Health Professions Primary and Secondary Applications
American Medical Colleges Application Service and American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service
Most health professions schools use a centralized application process. The central application for MD medical schools is AMCAS (American Medical Colleges Application Service) and for DO (osteopathic) schools is AACOMAS (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service). A list of all the application services with some details about their services and deadlines can be found on the Application Services Fact Sheet. Both AMCAS and AACOMAS are web-based applications and are accessed through the website of their professional association.
MD medical schools in the U.S. participate in AMCAS; DO schools use AACOMAS. The exception is the Texas medical schools, which use TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service). Usually by May 1, you can access the current version of AMCAS/AACOMAS on the web and begin working on it. TMDSAS is usually earlier. All dental schools participate in AADSAS (Associated American Dental Schools Application Service).
The earliest date you can submit your AMCAS application is in early June. You can wait until your spring semester is over to start working on it. It makes sense to review your spring MCAT scores before submitting your application. Your initial application is processed without recommendations.
The applications include extensive online instructions with their material. It is important to read and follow instructions carefully. The application will ask for general information (much like a college application), a detailed reporting of your academic history, a structured presentation of all your activities, jobs and experiences, and a single-page personal statement. The first part is straightforward and merely requires a neat and concise outline of your background.
The academic record portion requires you to translate all your college work into a standard format including grades and semester hours. Learn how to enter general coursework and complete the academic portion of the application.
AMCAS, AACOMAS and AADSAS will require you to send official copies of transcripts from all the colleges from which you took classes. It will be helpful for you to have copies on hand when you are completing the application. You should put requests in at the registrar’s office of each college to have transcripts sent when spring grades are posted. If you are taking science classes in the summer, be sure to discuss this with an advisor to see if applying later makes sense, or if waiting until next year is wiser.
For Tufts, you should complete the Tufts transcript request form and leave it at the Dowling Student Service desk, along with the AMCAS/AACOMAS/AADSAS transcript request form. Be sure to specify that your transcript should include spring grades if applicable. Log into your AMCAS/AACOMAS/AADSAS account, and print out any required form to accompany the transcript for each college from which you took courses. Some colleges charge a fee to send out transcripts. Normally students submit their transcripts prior to submitting the actual application in June.
Your goal should be to carefully complete all the pieces of your central application by early summer unless you are taking required courses in summer school. In that case, you should submit it in July or August. Do not wait for late-summer MCAT scores -- that will put you into the process too late. You will submit your application directly to the application service.
The application services provide online status-check capability so you can always see what is happening with your application. Keep track of that and be sure that all the required pieces have been received and things are progressing. Once AMCAS, AACOMAS or AADSAS processes your application, they will send it to the schools you designated.
Your designated schools will send you “secondary applications.” The vast majority of schools do not screen; therefore you should expect to get secondary applications from all the schools to which you apply. The turnaround time is up to four weeks for this to happen. “Secondaries” ask for supplemental information but they vary. Some may only ask for the school’s application fee and your letters of recommendation while others may ask for further essays, which could be extensive.
In either case, you should fulfill these requests as soon as possible. The advisors are unable to critique any of these essays, but the writing consultants may have time depending on the volume of demand. You have a completed application once your secondary application is submitted, your letters of recommendation have arrived, and your MCAT or DAT scores are reported. Most schools will notify you when this occurs or provide an online status check option.
Along with sending secondaries, you will need to request that the HPRC send your letters of recommendation. Tufts will send a committee packet of letters on your behalf. Learn exactly how to list what letters are being sent and how for AMCAS and AACOMAS. The HPRC makes every effort to have letter packets ready to send in July, assuming the applicant meets all the deadlines and has provided all the necessary materials.
Other Medical Schools
While all other MD schools use AMCAS, all the Texas schools, including the one osteopathic school in Texas and the dental schools, use their own centralized application Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS). This opens earlier than AMCAS. All Texas residents should start to look at the site in April so they can submit early applications.
Canadian schools have their own strict, and often distinctive, application processes and also minimum requirements. Those in Ontario use a central application service known as Ontario Medical School Application Service (OMSAS).
Central Applications for Other Professions
The American Dental Education Association Association of American Dental Schools Application Service (ADEA AADSAS) is the central application service which you will use when you apply to dental schools. ADEA AADSAS is a web-based application. The instructions for the application are online and quite explicit, so you are urged to read them carefully. When you complete the coursework portion of your application you will need to know that a Tufts course unit is worth 4 semester or credit hours. There are AADSAS tips on the application page of the ADEA website. ADEA AADSAS requests and accepts committee packets of recommendation.
Most veterinary schools participate in the central application known as the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS). Since the deadline for schools participating in VMCAS is September 15, it is critical for vet school applicants to begin the process in the summer. The VMCAS application itself will launch in June. VMCAS does not accept committee packets but rather individual letters but be sent through their eLOR process.
Physician assistant programs have a centralized application known as the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Physician Assistant Education Association Programs begin at various points in the calendar year so deadlines for applying vary but typically students would apply in the summer to begin the following winter or summer. Physician Assistant (PA) programs require individual letters of recommendation.
Optometry schools use the Optometry Central Application Service (OptomCAS) which is typically submitted in the summer or fall prior to the year of matriculation. HPRC packets can be sent through OptomCAS.
- A list of all the application services with some details about their services and deadlines can be found on the Application Services Fact Sheet
- Keep accurate records of everything you request and send out, keep copies of applications you submit, and keep all notices you receive from schools as well as notes on phone conversations. You can always check your status online, and application services will give you a phone number to call if you have questions or problems. For example, AMCAS is 202-828-0600 and AACOMAS is 301-968-4190.
- Don’t forget to have information about your candidacy released to your pre-health advisor.