Applying to Medical School
The largest number of Tufts students and alums apply to medical school – both allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO). We work with each applicant through our Health Professions Recommendation Committee, through weekly applicant emails during the application cycle, and through individual meetings. Above are some topics of interest that will help guide you as you proceed through the 16 month application cycle. Be sure to use this website, and very helpful websites of AAMC and AACOM, as the sources of accurate information about the process.
The Recent Applicant Cycle
Each year the Health Professions Recommendation Committee and the health professions advising team works with about 150 students and alums who decide to apply to medical and dental school. The advisors also advise and support students and alums applying to many other health professions graduate programs such as veterinary medicine, physician assistant and nurse practitioner. In addition, the advisors work with current students who apply through the Early Assurance Programs that Tufts has with its medical, dental and veterinary schools. The largest number of students apply to medicine. In the 2017-2018 application cycle, the total number of Tufts applicants (current students and alums) to US medical schools was 144 (an increase of 16% from the previous year). With 135 receiving acceptances, that results in a 93% acceptance rate. Each year’s acceptance rate differs but it is consistently double that of the national acceptance rate.
Who Gets Into Medical School
The following scatterplot provides information about Tufts students who applied to US allopathic schools over three application cycles: ’15-’16, ’16-’17 and ’17-’18. Overall GPA, science GPA and MCAT scores are very important variables in an applicant’s candidacy. Numbers don’t tell the whole story but they do tell some of it.
This graph shows all 2016, 2017, 2018 Allopathic Medicine Program (MD) applicants by Cumulative Undergraduate GPA, BCPM (science) Undergraduate GPA and New MCAT score.
An applicant roster was provided by Tufts Undergraduate Health Professions Advising and the accompanying analysis uses application and decision information downloaded from the AAMC. Excluded from this analysis are any applicants who did not agree to release AAMC data to Tufts.
Color indicates whether or not an applicant was admitted to at least one MD program. Applicants who were admitted or matriculated to Osteopathic Medicine (DO) programs but who were not admitted to MD programs are listed above as "Not admitted." Applicants who were admitted Early Assurance to Tufts University School of Medicine did not submit MCAT scores. These 26 Early Assurance applicants do not appear in the chart. Individuals who applied more than once are counted as separate applicants for each year in which they applied.
To toggle between viewing applicant data by either Cumulative Undergraduate GPA or BCPM (science) Undergraduate GPA, choose the desired GPA type from the dropdown menu “Select GPA Type for chart.”
You can see how applicants cluster but you can also see outliers. All of these applicants were evaluated on a number of variables including the very important competencies that medical schools value. In particular, the outliers are likely applicants with somewhat lower numbers who have demonstrated great strength in the competencies and have overcome significant challenges in their lives. Those with high metrics who are not admitted have likely not demonstrated strength in the competencies, perhaps believing that numbers are all that matters. As Tufts’ health professions advising team works with current students and alums, we stress the importance of both academic and experiential preparation for a future as a healthcare professional.
You will not be able to make final decisions on where to apply until the summer, but you can begin working on your central application in late spring. You can also begin researching schools through the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) or Osteopathic Medical College Information Book.
As you choose schools, you should consider some practical facts but also a variety of elements that will help you hone in on schools that may be better matches for you. Your state residency is an important consideration. If you are a dependent student, you are a resident of the state where your parents reside. The majority of state schools accept very few students from out of state but they are worth investigating, particularly if they are NOT in the northeast or on the west coast. Take a look at the in-state/out-of-state applicant numbers and acceptance numbers offered in MSAR to determine your chance of acceptance.
You will be influenced by how selective a medical school is, but do not start compiling your list with this data. Start by considering a number of variables such as the class size, the affiliated hospitals and clinical facilities, the specifics of the curriculum (e.g. how much problem-based learning versus large lectures), the availability of combined degrees, the prevalence of community service work among students, the availability of international rotations, and more. The AAMC has very helpful information about “Mission Fit” – how to determine if a school is right for you: https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/make-sure-you-fit-schools-mission/
Personal factors will also come into play. Location - do you have a support network nearby, do you thrive in that climate, do you hope to experience a very different city or state?
Once you have compiled a list of schools based on your interests, then you can consider selectivity and seek feedback from one of the pre-health advisors.
On average, U.S. students apply to 15 MD programs. Tufts students apply to an average of 20 MD programs and 5 DO programs. Applying to a larger number does not necessarily increase your chance of admission. Wise choices and a timely application make much more of a difference. Be sure to consult with one of the advisors after you have a tentative list of schools.
A very small number of medical school applicants take advantage of the early decision option that many medical schools offer. This option allows you to apply early decision to one (and only one) medical school no later than August 1 and have an answer by October 1. If you do this, you may not apply to any other medical school until October 1. This option makes sense for students who have a clear first choice of a medical school AND are strong candidates for that school.
Application Timeline (18 Month Process)
The application process for medical schools begins 18 months before matriculation. If you plan to apply this year, apply early. Many candidates hurt themselves by ignoring this important rule. Applying in the summer rather than the fall of the applicant cycle could make the difference between acceptance and rejection.
