Timeline of Application
AMCAS release date, processing time and deadline
The AMCAS application is released on or around May 5th each year, and AMCAS will begin accepting transcripts and letters of recommendation at this time. AMCAS begins accepting and processing completed applications the first week of June. Since it takes 4-6 weeks to process, your target date for submitting the application should be no later than the third week of June (or as early as possible in the summer). If you are applying to the Early Decision Programme (EDP), the deadline for sending your completed application and your transcripts is on or around August 1st each year. If you are applying through the standard route, the application deadline differs from one school to another. You should receive an email from AMCAS confirming receipt of your application. You can also call +1 (202) 828 0600 which is an automated system where you can check the status of your application at any time.
Your transcripts need to be submitted directly to AMCAS. Problems with transcripts are the number one reason of processing delays, and it has happened in the past that AMCAS has lost student transcripts. To avoid having something like this delay your application, your transcripts should be sent to AMCAS along with the AMCAS transcript request form, which is available once you have created an account with AMCAS.When you request transcripts from your undergraduate university’s registrar office, it is important that you insist that they attach the AMCAS transcript request form along with your transcripts.AMCAS starts accepting transcripts on or around May 5th and although some students may need to wait for their term grades to be released, it is always a good idea to send your transcripts early to avoid any delay in the processing of your application. The deadline for sending your transcripts to AMCAS is on or around August 1st if you are applying to the EDP and 14 days after the school’s application deadline if you are applying through the standard application process. You can check the receipt of transcripts online when you log into your AMCAS application. It is important that you follow up regularly with your application after you have sent all the required documents. It is the applicant who is responsible for notifying AMCAS if their designated schools have not received application material within two to four weeks from the date their AMCAS application was processed.
Reference letter timeline
Almost all schools use AMCAS to collect letters of recommendation, while a few still require reference letters to be submitted directly to their admissions office. Schools not participating in the AMCAS reference letter system are listed at www.aamc.org/students/amcas/faq/amcasletters.htm. There are three key things to consider when asking your referees for your reference letters:
1. Getting your application complete as soon as possible
2. Giving your referees enough time and informing them of why you want to go into medicine
3. Meeting with your referees in person before leaving school if you will not be able to meet with them in the summer
Let us bear in mind that the AMCAS application takes 4-6 weeks to process, that reference letters submitted through AMCAS take at most 3 weeks to process if sent by mail (one business day if sent electronically) and that your reference letters will not be forwarded to the schools before your AMCAS application has finished processing.
We thus think that in many cases, it makes the most sense to focus on your AMCAS application first and submit it as soon as possible. Then, during the 4-6 week processing period, you should give your personal statement and activity descriptions to your referees. If your referees take 3-4 weeks to write the letters, they will arrive within 4-7 weeks at schools using the AMCAS system, and within 4-5 weeks at schools not using the AMCAS reference letter system.
For professors however, you will want to set up a meeting with them before leaving school if you are going away for the summer. In most cases this is much more effective than sending them an email during the summer. You can then begin working on your application and forward your personal statement and 15 activity/award descriptions to your referees once completed as well as any material you did not provide them with during the first meeting. Most schools consider your application complete once they have received their minimum reference letter requirement even if you plan on sending more letters.
Note about pre-health advisory committees
Some undergraduate institutions like Yale University provide health professional evaluations, premedical committee letters or other similar letters of evaluation for students. If this is the case, you may need to submit a personal statement and reference letters to these offices well before the targets listed above so they can complete their evaluations and send them to the schools you apply to. See your undergraduate institution’s career office to find out if this is the case.
Early Decision Programme
Students participating in EDP are initially allowed to select only one school to apply to. If accepted at this school, they must accept the offer and cannot apply to any other schools. If not accepted, applicants may join the normal pool of applicants after they have been notified by the EDP school. The deadline for EDP application is on or around August 1st, although some schools have set different deadlines in the past. Approximately 50 schools participate in EDP. Information regarding which schools have EDP programmes and how many students were accepted through EDP the previous year are available in MSAR. More information is also available on the AAMC website. Medical schools are required to notify you of their decision on or around October 1st each year. If unsuccessful, most schools like Baylor College keep your application on file and consider you for regular admission as well. If you are a very strong applicant and wish to save yourself the trouble and cost of applying to several schools, you might want to consider applying through early decision. The programme carries its risks, since applicants who are not selected do not join the normal pool of applicants until they are notified of their negative decision by October 1st - carrying the disadvantage of a very late application at rolling admission schools.
Figure 2. Timeline of the U.S. Application process