Deciding Where to Apply

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There’s an old saying, “If you’ve seen one medical school, you’ve seen one medical school,” meaning all medical schools are unique. They vary in mission, location, size, and teaching style, just to name a few.

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young student with backpack in library stacks

How many schools should I apply to?

You can apply to as many or as few schools as you’d like, but on average, students currently apply to 16 schools through the American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®). Since you’ll spend time and money on your primary and secondary applications, and traveling to your interviews, it’s a good idea to apply only to schools you would seriously consider attending.

Are there any tools or resources to help me decide where to apply?

The Medical School Admission Requirements website provides a comprehensive listing of M.D.-granting U.S. and Canadian medical schools. The medical school profiles show specific admissions requirements along with national and school-specific applicant and acceptance data. You can use the site to search for schools, compare them side-by-side, sort data, save and rank favorites, write notes, and compare your own coursework to each school’s requirements. School profiles are updated and revised each year through collaboration with each medical school. The Medical School Admission Requirements website is the best source for trusted, up-to-date information.

It can also be helpful to see how current medical students made their decision. You can hear from students about why they chose their school in Anatomy of an Applicant and our Inspiring Stories interviews.

When should I start looking into where to apply?

If you’re in high school and considering a baccalaureate-MD program, you typically want to do your research during your junior year. If you’re in college, or post-college, you will want to start researching medical schools at least several months before you begin your AMCAS application, which opens in early May each year for entrance into medical school the following year.

If you’re not ready to start looking at specific schools yet, The Official Guide to Medical School Admissions is a helpful first step. The guidebook contains chapters on deciding if a career in medicine is right for you, how to prepare for medical school, how to choose the right school, and an overview of what you’ll learn in medical school. The Official Guide to Medical School Admissions also provides details about the MCAT® exam and the AMCAS application, how admissions decisions are made, information about diversity in medical schools, how to pay for medical school, applicant and matriculant data, and it includes worksheets to help you stay organized. It also includes worksheets to help you get organized, assess where you are and plan next steps.

Who can I discuss my options with?

The most knowledgeable person you can talk with is the pre-health advisor at your school. Be sure to schedule an appointment to discuss your options as early as you can. If you do not have access to a pre-health advisor, talk to an academic advisor, or find an advisor through the National Association of Advisors for Health Professionals (NAAHP) website.

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