Tufts admissions data shows a higher acceptance rate for those students who apply early in the process (June, July, August) than for those who apply later (September, October, or November). However you do not have to apply by the first possible date in June. If you are applying to medical school, it is wise to wait for your MCAT scores.
Here is a helpful timeline to give you a sense of the application process to medical school. You can also use it as a checklist to ensure you are taking all the necessary steps to prepare a strong application.
For students completing required courses no later than spring of the application year:
- Plan for your preparation for the MCAT so you can take the MCAT sometime between January and May.
- Attend one of the applicant meetings.
- Register with the Health Professions Recommendation Committee (HPRC) no later than the April 1 deadline.
- HPRC Registration must be submitted no later than April 1, 11:59pm.
- Individual letters of recommendation are due by May 1.
- Submit a transcript request form to the Dowling Student Service Desk and specify that the transcript should include your spring semester grades. Include the official form from the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Service (AACOMAS), as well.
- Complete and submit the AMCAS.
- July and August
- Submit your request to have letters sent to Dowling Hall 710- HPRC program coordinator along with your payment.
- Complete and submit the AADSAS.
- Complete secondary school applications.
- August or September
- Complete and submit the AACOMAS.
- September through March/April
- Medical and dental schools send interview invitations to candidates.
- August the following year
- Matriculate into medical or dental school.
Don’t wait for your recommendations to be sent before submitting your application. Application processing can begin and AMCAS, AADSAS or AACOMAS will send your applications to individual schools before your recommendations are on file.
Preparing For Interviews
The last piece of the application process is the medical or dental school interview. In August, you will receive a letter from the advisors with reminders about deadlines and a handout on preparing for interviews and other references. Until then, the most important thing you can do to prepare for interviews is to read the daily news and keep up with what is happening in the world and the issues facing our healthcare system.
Interviews generally take place between September and April with decisions being made on a rolling basis throughout that time period. Again you can see the advantage of being an early applicant and possibly interviewing in September before any acceptances have been offered, versus February when many have been.
MD medical schools will not act on a student’s application until all materials have been submitted, including MCAT scores. However, there is much clerical processing that can be taken care of while waiting for MCAT scores, so it is still best to submit all other materials in the summer.
Throughout the lengthy application process you will be hearing from Tufts pre-health advising office. Please do your part to keep the advisors updated on your progress. During this time, continue to build on your understanding of the health profession you have chosen: enrich your patient contact or research portfolio and strengthen your academic foundation if possible.
After You’ve Been Accepted
Medical school etiquette is governed by the traffic rules agreed upon by the admissions deans at all MD medical schools. You will accept any offer of admission and you may hold multiple acceptances as you decide which school to attend. Once you receive an acceptance, you should withdraw in writing from any school that you would not choose over the school that accepted you. This is a courtesy to the school and a kindness to your fellow applicants.
You may hold multiple acceptances as you wait to determine financial aid packages, but by spring, AMCAS distributes a list of those holding multiple acceptances to the medical schools. By April 30, schools have the right to ask you to make your final choice or lose your place in their class. It behooves you, therefore, to take early and appropriate steps to find out if any schools are offering you a financial aid package, for how much, and/or any other information you need to make a choice.
This process varies for osteopathic schools, which often ask for large, non-refundable deposits. You will often not have the luxury of holding multiple acceptances or waiting a long time to make your decision. The same is true for dental and other health professions schools.
Please be aware that once you are offered admission to a US medical school, the HPRC has completed its work for you and will not support you for another application.
Medical schools have varying policies regarding deferral. Many will allow deferral only for significant reasons such as a Fulbright award or a serious family situation. Some are more liberal, while others will not allow deferral at all. If you have strong doubts that you’ll be ready to begin medical school next year, you should consider waiting to apply.
For Reapplicants: Things to Consider and Things to Do
The most important step is to honestly self-assess and look objectively at your application.
- Our acceptance rate for re-applicants (as well as the national acceptance rate) is far lower than it is for first-time applicants - this is often because students reapply as a knee-jerk reaction without doing what is necessary to make themselves competitive. Be sure you have a smart strategy for success.
- For those who did not make it onto any wait lists, it is rarely wise to reapply right away. It makes more sense to take the time to address gaps in your application and then apply in strength.
- For those who are on wait lists in spring, you can begin to make plans to reapply but our advice would be to NOT actually submit an application before late June. Those few weeks will not make a difference in your 2018 application and an acceptance may come through in the meantime. There is a lot of movement in May and June.
- The HPRC is happy to support reapplicants but will only work with applicants and update the committee letter through one reapplication process. It is in your best interest to reapply when you are a stronger applicant.
- Re-applicants must register with the HPRC for the new cycle no later than June 1.
- Re-applicants must complete a check list in order to have their letter updated.
Both of these can be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Once they are received, you will be contacted to set up a time to meet in person or over the phone to discuss your reapplication and the updating of your committee letter.