HMS is looking for students who will help find new ways to approach patient care through diversity, research, and a dedication to service. In this secondary application, it will be important to include relevant leadership roles that you have held in which you were able to improve methods or outcomes. Highlight your experience working with diverse communities and your own cultural background. If you have recent research experience, discuss your contributions to the team. Most importantly, describe any community service or volunteer roles you participated in and explain how your work impacted the community you served. HMS is looking for applicants who can set themselves apart through the quality of their leadership, research, and community service experiences.
Harvard Medical School 2021-2022 Secondary Application Essay Questions
Harvard Secondary Essay #1
If you have already graduated, briefly summarize your activities since graduation. (4000 characters maximum)
This essay applies only to students who have already graduated from an undergraduate institution. Explain work, volunteer activities, MCAT plans if any, in the order that you chose. Provide details about the level of your responsibilities, what you are learning, how you are impacting the community you are working with and/or how the experience is influencing your life goals as a future physician. Provide clear and succinct summaries that are focused on demonstrating HMS’ core commitments as described on their website and that rectify what might have been weak in a previous year’s AMCAS application, if true for you. Your answers should convey your engagement with the work that you’re doing, revealing what’s rich in opportunity, growth and learning. Why is this work a very wise way to use your time during a gap year?
Harvard Secondary Essay #2
If there is an important aspect of your personal background or identity, not addressed elsewhere in the application, that you would like to share with the Committee, we invite you to do so here. Many applicants will not need to answer this question. Examples might include significant challenges in access to education, unusual socioeconomic factors, identification with a minority culture, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Briefly explain how such factors have influenced your motivation for a career in medicine. (4000 characters maximum)
As with all diversity questions, this prompt is open-ended on purpose. You may, of course, write about diversity in terms of your own personal experience, socio-economic status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Or you can write about diversity through a family experience, which might include your upbringing in a non-traditional family. Were you raised by a relative? Were you raised by a single mom? Does someone in your family have a disability? Are you a person of color? Did race or ethnicity influence access to opportunities for you? Were you raised in a home in which everyone spoke a language other than English? Did you attend a diverse public school? Did any of these circumstances impact your educational opportunity or educational progress? Just be certain the story you tell is not already part of your application.
The words “important” and “significant” are key in this prompt. Remember “many applicants will not need to answer this question.” If you do not have an important and significant aspect to your background or identity, leave this prompt blank. However, do prepare to talk about diversity as a core value during an interview. Can you tell a story of advocating for someone who faced bias? Medical students, as rising physicians and leaders, must be able to embrace diversity and speak of it from a place of depth.
If you did experience a significant challenge related to diversity, conclude with a positive explanation, an interesting one, about how the challenge, directly or indirectly, inscribes your vision of becoming a doctor.
Harvard Secondary Essay #3 (Optional)
The Committee on Admissions understands that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted applicants in various ways. If you wish to inform the Committee as to how these events have affected you and have not already done so elsewhere in your application, please use this space to do so. (This is an optional essay; the Committee on Admissions will make no judgment based on your decision to provide a statement or not.) (4000 characters)
If you were personally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, describe your experience and your family’s experience here. As a future doctor, if you or a family member contracted the virus, this prompt is an opportunity to explain how you learned something by being a patient, or the family member of a patient. (When someone gets seriously sick, the whole family, or community, is afflicted.) Chances are, you had an experience that brought you to understand compassion, empathy, or sympathy on a deeper level. How was that a valuable experience for a future doctor?
If you were affected professionally or educationally, you may have this chronicled in your activities. What may not be evident on the activities list, is that while COVID-19 may have cut short your scribe work or delayed taking the MCAT, the disruption to an activity brought about other volunteer opportunities in the wake of a pandemic? How did you help? By helping, what did you learn about or from a vulnerable community (or those in need) by seeking, finding and doing a selfless act to aid those in need during this time?
Harvard Secondary Essay #4
ESSAY FOR APPLICATIONS TO THE HARVARD-MIT DIVISION OF HEALTH SCIENCES AND TECHNOLOGY (HST)
Instructions: The HST MD program draws on the combined resources of Harvard and MIT to provide a distinct preclinical education tailored to preparing students for careers as transformative physicians who will shape the future practice of medicine. Our students come from the full spectrum of disciplines including biological, physical, engineering and social sciences. HST classes are small, commonly include graduate students and have an emphasis on quantitative and analytic approaches. The unique HST pre-clinical curriculum prepares students well for the HMS clinical education while also emphasizing disease mechanisms and preparing students to solve critical unmet needs in medicine and healthcare (ranging from novel diagnostics and therapeutics to applications of ‘big data’ and systems engineering). Please focus on how your interests, experiences and aspirations have prepared you for HST (rather than identifying specific HST faculty or research opportunities). Limit your comments to the equivalent of one page of single-spaced text with a font size of 10 or 12.
Innovations in medicine abound across academic disciplines. In particular, Harvard is interested in sophisticated medical technology and data application systems that solve unmet health care needs. What experience or education in technology or engineering have you had? How does this tie into medical innovation? How does your experience or education in technology prepare you to “fit” this hybrid program? How does your experience with engineering or education in engineering prepare you to “fit” this hybrid program? What is the intersection of technology (or engineering or social sciences) and medicine for which you are a good fit? What experience do you have with this interdisciplinary intersection? Do you have research experience with this intersection? Tell Harvard about that research and its potential influence on health care in the future.
Take particular notice of the second parenthetical comment in the prompt. Avoid, at all cost, writing what the program can do for you. Rather, how are you a good fit for the HST MD track? How are you uniquely suited to thrive and succeed with this hybrid opportunity? Your answer should convey knowledge of the program’s mission as well as convey a full understanding of the relevance of your hybrid expertise to healthcare innovation and improving healthcare outcomes.
Applying to Harvard Medical School? Here are some stats:
Harvard Medical School median MCAT score: 520
Harvard Medical School median GPA: 3.94
Harvard Medical School acceptance rate: 3.5%
Has this blog post helped you feel more confident about approaching your Harvard Medical School application? We hope so. It’s our mission to help smart, talented applicants like you gain acceptance to your dream school. With so much at stake, why not hire a consultant whose expertise and personalized guidance can help you take the next step on your journey to becoming a doctor? We have several flexible consulting options—click here to get started today!
Harvard Medical School application timeline 2021-22
|October 15||Final deadline for AMCAS application|
|October 22||Final deadline for HMS secondary application and all materials (letters, MCAT scores, etc.)|
|October 29||AMCAS transcript deadline. All transcripts must be received before this date.|
|Early March||All admissions decisions are sent out via email on the same date, whether candidates are accepted, declined, or waitlisted.|
Source: Harvard Medical School Website
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
Dr. Mary Mahoney, Ph.D. has over 20 years of experience as an advisor and essay reviewer for med school applicants. She is a tenured English Professor with an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a PhD in Literature and Writing from the University of Houston. For the last twenty years, Mary has served as a grad school advisor and essay reviewer for med school applicants. Want Mary to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!Alicia McNease Nimonkar worked for 5 years as the Student Advisor & Director at the UC Davis School of Medicine's postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and other health professional programs. She has served Accepted's clients since 2012 with roughly a 90% success rate. She has a Master of Arts in Composition and Rhetoric as well as Literature. Want Alicia to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!