The website of Harvard Medical School (HMS) is a treasure trove of information for applicants. Is HMS right for you? It could be if you are, as the school says, “self-motivated, visionary in …[your] ambition, and compassionate in …[your] approach to the art of healing.” HMS highlights the importance of diversity in its Mission Statement, as a critical component of campus culture, and as a factor in promoting excellence in medicine. As you approach your secondary application, aligning your answers with HMS’s community values will offer you the opportunity to highlight work you have done in global outreach, community engagement, social justice, teamwork, and academic discovery.
Harvard Medical School 2023-2024 Secondary Application Essay Questions
Harvard Secondary Essay #1
If you have already graduated, briefly summarize your activities since graduation. (4000 characters maximum)
This essay is strictly for students who have already graduated from an undergraduate institution. Explain any work you have done in the interim, as well as any volunteer activities and MCAT plans, in whatever order you choose. Provide details about the level of your responsibilities, what you are learning, the impact you’re having on 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 demonstrate HMS’s core commitments, as presented on the school’s website. If you are a reapplicant, highlight activities that might rectify any weakness in your earlier AMCAS application. Your answers should convey your engagement with the work that you’re doing, revealing what’s rich in opportunity, growth, and learning. Think about and convey why the work is, or has been, a wise way to use your time during the 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 may illuminate how you could contribute to the medical school and that you would like to share with the Committee, we invite you to do so here. Examples might include significant challenges in access to education, unusual socioeconomic factors, or other aspects of your personal or family background to place your prior academic achievements in context or provide further information about your motivation for a career in medicine or the perspectives you might bring to the medical school community. Many applicants will not need to answer this question. (4000 characters)
This prompt is open-ended on purpose. As you write, keep the part of the prompt that says, “how you could contribute to the medical school” at the forefront of your mind. The admissions committee is providing you with an opportunity to share something unique about yourself. For example, 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 your race or ethnicity influence what opportunities you had access to? Were you raised in a non-English-speaking household? Did you attend a diverse public school? Did any of these circumstances affect your educational opportunities or progress? Take care to ensure that the story you tell is not already shared in a different part of your application.
The words “important” and “significant” are key here. As the prompt itself notes, “Many applicants will not need to answer this question.” If you do not have an aspect of your background or identity you feel could genuinely be deemed “important” or “significant,” do not respond to this prompt.
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.)
If you were personally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, describe your – and, if relevant, your family’s — experience here. If you or a family member contracted the virus, this prompt gives you an opportunity to explain, as a future doctor, how you learned something from the experience of being a patient or related to a patient. (Generally, when someone becomes seriously sick, their whole family — and sometimes, their entire community — is afflicted.) Chances are, you had an experience that has helped you understand compassion, empathy, or sympathy on a deeper level. How was that a valuable experience for you as a future doctor?
If you were affected professionally or educationally, you might have chronicled this in your activities. What might not be evident on the activities list, though, is that even though COVID-19 might have curtailed your scribe work or delayed your taking of the MCAT, the disruption engendered other volunteer opportunities. If so, how did you help? And by helping, what did you learn about or from a vulnerable community (or those in need) by seeking and doing a selfless act to be of assistance to others during this time?
Harvard Secondary Essay #4
The interview season for the 2023-2024 cycle will be held virtually and is anticipated to run from mid-September through January 2024. Please indicate any significant (three or more weeks) restriction on your availability for interviews during this period. If none, please leave this section blank. (1000 characters)
Simply answer this question by providing the information requested.
Hopefully, the next step in the med school application process for you will be your HMS interview. And the best way to prepare for your interview is to practice, practice, practice with a med school admissions expert who understands the system and who will give you feedback and guidance throughout the process. Schedule a 30-minute free consultation with an Accepted consultant today.
Harvard Secondary Essay #5
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). (4000 characters)
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 has your experience with or education in technology or engineering prepared 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 research or experience do you have with this interdisciplinary intersection? Tell Harvard about that research/experience and its potential influence on health care in the future.
Take particular notice of the second parenthetical comment in the prompt: “rather than identifying specific HST faculty or research opportunities.” Avoid, at all costs, 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 your knowledge of the program’s mission and a thorough 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 average MCAT score: 520.59
Harvard Medical School average GPA: 3.9
Harvard Medical School applications for the Class of 2027: 6,986
Harvard Medical School class size, Class of 2027: 164
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 2023-2024
|Final deadline for AMCAS application
|Final deadline for HMS secondary application and all materials (letters, MCAT scores, etc.)
|AMCAS transcript deadline. All transcripts must be received before this date.
|All admissions decisions are sent out via email on the same date, whether candidates are accepted, declined, or waitlisted.
Source: HMS website
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with Harvard Medical School directly to verify its essay questions, instructions, and deadlines.***
As the former assistant dean of student affairs and career development at the William Beaumont School of Medicine, Dr. Valerie Wherely worked directly with the dean of the School of Medicine, the associate dean of student affairs, the associate dean of clinical curriculum, and the assistant dean of admissions, as well as with Year 4 students on both residency application reviews/critiques and mock interview preparation.
Dr. Mary Mahoney, PhD, is the medical humanities director at Elmira College and has more than 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 past 20 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!