Program in Liberal Medical Education

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Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME)
Established 8-year program began 1984
Type Combined baccalaureate-MD program
Academic affiliation Brown University
Location Providence, RI, USA
Dean Julianne Ip, M.D., PLME Associate Dean of Medicine
Students Approximately 60 per class

The Program in Liberal Medical Education, or PLME, is the eight-year combined baccalaureate-M.D. medical program of Brown University. Members of the program are simultaneously accepted into both the undergraduate College of Brown University as well as the Warren Alpert Medical School, allowing them to receive a Bachelor's degree and an M.D. as part of a single eight-year continuum. PLME is the only combined medical program in the Ivy League, as well as one of only approximately 120 in the nation.[1] The program is extremely selective, admitting only 90 applicants nationwide and internationally each year, with an acceptance rate of 3.7% for the class of 2020. The PLME is widely considered to be one of the most competitive and prestigious combined medical programs in the country.[2][3][4][5]


Alpert Medical School's new building, where many PLME events are coordinated

The 8-year PLME was first endorsed by Brown University in 1984, which had previously been a 6-year program.[6] It was originally the only major route of admission to the Alpert Medical School, until the medical school began accepting pre-medical students from the standard AMCAS admission route in 2004. According to the PLME, the goal of the program is to combine the open curriculum concept of Brown (the College) and the competency-based curriculum concept of The Warren Alpert Medical School to encourage students of medicine to pursue in depth their interests in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences through a liberal education philosophy as they prepare for their careers as physicians.[7] Julianne Ip, M.D., Associate Dean of Medicine for PLME, described the program as a way to "accept the 'best' high school students who would utilize Brown, and the College’s unique Open Curriculum to craft their own educational paths. These individualized educational plans would allow students to pursue their passions be they in science or liberal arts but always with the view of medicine as a humanitarian pursuit, not a “trade” to be learned."[8]


Because the PLME draws applicants from around the U.S. and internationally, its applicant pool is significantly larger than those of most other medical programs, which receive primarily in-state applications.[9] With large numbers of applicants competing for very few spots, the program consistently reports an extremely low acceptance rate. For the undergraduate class of 2020, 2,445 high school students applied and 90 were admitted, yielding an acceptance rate of 3.7%. For the class of 2019, 2290 applicants applied for the same 90 spots, for an acceptance rate of 3.9%. The average SAT scores of matriculants between 2010 and 2015 were 731 in Critical Reading, 741 in Math, and 746 in Writing.[10]

Enrichment Opportunities and Organizations[edit]

The PLME has designed various enrichment activities and organizations for students in the program.

PLME Senate[edit]

The PLME Senate is the official representative body of PLME undergraduate students. The PLME Senate coordinates the Whole Patient Program (for PLME freshmen), which is centered around patient case presentations, and the Whole Physician Program (for all PLME students), which focuses on physician and medical student panel events. The Senate also plans social and community service activities during the year.[7]

The Community Health Advocacy Program (CHAP)[edit]

The Community Health Advocacy Program (CHAP) works cooperatively with various Providence populations to promote the physical, mental, and emotional health of young people and the community as a whole. Composed of PLME student volunteers, teams identify relevant health issues and then create programs to address these issues. CHAP provides the opportunity for communities and future health care professionals to meet the health care needs of areas that are often underserved due to a variety of social, economic, and cultural barriers.[7]

The Medicine in Action Program[edit]

An opportunity for PLME undergraduates and medical students a chance to observe physicians in their working environment. Students can explore a variety of clinical settings, observe physician/patient relationships firsthand, go on rounds with the medical team, and get to know individual Medical School faculty and alumni more closely.[7]

Summer Research Assistantships (SRAs)[edit]

Research opportunities in Biomedical Sciences or in Emergency Medicine are made available annually on a competitive basis to students enrolled in the PLME. This is an excellent opportunity to become engaged in a biomedical research project under the supervision and mentorship of a Brown faculty member.[7]

Notable alumni[edit]

Graduates from the PLME are first and foremost alumni of Brown University, but members of the program specifically have become prominent figures in the medicine and health world as well as in other areas.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former student in the PLME
  • Barrett Bready, (B.A. 1999, M.D. 2003) and President and CEO of NabSys, a DNA-sequencing startup which employs technology developed at Brown.
  • Atul Butte, (B.A. 1991, M.D. 1995), leading researcher in biomedical informatics, and biotechnology entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.
  • Seth Berkley, Adjunct Professor of Medicine, (B.A. 1977, M.D. 1981), leading medical epidemiologist, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, founder and former President and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), and one of TIME Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" (2009).
  • Bobby Jindal, (B.A. 1991), current and 55th Governor of Louisiana, and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was one of 50 students nationwide to be accepted to the PLME, but forfeited his spot in the medical school to pursue studies in health policy at Oxford University through the Rhodes Scholarship.
  • Arthur L. Horwich, (B.A. 1972, M.D. 1975) who discovered the role of chaperonins in protein folding.
  • Srihari S. Naidu, (Sc.B. 1993, M.D. 1997) and Director, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Treatment Center at Winthrop University Hospital, Associate Professor of Medicine at SUNY - Stony Brook School of Medicine, President of Brown University Medical Alumni Association (2012-2014), and Trustee of the Corporation of Brown University (2013-2019).


  1. ^ "How Many BS/MD Programs Are There? - BS/MD Admissions by College Admissions Partners". 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2016-07-24. 
  2. ^ "CollegeVine's Top 25 Combined BS/MD Programs". Retrieved 2016-07-24. 
  3. ^ "2019 Ivy League Admissions Statistics | Ivy Coach". Retrieved 2016-07-24. 
  4. ^ Obsessed, Prestige (2011-08-13). "Prestige Obsessed: Brown University Alpert Medical School". Prestige Obsessed. Retrieved 2016-07-24. 
  5. ^ "Three Tiers of BS/MD Programs Based on Level of Competitiveness - BS/MD Admissions by College Admissions Partners". 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2016-08-09. 
  6. ^ "— BlogDailyHerald". BlogDailyHerald. Retrieved 2016-07-25. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Program in Liberal Medical Education" (PDF). Brown University. 
  8. ^ Ip, Julianne (July 2015). "Overview of Brown's Unique 8-year Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME)" (PDF). Rhode Island Medical Journal. 98 (7). 
  9. ^ Johnson, Todd A. (2013). BS/MD Programs- The Complete Guide: Getting into Medical School from High School. Minnetonka, MN: College Admissions Partners. pp. 73, 243. ISBN 978-0-9832132-4-6. 
  10. ^ "Admissions Facts and Figures | Program in Liberal Medical Education". Retrieved 2016-07-25.