Medical School Admissions Decisions

One of the exciting and sometimes frustrating aspects of the medical school application process is waiting for the admissions decision after an interview. Medical schools vary in when they make decisions about applicants. Some medical schools operate on a “rolling admissions” process, which means that they make decisions about applications periodically throughout the interview process until the class is full. Other medical schools, however, do not make admissions decisions until March after all of the interviews have been completed. The decisions fall into three general categories: acceptance, rejection, or wait-list. Many medical schools do not review the waitlist until May-June when most of the waitlist offers are made, but in some cases, applicants can be accepted from a waitlist as late mid-July. Applicants who are waitlisted should talk to the prehealth advisor about their situations and discuss adding supplemental information to their applications such as spring grades or additional letters of recommendation.

Policies regarding admissions decisions: “the traffic rules”

Allopathic Medical Schools

summarized from
Traffic Rules for Applicants: AAMC Recommendations for Medical School and M.D.-Ph.D. Applicants
Traffic Rules for Admissions: AAMC Recommendations for Medical School and M.D.-Ph.D. Admission Officers

Beginning October 15, schools with a rolling admissions policy may begin to extend offers to applicants. (Acceptances for early decision applications are made prior to this point.) By March 15 of the year of matriculation, each school of medicine should have issued a number of acceptances at least equal to the size of its first-year entering class. The medical schools may require a deposit that is refundable if the applicant withdraws the acceptance prior to April 30.

By April 30 of the year of matriculation, an applicant who has received offers of admission from more than one school must choose the one school that she prefers and withdraw from all other schools to which she has been accepted. (For schools whose first day of class is on or before July 31, the deadline for withdrawing multiple acceptances can be as early as April 15.)

Only after April 30 are schools free to apply appropriate rules for dealing with accepted applicants who, without adequate explanation, hold one or more places in other schools, (Note-schools may withdraw offers of acceptance for those who do not follow these rules.)

As April 30 approaches and applicants begin to withdraw multiple acceptances, each medical school admissions committees will begin its own process of reviewing and making offers, if necessary, to wait-listed candidates. At medical school interviews, applicants should ask for information about each medical school’s timeline for offering decisions post-interview and for any information about the school’s wait-list process.

Osteopathic Medical Schools

Osteopathic medical schools may start accepting applicants at any time after the interview. Accepted applicants will be required to provide a deposit in order to hold a seat in the class, and for many schools, this deposit is not refundable. Individual osteopathic medical schools set their own deposit fees, which range from a few hundred to more than $2000.

Applicants may be requested to make their deposits according to the AAOMAS traffic guideline schedule summarized from the Osteopathic Medical College Information Booklet:

  • Those accepted prior to November 15 will have until December 14.
  • Those accepted between November 15 and January 14 will have 30 days.
  • Those accepted between January 15 and May 14 will have 14 days.
  • Those accepted after May 15 may be asked for an immediate deposit.

Note that osteopathic medical schools are not required to follow the above guidelines, so be sure to review the fees and policies for each osteopathic medical school in the Osteopathic Medical College Information Booklet.

TMDSAS for Texas Residents

The process for receiving and holding acceptances to TMDSAS medical schools differs from the process for holding multiple acceptances to AMCAS and AACOMAS-participating schools. There is a deadline in mid January for releasing multiple acceptances that is followed by a “match system” for receiving acceptances by other TMDSAS schools. Read the TMDSAS Medical School Acceptance/Match Program web site carefully.

Waitlisted applicants

Being waitlisted for medical school admission can be a frustrating and stressful experience. Usually medical schools do not start reviewing their waitlists until late spring as applicants begin to withdraw multiple acceptances. It may be possible, depending on individual medical school's policies, to provide additional information such as new letters of recommendation to supplement your application.

It is difficult to assess the chances of being accepted from a waitlist. Acceptances from a waitlist can be made anytime from the spring until the day classes start at a medical school. In addition, medical schools themselves do not know from year to year how many applicants might be accepted from the waitlist. Some medical schools report that some years they have accepted several applicants from the waitlist and that other years they only accepted a few applicants.

Whether and when to make alternative plans is a difficult and personal decision, and the applicant should discuss her situation with her family, the prehealth advisor, and her dean. Re-applying to medical school right away may not be the best approach, and the applicant should assess what factors would need to be addressed to strengthen her application. Some medical schools will also offer feedback to interviewed but not accepted applicants to help them strengthen their candidacy.