Factors to Consider
There are a variety of factors to consider when deciding where you will apply for medical and health professions school.
When determining where to apply, first consider the factors that are most important to you! Do you prefer a particular location – urban vs suburban, close to your hometown or family? Do you want to live in a major city? Do you prefer a more diverse student body or patient population? Are research opportunities important to you? By asking yourself these types of questions, you’ll begin to identify the factors and qualities in a school that are most important for where you will apply and ultimately attend!
Some common factors applicants think about when deciding where to apply are below. You can also find additional factors to consider on our Guide for Deciding Where to Apply resource.
- School’s Mission
- Curriculum & Joint Degree
- Research Opportunities
- Specialties or Medical Focus
- Class Size
- Financial Aid & Costs
- Public vs Private
- Student Life & Demographics
Once you have determined the factors that are most important to you and have explored each on medical schools websites, the next step is to begin organizing this important information in some form. This sample list can assist you in organizing this important information.
Strategies for Research Medical Schools
- Medical Schools Websites & Social Media – reviewing each medical schools’ website and social media accounts are great ways to learn more about each school. They each will offer an in-depth understanding of the unique offerings at each school and general life on campus. We also recommend joining mailing lists and/or requesting brochures, fact sheets, viewbooks, and other publications as well.
- Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) is an online database that enables you to browse, search, sort and compare admissions information about all U.S. and Canadian medical schools and more. MSAR also provides data on each medical schools median GPA and MCAT score for accepted and matriculated applicants.
- AAMC’s Deciding Where to Apply webpage includes tips and articles on this topic
How Many Schools Should I Apply To?
Once you have identified medical schools that are a good fit for you, the next step is to determine how many of these schools you will apply to. According to AAMC, on average, students nationally apply to 16 medical schools through the American Medical College Application Services (AMCAS).
AT MIT, applicants on average applied to 25 medical schools, with the common range being between 14 to 35 schools.
Consider Costs When Developing Your List
You also want to keep in mind costs – the more schools you apply to, the more you will spend in fees. The AMCAS application fee is $170 for the first school and $42 for each additional school.
If you are eligible for AMCAS’ Fee Assistance program, you will receive a waiver for all AMCAS fees for one (1) application submission, which allows you to apply up to 20 medical schools free of charge ($968 value). The AMCAS Fee Assistance Program also provides a complimentary subscription to Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR).
Also keep in mind secondary applications – the majority of medical schools you apply to will send you a secondary application – so, the more schools you apply to, the less attention and effort you can potentially give to each individual secondary.
In your secondary applications, you will have to explain why you chose particular schools. Make sure you have good reasons and that the medical or health profession schools you have chosen are a good fit for you.
Your GPA & MCAT Score
Your science & cumulative GPA and MCAT score should be a major factor when deciding where you will apply. It is important to develop a well-balanced list that includes medical schools where your GPA/MCAT is above (i.e. undershoot), equal to (i.e. match), and below their averages.
You can find each medical schools’ average GPA and MCAT on the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR).