This post addresses some of the big questions on med school applicants’ minds:
- How long does a medical school have to invite an applicant to submit a secondary application? (Go there)
- When to expect interview invitations for medical school (or a response of ‘thanks, but no thanks’?) (Go there)
- Final interview invite date and update letter policy by school (Go there)
The fact is that there’s no rule governing how much time a medical school has to respond to your application.
When do medical schools start interviewing?
This question doesn’t have a single answer. Many med schools start sending out interview invitations in September, shortly after the first secondary applications are received. Some schools have a quick turnaround, but others seem to drag on and on – especially when you’re constantly refreshing your email to see if they’ve contacted you.
Waiting is even harder when others are receiving invitations and you haven’t heard anything. Although it might be tempting, don’t call the school to check on your status – this is sure to backfire on you. Trust that the admissions office is working through the applications as fast as they can.
No news from med schools: When should you worry and what can you do about it?
Submitted my primary app, but haven’t received a secondary
If it’s been 6-8 weeks since you applied and you haven’t been invited to submit a secondary, you might consider sending a Letter of Interest (LOI) to the program. This strategy can be effective if you have a strong connection to the school or its locale. Your reasons for approaching the program in this way might be a connection to an alumnus, a special fit with the program’s research efforts, familiarity with the locale, or even friends in the program who have raved about what they’re learning. Or it might simply be that X School of Medicine has always been your dream school and you want to give it your best shot. In any case, your LOI should demonstrate an understanding of the program going beyond the ordinary (i.e., what’s on their admissions website) and show that you’ve done your research.
Before contacting your chosen program(s), you should know whether you fall within their range of accepted students. Are your GPA and MCAT scores above their lowest accepted scores? If not, then you’ve likely been screened out. It’s very important that as you show your fit for the program, your LOI should also highlight your unique qualities in a way that might not have come across as admissions committee members ticked off boxes on their checklists.
Submitted my secondaries, but waiting for medical school interview invites
If you’ve submitted your secondary and are waiting for an interview, the wait can seem interminable. It’s important during this time to focus on other interests, especially things that you are passionate about. If you finally do get invited to interview, and are asked about your recent activities, you’ll want to have more to say than “checking my email.”
Watch: If I don’t get an interview invitation by Thanksgiving does it mean I was rejected?
The bulk of interview invites (“IIs”) go out between October and January. The earliest IIs seem to go to those who not only submitted secondaries early but who have (1) high stats and (2) very specific reasons for attending the program – this is where tailoring your secondary to each school is a huge advantage. There are always applicants who get later IIs, however, so don’t give up hope.
If you submitted your application early and haven’t heard anything by November, you might want to think about sending an LOI. At this point, it’s truly a Hail Mary pass and really only works if you can show you have a genuine connection with or interest in the school. You’ll need to go beyond what you presented in your secondary; emphasize your new accomplishments as well as your strong fit and interest in that program.
Med school interviews timeline: Final interview invite date and update letter policy by school
Medical school When will final interview invites be sent? (2021-2022 application cycle) Are updates / LOI's accepted?
Baylor College of Medicine January Yes. Applicants who have not received an interview invitation may send updates through the application system. Those who have already interviewed may send “letters of intent.”
Boston University Mid-January Yes*
Case Western Reserve University February/March Yes. Each MD program welcomes pertinent updates or letters of interest/intent from waitlisted applicants if they are truly interested in attending.
Columbia University End of January Yes. Any updates or corrections to the Secondary Application should be sent as an Applicant Update (in PDF) via the “Status” tab of the Secondary Application.
Cornell University (Weill) Interviews begin in Sept and continue through early spring Yes. The program is open to receiving important, occasional updates (e.g. major award or publication).
Duke University Early February (Note: Dates are subject to change.) Yes. Application updates can be made directly to the secondary application under the Additional Consideration section.
Emory University February To update an application, log in to your Supplemental Application and select the “STATUS” tab; then “Update My Application”.
Do not call the Office of Admissions to check on the status of your application.
