If you are considering going to medical school, you may be wondering how the application process works. Most importantly, you probably want to know more about the application timeline, such as when the cycle starts, when you start interviewing, and when you get your acceptance letters.
The medical school application process can be quite long and involves many steps. As a result, it is especially important to give yourself enough time to complete all the requirements. Failing to do so can hold you back an application cycle, no matter how good your MCAT score and GPA are
For most medical schools (MD programs), you will apply through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). This service allows you to apply to several schools using one convenient platform.
Other schools may use different services. For example, public medical schools located in Texas use the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS). Osteopathic medical schools (DO programs) use the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS).
This guide will go over everything you need to know about the medical school application timeline.
Medical School Application Timeline
Each medical school sets its own application deadlines. Overall, you are responsible for keeping track of these dates, as there are typically very few exceptions, if any, to late submissions. On top of the tough academic and extracurricular requirements to be accepted, the lengthy application also makes it hard to get into med school.
This section will go into detail on the general timeline for medical school applications, starting from the fall of your junior year of undergrad to the end of your senior year. If you plan on taking a gap year, you can start the application process later.
Fall of Junior Year
During the fall of your junior year, you should focus on doing well in your classes and getting meaningful clinical experience. It is also a smart idea to start studying for the MCAT.
- Study hard. School can get overwhelming when you are also preparing for medical school applications in addition to being a college student. However, you should continue to study hard and do well in your classes. Try your best to stay organized and keep up with all of the course material.
- Find clinical experience. Your junior year is also a good time to get some clinical experience for med school. These types of activities can help you gain a better understanding of what being a physician is like. In addition, having this first-hand experience can help you write your personal statements. You will be able to better articulate why you want to go to medical school and become a physician. Working a job like medical assisting can solidify your med school application.
Winter/Spring of Junior Year
During the winter of your junior year, you should be studying and preparing to take the MCAT. You should aim to take your MCAT during March or April of your junior year. You should also prepare for your application by working on your personal statements and asking for letters of recommendation.
- Prepare for and take the MCAT. Many students set aside at least 3 months before their exam date to study for the MCAT. However, it is common (and wise) to start studying even earlier than this. The best time to take your MCAT is during March and April of your Junior year. This will put you in the best position to submit your application as soon as possible. Generally, the latest you should even consider taking your MCAT is May.
- Work on personal statements. These essays are an important part of the application. Ideally, you want to give yourself enough time to come up with a draft and several revisions. Ask others for constructive feedback on your essays.
- Ask for letters of recommendation. You should ask people who know you well for letters of recommendation, such as professors, supervisors, or other faculty. It is better to ask for these ahead of time. This is not only to be courteous but to allow your letter writers enough time to create a quality letter.
May of Junior Year
The application cycle officially begins in May of your junior year. During this time, you will select the schools you want to apply to.
- Work on your applications. Every year, the various application services open in the first week of May. This application would be for the incoming class in the fall of the following year. Keep in mind that even though the application is open, you will not be able to submit it until the first week of June. Take this time to get familiar with how the application is set up. Make sure that you select the schools you want to apply to and that you provide all the needed information.
June and July After Your Junior Year
During the summer after your junior year, you should continue working on your applications. If you are ready, you can submit them. Once you submit them, you can work on secondary applications and interviews.
- Submit your applications, if ready. You will be allowed to submit your application sometime around the first week of June. Although many schools have their deadlines later in the fall, it can be beneficial to submit your application early. This is especially true if the school does rolling admissions.
- Work on secondary applications. After you submit your primary application, you may receive a secondary application from the schools you applied to. These tend to involve additional questions and prompts. The deadline for these depends on the school. After you submit this, the school may offer you an interview.
August to May of Senior Year
During the fall of your senior year, you should finish applying to the rest of the schools on your list. You should also continue working on any secondary applications and interviews. Depending on the schools you apply to, you may receive your admissions decisions throughout the year.
Once you receive your decisions, you yourself will need to make a decision on which school’s offer to accept. It is also a good time to start planning on how to pay for medical school.
- Finish your applications (including secondary applications). Many schools have their application deadlines in the fall and winter. So, if you are looking to start medical school in the coming year, make sure you have everything completed in time.
- Maintain your grades. Just because you submitted your application does not mean you should take things easy during your senior year. Medical schools can revoke your admission if your grades fall below a certain standard. Typically, this means failing a course or having your grades significantly decline.
- Keep an eye out for admissions decisions. Every school decides for themselves when and how they want to release admissions decisions. Many schools admit students on a rolling basis, meaning that they take a look at applications as they are submitted. Decisions typically start coming out starting in the fall and continue until around the end of spring.
- Accept the school’s offer. Once you receive your admissions decisions, you will need to accept the offer of the school you plan on attending.
- Look into financial aid options. This is also a good time to look into your options for paying for medical school, such as financial aid, scholarships, and grants.
What are the Medical School Application Deadlines?
- Application opens: May 2, 2023
- Submission opens: May 30, 2023
- Application deadline: depends on the school
- Application opens: May 1, 2023
- Submission opens: May 15, 2023
- Decisions start coming out: October 15, 2023
- Application deadline: November 1, 2023
- Deadline to decide on which school to attend: April 30, 2024
- Application opens: May 4, 2023
- Application deadline: depends on the school
Med School Application Timeline FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about the medical school application timeline.
How early should I start preparing for medical school if I want to take a gap year?
Taking a gap year gives you an extra year to prepare for medical school. You will be applying during the next application cycle, which effectively shifts your application timeline by one year.
As a result, you can start officially preparing in May when your respective application cycle opens.
Should I take a gap year to strengthen my med school application?
Students may choose to take a gap year for a variety of reasons, such as financial, academic, or personal considerations. Regardless of the reason, taking a gap year shifts your planning by one year. So instead of applying in this cycle, you will be applying in the next cycle.
Taking a gap year to strengthen your application can be a wise decision if you decided late that you wanted to pursue medicine. It can also be a good idea if parts of your application are deficient. For example, your MCAT scores may be too low, you may not have enough letters of recommendation, or your extracurriculars or clinical experience may be lacking.
A well-spent gap year can help strengthen your application and increase your chances of getting into your school of choice. Admissions committees value applicants who make the most of their gap year and have the determination to seek out meaningful experiences.
>> Read More: Best Jobs for a Med School Gap Year
When should I take my MCAT?
You should aim to take the MCAT no later than May of your application cycle. March and April are typically regarded as the best months to take the exam. Taking your MCAT later may make it harder to meet your application deadlines.
>> Read More: Medical Schools That Don't Require the MCAT
Do I need to take the Casper test?
The Casper test is a special assessment that evaluates your behavior and responses to various scenarios. There are certain schools that require you to take the Casper test. Double-check with each school that you are applying to to see if it is required or not.
When do medical school applications open?
Medical school applications through AMCAS, TMDSAS, and AACOMAS open every year in the first week of May.
When should I start my medical school application?
You should start officially working on your medical application as soon as it opens in the first week of May. However, it is even better to start preparing before this by writing rough drafts for your personal statements, securing your letters of recommendation, and getting all your required documents ready.
What information do I need to provide for my application?
This will vary slightly depending on which application service you use. On the AMCAS, for example, they ask you for demographic information, coursework, extracurricular activities, letters of evaluation, and standardized test scores (i.e. MCAT).
You will need to send a copy of your transcripts. In the coursework section of the application, you will also need to manually enter everything so that it matches what is on your transcript.
When are med school applications due?
Each medical school sets its own application deadlines. Keep track of the deadlines and other important dates for each school you plan on applying to.
How much does the application cost?
Applying through AMCAS will cost $175. This fee includes sending the application to one medical school. For each subsequent school, it will cost $45.
Applying through AACOMAS will cost $198 and includes sending the application to one school. For each subsequent school, it will cost an additional $55.
Applying through TMDSAS will cost a flat fee of $215.
Note that fees may change each year.
How do medical school interviews work?
After you submit your secondary application, schools may contact you to set up an interview. These interviews typically take place in-person, meaning that you will have to travel to the interview site. They can be conducted in various formats such as traditional one-on-one and multiple mini-interviews (MMI).
What are rolling admissions?
Rolling admissions means that schools evaluate applications as they are submitted. In other words, they do not wait until after the deadline to start making their decisions. Because of this, it is often an advantage to submit your application as early in the cycle as possible.
What if I miss the medical school application deadline?
The AMCAS states that they do not accept late submissions. As for the individual deadlines of the schools you are applying to, you will need to contact them regarding their policies for missed deadlines. In the vast majority of cases, late applications will not be accepted.
If you find yourself in this scenario, you will likely have one of two options. You will need to either apply to other schools whose deadline has not yet passed or wait until the next application cycle.
When do medical school acceptance letters go out?
Because many medical schools use a rolling admissions system, acceptance letters start coming out in the fall of the application cycle and continue until around the spring. Check with each individual school you applied to to find out when they start notifying applicants of their decisions.