility to explore their talents and interests. This contrasts with many other combined degree programs, where students are required to follow stricter paths and may only choose among certain majors.
As undergraduates, students may participate in a wide variety of research opportunities, made possible by a number of grants and fellowships. There are also several programs, including assistantships, that are reserved for PLME students.
Advising and mentorship
All incoming PLME students are assigned an advising Dean, who will work with them for their undergraduate years, along with a peer advisor during their first year. They also have the opportunity to engage in a number of mentorship and shadowing programs.
Guaranteed medical school admission
One of the main reasons why PLME is so popular is because it guarantees admission into one of the most prestigious and selective medical schools in the company. You won’t need to worry about completing a rigorous admissions process after your undergraduate education. While you will need to maintain certain academic standards, this alleviates much of the anxiety students typically experience during the med school admissions process.
PLME prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The PLME First-Generation and Underrepresented in Medicine (FURM) Committee, for example, was established to foster community and empowerment among PLME students identifying as first-generation college/medical students and/or as underrepresented in medicine such as low-income, LGBTQ+, and others.
These students are made aware of and have access to internships and scholarships specifically for FURM students, participate in special events, and further awareness of DEI in the college and medical communities.
Is PLME right for you? Being admitted to this highly prestigious, selective program is certainly an achievement. But it’s also important to weigh the pros and cons and remember that this is a program for students who absolutely know what they want to do for their careers — that is, be a physician. If that’s the case for you, then it will give you extraordinary opportunities.
2022-2023 Brown PLME Supplemental Essays and Suggestions
When writing the Brown PLME supplemental essays, be sure you review the Brown supplement essays first as you don’t want there to be topic overlap in between any of the six essays you will need to write. Below you will find some general ideas of how to approach each of the essay topics and what to think about when writing them.
PLME Essay Prompt #1:
Committing to a future career as a physician while in high school requires careful consideration and self-reflection. How do you feel your personal background provides you with a unique perspective of medicine? (250 word limit)
The key words in this essay are “personal” and “unique perspective.” In short, how has your background informed your ideals and values and what are those ideals and values? You want to highlight those aspects of your background and upbringing that are distinctive, the most significant to you, and set you apart from others. Some questions to ask yourself when thinking about what to write:
- Is there anything important to you about your ethnic, religious, or educational background?
- What was your home life like? Where did you live and how did that influence your views?
- What communities were you a part of that impacted you?
- What about your immediate and extended family influenced your outlook?
Now, after answering those questions, think about how the most important elements of your personal background influence your view of medicine. The definition of medicine here is purposefully broad so feel free to interpret “medicine” in your own way. Some questions to ask yourself when addressing the second part of this prompt:
- How will your values and ideals impact your approach to patients?
- How will your values and ideals impact your approach to staff?
- How will your values and ideals impact your approach to solving problems in medical care?
- How will your values and ideals influence your communication skills?
- How will your values and ideals influence your learning throughout your career?
PLME Essay Prompt #2
Healthcare is constantly changing, as it is affected by racial and social disparities, economics, politics, and technology, among others. How will you, as a future physician, make a positive impact? (250 word limit)
This question is asking you what you aspire to achieve in your future career and how you hope to make the greatest impact on others. Ideally, your response should be backed up by evidence in your scholarly or extracurricular profile. So, first think about what experiences you had as a high school student through which you had the greatest impact. Think about the impact you have had in the general areas listed below. Have you made any impact in any of the following:
- Research (any discipline)
- Community service or advocacy work
- Teaching or mentoring
- Leadership roles
- Campaign work
- Independent study
- The arts
Once you have identified where you had the greatest impact as a student, think about how this could be extended to a career in medicine and segue into that topic. All of the experience categories above could easily translate to a career in medicine. The key here is that you want to show evidence for the impact that you have already had and you want to show that you will make even more significant contributions in the future. You also want to show that you are adaptable and flexible in your thinking; as the prompt says, healthcare is always changing.
PLME Essay Prompt #3
How do you envision the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) helping you to meet your academic, personal and professional goals as a person and as a physician of the future? (250 word limit)
At first glance, this prompt looks similar to the preceding “future” essay. However, this is really a “Why PLME” question. Readers want to understand your goals in terms of your educational and personal interests as well as your professional goals. When writing about what interests you about PLME specifics are super important.
Now, depending on how you answer prompt #2, you may not want to address the part of this prompt that asks about your future goals as a physician and instead you might only want to answer how PLME will help you reach your goals as a “person.” When answering this question you also want to make sure there isn’t much overlap with the Brown Open Curriculum essay (see below). Some things to think about when responding to this prompt:
- What are your academic goals?
- Do you hope to double major?
- Do you hope to study abroad?
- How will this flexibility PLME offers help you become the person you want to become?
- Are there any programs specific to PLME that interest you and why? Hint: PLME has many opportunities in research, pre clinical extracurricular courses, and travel programs.
2022-2023 Brown Supplemental Essays (for reference only)
Brown’s Open Curriculum allows students to explore broadly while also diving deeply into their academic pursuits. Tell us about any academic interests that excite you, and how you might use the Open Curriculum to pursue them while also embracing topics with which you are unfamiliar. (200-250 words)
Brown’s culture fosters a community in which students challenge the ideas of others and have their ideas challenged in return, promoting a deeper and clearer understanding of the complex issues confronting society. This active engagement in dialogue is as present outside the classroom as it is in academic spaces. Tell us about a time you were challenged by a perspective that differed from your own. How did you respond? (200-250 words)
Brown students care deeply about their work and the world around them. Students find contentment, satisfaction, and meaning in daily interactions and major discoveries. Whether big or small, mundane or spectacular, tell us about something that brings you joy. (200-250 words)
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