Frequently Asked Questions

The Department of Anatomy has compiled a list of the questions asked most frequently by prospective students. These questions include information about admissions and academics. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact us!

Application Questions

To apply, we invite interested candidates to begin their online application, complete the various sections, and submit the finalized application.

We have four deadlines throughout the year: January 15, March 15, May 1, and July 15. Having deadlines helps us process applications more efficiently and gives students an opportunity to receive an early decision on their application. Nevertheless, we do offer admissions on a rolling basis, which means you can apply at any time; we are typically able to make a decision on an application within one month. The final application deadline for matriculating in the fall semester is July 15. If you are interested in matriculating in the spring semester, we encourage you to submit your application by November 1.

After your application is submitted, it will be processed and checked for completeness. Once complete, it will be reviewed by the admissions committee, who will contact you with any additional questions they may have. Select applicants are invited to interview as part of the admissions review process. Once the interview is complete and the admissions committee has met to discuss your interview, you will receive a decision. If you accept, orientation is typically in mid-August, and the first day of classes starts at the end of August. Admissions decisions are typically sent out via email or phone call within 2-4 weeks after applying.

Yes! Submit your application as soon as you have everything on your end finalized. You will receive notifications as your recommenders submit their letters.

Yes! Many of our students have not yet graduated when they apply to the program, so even if you will not receive your degree until later in the summer, you are still welcome to apply.

The main characteristics the admissions committee is seeking include a strong undergraduate performance, clear goals that are outlined in the personal statement (including a discussion of any issues/inconsistencies in academic record), and strong letters of recommendation.

Yes, we welcome international student applicants! Many students have successfully graduated from our program. The only extra item on your application to be aware of is for select International students who will need to submit an English proficiency exam.

A pre-med science background is highly recommended, but no specific coursework is required.

We highly encourage all applicants to submit their applications as soon as they are complete, even if they have not yet visited campus. We welcome all prospective students to reach out at any time if they have already planned a visit to CWRU or if they are interested in visiting. Reaching out to us ahead of time will also give us the chance to arrange for you to meet faculty and students, see the anatomy classrooms and facilities, and possibly even sit in on a class.

No, we do not require a deposit when accepting an offer of admission.

Complete the Request Information Form and a student ambassador or someone from the department will be in touch!

No, as of the fall of 2020, and moving forward, standardized test scores are optional. 

Classes/Curriculum Questions

You are not able to complete the degree online. We do have a select few electives that can be completed online, but there is real value in learning anatomy from an in-person curriculum, so almost all our courses are only offered in that format.

Yes, it is possible, but it isn't generally recommended, particularly if you plan to attend professional school afterwards. Completing it in one year doesn't give you time to leverage your new competitive edge, such as demonstrating that you can perform well in graduate school (since applications will be due just as you are beginning the program).

It is possible to enroll in one course per semester, but it is not usually recommended. While it will take longer than two years to finish the degree, you might also lose some of the integration and support system that naturally forms amongst students completing the degree full time.

Our four core courses are: Histology, Embryology, Gross Anatomy, and Neuroanatomy. Typically, Histology and Embryology are taken in fall of the 1st year, Gross Anatomy in spring of the 1st year, and Neuroanatomy in fall of the 2nd year.

There are numerous elective options for Anatomy students. These include courses on evolutionary biology, imaging anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, nutrition, physiology, and pharmacology. You can learn more about all of the currently-approved electives on our website, under the “Curriculum” tab.

All elective options are geared towards graduate-level higher education, with a focus on the sciences. An ability to succeed in any of these courses is likely to help with your continuance to medical school. If you know the type of medicine or topics you are interested in, taking courses aimed towards them would be beneficial. For example, if you are interested in becoming a radiologist, Imaging Anatomy is an elective that you should consider. Likewise, if you are interested in pursuing a research-based career in cancer or other diseases, consider taking an Immunology elective. Electives can also help you in preparing for the MCAT if there are areas where you like to be more proficient.

During the fall semester of your first year, students will typically take 7-11 credits, mainly core courses. In the spring semester, students will usually take 6 credits, as Gross Anatomy is often the only class that students take. During the summer of your first year, students will take anywhere from 1-6 credits. In the fall semester of your second year, students will take anywhere from 4-10 credits. And in spring of your second year, students will finish out any electives they need to reach the 30 total credits necessary for the degree, as well as take the Final Comp Exam.

Your assigned academic adviser and other faculty are always available to meet, advise, and coach you through the program. They will help you develop a study plan, work with you to prioritize your studies and classes, and give you advice about how to achieve your career goals.

One major difference is size; Anatomy admits around 30 students per year whereas Physiology admits around 180. Some students prefer being part of a large group whereas others prefer a smaller group. The other big difference is in the core courses themselves. Both programs will prepare you for a career in healthcare, but you should really think about whether you are more interested in the four anatomy core courses or the three semesters of physiology.

Tuition and Financial Aid Questions

For the 2021-22 academic year, tuition will be $2,057 per credit. As the Anatomy program requires 30 credits, it will cost about $61,700 to attend. Final amounts may change slightly depending on yearly tuition costs and medical plans. You can also refer to the tuition rates posted on the School of Graduate Studies for more information.

*This price does not include housing, food, and other expenses; it is strictly the cost of tuition.

