Students apply to health professional school at least a full year before they plan to matriculate. To determine the best time to apply, students should consider the following:
- Am I a competitive applicant? Am I ready?
Your grades and test scores need to be strong; health professional schools look at science GPA’s separately from your cumulative GPA.Both values should be competitive. If your grades are not where they need to be, meet with your pre-health advisor and consider a post-bac program. If you do not have the professional experience to know what it means to be a practitioner, or if you would like to take advantage of other opportunities, consider a gap year program.
- When should I take my MCAT/DAT/PCAT/GRE/OAT? What scores do I need to be competitive?
Students need to plan to take their standardized test as early as possible while still being prepared. This timeline varies from student to student, depending on course schedules, summer plans, and the amount of studying each student needs. To learn more about standardized tests, click here. Students should meet with their pre-health advisor to determine when they should test and what scores they need to be competitive.
3. When should I complete my application?
Getting your applications in early will improve your chances for admission, so plan accordingly! Students should have their primary applications in by July 4th, a full year before they plan to matriculate. Information on primary and secondary applications, and application services is listed below.
Health Professional Schools conduct personal interviews with candidates to determine maturity, character, and fit. If you are selected to interview, meet with your pre-health advisor to review the interview process and protocols. See here for interview tips. Many schools are now using a Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI) format. To learn more about the MMI, click here.
Most Health Professional Schools have centralized application services (CAS), meaning you need only apply once, and your application (and standardized testing scores) will be sent to all of your selected schools. This application is called the primary application. Your primary application will consist of many parts:
- General and Demographic Information
- Activities, awards, professional experiences
- Grades (you will also need to send transcripts from ALL colleges and universities you have taken classes from, including study abroad programs)
- Personal Statement (this should be a thoughtful and interesting discussion, so it will take some time)
- A list of schools where you would like your application sent
- Letters of Recommendation (you will not see your letter, which is generally a committee letter written by the pre-health committee)
Once schools receive your primary application, they will send you their secondary application. Some schools routinely send out secondaries, regardless of how competitive you are. Others send secondaries only to those candidates they are seriously considering for admission. Your responses on the secondary application should be specific to the school to which you are applying.
Your secondary application generally includes:
- Your responses to several questions asked by the individual school
- A letter from the Dean of Students addressing your character
- A letter from a long-time personal acquaintance addressing your character
Centralized application services (primary applications)
- Allopathic Medical School (AMCAS)
- Osteopathic Medical School (AACOMAS)
- Dental School (AADSAS)
- Pharmacy School (PharmCAS)
- Vet School (VMCAS)
- Optometry School (OptomCAS)
Applying to MD/PhD Programs
Students who are serious about a career in medical research might consider a dual degree (MD/PhD) program. MD/PhD programs are competitive and interested students need to obtain extensive research experience in order to be successful. Excellent GPAs and MCAT scores are also required. Students should partner with their science faculty and pre-health advisor early on to discuss their goals.
Visit the AAMC dual degree site to explore how to prepare and apply for MD/PhD programs.
This document from University of Pennsylvania also provides helpful information.
Getting research at Wabash is a good first step for future MD/PhD candidates. However, obtaining additional experiences beyond Wabash is also important.