Medical School Application Guide

Subscribe to RSS Feed

American Medical Schools


General info


United States


There are currently 141 medical schools in the United States offering 4 year programmes in medicine. In 2014, there were 731,595 applications from 49,480 applicants. Out of the 49,480 applicants, 20,343 matriculated to a medical school [Reference:] .Overall, approximately 47% of US students applying to medical school in the US are accepted each year. Acceptance percentages for international applicants tend to be slightly lower.


Most programmes are open to out-of-state and international applicants, but the number of international applicants accepted at each medical school varies widely. Approximately 17% of US schools are relatively open to international applicants and accept 5 or more international students each year, while roughly 40% accept no international students at all.


The US medical schools vary substantially in the weight they place on grades and test scores in their admission process, as well as their ratios of number of applicants to number of students accepted. There are some very competitive schools in the US that accept as few as 3-4% of applicants such as Harvard University and Yale university, but also many well established schools in the US that have higher acceptance percentages than Canadian and UK medical schools.


As is the case in Canada, medical schools in the US usually require applicants to complete prerequisite courses before applying, but unlike European medical schools, there is no preference given to students with scientific degrees. All undergraduate majors are accepted equally provided the prerequisite requirements are met, and the applicant has shown academic endeavor in their studies. A study at Harvard Medical School found that students are successful in medical school regardless of their undergraduate major, as long as they have adequate preparation in sciences.


Unlike Canada and the UK, most US medical schools use a rolling admissions process. This means that at schools where this is the case, students are only accepted until the class is full, causing students who apply early to have a very significant advantage over those who apply later.


There are four steps in the US medical school application process.


Step 1: The first step is completing the primary application (AMCAS application), which is sent to nearly all schools. It includes a 5300 character personal statement and 15 activity/award descriptions. Only 7 schools are not using the AMCAS application in 2015. These are the seven schools using the Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service (TMDSAS). The updated list of medical schools using the AMCAS application for entry in 2016 is available on the AAMC website:


Step 2: You will then complete a secondary application for each school, which usually involves school specific essays, reference letters and a secondary application fee. Some schools screen applicants before inviting them to complete a secondary application while others allow all students to complete it.


Step 3: Many schools then use certain unspoken MCAT and GPA cutoffs to screen applicants (this is done either after step 1 or 2). If the baseline academic cutoffs are met, the applicant’s essays, references etc. are read by a subcommittee and if the subcommittee agrees that holistically, you are a good candidate, they request that you be granted an interview. Interviews usually take place on campus but you can occasionally request to interview with alumni close to your home or your university.


Step 4: Admissions decision - once interviewed, your application file and interview scores are sent to a committee where the admissions decision is made.

Ask Dr Jiva a question

Contact Information

* Required Fields