The Anatomy Department does not offer any scholarships. However, there are student assistantships, TA positions, and tutoring positions available. Graduate student loans such as the Federal Direct Unsubsidized, Federal Direct PLUS, and private loans are available; more information can be found on the University Financial Aid website.

Preparing for Medical School

Yes they can; the anatomy faculty teach all the core courses in the program. However, like with any recommender, make sure the faculty you are asking know what you are like as a student, your abilities to succeed, and your strengths and weaknesses. Choose faculty that you have developed rapport with during your courses/semesters.

One advantage students in the Anatomy program have is the linkage to the medical school. Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine recognizes the high quality of students graduating from our program; therefore, an interview is guaranteed for any student with at least a 3.4 undergraduate GPA, a 3.5 graduate GPA, a score at the 90th percentile on the MCAT, and high levels of personal conduct.

Although we do not offer an explicit MCAT prep course at this time, the course Synthesis of Premedical Concepts (IHSC 300) helps students review and integrate many of the subject areas included in the MCAT exam. This course is offered in May, so many students take it as a final practice/learning tool before sitting for the MCAT at the end of May/early June.  Kaplan also offers discounted course options for CWRU students.

While this can be tough to quantify due to a variety of variables, about half of our students go on to become physicians. However, entrance into medical school depends, in part, on how well the student does in the program and their ability to demonstrate improvement on exam scores or their application. Some of our students also have career goals that do not include medical school.

Teaching, Research, and Job Opportunities

Teaching assistants are selected based upon final grades in Gross Anatomy (ANAT 411) and discussions with current TAs. TA positions are available during the summer for the PA program course (PAST/ANAT 410 with Bryan Singelyn), ANAT 411 (Gross Anatomy with Dr. Croft), and the medical school curriculum (Dr. Wish-Baratz). TA responsibilities include (for the PA program) 2 weeks on/2 weeks off scheduling from early June to early August; about 800 hours are split among 8-10 TAs, and these are paid positions.

There are many research opportunities at CWRU and our affiliated hospitals. The first step in getting involved with research is thinking about the area or type of research you might like to pursue. Next, identify a research mentor in that area who would be willing to take on a student. A good place to start identifying a mentor is to visit the Student Research Mentors page. You can also check the SOURCE program page; although geared to undergraduates the "find a research opportunity on campus" link is a good place to explore research opportunities.  

For our enrolled students, our student organization has developed research database with contacts of doctors/labs open to working with Anatomy students.


Case Western Reserve University is in a unique position in being in close proximity to four top-tier hospitals: Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth, and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. All these hospitals offer opportunities to volunteer; in particular, the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals have volunteer programs set up that many students work with.

CWRU also has the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL), which is a division of Student Affairs. CCEL works to provide opportunities for volunteering and community service in the local Cleveland area. Some of these include working at the Cleveland Food Bank, sorting medical supplies for MedWish International, and tutoring and mentoring.

Yes, there are opportunities for students to find jobs on campus. Many on campus positions will use Handshake to post job descriptions and requirements; you will typically apply for the job right on the website.

Housing Questions

Most students live in the University Circle, Cedar-Fairmount, Coventry, Little Italy, or Downtown areas. As part of your acceptance, you will receive a welcome packet that further details housing options in each of these locations. The options listed are places that graduate and medical students of CWRU have recommended or lived at previously.

While most areas directly around the University are relatively safe, you probably want to avoid looking at housing in the East Cleveland area.

Transportation and Parking Questions

Most students who live in University Circle, Uptown, or near the HEC (Health Education Campus) are within a 25-minute walking radius of the Biomedical Research Building. Students living farther from campus use public transportation or, if they have a car, purchase parking passes for the Veale Parking Garage (S-53) either on a semester or monthly basis. More information about parking garages, and permit rates and types can be found on the parking services website.

CWRU has its own shuttle bus service, with two routes (HEC Main and Nursing) that directly connect the HEC to main campus and can be tracked via the TransLoc Rider app. Between 6PM and 3AM, students living near campus use Safe Ride, which is available 7 days per week and can be requested online or via the CWRU Safe Ride app. More information about Safe Ride and other after-hours options is available on the Safety on Campus page

Program Outcome and Student Advice Questions

About half (51%) of our students become physicians, and another 28% enter other clinical careers like Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant, Dental, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistants. An additional 12% become higher education faculty, with 7% going on to receive their doctoral degree. And 2% of students enter healthcare technology. Additional information on student outcomes and class profiles, as well as student testimonials, can be found under the “People” tab on our website.

As a smaller, close-knit program and department (averaging 20 students per cohort), student groups are often self-formed and communicate via GroupMe, Facebook, etc. and get together to form study groups and to attend campus events, for example those hosted by the GSC (Graduate Student Council). We are currently piloting a new Facebook group for the program designed to help incoming students connect with each other and with current students.  

Get in contact with your advisor to make sure that you’ve created a schedule that gets you to the 30 credit benchmark within your expected time frame and that you’ve selected the appropriate MS type (A thesis or B non-thesis) for reaching your future goals. Also, be prepared to do the assigned readings prior to attending class as this will make digesting the sheer volume of new information and new concepts much easier, and begin studying for your exams much earlier than you would in undergrad. Form study groups early, don’t be afraid to get to know your professors and TAs, and ask lots of questions/participate in class!