Application Process

The application process can be very time consuming and expensive. Before you apply, make sure you are ready to apply and are a competitive candidate.

Below is a guide to help you answer the most common questions about the application process: what you need to apply, how to choose schools, essay-writing, interviewing, and more! If you do not see the answer to your questions, please email us at

What do I need to apply?

You should carefully review the information on our competitiveness page to determine if your application is competitive. Remember, health profession programs will generally not seen ANY additional information after you submit your application. Therefore, if your application is not competitive at the time of submission, it is not likely that you will be successful in gaining acceptance. Also, you will want to be sure that your application shows your competitiveness. Unfortunately, some great applicants will submit subpar applications. Since programs only know you by the information you submit, you will need to ensure that your application, personal statement, transcripts, and letters of recommendation indicate that you are competitive.

Remember: An advisor can help you determine your best course of action if you are concerned about any aspect of your application.

Admissions Tests

Most health professions programs require that you take an admissions test to be considered for admission. Generally, you should take the test in the spring of your junior year. The earlier you take the test, the sooner you can be considered for admission. The MCAT is offered every month from January to September except the month of February. The PCAT is offered on various dates during the months of July, September, and January. The GRE, DAT, and OAT are available throughout the year. Your aim should be to take the test once, do not take it just "for practice." Most tests cost over $200. You should be absolutely ready for the test when you take it. You should see an advisor to help you decide when the right time to take the test is for you.

When and where should I apply?

Once you know that you are ready to apply, the best thing for you to do is APPLY EARLY! Be sure to check deadlines for particular schools. It is generally advisable to apply during the summer the year before you hope to be admitted. However, the earlier you apply, the better. The majority of schools admit students on a rolling basis. Applying early is the best way to ensure that you are considered by the medical schools when they still have most of their seats available. Waiting to apply until the schools' published deadlines usually puts students at a great disadvantage: by the deadline, most schools that admit on a rolling basis have already filled many of their available seats. If you have questions about when you should apply, if you should wait for your MCAT scores to arrive, etc., please see an advisor.

There are many factors you may wish to consider in selecting the schools to which you will apply. The average number of medical schools students apply to is about 15, averages vary for the other health professions. Your first consideration should be to assess the possibility of your acceptance to a particular school, taking into account state residency, the mean grade point averages and mean admission test scores of the most recent entering class. Other factors you will want to consider include whether a school meets your personal needs in areas such as curriculum, research, cost, location, housing, transportation, family needs, jobs for spouses, etc. In reality, you should only apply to schools that you will be happy attending. Some GREAT resources to help you decide where to apply are below.

Some medical schools offer an Early Decision Plan (EDP) option which provides you an opportunity to learn more rapidly whether or not you have been accepted to their program. However, requirements for the EDP are more stringent than for other applicants. You should apply through EDP only if you meet the minimum requirements and are certain that it is the school you wish to attend. If the school accepts you in the EDP you are committed to matriculate there. Deadlines for EDP are much earlier than those for regular applicants. However, you are also notified earlier of your acceptance (usually October). If you are not accepted through the EDP you are released from your commitment to that school and may apply wherever you choose. Although applying through the EDP can save you in application fees and stress, it can delay your application to other schools if you are not selected.

Students occasionally apply to two or more professions simultaneously, such as medical and podiatry schools. If you choose to do this, be sure you have weighed your decision carefully and you are prepared to enter either profession.

Be sure to check the requirements of each individual program


How do I apply?

Many (but not all) professional schools participate in application services. If a school participates in an application service, you must apply through the service. These applications are now all web-based (see below). If a school does not participate in an application service, you must contact the school directly to request an application. Please visit the sites for specific information about downloading and/or completing the applications online. Most services will accept applications beginning around June 1, although they will accept transcripts earlier. Again, we encourage you to apply early!

  • AACOMAS Osteopathic (D.O.) School Application Service
  • AACPMAS Podiatry School Application Service
  • AADSAS Dental School Application Service
  • AMCAS Allopathic (M.D.) School Application Service
  • CASAA Anesthesiologist Assistant School Application Service
  • CASPA Physician Assistant School Application Service
  • OTCAS Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service
  • PTCAS Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service
  • PharmCAS Pharmacy School Application Service
  • VMCAS Veterinary School Application Service

Fees for these applications are generally high, and secondaries usually require more money. Some assistance is provided for some of the primaries; information about Fee Assistance Programs (where applicable) is available on the sites above.

