If you’re asking yourself: “How many medical schools should I apply to?,” we’ve got you covered! Read on to learn how to build the best medical school list for you to increase your chances of getting admitted!
So it’s time to apply to medical school. Maybe you’ve explored your options a little and realized just how many suitable schools are out there. What about a beautiful school in Italy? Or a big ivy league school like Harvard? Or your local university?
It can all be quite overwhelming; the possibilities are endless. Plus, you may be wondering, “How many schools should I apply to?” Luckily, there are a few factors to consider that will help you decide.
Not every medical school will meet all of your needs as a student. You must consider everything from location to program options before figuring out which schools are right for you.
If you’re struggling with the overbearing responsibility of refining your selection of schools, we’ve got you covered. This article will go over which medical schools to apply to, factors to consider, acceptance rates, admission requirements, list building, and more. Let’s get into it!
The short answer here is as many as you want! Ultimately there is no wrong answer here. The more schools you apply to, the more options you’ll have. Try not to stretch yourself too thin or stress yourself out. Remember that if all goes well, you may have a hectic interview season on your hands.
According to the AAMC, the average medical school applicant applies to 16 different schools. It is recommended that students apply to no fewer than 15, considering how difficult it can be to get in. On the higher end, it is generally recommended not to apply to more than 40 schools.
While applying to more schools will increase your odds of getting into one, applying to too many can be stressful and detract from the amount of time you spend on each application.
Once you’ve decided which schools you’re interested in, it’s time to narrow down your list to the final contenders. Your list should only reflect schools you are genuinely interested in attending and are logistically realistic for you to attend if you are accepted.
Try breaking your list into sections. You’ll want to include “reach” schools (schools that you are most likely to be accepted to), “target” schools (your most wanted schools), and “undershoot” schools (schools you are overqualified for). The breakdown should look something like this:
Any schools you add beyond those key numbers should be in the reach or undershoot categories. It’s not a good idea to focus all of your attention on one category; spread your time between each application to make sure it is personal and well thought out.
In each category, consider the school’s acceptance rates and the average GPA of their current class. This information is typically available online for students to reference when applying to schools.
We’ve gone over how many schools to apply to, but which ones? This is the hard part, but we’ve got you covered. Here we’ll go over all of the factors to consider when choosing your potential medical schools.
As you start to consider which schools you should apply to, it’s crucial to consider your eligibility. Focus on your grades and extracurriculars–are they competitive enough for the schools you’re interested in? If you’re not sure, try taking a look at the WedgeDawg Applicant Rating System (WARS).
You can use this tool to help you determine how competitive your application profile is. It uses your academic information, such as your GPA and MCAT score, and more) to determine your level of competitiveness at various schools on a scale of 0 to 121.
WARS also has a breakdown of categories to put schools in, one being the highest or most difficult to get into. Once your WARS level has been determined, the system tells you how many schools you should apply to within each category. The higher your level, the more category-one schools you should apply to.
The WARS system isn’t perfect, although it seems effective and is generally quite popular among medical school applicants. If you’re interested in trying out the system, use the WARS online calculator.
Aside from determining how competitive your application is, ensure you check the eligibility requirements for each program you are considering. Every school has individual GPA requirements, which should be taken into account when deciding where to apply. It may also be helpful to check out eligibility requirements for funding.
When choosing where to apply, don’t just consider the school as a whole. Make sure to get to know their programs to get a good idea of what intrigues you explicitly about taking courses there. Every medical school offers different programs and professors, and equipment.
The success of your application will rely heavily on your reason for wanting to attend that school. Many students have good grades and extracurriculars; what do you bring to the table to make you fit into the school’s culture? What program are you excited to take? What courses or equipment are you excited to use?
Not only are these questions commonly asked, but they are also helpful to help you make the right decision. Get to know your programs!
One of the most problematic aspects of applying to multiple schools is application fees. If application fees are a financial concern, limiting the number of applications you submit may be a better idea. As mentioned above, however, try not to submit less than 15 applications to increase your chances of acceptance.
Beyond fees, tuition costs should also play a role in your decision-making. Medical school is always going to be expensive. If you’re relying on financial aid, consider the likelihood of receiving financial aid at each school you apply for. It is not a good idea to apply for a school that you won’t be able to afford.
Typically schools are transparent about their tuition and fees, so finding an estimate or course calculator on their website shouldn’t be too difficult. Schools also usually have some information on the funding they offer students and the eligibility requirements to receive it.
If a school offers you a scholarship, it can also influence your decision when applying to schools. Be sure to check out every school’s entrance scholarships and bursaries to ease your decision-making.
Let’s talk geography. Of course, you need to decide where you’d like to live while you study, but it goes deeper than that.
Medical schools have higher acceptance rates for students who apply within their state or province. However, schools also have a certain amount of spots available for international students. Generally speaking, it may be more challenging to get into a school the further away you are from it.
The location also heavily impacts the cost of medical schools. Many schools have in-state and out-of-state tuition fees, with the latter being more costly.
There are plenty of benefits to consider for students who are hoping to apply to schools outside of their state or country. Although tuition will likely be more expensive, studying in a new place can be eye-opening and fun.
