Applying to graduate/professional schools in health care

Most medical, dental, veterinary, optometry, physician assistant and podiatry schools utilize a centralized application service. The applicant sends one application to a central processing location which verifies transcripts and calculates GPA's, and then forwards the information to the schools designated. Not all schools utilize these services, so it is important to make sure you check with each school to make sure you know how to apply!

Many schools, after receiving the preliminary application from the centralized application service, will require additional information (sometimes known as secondary applications), which may involve an additional application fee.

Applications are generally reviewed on a rolling basis

The sooner you get your application in, the better your chances. Every year we see highly qualified applicants on wait lists – wondering if they will get in and not finding out until late spring or even summer - because they didn’t send in their applications until Fall.  Don’t let this happen to you!

What you will need:

  • Transcripts from every college attended – this includes community colleges, etc.
    • This will be the most time consuming part.  You will need to categorize the courses into Biology/Chemistry/ Physics/Math (BCPM) versus all others.
  • List of all volunteer, work experiences – you will need to provide a contact/supervisor name for these.
  • Personal statement 

Completing the Application

  • Follow all instructions carefully! The applications are quite detailed, and even small mistakes may delay the processing of your application, or cause incorrect information to be sent to the schools to which you are applying. Take your time and be careful. Correct is always better than early.
  • After submitting your preliminary application, you will receive a copy of your profile from the application service. Carefully review this information, and follow the instructions for changing any incorrect information. You may also want to contact individual schools with especially important changes, since it may be a while until they receive the updated information.
  • Ensure that the academic information you list on your application exactly matches the information on your transcripts.
  • Apply as early as possible, even if you have not taken your standardized tests! Be aware of all schools' deadlines!
  • Make sure you have an application for the appropriate entering class year.
  • Proofread the application carefully before submitting it. Make sure all required information, including appropriate fee, is included.
  • Answer all questions honestly, including any questions about academic performance, conduct violations, or criminal charges. Most applications provide a place to explain such incidents. Explain them honestly and openly, without making excuses.
  • Permanent address - list an address that you do not expect to change over the next year.
  • Regularly back up your information, or even print out a copy of all pages. If it gets lost, you will want that information to fill out a new one!
  • Many schools only accept in-state residents, or strongly prefer them. You may only be a resident of one state. If you are not sure of which state you are a resident, contact the schools to which you plan to apply.

Centralized Application Services

AACOM American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service

AACPMAS:  American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine Application Service

ADEA American Dental Education Association

AMCAS: Association of American Medical Colleges Application Service

CASPA: Physician Assistant Education Association

VMCAS: Veterinary Medical College Application Service

After the applications are submitted

You should be available at all times during the application process. You may not be given much notice for an interview. Make sure the schools have your correct email address and phone number, and that you have a way to get to the schools quickly if you are offered an interview.

Make sure you send your Fall transcripts to the schools (and/or to the application services, per their instructions), as soon as the semester is over, and make sure you continue your strong academic performance. Schools consider courses you complete during the application process, in addition to the ones you completed before you applied.

Also, if you have any significant experiences (publish a paper, participate in a new activity, etc.), send a letter to the schools at which you are still in consideration to let them know what you are up to. Your application might not be seen as competitive as someone else's until the committee learns that you have just become coordinator of the new homeless project in town. However, do not send a weekly letter letting them know of every little thing you are doing. You do not want to annoy the committees. They have a lot to read!

Finally, relax. This whole process will be much easier if you take it seriously, yet do not let yourself get too stressed out over it. If you begin to freak out, talk to your friends who are applying you'll find they are just as nervous as you. Go to the Counseling Center and meet with a counselor or peer counselor. Also, enjoy yourself! This will hopefully be your last year before entering a rigorous curriculum (and you thought all those organic and physics courses were rough!).

And last, but not least, GOOD LUCK!