A Survey of the Design of Pre-matriculation Courses at US Medical Schools

Amber J. Heck, Laura Gibbons, Sarah Jones Ketter, Anthony Furlano, Lauren Prest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: In medical education literature, it is unclear whether standard practices exist among pre-matriculation courses at US medical schools. The purpose of this project was to investigate how pre-matriculation courses are designed and utilized in US medical schools. Methods: Lists of the current medical schools that belong to the AAMC and AACOM were obtained. Medical schools in Canada and Puerto Rico were excluded. A total of 171 schools met the inclusion criteria. A phone survey consisting of 19 questions was conducted obtaining information about pre-matriculation courses and their design from 2012 to 2014. Data was manually entered into IBM SPSS 19, which was used to generate summary statistics. Results: Of the 171 schools that met inclusion criteria, 133 schools were reached. Thirty-one schools responded “yes” to having a pre-matriculation course. Since 2010, there was a 52.2% increase in the prevalence of pre-matriculation programs in the USA. Only 21.7% of courses are exclusively geared toward “high-risk” students. The mean course length is 3.96 weeks, 75% of the courses are delivered by faculty, and 75.65% of course content covers basic science material. An improvement in student academic performance was listed by 95.7% of the schools as a primary goal. Conclusions: Pre-matriculation courses at US medical schools are not compulsory, and the trend toward utilizing these courses appears recent. There are many intended outcomes. Our literature review and survey research do not conclusively support the efficacy of pre-matriculation courses in improving student performance but, rather, provide a basic framework for current course design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-236
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Curriculum design
  • History
  • Pre-matriculation
  • Prevalence


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