Harvard University January Yes, but the admissions office does not guarantee adcom will view the additional materials.*
Johns Hopkins University Late February: Completion of interviews Applicants who have not interviewed at Johns Hopkins may not submit additional information. After interviewing, applicants may do so.
Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University Interviews are held from September through March Yes. We welcome all information at all time points throughout the process.
Mayo Clinic School of Medicine (Alix) November We like to hear from our applicants! Significant application updates are accepted after an applicant has been invited for an interview.
Updates should be uploaded directly into the admissions portal as a PDF.
We do not accept any updates to transcripts or grades.
Northwestern University (Feinberg) February If applicants would like to notify us of an update to their application or wish to have other communications added to their application file for consideration, we ask that they upload these to the FSM Applicant Portal (the site where the secondary application is accessed) through the “Document Upload” tab.
Ohio State University March Yes, in the form of an email with an attachment.
Rush Medical College Well into January, sometimes February Yes
University of Alabama–Birmingham Mid-to-late February Yes. Updates can be uploaded to your Applicant Portal at any stage in the application process.
University of California–Los Angeles (Geffen) December Yes, for applicants who have received a secondary application.*
University of Chicago (Pritzker) Medical February Yes. You may upload a PDF update using the secondary application website.
University of Colorado February or March No
University of Maryland Late February Yes. Upload updates through your Second Stage Application.*
University of Michigan–Ann Arbor Early January* Yes. Updates may be uploaded through your Applicant Portal.
University of Pittsburgh January Our Admissions Committee welcomes letters of intent/interest and updates to your application. The most appropriate time to follow-up with us is following your interview or after the receipt of your official admissions decision. Communications can be sent via postal mail or to our admissions mailbox at email@example.com. Any communication received from the applicant will be included in their admissions file.
University of Southern California (Keck) March The following communication is requested from waitlisted applicants: On April 30th they may send an email to the Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org to state their desire to remain on the waitlist.
University of Utah Interviews will continue throughout the application cycle. No
University of Virginia Yes. You are encouraged to add any document or materials that may strengthen your application.
University of Washington Mid January No
University of Wisconsin–Madison Likely through end of January No
Washington University in St. Louis March The Committee on Admissions is happy to add any updates to your file, such as new activities, publications, or personal news. These can be submitted by email to email@example.com or uploaded directly in our portal at mdapply.wustl.edu (use the Document Upload tab).
* Info from 2020-21 application cycle. Will be updated as new info becomes available.
If you represent a medical school and want your school added to the list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Post-secondaries, pre-interview – planning ahead
As the October-January period comes to a close and you still haven’t received that interview invite and you’ve submitted an LOI to no avail, you may want to start thinking about your game plan for the next year. Start by taking a good hard look at your application:
- Is your MCAT score competitive? Are your grades strong? Would either be strengthened through additional coursework? A master’s or postbac course could boost your chances next time.
- Are you confident about your personal statement? Were your secondary essays tailored with specific answers for each particular program, or did you “recycle” generic answers?
- Are your recommendations the best you can get?
- Did you apply as early as possible in the year?
- Did you submit enough applications? Did you apply to a wide range of schools, or are your applications weighted towards those with very low acceptance rates (Mayo, Georgetown, etc.)?
Don’t give up!
It’s not much consolation, but most years the AAMC reports a higher number of applicants than the previous year. Whether it’s because of recent health policy changes or the glamorous life of medicine depicted on television is anybody’s guess. But if you’re serious about medicine, and can show that in your application, you’ll make it.
If you need help arguing your case to the Dean, or if you want to make sure next year’s application is as strong as it can be, Accepted can help. Contact us at any stage of the application process.
A former fellowship admissions committee member and administrator at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Cydney Foote has successfully advised healthcare applicants, including those applying to medical school, dental school, nursing and PA programs, veterinary school, public health and hospital administration programs, post-baccalaureate medical programs, residencies and fellowships. Since 2001, she has brought her marketing and writing expertise to help science-focused students communicate their strengths. Want Cyd to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!