ALL of these application services STRONGLY encourage you to submit an electronic application. Some do have alternative (hard-copy paper) methods of applying, but check these web sites for the electronic versions first! They will save you time and help facilitate the speedy submission of your application to the individual schools.

What does the application include?

For medical and dental schools, the primary application asks for information about you, your schooling, and your employment/volunteer experience. This application includes your transcripts, MCAT or DAT test scores, and personal information. For other health professions, there is usually just one application, and in this application you will complete similar information.

You will need to have official transcripts sent directly from the Registrar of USF and each additional school you have attended to the application service or schools where you are applying. When you request the transcripts you should request an additional copy for your own use in completing your applications. Be sure any grade changes or incompletes have been corrected before your transcripts are sent. Grades entered on your applications must be identical to those on your transcript.

Essays and Interviews

Please check out our Essay Writing and Interviewing sections for more details about these processes.

What about letters of recommendation?

Professions and schools vary in the number of letters required with your application.  The number generally varies from two to five. Remember to check with the schools to which you are applying as to the number of letters required, and also the persons from whom those letters are required.  Most medical schools prefer at least four letters. Three should be from faculty (2 science, 1 non science) and the other from a health professional, employment or clinical volunteer supervisor.

As much as possible select prospective recommenders who know you at least fairly well and ask if they can provide you with a strong recommendation.  Provide each recommender with a resume that addresses academics, employment, clinical and community volunteering and shadowing activities. Also provide a copy of your personal statement or essay which will be a part of your application package.  This should indicate the development of your interest in and activities that have supported your commitment to that health profession.  Make an appointment to discuss your application with your recommender so that he/she can address some aspects of your personality.  A letter that in essence states, “I had Mary Brown in Organic I and she obtained an “A” is not a strong letter.  The schools to which you are applying already have your transcripts. For more information, please check out our Letters of Recommendation section.

The application is finished. Now what happens?

Most schools will send you an acknowledgment when all of your materials have been received or inform you if materials are missing. If you do not receive any acknowledgment from a school, you should phone their admissions office to ask if all materials have been received. You should notify application services and all schools immediately of any change of address (including email address).

After screening application materials, schools usually invite applicants who appear to be competitive for interviews at the professional school or hospital. If you need to reschedule or cancel an interview, phone immediately and follow with a letter.

Acceptances and Rejections

If you receive acceptances from more than one school you may accept positions at more than one school, but you will need to be careful to meet the deadlines of schools regarding your final decision as to where you will attend. You may be faced with decisions about whether or not to submit deposits if you are still waiting to hear from the school you prefer to attend. Usually you must respond to acceptances immediately, so if you are going to be away from home because of travel or other situations, be sure to ask a parent or other person to act on your behalf in responding to schools. You may have to make some difficult decisions, and the whole process of application will require patience.

All of us in the Health Professions Advising are eager to learn of your acceptance to professional school. When you are successful we feel we too have been successful in helping you achieve your goal. We would appreciate your notifying us about all of the schools where you are admitted, as this information helps us to better advise other students in their selection of schools.

If you are not accepted please discuss your options with an advisor. We would like to assist you in preparing for reapplication or perhaps consideration of other professional goals.

How do I find out about financial aid?

Individual schools vary in their procedures and application forms for obtaining financial aid. Professional schools typically have a financial aid officer who is responsible for coordinating all sources of financial aid for each student. You should contact the financial aid officer and begin submitting the appropriate needs analysis forms as early as January of the year you anticipate matriculating, but only after you have been accepted.

Several branches of the military also offer complete funding packages for students entering different health professions. Check with your local recruiter for more information.

AAMC has a helpful site future M.D.'s should consult in planning their financial future. ADEA also has dental student scholarships linked here 

Last words of advice

We know this is an extremely stressful and complicated process, but remember that your advisor is here to help you. As you begin this process, prepare yourself for any eventuality (in other words - have a back-up plan!). Try not to worry too much if your friends are interviewed and accepted earlier than you are - acceptances sometimes run well into the summer. Help yourself by sending your fall transcripts to the schools or application services, and let them know if you've had any substantial changes in your life that could enhance your application. Keep your personal information up-to-date (address, phone, email, etc.) and keep your calendar flexible for those interviews!

If you're interested in more information, feel free to email us at if you have any further questions. Good luck!