If you’re looking to apply to schools outside of your country, be extra diligent in doing your research. Remember to keep your budget and overall financial situation in mind as you put your medical school list together. Additionally, eligibility for international students can significantly vary, and it can be even more competitive than usual.
The most important factor to consider here is where you hope to do your residency later on. Remember that if you do your residency outside of the US, it may not be considered valid in every state. Applying to a school close to where you hope to do your residency may be helpful in terms of making valuable connections in the medical community.
Although every school varies in its admissions requirements, there are some consistent ones that every student should prepare for. Here is a general list of what you’ll need when applying to medical school.
You’ll need the following:
Depending on the program and location of the school, you may not need to submit all of these documents. Your program may also require additional requirements not specified in this list, so make sure you do your research!
In 2022-2023, the reported acceptance rates for allopathic medical schools were approximately 43%--meaning less than half of applicants were admitted. With this said acceptance rates vary widely, with acceptance criteria varying from school to school.
Keep in mind that some schools have higher acceptance rates than others. According to US News and World Report, the average acceptance rate for medical schools in 2019 was around 6.7%. Schools with higher admissions rates should be on your radar if you’re concerned about getting into a school or have a GPA on the lower end.
If you’re wondering what the easiest medical school to get into in the US are, here are 10 US Medical Schools with the highest acceptance rates!
While acceptance rates can be helpful in determining your likelihood of getting admitted, do your best not to use it as a metric of whether or not you should apply.
Now that we’ve built our list and gone over factors to consider, let's talk about what you can do to take your application to the next level. With less than half of the applicants accepted each year, it’s essential to know how to formulate a compelling application. Here we’ll go over our top tips to get into medical school.
When it comes to medical school, preparation is key. The road to med school won’t be easy, so it’s crucial to be as informed as possible when applying. Take your prerequisites, study hard, and learn in detail about the programs you’re applying for. You can not be over-prepared for this step in your career.
Remember that every other applicant is qualified and motivated, just like you. What can you do to give yourself an edge? Push the boundaries of what this blog - or any blog - advises you to do. Communicate with advisors and read up on school history. Anything you can do to improve your profile as an applicant will help you succeed.
A big mistake that many applicants make is including what they think a school wants to hear instead of expressing who they are.
Your extracurriculars, for example, shouldn’t simply be everything and anything you can do to puff up your application. They should say something about you as a person. Ultimately schools want to know how dedicated you are to medicine and how well-rounded you are in general.
GPA and MCAT scores are important, but they likely won’t stand on their own. Letting a school learn about you can be the key to getting into your number one school of choice. Explain why you’re passionate about the program you’re applying for and try to connect it to your experiences.
If you’ve ever googled “can I skip the MCAT” or “can I skip my pre-reqs,” this tip is for you. Medical school is about working hard and learning; it’s not about taking shortcuts.
Schools want to see in your application that you have a passion for learning that will follow you throughout your career. As a doctor, you will never stop learning, and your job will never be easy, so naturally, it won’t be easy to get there.
While the application process may feel rough at times, your passion for medicine and healthcare should shine through in your application. So keep your eye on the prize and remind yourself why you’re applying in the first place!
Now that we’ve answered the question: “How many medical schools should I apply to?” and covered how you can make the best med school list for you, we’ll answer some FAQs to answer any questions you might still have.
The average medical school applicant applies to 16 schools. It is recommended to apply to no fewer than 15 and no more than 40. These numbers reflect increasing the odds of getting into a school while not applying to so many that the individual application quality suffers.
Early Assurance Programs and joined BS/MD programs do not require an MCAT score. You can apply to an EAP or BS/MD directly after college. In a joined BS/MD program, students complete a Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) and then proceed directly into medical school (MD).
St George’s University, The CUNY School of Medicine, The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, and The University of New Mexico all offer joint programs that do not require the MCAT.
Applicants do not need to have their prerequisite courses done before applying to medical school. However, prerequisites are essential tools to help you through the MCAT and medical school. Prerequisite courses typically must be completed by the time you enter medical school and vary from program to program.
To apply to allopathic medical schools through AMCAS in 2024, you will be required to pay an application fee of $175 for your first school and $45 for each additional school.
If you’re applying for 15 medical schools, this will cost you around $805 USD, excluding any additional costs.
On the other hand, osteopathic med school applications through the AACOMAS are slightly more costly, with your first program costing $198 and subsequent programs costing $55 each.
In the 2022-2023 application cycle, 55,188 students applied for allopathic medical schools in the US. Each year the number of applicants is generally between 47-60,000.
In the 2022-2023 application cycle, 22,712 students of the 55,188 who applied were accepted into medical school. This means that 42% of students who applied to medical school were accepted.
Applying to medical school is the first step toward your career as a doctor. It’s important to give your applications all of the love and attention they deserve because recruiters will absolutely notice the difference. Try to apply to 20-25 schools to be safe; remember not to apply to too many or too few.
In your applications, it’s essential to be yourself and showcase yourself as a motivated student who is excited about their next chapter. Try using WARS if you are concerned about the amount of experience you have or how high your GPA is.
Keep in mind that it’s never too late to learn. If you don’t get in the first time, keep trying and don’t be hard on yourself.