Medical schools share a general application process, but individual schools can vary significantly in how they evaluate candidates. Here’s what you need to know about your primary and secondary med school applications to stay on track.

Applying to Medical School

Most U.S. medical schools participate in the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), a centralized, third-party organization that administers and processes medical school applications. The majority of medical schools admit students on a rolling basis, which means that spaces in the program are offered to qualified students until all the spots are filled.

Medical School Application

Primary Application

  • First, you'll submit a single application, usually through one of three centralized online application services:
    • AMCAS (for MD admissions)
    • TMDSAS (for Texas Medical Schools)
    • AACOMAS (for DO admissions
  • Your primary application provides medical schools with enough information to make an initial screening of applicants. A completed primary application includes:
  • Each medical school sets its own final deadline for applicants submitting information through the application service. Regardless of these deadlines, our med school admission experts recommend you submit your application as early as possible. Applications that are submitted early in the cycle are reviewed first and therefore have a better chance of acceptance at almost all schools.

  • Procrastinators take note: these application services are serious about their deadlines. If an application is late, you'll get it back without a refund.

  • If any of your chosen schools have interest, they will invite you to submit a secondary application.

Secondary Applications

  • After reviewing your AMCAS file, the admissions committees at your med schools will either reject you or send you a secondary application. Some schools send all of their applicants a secondary. Others go through an initial cut that is usually based entirely on GPA and MCAT scores.

  • Unless you've decided not to apply to that school, you should complete and return each secondary application as you receive it. Most med schools will reject any application that arrives after the deadline.

  • Secondaries typically include a variety of essays on assigned topics. You could be asked to discuss your favorite novel, describe a leadership role you've taken, or detail your greatest academic achievement. You will also be asked to submit letters of recommendation if you did not do so through AMCAS.

  • If the cost of sending back secondaries is prohibitive, you can call the school and request a fee waiver. If you were eligible for a waiver from AMCAS, for example, you will probably be eligible for a waiver from individual schools.

Interviews

  • Once the committee reviews your secondary med school application, they will do one of three things: reject you, invite you to the campus for an interview, or hold your application until after the first round of interviews. Final decisions are usually made after the interview.

  • The standard U.S. interview season is between September and February (occasionally March).
  • Med school interview policies and formats vary. At some schools you'll interview one-on-one, and at others you'll interview by panel.

  • The interview is another opportunity to stand out to med schools! Practice with our list of classic medical school interview questions.

  • A school might decide that they want to see what the rest of the applicant pool looks like before they admit you. If a med school puts you on a "hold list," you can can send in supplementary material (a short one-page description of recent academic or extracurricular achievements) to bolster your application.

Alternate List

Once all the med school class places have been filled, additional qualified candidates are placed on the alternate list and are granted a space only as accepted students decline their acceptance. While it’s rare, some students do drop out of the program in the initial days which can open up additional places.

Med School Application Services

Most U.S. medical schools participate in AMCAS. But there are other application services you may need to be aware of depending on the types of med schools you are applying to and their locations.

AMCAS TMDSAS AACOMAS 
What Is It? American Medical College Application Service Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service
Who Uses It? Applicants to most allopathic medical schools Applicants to medical, dental, and veterinary schools in Texas Applicants to most osteopathic medical schools
Important Deadlines
  • May 2: AMCAS opens and begins accepting transcripts
  • June 1: AMCAS begins accepting application submissions
  • June 30: AMCAS sends first batch of processed applications to med schools
  • August 1: Submission deadline for Early Decision
  • May 1: TMDSAS opens
  • August 1: Submission deadline for Early Decision 
  • September 29: Submission deadline for application to medical, dental and vet programs
The application cycle opens in May and closes the following April.

Deadlines vary by college so be sure to confirm deadlines for the schools to which you are applying.
Fees $160 for the first school, $38 for each additional school.  $150 flat fee for all applicants regardless of the number of schools applying to $195 for the first school, $40 for each additional school. 

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